Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Baltimore Comic-Con Creator Profiles

LEN WEIN - When you take a look back at the last forty years of comic books, you'd be hard pressed to find a guy who's had more lasting impact than Len Wein. A comic fan from an early age, Wein began working for various publications in the late 60s. But his first real splash came in 1971, when he and collaborator Bernie Wrightson created the Swamp Thing for DC. Certainly more than just a one-hit wonder, Wein also contributed to the Phantom Stranger and Justice League of America and created the surprisingly enduring Human Target before moving to Marvel. At the House of Ideas he contributed to some of Marvel's most popular titles, including Amazing Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, The Mighty Thor and The Incredible Hulk, where he created arguably the most popular comic character of all time, Wolverine. But his biggest contribution has to be the revival of the X-Men after a five year hiatus, where he and artist Dave Cockrum shook up the line-up and created such fan favorites as Nightcrawler, Storm and this writer's personal favorite, Colossus. Wein eventually moved back to DC where he had a prominent career as an editor, working on successful titles like New Teen Titans, Crisis On Infinite Earths and a little book you may have heard of, Watchmen. Most recently, Wein's lent his talents as a writer to Justice League of America for DC. Bring along your old Swamp Thing comics and see if you can't get Wein and Wrightson both to add their John Hancocks to them!

WALT SIMONSON - A veteran of the comics industry for over thirty years, Simonson is best known for his time on Marvel's The Mighty Thor. Though he contributed to a number of titles over the years, including nearly three years on X-Factor that influences much of the X-Books today, most fanboys remember Simonson for what he did during his time with Marvel's Thunder God. With a style nothing short of epic, Simonson took what Kirby had done with the character and built something new and dynamic on top of it. His storytelling was cinematic, his pacing sharp and crisp, and what he did on the book influenced artists for years to come. Oh, and let's not forget that he gave us Beta Ray Bill as well. A winner of multiple awards and a well respected elder in the industry, Simonson is truly one of the greats.

MARK WAID - Mark Waid is, in a word, great. Over the years he's contributed to almost every major character in both the DC and Marvel universes and has never missed a beat. Let's just run down the list. Captain America, Fantastic Four, the X-Men, Ka-Zar, the Legion of Super-Heroes, Metamorpho, Impulse, The Flash, the JLA, and Superman. His epic commentary on the future of superheores, Kingdom Come, is considered one of the best superhero stories ever told and is often mentioned in the same breath as similar works such as Watchmen and Miracleman. Most recently, Waid has lent his talent as editor and writer to upstart BOOM! Studios where he's teaching an old dog some new tricks in his series Irredeemable. A consummate professional and one of the nicest guys in the business, you'd be hard pressed to find a better creator.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Baltimore Comic-Con Creator Profiles Round 2

JASON AARON - Jason Aaron is the anti-hero hero. A man that certainly looks the part he plays, Aaron is a staunch defender of real country music (Johnny Cash, the various Hanks), a fan of hard knock football team the Pittsburgh Steelers and the writer of such badasses as Wolverine, Ghost Rider and his own creation, Dashell Bad Horse. Aaron has made a reputation for himself as the go-to guy for insuring that Marvel's anti-hero icons remain as bad as possible. He's turned Wolverine into the bloodthirsty, vengeful Rambo we always knew he could be, made Ghost Rider into one of the most interesting characters on the Marvel roster and now he's taking over Punisher MAX (ya know, the one where he kills about a hundred people an issue) for his idol Garth Ennis. But what makes Aaron truly great is his creator-owned series Scalped, which DC/Vertigo recently contracted for twelve more issues, bringing the seris count up to forty-eight. It seems like, despite the high volume of titles released by Vertigo each month, there has always been a book that you could describe as the company's flagship. Sandman was that book, Preacher, Hellblazer perhaps, 100 Bullets, Y: The Last Man, Fables. Lost in the hoopla surrounding Y's last issue, 100 Bullets' last issue and the continuation of the Fables epic is the quality of Scalped. Aaron's crime epic, set on and around an Indian reservation, is, in my opinion, the best book Vertigo has published since Preacher. It's one of the few comics I've ever read that literally gets better with every single issue. Equal parts Raymond Chandler and Robert Rodriguez, Scalped is a book that deserves to continue for a long, long time.

PETER TOMASI - Leave it to a guy with fourteen years of editing experience to know how to tell a good story. Tomasi began his career with DC in the early 90s and over the years lent his editing skill to titles such as Green Lantern and JSA, eventually working his way up to the position of senior editor. In 2007 he decided to see how the other half lived though, becoming a regular writer for the company he'd spent the last fourteen years editing. Over the last year, Tomasi has made a name for himself as the storyteller in charge of Nightwing and Green Lantern Corps. He's currently aiding Geoff Johns and a number of other DC writers in raising the dead each month in the Blackest Night mega-event. Not a name you hear bandied about very often, Tomasi is one of the most consistent writers working for DC these days. If you haven't been reading his stuff then I highly suggest you start.

JOSE VILLARUBIA - If not for Dave Stewart, Jose Villarubia would likely be the consensus choice for best colorist in comics. His contributions to the industry as a colorist are prolific. Over the years, he's brought to life the artwork of extremely talented artists such as JH Williams, III, Jae Lee, Ryan Sook and frequent collaborator, Paul Pope. He also teamed with comics juggernaut Alan Moore for two separate graphic novels, including Mirror of Love, a sort of illustrated history of prominent homosexual artists and writers. This was no doubt a project of great personal importance to Villarubia as he is himself openly gay and has been very outspoken for the rights of homosexuals. Most recently, Villarubia lent his talent to Paul Pope, coloring the striking Strange Adventures strip for DC's Wednesday Comics.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Baltimore Comic-Con Creator Profiles

BERNIE WRIGHTSON - This hometown boy is probably the most famous name in horror comics. While Wrightson has worked for various publications over the years, including Marvel, DC and famous horror publisher Warren Publishing, his best known creation is still the Swamp Thing, who he created along with writer Len Wein in 1971. But to remember Wrightson only for his shambling superhero would be a mistake. A prolific artist to say the least, Wrightson has brought the works of such horror luminaries as Stephen King, H.P. Lovecraft and Edgar Alan Poe to skittering, slithering life. In 1975 he joined The Studio, a group of creators looking to break out of the confines of comic books and produce art in various other mediums. Wrightson certainly had success at this, as his non-comic career led him to various work designing posters, prints, calendars, etc. A venerable industry elder, Wrightson has inspired (and worked alongside) a new generation of creators that includes heavy hitters such as Joss Whedon and Ben Templesmith.

NEAL ADAMS - If you were holding a contest to determine the most influential comic book artist of all time, Neal Adams would certainly be one of the finalists. An industry veteran of over forty-five years, Adams is best known for revolutionizing Batman in the 1970s. But it's not only Batman that Adams lent his expert's pencil to. Over the years, he's had the honor of creating some of the most memorable moments in the history of the X-Men, Green Lantern and Green Arrow. Along with writer and longtime collaborator Denny O'Neil, Adams helped revolutionize some of DC's major characters in the 1970s. The 1960s had offered campy, colorful and whimsical interpretations of many of DC's characters, but that candy-coated Silver Age wasn't the world O'Neil and Adams saw when they looked outside their windows. Together, they brought the dangers, controversies, tragedies and triumphs of the real world to the pages of Batman and Green Lantern/Green Arrow. Today, Adams's influence can be felt all around the industry, specifically in the work of creators such as Ivan Reis, Bryan Hitch and John Cassaday. Now it's come to light that Adams has some (less than secret) Batman project in the works with divisive creator Frank Miller. When you see him in Baltimore, see if you can't get him to spill the beans.

ROBERT KIRKMAN - Robert Kirkman is the fan favorite creator of such successful series as Invincible, Marvel Zombies and the Walking Dead. An outspoken defender of the medium, Kirkman made waves with his mission statement for comics last year, where he challenged the major publishers to give new talent a chance and the old dogs to try a few new tricks. It's hard to argue with Kirkman's experience in the matter, considering he's more than put his money where his mouth is. His most famous works, Invincible and The Walking Dead are two of the most successful creator-owned properties in comics. And 2009 has been a big year for both series, as Walking Dead is veering off into unexplored territory and Invincible saw the publication of its 65th issue. Recently, it was announced that AMC, the network behind successful dramas Breaking Bad and Mad Men, have bought the rights to produce a Walking Dead television series. It's been a good year for Robert Kirkman and things are only getting better.

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Surfing the Bleed Interview: Joe Quinones

Joe Quinones may not be a household name yet, but give it time. The artist on DC's Teen Titans GO! and most recently the man in charge of bringing Kurt Busiek's Green Lantern to life for Wednesday Comics, comics' new Joe Q. brings Silver Age style to the modern age. Surfing the Bleed was lucky enough to get Quinones to sit down for an interview. The results are fun and beardtastic. Enjoy!

Me: Hey Joe! Welcome to Surfing the Bleed. Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions for the fans!

Joe Quinones: Anytime.

Me: Could you give the readers out there a quick recap of who you are and what work you've done in the industry thus far?

JQ: Well, my name is Joe Quinones and I'm a freelance artist and educator living just outside of Boston. Over the past two years or so, I've been slowly breaking into the mainstream comics scene with work for DC comics, Marvel, Boom! studios and Devil's Due Publishing. Also, I really love Star Wars.

How did you first get involved in art? I saw some of your "long time ago" blog posts. It looks like you've been interested in art for quite some time. That's a pretty frightening rendering of a T-800, by the way.

JQ: Oh, thank you. Believe me, there's far more terrifying and embarrassing drawings I have from that era. But yes, I've been drawing for some time. My mom has a closet full of my scribblings dating back to before I entered the public school system.

I know at times artists have to battle against the impression that their life's goal is frivolous or unrealistic. Did you encounter that at all as you grew up? Was your family supportive of your artistic goals?

JQ: I was really lucky in that regard, actually. My folks were always extremely supportive of me and my art growing up. I think they recognized an ability in me early on, and did everything they could to encourage me to strengthen that skill and ultimately pursue a career in it. I was constantly entering this art contest and the next, taking extracurricular art classes and so on. For me, it was never a question whether I would be an artist when I grew up, and I owe that completely to the ol' madre and padre.

Was there, do you recall, a specific class or a specific teacher that really pushed you to pursue art and convinced you that you had a really special talent that you should work to develop?

JQ: Totally. My high school art department was really strong. Specifically, my AP Art teacher Mrs. Fitchett went to great lengths to book representatives from various art schools for portfolio reviews and slideshows. She, as well as my drawing and painting teachers, Mr. Massa and Mr. Winter, were very much instrumental in my forming a portfolio of work strong enough to get me into a good art school. They're the best.

Talk a bit about your college education. You went to the Rhode Island Institute of Design, correct? I'm assuming you studied illustration while you were there. Did they offer any courses directly geared toward the creation of sequential art and did you know at that point that you wanted to be a professional comics artist?

JQ: Yup, I ended up going to the Rhode Island School of Design, or RISD as it's sometimes known. There I majored in Illustration and had a wonderful time. RISD creates a really proactive atmosphere, where all of the students and teachers thrive off of one another. Challenging each other to work harder, do better. A built in network of constructive criticism and positive energy. It was a great experience. As far as sequential art goes, it's something I had always had an interest in pursuing, but by the time I got to RISD it certainly had faded into the background as a notion for a career path. However when I took David Mazzucchelli's Comics course that all changed. David taught a class that stressed clarity in storytelling over all else with an enthusiasm and love for the medium that was contagious. He really made me fall in love with comics all over again. I can't say I took his class and instantly knew I would then go into comics, but I certainly wouldn't be where I am today, or know what I know about comics had I not taken his class. It was really invaluable.

This seems like a good time for my favorite question. Do you remember your first comic book? What sort of an effect did it have on you?

JQ: Um... I can't remember exactly... but it was definitely a Batman story. It was either a weird oversize comic about Batman and the Man-Bat, or it was a comic about Batman discovering and stopping a kid from swiping the wheels off the Batmobile... Yeah.... Maybe it was Jason Todd? Yes. It was Jason Todd. Thank you, internet!

Definitely the superior Robin origin story. Chuckle.

How did you get discovered? I know that you've been a regular contributor to Dean Trippe's Project Rooftop contests (Batman, ftw!). Did your contributions to that site help you find work? What was your first professional gig?

JQ: Oh thanks! Glad you dug the Batman redesign. That site is so much fun. I know Dean's a busy guy, but man oh man I wish running that site was his job. I'd love to just endlessly click through my favorite artists drawing up their own takes on my favorite characters. He's a saint for running that site and keeping the awesome coming.
As far as work goes, I don't know that any of my redesigns for the site ever directly led to a job, but they certainly brought me a lot more visibility and I'm grateful for that.
My first mainstream gig was working on Teen Titans GO! for DC's kids line. Mark Chiarello landed the job for me and I remember beforehand while I was sitting with him in his office, he was flipping through my portfolio and mentioned seeing my Wonder Woman redesign from P:R online - so there you go.

You're currently working on the ambitious (and awesome) Wednesday Comics for DC. It must have been such an honor to be asked to participate in this, and your Green Lantern strip with Kurt Busiek is creating some serious "Next Big Thing" buzz for you. Can you talk about what the experience of working on this project has been like and how huge it is to be able to draw a Kurt Busiek script?

JQ: Well, actually, I took so long to answer this interview, that Wednesday Comics is all done now.. (Sorry!) Anyway, I don't know about me being the "next big" anything, but it was certainly an honor to have been invited to work on the book. To be collaborating with Mark Chiarello and Kurt Busiek on top of that was like a dream. That they both wanted to work with me in the first place, is still mind boggling to me. It's really humbling to work with such giants.

Me: I've discussed what I'll refer to as the "DC Effect" with various friends and creators, and it seems to be a consensus that working in that universe just feels really natural. Almost like there's this steady flow of stories and all you have to do is tap into it. Do you agree with that sentiment? Do you feel comfortable working with such iconic figures?

JQ: Yeah, I'd say it's felt pretty natural. My first introduction to comics was with Superman and Batman, so certainly there was a nice familiarity there.

Were you more a Marvel or DC guy as a kid? Why?

JQ: Well, really I like elements of both of the big two. The flawed, more reality based characters of Marvel, and the grander, operatic characters of DC. I think what it really comes down to is classic versus cool. Of the two, in general, I was more often drawn to DC as a kid. Their characters were larger than life. Modern myths. There was less grey area there, and as a kid, I think that really appealed to me.

Me: Could you speak to your process for a bit? What kind of workspace do you have, what sort of environment do you find most productive? Do you prefer a more structured, detailed style of scripting or would you rather see a script from a writer that leaves much of the visual storytelling in your hands?

JQ: I draw at a boring old drafting table in my studio in my apartment. Generally I like to have some sorta background noise while I'm working - whether it be a podcast, music or an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. (At this point, the interviewer would like to point out that Joe Quinones is his new best friend.) Working with scripts, looking at more structured and detailed versus something more loose, I'd say something somewhere in between. Where there is a some clear focus in the script, but I have a bit of creative license in figuring out how to illustrate it.

Me: Let's shift gears for just a moment. With each passing year, the comic book industry shifts more toward digital publishing. Could you give your opinion on where you see the industry headed during the digital age?

JQ: Meh. Certainly the digital world can not and should not be discounted as a valid forum to view and read comics. For me though, nothing beats the tactile experience of picking up and holding a comic in your hands while you read it. It makes the experience that much richer. Kindles be damned.

Me: The main point of these interviews is to get some perspective on "breaking in" from some of the industry's best young talent. What advice can you give an upcoming creator trying to make his way in comics?

JQ: Take your criticisms and rejections on the chin. Keep an open mind. Challenge yourself and keep drawing, keep drawing, keep drawing.

Me: Just for a bit of fun, is there any creator out there today that you'd really love to work with? I do offer cookies (or cupcakes, if that's more your speed) for anybody who answers this question with "Brett Williams." Ha!

JQ: Oh believe me, if there's one thing I don't need more of, it's cookies. Other creators... geez. Too many to name really. I love Ed Brubaker's work. Mark Waid. Would love to work with Grant Morrison. I don't know. Again, it was a dream to have worked with Kurt, and I would love to work with him again. There's another writer who is hero of mine that I'll be collaborating on a longer project with this year, but I can't give any details yet I'm afraid.

From one bearded creator to another, you have a pretty impressive beard, sir. How important do you think it is that comic creators finally shuck the clean shaven look and fully embrace their inner mountain man?

JQ: Oh thank you. I think it should be a prerequisite that all comic artists sport a beard at least of equal quality to my own. I'm kidding - what am I a beard-nazi? I mostly just have this thing because I'm lazy - and my girlfriend likes it. Actually she won't let me shave it. Anyway, I do appreciate a man that can grow a nice beard. Though I'm not beard exclusive. I have some friends that grow a mighty impressive mustache. I just can't pull that off. (The interviewer would like to point out that he can, in fact, pull that off.)

Me: Last but certainly not least. You grew up in New England. Red Sox fan?

JQ: NO. Actually I'm from New York originally, so if I had to be painted any kind of baseball fan it would be a Yankees/Mets one (sorry, Kurt). I'm not really a baseball fan though. If I follow it at all, it would usually just be during playoffs and by proxy of my Dad.

Me: Thanks again for your time Joe. Good luck with all your endeavors in the future!

JQ: Thanks! Beard Pride!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Wednesday Comics: The Awards Show

I haven't written much about Wednesday Comics here on the blog, so I thought, in honor of the twelfth and final issue, I'd create my own series of awards to illustrate what I thought was best (and in one case worst) about this ambitious DC project. Please comment freely. I would love to hear everyone's opinions on my choices and on Wednesday Comics as a whole.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT (SUPERMAN) - The Superman strip by Arcudi and Bermejo has to be the biggest disappointment. While I don't believe it to be the worst strip in the collection (that dubious honor goes to Teen Titans), it is the one strip that fell seriously short of my expectations. The Superman strip in Wednesday Comics had no serious issues, it was just...dull. It felt like it took weeks for anything to actually happen and once it did happen, it was so anti-climactic that it felt entirely flat. The "Superman's Whiny Internal Monologue Is Interfering With Him Kicking Some Alien Ass" approach was just a little too (Winick) Smallville to ever grab my interest. I'm still shocked that this is the strip DC decided to syndicate nationally.

STRIP THAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN SYNDICATED NATIONALLY (GREEEN LANTERN) - People love stories that evoke the neon-lit, cocktail-fueled time period of the late-50s and early-60s. Just look at the success of Mad Men if you don't believe me. And what Kurt Busiek and Joe Quinones created in Green Lantern tapped directly into that American myth of rocket ships and square-jawed heroics. At a time when America is struggling with its identity, Green Lantern would have made a great escape for the readers of USA Today. A place they could go each week for a little space age fun that would hopefully remind them of a time when America was on the forefront of everything great in the world. Plus, with a Green Lantern movie coming down the pipeline, placing this strip in such a highly circulated publication as USA Today would have helped drum up interest in the character amongst the general public. As much as we all love him, sometimes Superman isn't the best man for the job.

BEST NEWCOMER - (JOE QUINONES) - For those of you who don't follow Dean Trippe's supehero costume re-design site Project Rooftop, this is probably the first time you've seen Joe Quinones. And boy howdy what a coming out party he had. Joe's artwork, similar to someone like Carmine Infantino, recalls the Silver Age as well as anyone currently working in the industry. But the thing that may be getting lost in the shuffle here is the artists's talent as a colorist. Every GL construct, every figure hugging mod dress, every neon sign pulses with energy and life. I predict very good things for Mr. Quinones in the future. Now if I could just get him to finish that interview I wrote for him.

BEST OLD DOG, OLD TRICKS (JOE KUBERT) - Wednesday Comics' other Joe has slightly more experience under his belt. Joe Kubert created (along with Robert Kanigher) Sergeant Rock in 1959 and in doing so gave America one of it's most enduring comic icons. Nobody has kicked more Nazi ass than Sgt. Rock. Not Hellboy, not Indiana Jones, not punk rockers in Minnesota circa 1983. So seeing Joe Kubert return to the character he helped make iconic was exciting. Seeing him do it with his son Adam, more so. Hats off, Joe, hats off.

BEST IMITATION KIRBY (KAMANDI) - By any standards, Dave Gibbons and Ryan Sook's Kamandi strip is excellent. A strong candidate for best in the series, Gibbons and Sook created a post-apocalyptic epic in just twelve short pages. While Dave Gibbons is best known for being the artist on the most famous graphic novel of all time (maybe you've heard of it?), he showed off his more than adequate writhing chops on Kamandi. The story is full of action, suspense, heartache, mystery, sacrifice and incredible, memorable characters, all of which are brought to life by Ryan Sook's beautiful pencils. Sook is one of my favorite artists working in comics today and his work on Kamandi does not disappoint. Striking, beautiful and at times terrifying, the art is the perfect compliment to the story. A truly wonderful marriage of word and image, Gibbons and Sook's Kamandi does its hallowed creator proud.

BIGGEST SURPRISE (HAWKMAN) - The reason Hawkman surprised me so much has nothing to do with Kyle Baker, whom I adore regardless of the charcter or the format (Plastic Man, ftw). Rather, it has to do with the fact that I really can't stand Hawkman. Sure, there are interpretations of the character, certain aspects I suppose, that I find appealing. But Hawkman as a whole just bores (or confuses) the hell out of me. Not so in Wednesday Comics. What Kyle Baker created with his Hawkman strip is just plain ol' fun. Lots of adventure, lots of jokes and even a couple weeks worth of Aquaman using the creatures of the sea to battle a Tyranosaurus Rex. Comics should always be this good. Hawkman also possesses the best line of dialogue from the entire series:

Superman: Sorry we're late, Batman. There was a black hole in hyperspace. Don't ask.

Batman: Save the Earth, and all is forgiven.


BEST GUEST STAR (AQUAMAN) - Whether he's helping Supergirl deal with the rampaging super pets or aiding Hawkman in his battle with the T.Rex lord of Dinosaur freakin' Island, Aquaman left his signature all over Wednesday Comics. Was this perhaps an audition by the Lord of the Oceans for inclusion in the next round, if and when there is one? Let's hope so!

BEST STRIP - I've gone back and forth on this the entire time, wondering which strip was ultimately better, The Flash or Strange Adventures. A sound argument could be made for either one, but when it comes right down to it, I give the nod to The Flash. Karl Kerschl and Brendan Fletcher did more than simply tell a great story with great art. They took the medium and did something truly special with it. Each page of The Flash is a singluar work of art, each layout a thing of beauty. And the story, a tale of the strong bond between Iris West and Barry Allen, takes the reader on a journey through time, alternate universes and, ultimately, through the medium and history of comics itself. The Flash is a masterpiece from start to finish and is my personal choice for the best strip in Wednesday Comics.

In case you're wondering, my Top 5 is as follows;

1. The Flash
2. Strange Adventures
3. Kamandi
4. Supergirl
5. Hawkman

Wednesday Comics was an ambitious and, in my opinion, largely successful project. While some strips were certainly more enjoyable than others, as a complete body of work Wednesday Comics is one of the most exciting things I've ever seen happen in the industry. If you liked it, please don't hesitate to speak out. If you haven't gotten into it, get down to your local comic shop and grab the back issues. We need more things like this in comics and the only way we're going to get them is if the fans show their support. Hope will out, Wednesday Comics will be successful enough that DC will feel compelled to do it again. If they do, could someone pass on to Mark Chiarello that I have a great idea for a Question story?

And don't forget...keep reading comics!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Pull List


Action Comics #881
Batgirl #2
Batman & Robin #4
Batman: Streets of Gotham #4
Blackest Night #3
Brave & the Bold #27
Wednesday Comics #11


Captain America: Reborn #3


Angel #25

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Pull List

Here's my pull list for this week.

Dark Horse

Hellboy: The Wild Hunt #6
BPRD: 1947 #3

DC (Entertainment)

Adventure Comics #2
Blackest Night: Batman #2
Green Lantern Corps #40
World of New Krypton #7
Wednesday Comics #10

Marvel (Mouseworks)

Captain Britain and MI13: Vampire State TPB
Marvels Project #2

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Pull List

Here's this week's pull list.


Irredeemable #6


Buffy Season 8 #28
Witchfinder #3


Jonah Hex #47
Justice League: Cry for Justice #3 (because I need a laugh)
Supergirl Annual #1
Wednesday Comics #9


Ghost Riders: Heaven's On Fire #2
Strange Tales #1

It's a much lighter list this week than last week, which is a relief. Last week was almost more than I could handle. It's interesting to see that Marvel finally managed to slip into the list with a book that is written by neither Ed Brubaker nor Jason Aaron (though Mr. Aaron did still find his way in).

Enjoy your books!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Great Bat-Review!

This week I review the big Bat-books that have come out in the last few weeks. Enjoy, discuss. I didn't review Batman & Robin because the review for Batman & Robin is simply this; AWESOME!

Red Robin #3
- Red Robin is the worst comic book I've ever read. Sure, it doesn't involve tiny feet, big patches or mullet haircuts, but that's beside the point. The point is this; Tim Drake deserves better. He deserves better than to be considering work with the League of Assassins, he deserves better than being painted as a closest misogynist and he deserves better than the anti-life equation making sense to him. This is the only detective on the face of the planet that Bruce Wayne honestly thinks may surpass him some day, so why does Christopher Yost insist on writing him as such a dense, reactionary young firebrand? There are really bad comics, but perhaps none of them treat such a rich and wonderful character with such blatant disregard. That disregard makes Red Robin the worst comic book I've ever seen.

Batman: Streets of Gotham #3 - I'm a pretty big fan of what Dini and Nguyen have done in Gotham City over the last couple of years. Paul Dini and I share a love of many of the same Bat-family characters, so I tend to really enjoy his stuff. Streets of Gotham has been no different. While I hate that Black Mask is back, thus negating the work Brubaker did to put him away for good in Catwoman, Dini's use of the character is satisfying. I'm enjoying watching the relationship between he and the Penguin develop. I'm certain Cobblepot will not be a slave for long. Dini also seems to really hear the voices of his main characters, as his treatment of Dick Grayson and Damian Wayne is spot on. Streets isn't just about Batman and Robin fighting crime, it's about Dick and Damian ensuring that the world the Wayne family has built isn't laid to waste in Bruce's absence. Also, Zsasz is terrifying. The device Nguyen has created for Zsasz, showing us the death he projects over every moment of his life, is brilliant. As good as all this is, I do have a couple of complaints. First, Damian looks older and acts older than he really should. While I'm not certain of Katana's age, I'm reasonably certain she is much older than young Master Wayne. Second, streets may be the book at DC that most brazenly ignores continuity. John Stewart is one of the people keeping an eye on Thomas Elliot? Isn't he currently fighting an undead planet on the far reaches of space? Still, continuity not withstanding, Streets of Gotham is a solid Bat-book.

Batgirl #1 - Batgirl was actually holding my attention, then this happened; "Maybe I should take up a sewing class." Good idea, Stephanie. You really aren't cut out to be a superhero. I mean, really you're just some girl with a bad case of hero worship. You'd probably have better luck with home economics than heroism. On a more positive note, I did enjoy that the new Batgirl title is as much about Barbara Gordon learning to be whole again as it is about Stephanie Brown learning to be a hero. And I do like the potential for a Buffy/Giles-style relationship to blossom between the two women. However, if this "sewing class" nonsense continues, I'll be checking out.

Blackest Night: Batman #1 - Regardless of whether you believe DC made the right move greenlighting Blackest Night, you have to admit that the quality of the writing has been top notch. That continues here, as Deadman makes his way to Gotham to warn Dick and Damian about the Blackest Night. The art isn't much better than a Tony Daniel-helmed book, but the story is strong. While the story here is certainly the return of the Drakes and the Graysons from the grave, what's more important are the moments of interaction between Dick and Damian. It's evident in these moments that Dick feels he must be more than a leader to Damian, he must also be a father. Of all the Blackest Night tie-ins, this is easily my favorite. I can't wait to see how Dick, Damian and a returning Tim Drake deal with this tragedy. I suspect they'll do better than we might think. After all, the Bat-family is at home in the night.

I'll be back later with this week's pull list.