Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Masterpiece of "Zero" #18--Several Interpretations of it's Conclusion

A Sublime Read
The 18th and final issue of "Zero" came out some weeks ago, featuring writer Ales Kot and for this issue Tula Lotay (the artist purposely changed every issue). I read it, absorbed its majesty, and have to say it is a solid contender for being arguably the best single issue of a comic this year.

From the first issue of "Zero" this was a great read. We had the debut showing how we would see various years in the life of a young boy trained to kill by the military before breaking free, followed by when things got weird with a surreal fungus that infected people and basically invaded their very body and psyche, to it all got even more bizarre with concepts of multiple universes, everything evil being embodied as a parasitic force, and general insanity. It is funny to think how it really started out seeming to be a straightforward military-type yarn about kids trained to kill, before spinning-off into a surreal tale of shared consciousness and the debate over what in fact makes us human. It is remarkable, just amazing.
Edward facing down the mysterious universal parasite.
The conclusion left a lot up to interpretation and I have several theories. Now, if you haven't read the series a lot of what I have to say will be confusing so what I would recommend is going out and getting all the single issues if you can or buying the 4 trades should that be easier. Then read those and see if you agree with my various takes on the story.

Interpretation 1: It's what it looks like at first blush.
Edward Zero defeats the parasite of evil, the fungus heals his wounds, dissolves, and he goes on to live a happy life of quiet solitude with the woman he loves, having prevented a dark possible future he witnessed where the evil aspects of the fungus spread and ruined the planet. It's happy and it is relatively simple.

Interpretation 2: He's Still Absorbed Into the Fungus-Psyche
Once Edward is freed from the fungus and goes about a happy life things seem almost too serene. The family he steals the clothes from strongly resembles the family of the man he was sent to kill in as early in the series as the 2nd issue. Other hints of past events pop-up. It's evident that Edward may have defeated that evil force, but is still a part of the fungus, having it show him what he wants to see so that he can live a, "Happily ever-after," even though after a life of so much misery and bloodshed that may not truly be possible. After all, if the fungus could show him a potential future where he is an old man narrating the entire story we read to his son, it would make sense for the fungus to give him his joyous ending as thanks for destroying the evil parasite that would have ruined the planet. It's depressing and not too complicated, a darker alternative to my first interpretation. Plus, one element makes me think this or my third idea are correct. Namely: Edward's eye.

Interpretation 3: The Fungus Sent Him to Another Universe...Somehow
At the end of the comic Edward has two working eyes. Early in the series he lost one eye. How could this be possible unless he is still in the fungus, or if my third thought about the series holds true. I would think that seeing as how the fungus stated that it is in various Multiverses, and even claimed that because Edward was helpful to it he could choose one, could this be a world where he has both eyes? Perhaps this surreal multiversial fungus literally transported his essence to another world, and then sent him off, kind of like in interpretation 1, but with the element that maybe all these references to the earlier events appear because in this multiverse things went a little bit differently, a tad better.

Edward Zero is maybe not in his "real" world, but he's in a better one (for him, at least), and for that reason he doesn't care how real or fake his existence is, as really we are just come from the fungus and turn into the fungus. It's extremely dense, both happy and sad, plus it is pretty far-fetched, except for the question of that darn eye throwing a big wrench into the first interpretation (unless the fungus could fix his eye or such). Hence, I like this interpretation I came up with the most.

The Correct Answer Is?
I am not certain if one of the, "Takes," I came-up with for the final issue is more accurate than the others, but I personally like the strange, metaphysical nature of the 3rd interpretation and like to think that is how things "really" occurred. I would also say with the utmost certainty that Ales Kot purposely wanted to leave things vague, as much of Zero has been told in way that readers can draw their own conclusions about a variety of elements. I mean, he says it outright with the line, "It's all theatre."
That is just another element that has resulted in me loving this title so much, with the complex nature, experimental style of changing artists every issue, and overall deep-thought clearly put into each issue all being elements that result in a beautiful piece of artwork.

From writer Ales Kot, to his artist collaborators, and colorist Jordie Bellaire who helped maintain a continuity-of-appearance despite all the disparate art styles, this is just a superb comic, and one I'm glad to have been with from its first issue to this final 18th. Without a doubt this comic has earned...
5 out of 5 stars.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Links as the Month Winds Down

What Could be Better Than Links?
July is nearing its end, various things of interest have happened, I shall link to them.

The Links Themselves

Let's be honest, the empty streets of the recent Batman games are kind of dreary and a world as alive as Gotham could theoretically be would result in something stellar.

Peter Molyneux has definitely been having a hard time of late, with 22 Cans floundering about. That said, I did quite enjoy the old classic "Black and White" with one major fascinating element being the creature you--as a God--could pick to raise and how it actually, "Learned," during the game. It's a feature not really replicated much since and that is kind of a shame.

Does context matter with a joke? Definitely, which is something this enjoyable article points out about Mel Brook's "The Producers" and how someone protesting the fact it features Hitler--even if Hitler is being mocked--completely misses the point.

We need to be honest, "Go Set a Watchman" really would have never come out if everyone were behaving ethically, and it seems extremely likely Harper Lee is being taken advantage of in her old age and ill health now that her sister Alice--who long protected Harper and her estate--passed away just last November.

I always felt like the ghosts of Pac-Man had different personalities. This article which explains how their programming proves I actually have been right!

H.P. Lovecraft had a ton of personal issues and things/people he hated, to the point where it can be hard to enjoy his writings. Still, his ideas and concepts have been so strong they continue to be used and explored in various forms of media today ranging from comics (Alan Moore is in the early stages of a 12-issue epic of Lovecraftian themes), to movies, and of course video-games. Hence, it is interesting how different games handle the ideas differently.
As they become further exposed as the crazy extremists they are, the anti-vaccine movement is developing a dangerously scary and potentially violent fringe of their already troublesome lot.

Marvel had some PR difficulty lately in regards to diversity so hearing they have a "Black Panther" comic coming out and Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso claims Marvel is eager for more diversity is good. Well, it is good if anything positive comes out of it as I would hope.

I haven't ever gotten around to actually playing the "God of War" games, but from what I've read and watched of the series, Kratos has seemed kind of like a big jerk. Apparently it could be argued that around the third game in the series it doesn't put on any airs and instead simply makes it evident that yeah, you're playing the bad-guy.
In regards to Donald Trump doing so well in GOP polls, all I have to say is: Aright, it's not funny anymore.

This article discusses how even if the remake of, "Final Fantasy VII," is a shameless cash-grab for a game many now claim is overrated, so many gamers still want it to be good, and we hope it lives up to the dream of that giving us that magic it made us feel way-back-when.

Lastly, there was an "Ant-Man" movie that came out recently and I've been a bit too buys to see (yeah, I'm a terrible nerd/lazy/whatever insult you want to use), but it is nice to think how the "Ant-Man" comic by Nick Spencer happens to be a pretty good read itself too, regardless of corporate synergy.

There We Are/Go/Gone
Hopefully some or all of those links were interesting to you.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

"Enomrous" TPB and Issue #7 Review

Do Big Monsters Equal Big Fun?
I'd heard a variety of positive things about "Enormous", now being published by 215 Ink. Apparently it has even be optioned for television. Well, I picked up the 1st trade awhile ago down at the ol' comic shop and recently had the chance to read a digital copy of brand-new issue #7 too; therefore, I thought I would offer my thoughts on the series and my enjoyment of it.

Insert Pun About "Enormous" Entertainment Here
The first trade of "Enormous" that collects issues #1-#6 is quite the good time, with only some complaints keeping me from thinking of it as the perfect big-monster comic. Written by Tim Daniel and illustrated by Mehdi Cheggour, there are a variety of characters that appear, but one big focus is Ellen Grace, a schoolteacher who quite early in the trade has to try and save her Mother who suffers from (what appears to be) Alzheimer's from a monster attack and attempt to return to the school where she and her girlfriend work.

The reason for these enormous creatures appearing is hinted at towards the end of the trade, but the main thrust of the story is seeing how the sudden attacks around major cities by these gigantic beasts is causing immense societal trouble, or as the A.V. Club puts it, the comic is kind-of like "The Walking Dead" but with big ol' monsters instead of zombies. We primarily see how Ellen and other survivors attempt to deal with these monsters attacking and throughout the book you really grow to care about Ellen and feel for her when she loses loved ones.

One slight against the writing however is that besides Ellen I didn't find myself really caring too much about what happened to other characters. It sometimes seemed like we would meet someone only for them to die a horrible death not too long after their introduction, which can be good as it shows no one is safe, but bad as it makes it difficult to form much of  an emotional bond with anyone. I mean, if I figure somebody is going to die in a few pages why even bother remembering their name?

The artwork tends to be gorgeous, with the big monsters appearing genuinely disturbing and gross. The illustrations are lush and the colors have an expert balance of appearing a bit softer and less exotic where they should (buildings and the characters), and really popping when it comes to the more surreal stuff such as the huge animals. If had something negative to say about the artwork, it is that it sometimes can be really tricky to follow the action when a ton is going on within the page, and that can make it a bit confusing--"Oh, they went from the roof to inside the building somehow, maybe on this odd splash page?" Also it says Saint Louis is in Michigan instead of Missouri, a weird typo I noticed as I live around the STL area.

"MI" instead of "MO" you say? Interesting.
Also, Cheggour seems to really like using something along the lines of a "light bloom" feature in the comic, with lots of random streaks of light occurring at random moments, almost like they let J.J. Abrams loose into the comic and told him to go nuts with the lens flare (that may sound harsh on Abrams, but he really has over-used that trick in his flicks). Still, sometimes even if the artwork seems like it would work better as a really cool pin-up instead of a somewhat-obtuse assortment of panels, I really do like the art overall and my issues are more nit-picky than not.

With the seventh issue a chunk of my complaints are actually addressed, with it being a relatively quiet event--taking place over just one big scene after a lengthy foreword that helps to get new readers up-to-speed-- and features a new character who seems to be a tough fighter. It is interesting how the issue is actually labeled both as the 1st of, "Season 2" and as the 7th overall, so I simply refer to it as #7 even though someone could argue its another first issue (which could help drive sales too).

As the Dust Settles...
I'm greatly enjoying Enormous and would recommend you pick-up the first trade for only $9.99 or take advantage of a deal that seems to be going on at Comixology until July 28th where you can get all the issues for a 50% discount (I myself prefer having a physical copy of my comics generally, but to each his/her own). The seventh issue was an intriguing change of pace and easier to follow artwork-wise, so other than my continuing umbrage at how too many characters are underdeveloped and the artwork can be confusing I would say this is a stellar read.
4.5 out of 5 stars.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Rant-Reviews: Everything Old Is New Again with Oni and Boom!

Back to the...Past?
Sometimes we as human being like nostalgia. I mean, I wrote a post about the power it has not too long ago. One thing I really appreciate however is when you can give a reader a dose of the past but throw in an interesting twist to keep it fresh. Both Oni Press and BOOM! Studios have some titles coming out that riff on past ideas while putting a new spin on things, so I thought it would be fun to review them!

Old-School Monsters and Aliens from the Early 2000's
Godzilla and other famous monsters have entertained us in various forms of media for quite some time, and when I was a young gentleman I was quite a fan of "Invader Zim" and upset when it was cancelled. Therefore, with my affinity for big monsters and humorous aliens it is quite delightful for Oni Press to be putting out two comics that have them both!

Kaijumax #4
Zander Cannon has the strangest title here, as I've discussed. Bright and peppy artwork combined with a clever concept--a prison-island for gigantic monsters, meets with some dark and gritty and violence as well as scary overtones. Cannon may go just a bit too far this issue, riffing on the concept of shower-rape in prison but without actually using that word or having it be quite that. The balancing act he does every issue between funny and gruesome unfortunately dips a little-more into the grotesque this issue. That's alright though because overall this has been quite the solid series (I didn't review it, but I loved issue #3) and other parts of this comic continue to be intriguing as we learn more and more about the prison's residents and staff. Not my favorite issue, but definitely a series to keep watching.
3.5 out of 5 stars.

Invader Zim #1
Well darn, this is difficult. You see, I have such a fondness for the original "Invader Zim" television show done by Jhonen Vasquez (of "Johnny the Homicidal Maniac" fame) that I worry my love of that program could result in my either automatically adoring everything within this book because it is finally more Zim...or I could despise this comic because nothing could live up to my expectations. Well, putting aside any possible "baggage" my love of the original show entails, I do have an opinion on the comic itself: it is quite fun!

This first issue of "Invader Zim" tackles the fact plenty of people are unaware of Zim by simultaneously filling-them-in and making fun of overwrought continuity by having a character known as the, "Recap Kid," explain the basics of "Invader Zim" and the title character's arch-enemy, Dib. The comic acknowledges how it, "Feels like years," since we last saw the characters and otherwise picks right up where we left off with Zim and Dib constantly engaging in a battle of wits...that both fail miserably at as they are utterly incompetent. It has a fair share of hilarious moments, its appearance is reminiscent of the original program, and it is overall a great read. If you're a fan of the original "Invader Zim" when it was on T.V. or just looking for a good dose of humor, this is without a doubt worth reading.
4 out of 5 stars.

1990's Anti-Heroes and 1920's Supermen

BOOM! Studios has their comic, "Oh Killstrke" which has been delightfully mocking the 1990's era of comics whilst simultaneously displaying a sense of affection for them and just came out with the first issue of "Strange Fruit" which has had a fair degree of hype from them. I quite like one and am a little let-down by the other.

Oh, Killstrike #3
From his introduction in the first issue, Killstrike has been lovable as a pastiche of the worst excesses of the super-hero comics of the 1990's and the comic itself has been delightfully wild in its mocking of super-heroics, from the jokes about market-speculation in the first issue to giving a good ribbing to other publishers for their tendency to "fridge" female characters in the second issue. The third issue gets even more meta by making fun of how comics actually lately are maybe too meta! Writer Max Bemis goes so far as to call himself out for being one of those, "Minor celebrity," creators (it seems he is well-known for the band "Say Anything") in a fascinating rant that comes from one of the characters about how its gotten so bad in comics people can't just honestly enjoy something. No, instead they have to be hipsters who enjoy things ironically but with a hint of earnest love for the medium of comics (it is stated). I've been really enjoying this riff on the comics of the 1990's and how they impact the comics of today--I especially loved this issue and how it broke the 4th wall so that it could make fun of comics that break the 4th wall. Delightful stuff!
5 out of 5 stars.

Strange Fruit #1
I am generally a big fan of Mark Waid, and J.G. Jones has turned in some solid work too. This comic also was hugely promoted with how it took the concept of Superman but apparently turned it on its head by making the Superman-analogue black...not actually that shocking as it is something which has been done plenty of times (I can think of plenty of examples) and setting him in the past when people were racist--with the idea of a super-powered black-man scaring white people being a little less common...in that I can only think of two recent examples off the top of my head ("Uber" has touched on this, and "The Blue Marvel" when he appeared in his original mini-series riffed on this too). Still, even if the idea isn't as original as BOOM! may have made it out to be, that still is a good creative team, so how is the comic?

To answer about the comic's quality: Eh, it's alright. I find I strongly agree with this article by Dominic Griffin in which he discusses that while "Strange Fruit" is by no means a wreck, it is a disappointing comic in that it doesn't live up to what readers could hope for. It basically just follows the tropes of, "Here is the racist south, a space-ship has crashed, the alien is black, aren't you shocked?" before concluding the debut issue with our supposed protagonist saying nary a word. It is all perfectly passable entertainment even if I find J.G. Jones painting in this to be a bit over-done in that it has that uncanny-valley feeling I'll often get from Alex Ross. Should you be a fan of that style of artwork your mileage may vary. It is quite possible that as things continue this could turn into something great, but for now I'm underwhelmed.
2 out of 5 stars.

New Dogs with Old Tricks
These comics taking concepts and ideas that are older and making adventurous ideas from them really is like a case of taking an old dog and teaching it new tricks. I like it, and even if it doesn't always succeed completely, it can result in some interesting tales.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Marvel's Hip-Hop Covers and Cultural Appropriation

Let's play a game of word-baseball...
I'll say this idea Marvel has at first sounds cool, but then we will see what the strikes are that make me less-than-interested and result in an, "Out." A just a short while ago Marvel announced they were going to be doing covers to their Marvel comics that, "Pay tribute" to various rap albums throughout time. Upon hearing this I thought that sounded neat, and then stated, "Wait, haven't some other folk been at that already on the internet?" It turns out a variety of people have indeed been doing so, and interestingly enough they aren't involved in any capacity with this Marvel cover-event.

Strike One.

It was then observed that Marvel was doing this whilst having basically no black writer or artist working on one of their 50+ comics. While rap is of course by no means something done solely by black people or for black people (after all, I'm as pale as chalk and love hip-hop) there is a question of cultural appropriation in all this (more on what cultural appropriation is in a minute).

Strike Two.

When questioned about this, Marvel's own Tom Brevoort gave a very curt response with someone asking him on Tumblr, "Can you explain why Marvel thinks doing hip hop variants is a good idea, when absolutely no announced writers or artists on the new Marvel titles, as of now, are black? Wouldn't correcting the latter be a much better idea than the former?" to which we witnessed Brevoort simply saying, "What does one have to do with the other, really?"

Strike Three.

So we've got three strikes against what at first sounds like a fun idea, but is basically using a concept done by other folk without inviting them to contribute or giving them credit, lacking much in the way of actual diversity (there are a small amount of black artists contributing cover-artwork, but that is it), and now standoffish words are being said when anyone dare question Marvel's actions. Yeah, this ain't looking good.

What Exactly is "Cultural Appropriation?"
Iggy Azalea: A living, breathing example of cultural appropriation.
The question of what cultural appropriation in fact entails is a valid one. One of the best writers on comics around, David Brothers, states what it is and how it applies in this situation quite expertly. Basically, he points out that if hip-hop gives cultural ideas to Marvel but Marvel gives little back, its a one-way street in terms of sharing ideas.

Then, it goes on to be that with Marvel purporting to support rap culture, and a big aspect of it that is that there are people of color in such a culture while Marvel has little-to-none of them involved...well, as this comic linked-to by David Brother's says at the end, "Culture never has or will exist in a vacuum, but maybe it's not so much about who has control over a design, but whether the people it originates from feel in control of their identities."

As Brothers' then points out, these rap covers put Marvel in, "The house," of rap culture, and to some degree black culture, and when you're celebrating rap and by proxy a solid chunk of "black culture" without actually having much of anyone from the culture you claim to be respecting...well, you're just making a profit off others without them involved, and that is essentially the very definition of cultural appropriation.

Or to put it another way as Sean P. has, " These folks did hot covers for YEARS before anyone at Marvel gave one damn about cashing in on this....It feels as if Marvel, Axel Alonso, and whatever editor wished to push this forward saw all these works over the years, waited for things to cool down a bit, and jacked the concept without a care. And as press releases continue to flow amongst the geek sites regarding these Hip-Hop covers Marvel is doing, you'll read of people praising Marvel for their continued, "Columbus-ing," of a culture that they don't really mess with."

So, It's a Mess

Basically, this is a mess. Tom Brevoort has seen the internet get mad at him and he reblogged a post that kinda-sorta defends him with a, "Hey, it's more than just black people who make hip-hop," comment, which misses the point how of course it is more than just black individuals who rap, but if you're going to riff on a culture that does have a solid history of--for lack of a better word--blackness--it's awkward to essentially be throwing a party for a group without inviting much of anyone from that group to the event.

I am of course white, so someone could easily say, "Well, what right do you have to protest about this?" Honestly, I don't have any extra right to wag my finger at Marvel when it comes to my own background, but as someone who strongly believes in equality and giving people the respect they and their culture are due, I should speak-up in support of those who are telling Marvel, "Hey, even if you have some snazzy artwork this really isn't cool."
Because at the end of the day no matter how awesome some of these covers are, this really isn't cool, Marvel. For that reason I would discourage others from supporting this hip-hop cover effort unless Marvel really gets their shit together and turns this potential fiasco around.

Then again, as most websites are simply going, "Oh fun, Marvel is honoring hip-hop!" in much of the manner Sean P. has observed, Marvel is probably just going to half-apologize all the way to the bank. That's probably the most culturally-honest thing in all of this--corporations making a profit at the expense of others AKA the American way.

Monday, July 13, 2015

San Diego Comic-Con 2015 News and Links

SDCC Thoughts
A variety of interesting things happened at the San Diego Comic-Con(technically called Comic-Con International: San Diego, but nobody says that). Seriously, a ton occurred. Here are some of the stories that especially caught my eye...

Interesting Things
I'll admit it, I am a fan of Grumpy Cat, and seeing the little rascal has a comic coming out soon does pique my interest.

I'm sorry, but as great as "The Dark Knight Returns" is, the bit of "DK2" I read in addition to the sub-par quality of Frank Miller's "Holly Terror" has me thinking that this 3rd entry in the series, "The Master Race," may be something I sit-out, even as more details come to light.

Now, one story of Batman fighting Superman that actually is looking more and more promising is the upcoming, "Batman VS Superman," which has a startlingly good new trailer.

It was announced right before SDCC, but it still was a huge surprise to see Grant Morrison was going to become the new Editor-in-Chief for "Heavy Metal", of all things. A comic magazine more known for a lot of T&A and gore lately, I am quite interested to see the direction Morrison may take it in.

Valiant has been a publisher of some strong works since its return from the grave, and the publisher's announcement of some new titles with a variety of solid folk on the creative team has me intrigued.

This isn't directly related to SDCC, but it was interesting to see how Mile High Comics spent all that money on "Star Wars" variant covers and is just currently breaking even. They are a big presence at SDCC so that made me think of that. It also reminded me of that article I made stating how the variant-madness for "Star Wars" was outright absurd.

BOOM! Studios has been releasing some stellar stuff lately, and I am a fan of "Cyanide and Happiness", therefore it pleases me to see that another collection of quality humor will be coming out soon.

Vertigo is looking to try and surge back into the attention of comic-readers, with a bunch of new releases.

It seems neither Marvel or DC was pleased at their, "Sizzle reels," of "Suicide Squad" and "Deadpool" leaking, although in this era of cell-phone cameras is it really a surprise when it happens? But wait, it seems DC has officially released the Suicide Squad trailer now so I guess it's all good?

I am happy that "Squirrel Girl" will continue having a comic, because as I've discussed before, her book is awesome.

As this was a comic-convention (although many would argue SDCC isn't comic-focused enough), there was of course tons of cosplay, many of it great.

Lastly, I believe Image Comics had a presence at SDCC, but I can't recall much in the way of announcements. There were fun panels, but anything "new" seems to have been mostly discussed at the latest Image Comics Expo which occured not too long ago. One interesting thing of note from that? Brian K. Vaughan writing "The Walking Dead" in some capacity.

Another Year Done!
There we go, another year, another SDCC completed. While this year's convention didn't have any super-huge or crazy announcement that drove me wild (although that Batman VS Superman trailer really is quite delightful) it still gave us some fun headlines and otherwise was enjoyable.


Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Brace Yourselves, the Big Comic-Con in San Diego Approaches


San Diego's Comic-Con--or if you want to use the official, fancy name, "Comic-Con International: San Diego," is beginning tomorrow (more or less). I won't be there, if for no other reason than I lack the money to go myself even if I could somehow get press access. That, and no one has offered to pay for me to go yet besides this one creepy old lady in the neighborhood who keeps saying she wants a, "Live-action version of the new Magic Mike movie." That last part was a joke, but seriously, that event easily can result in you laying down a couple G's before you buy anything at the 'con itself.

I will of course follow all the news from the convention and get a post up at some point detailing my thoughts, and perhaps someday go there or the more-interesting-to-me New York City Comic-Con (I am more intrigued by it as I actually know NYC slightly and feel it would be less intimidating than San Diego, where I have never been). For now though, I'll be kicking-back and monitoring the ol' interweb for exciting updates.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

It Occurs To Me I Haven't Really Talked About "Secret Wars" or this "All New, All Different" Marvel Universe

Just Not That Interested

I realized something as June ended and we entered the first day of July: I really haven't talked about "Secret Wars" much at all. The main reason for that is basically I'm not reading it. To make matters more troubling, I'm honestly not overly excited at the, "All New, All Different," Marvel Universe either.

I mean, yes, I was getting the Marvel comics I enjoyed and some of them tied-in with "Secret Wars" (I'll miss you, "Captain America: And the Mighty Avengers," although this "Ultimates" comic sounds like it will have a similar cast and the same writer in Al Ewing). Seriously though, it is just far too big and too expensive a thing for me to feel I can successfully follow it. I was reading some comics that led into it, enjoying "New Avengers" and the like, but as I've been more careful with budgeting I really am just reading less Marvel, and now just a little DC occasionally (although some of their new stuff is snazzy and maybe worth following).

Why Is it Hard to Summon Excitement?
Perhaps it is my eventitis that makes me feel it is okay to miss-out on "Secret Wars", although I'm not positive that is it. One concern that makes me less interested might be how it seems "Secret Wars" is becoming a delayed mess approaching, "Civil War"-levels of extended waiting for comics, although some argue a delay shouldn't hurt too much.

As for the, "All New All Different," Marvel Universe we're getting (don't call it a reboot, lest Marvel get angry), some things do sound interesting--such as Warren Ellis writing a comic about the Inhuman Karnak--but I just feel that when I'm looking over the full list not too much grabs me in the way titles would in the past. I just see the solicits and go, "Oh, another Avengers team of various heroes we don't always see working together? Okay," or I state, "Venom is in space now? Hm." There is some solid stuff (more "Howard the Duck" is welcome, as well as Jason Aaron and Chris Bachalo on "Doctor Strange") but a lot of things just have me shrugging. Other than Ellis writing Karnak the only other title I see myself super-excited to try out is a "Squadron Supreme" comic that sounds kind of like the classic series, "Exiles," but with members of (what else?) the famous super-hero crew originally from various Universes. Perhaps that is because I've always found the ol' Squadron to be neat when written well by various talents. Plus, I loved "Exiles" when it was going well.

This one actually has piqued my interest.
Still, why is it hard to summon excitement? I don't know, honestly. It could be the eventitis, it could be the delays, or perhaps I'm just annoyed with continuity often bogging things down as well as changing in my tastes as an individual to wanting to read more titles from other publishers in addition to the stuff from the, "Big Two," of Marvel and DC. I'm not sure what makes it more difficult for me to be as interested in Marvel's going-ons (as well as DC's) because when they put out something I like, I still really adore it. It just seems things are more hit-or-miss for if they'll get my attention these days.

In the end there is still plenty of good stuff coming out from Marvel before this re-launch (again, they decry it being called a reboot) and there will undoubtedly be some great stuff after...just maybe not as much that intrigues me as in previous years.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Rant-Reviews--Let's Talk About Our Feelings

All Those Emotions

Comics make us feel emotions, at least when they are doing their job they should. Whether we relate to the emotions of the characters or have our own sentiments after reading a story, if you don't feel something after reading a comic, I would argue it didn't fully do its job. After all, any comic--nay, any piece of entertainment--should garner some sort of sensation, as opposed to being the mental equivalent of eating a rice cake--e.g. dry, dull, and boring (although I do like rice cakes with a hint of salt, work in a comic metaphor however you can from that). I'll be rating comics not just with my usual stars, but with to what degree of, "The feels," they cause with that term referring to a wave of emotions a person experiences while enjoying a piece of entertainment.

Comics That Result In, "The Feels."
Starve #1
Brian Wood is of course a writer that I now feel slightly icky about when I consider things that came to light not long ago. Still, he can be quite the solid writer, and "Starve" is an interesting comic that reminds of other things--possibly to a fault.

Take a dash of a comic about unfair division of classes (so something like Greg Rucka's "Lazarus"), thoughts on a future full of privatization and weird technology (shades of Warren Ellis' "Transmetropolitan"), our cultural obsession with cooking competitions (most of what is on the Food Network these days) and add just a dash of dark humor about how human beings love being awful to each other (a forte of Garth Ennis). These are all solid ingredients, but while reminding of so many other things, "Starve" struggles a bit to carve out its own identity.

The thing that keeps it from feeling like an utter mish-mash of concepts loosely congealing together is that the protagonist, Gavin Cruikshank, is just the right mixture of unpleasant and empathetic that readers should care about him. Someone who has been at the top, fallen to the bottom, and sees the injustice in the world but actually has a chance to do something about it, Gavin is a neat fellow. Were it not for Gavin this comic wouldn't have too much of a pulse, but Wood has a great character in him and that results in a comic I am interested in enough to want to keep following, for now at least.
3.5 out of 5 stars/"feels".

Material #2
The first issue of this Ales Kot written comic really grabbed me. It was fascinating with how it had these various unlinked (for now) stories, mentions of other media we could consume that related to what was going on the in comic, deep talk about the meaning of life, the (lack of) liberty, and our world's obsession with technology. This issue has the same, but feels like a little less of a shocking punch-to-the-gut as that debut.

It is still amazingly good, and I bet as we build to a conclusion I will love this series even more. For now though, it is a fascinating read not quite as wild as the first issue, but still capable of making readers feel a lot of emotions, many of them sad and hopeful as we witness these people suffering difficulties and dream that everything will work out for them...although it most likely may not.
4.5 out of 5 stars/"feels".

Annihilator #6
Grant Morrison's "The Filth" is arguably my favorite comic, ever. "The Multiversity" is probably my favorite thing he has finished this year. So, what is "Annihilator"? Well, its a good comic that riffs on the concepts of how we as people tell stories, without being as meta as "The Multiversity" got, as the main idea is our protagonist has to write a story before he dies in order to survive. This somewhat-delayed final issue wraps everything up in a nice and clean manner while at the same time mocking stories that wrap everything up nicely. It is a solid series, made that extra bit enjoyable by the superb art of Frazier Irving. Morrison makes readers think with this story, but Irving's stark and creepy artwork makes you feel.

Irving can make even a moment of seeming calm seem unpleasant and eerie--and I mean that as a compliment. The surreal space-monsters that Irving drew throughout this series and the new beings we meet within this issue took this comic from potentially being a good science fiction story straight into the realm of a really good sci-fi-horror yarn. I'm not sure who brought out the best in whom of the creative team, but the combination of Morrison and Irving takes something that would be good, and makes it great--in addition to full of the feels.
4 out of 5 stars/"feels".

The Wicked and the Divine #11
This came out some time ago, with the release of the next issue not far off (i.e. this week), but I just wanted to share some brief thoughts on the end of this particular installment of "Wic+Divine." Namely how upon reading the issue I wanted to shout, "Oh my God, that ending was insane!" Oh, and also how felt the urge to exclaim how, "I honestly have no clue what happens next!"

Seriously though, Gillen utterly shocked me with the events of this comic and has me hooked more than ever on this amazing title. The sheer shock, surprise, and confusion I felt reading this defines what it means to have, "The feels."
5 out of 5 stars/"feels".

Now I'm Just Exhausted

Some comics inspire more "feels" than others. This can be a good thing and a bad thing, considering how something like "Annihilator" is enjoyably scary and fun, but "The Wicked and the Divine" just leaves you emotionally drained (that ends up being a good thing, however). At the end of the day, I would rather read a comic that makes me feel ways I'm not always comfortable with (sad, angry, etc.) than a comic that leaves me feeling, "blah." I imagine most readers would too.

Forgot to Mention One Other Whatculture Post

I'll have a "normal" article here shortly, but it occurs to me I forgot to mention I had yet another Whatculture post go up, this one video-game related. It's about the 10 Most Controversial Video-Games that were rated, "Adults Only," here in good ol' America. It's a post full of crowd-pleasing stuff such as discussion of raunchy content and extreme violence. It also got more views than my less-saucy  posts for the website in one-tenth the time, so clearly sex sells. Go inspect it if you feel the urge, and I apologize for all the promotion of me on other websites, I do have some good things brewing to be posted-up here so don't worry.