Entries Tagged 'Comics' ↓

Superficial Saturdays #6 – AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #692 by Marcos Martin

For the 50th anniversary of [arguably] Marvel Comics’s favorite character the House of Ideas commissioned superduperstar artist Marcos Martin to scribble up a number of variant covers, and man were they gorgeous. Jonathan Becker of “Tomfidence” fame brought these to my attention for Superficial Saturdays. Here is my favorite of the set “the 1970s variant”:

Artist: Marcos Martin

Anyone familiar with Spider-Man’s history knows about the Death of Gwen Stacy; Peter’s true love was murdered by his archenemy the Green Goblin in one of the most famous no-win situations in comics. Martin’s homage is just perfect in my estimation. Despite the dominance of negative space, I think this is a very well-composed image.

The use of color in this image is just… brave. I love flat color but this is just extreme. The red of the background is the same as the red of Spidey’s suit is the same as the red of Gwen’s outfit [and if memory serves she was wearing a green coat in the original]. I love how he uses the limited color palette to imply Gwen’s death. She is all white and gray… Like a ghost.

Goes without saying that the line work on this one is just outstanding. And versatile. You can tell that both images are Marcos Martin but he uses a completely different line than we saw in GREEN ARROW #40. Thanks to Becker; just love this one.


Superficial Saturdays #5 – CATALYST COMIX #1 by Rafael Grampá

I was actually clicking around some comics websites looking for news updates on some of my favorite Image books [that haven’t come out in forever], HELL YEAH and DANGER CLUB, and I just saw a banner ad for CATALYST COMIX out of Dark Horse (which was more-or-less a cutaway of the below #1 cover).

I thought it was gorgeous… Kind of like a cross between Geoff Darrow (or maybe P. Craig Russell on SANDMAN) and Popeye cartoons.

So here’s the criteria…

  • Banner ad for a [book?] I had never heard of… And who clicks banner ads anyway?
  • Not only was it disruptively engaging, eye-catching, and in my opinion gorgeous…
  • I even wrote a blog post about it!



Artist: Rafael Grampá

Though the Popeye-esque chin on that protagonist (?) is what initially caught my eye, my favorite thing about Rafael Grampá’s cover has to be that right boot. They obviously applied computer coloring to his gorgeous, clean, cartoon-esque line work; but that boot. It’s just a huge chunk of black ink. In fact, it’s almost an eff-you to gradient color. I want to say all the detail is perfectly-applied negative space, but it actually looks like white ink (or at least white Photoshop). Love it regardless. Absolute best thing about a pretty great shot.

So (other than admiring that boot) what do I know about CATALYST COMIX?

Um… Nothing?

I know a mite about writer Joe Casey. He wrote one of my favorite comics, CODEFLESH (link is to a review I wrote on my old blog almost a Deckade ago), was responsible for the ingenious and ultimately unsuccessful WILDCATS 3.0, and is a co-creator of the character Ben 10 as a part of Man of Action; but of CATALYST COMIX, I know nothing.

But I thought the cover was engaging enough to pen these ~200 words.

If you are interested in learning more, Dark Horse has a free CATALYST COMIX preview on their website.

So… What do you think? Good enough cover for a Superficial Saturdays with no other knowledge?


Superficial Saturdays #4 – GREEN ARROW #40 by Marcos Martin

I have always had a short list of artists whose work I just go and buy almost unconditionally. My floppies collections past are littered with old issues of CLAN DESTINE, RUNE, and random Euro comix as testaments to an auto-buy devotion to Travis Charest, Alan Davis, Carlos Pacheco, or Barry Windsor-Smith from back in the 1990s. Today no artist rates higher on my personal scale than Marcos Martin.

You can probably see why:

Comic: GREEN ARROW #40
Artist: Marcos Martin

Martin is an absolute master of sequential storytelling but his covers are pretty striking as well (as I am sure you can see).

In such a simple character image he hits so many notes here. Leather. Light. I feel like I can em effin’ swim in the ink pools of Black Canary’s one piece. And check out the hips on dear Dinah! Hips don’t lie BTW. I am just in love with this cover picture. Probably doesn’t hurt that — thanks to Gail Simone on BIRDS OF PREY — Black Canary is one of my favorite characters.

BDM says that one mark of a good cover is how much story it can imply in that single image. I think — and this is guided a bit by the caption on the right, natch — Martin does a spectacular job. Black Canary has a frowny-face. She is snapping an arrow. Her beau’s name is Green Arrow. Might they be breaking up in this ish?

The cover kind of screams that you should want to find out.


Superficial Saturdays #3 – THE ULTIMATES #4 by Bryan Hitch

I am scratching my head on this one.

This digital image does nothing to convey the power, energy, excitement, and lighting of Thor’s lightning:


Artist: Bryan Hitch

You’ll have to accept my apologies, I guess.

But I can dial you back to 2002; it was a wondrous time in comics. BDM was getting THE CRAPTACULAR B-SIDES rolling at Marvel so we talked comics at least as much as we talked about Magic: The Gathering on a daily basis. THE ULTIMATES — Marvel’s big bet uniting the artist of the first arc of THE AUTHORITY with the writer of the controversial second arc of the same — was something special… It was the first time I could remember as a serious comics fan when the best book was also simultaneously the best selling book. Covers like ULTIMATES #4 were just inspiring and engaging and perfect for pulling you into a Marvel universe a half-tick off, where Thor was a revolutionary, Iron-Man was a drunken egotist, and Captain America was kindhearted Republican (and Hulk was an asshole).

[I assume] Paul Mounts’s [Paul Mounts being the credited interior colorist] colors jump off the cover and scream Scream SCREAM “pick this the hell up!” It’s you can almost hear the pitter-patter of those innumerable raindrops pummeling their god of storms; deep black gutters on either side, frame broken by the electrically-crackling / nail-driving weapon of mass destruction, boxing in and highlighting those sparkling arcs by their bottomless negative space; one lick of Thor’s hair flipped northward like some defiant Charlie’s Angel head-toss.

I mean you can look at the screen cap and appreciate — I assume — the skill of Hitch’s pencil.

But it just doesn’t “pop” like it should, like it does, like I remember it did in real life.

You’ll just have to trust me. Good, good stuff.


Superficial Saturdays #2 – CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS #7 by George Perez

It’s one of the most iconic images in the history of comics.

Featuring arguably the most iconic icon in the canon of superheroes.

In the midst of not only one of the most groundbreaking and talked about storylines ever to shake a universe to its foundations…

… but cradling a blonde in a miniskirt!

Artist: George Perez

… Is not quite unique in its composition.

You probably guessed that I jumped ahead and picked a ton of potential covers for future editions Superficial Saturdays, and CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS #7, with its teary-eyed Superman clutching the body of his fallen opposite number, seemed like a perfect choice. Super famous, produced by the pencil of Perez — one of the genre’s all-time greats; it has everything you could ever want in a cover (including Batman, Wonder Woman, Blue Beetle, Elongated Man, Nightwing, and dozens of other heroes in the background)…


[make your own determination]

When I Tweeted about Superficial Saturdays the first time around last week, various of my friends and followers went crazy on social media looking up possible contributions. My podcast partner Brian David-Marshall tagged one as maybe the all-time most ripped off. From five years before CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS, I give you John Byrne’s cover from THE DARK PHOENIX SAGA:

Comic: UNCANNY X-MEN #136
Artists: John Byrne and Terry Austin

In the summer of 1980, Cyclops — also crying underneat the ruby quartz visor — was clutching the body of his fallen lady love Jean Grey nearly a half-decade before Kal-El and his Kara Zor-El. I <3 and super respect George Perez as one of the all-time greats, but it's kind of hard to miss the resemblance. One of the things that I have loved so far about this new feature / process is rediscovering the amazing work of a younger John Byrne. When I first started collecting comics seriously in the late 1980s, AVENGERS WEST COAST was one of only two comic books I bought every month (at the onset); a book that was both written and drawn by Byrne. I fell in love with SHE-HULK with Byrne breaking the fourth wall. Byrne in the 1980s was easily one of the best two or three artists in the entire industry, and his Marvel stuff wasn't even Byrne at his best. More Superficial Saturdays recommendations in the comments please Please PLEASE!


Superficial Saturdays #1 – FABLES #71 by James Jean

I decided to start a new feature here on Five With Flores, dedicated to cool / beautiful / paper-pushing comic book covers.

Most of the discussion you’ll hear from me RE: comics is from the Alan Moore / Brian K. Vaughan / Jonathan Hickman side, but comics is more than just engaging stories, clever puns, and slavish devotion to the history of the genre… What makes comics such a unique art form is the combination of great stories and great art… And lots of that art is devoted to — you guessed it — the cover.

I decided to start this feature off with my all-time favorite piece of comics art, the cover to FABLES #71 by James Jean:

Fables 71
Comic: FABLES #71
Artist: James Jean

The subject of this piece is glass slipper princess Cinderella (though if you are not a regular FABLES reader you probably never would have guessed that). Bill Willingham’s re-imagination of popular storybook characters like Snow White and The Big Bad Wolf in the modern era has some of them taking on vastly different roles than you might be familiar with. Cindy in FABLES is a secret agent.

Rockwell-level draftsmanship aside, there is basically one thing that I love about this piece above all others, and that is the detail to Cindy’s right garter. All the details in the outfit, the smoke spiraling up, the feathering on her hood are great, but artists have so much opportunity to phone it in around the edges — literally a spot that, with the right cropping, could get covered up with a bar code — but Jean’s implementation here, the sliver of skin, the lighting, shows you how much effort he must put into basically everything.

I love essentially every choice Jean makes on this one; like I said, it is probably my all-time favorite piece of comics art.

I would guess that FABLES #71 holds a special place in the artist’s heart as well. He dedicated a blog post to its conception and development over on his blog: FABLES 71.

If you ever want to gun me a lavish present, if there is one high-end print or piece of original art I would ever want, it’s this one. You know, if you are ever in the market for that sort of thing 🙂


P.S. If you have any comics covers you love, please share them in the comments; I am going to make a super duper long-term effort to keep this a weekly feature indefinitely. Love to hear all of your input!

Hawkeye 3 on the Podcast

In case you missed it Brian David-Marshall and I did a podcast last week.

So among the varied topics in that ‘cast (Magic, Magic coverage, basketball including Patrick Sullivan being the imaginary GM of my beloved Cleveland Cavaliers) we talked comics; one comic in particular that people have been asking me about since is HAWKEYE by Matt Fraction and David Aja… I thought Brian would like it because of the super cut-down art with flat color. Color is probably no surprise as Matt Hollingsworth is by approximately a country mile my favorite colorist in comics.

Here are some pages from my favorite issue so far (HAWKEYE #3):


Super awesome action / perspective / fast panels.


Good “people walking around and talking” storytelling. A lot of flashy artists are good at a small number of action poses and punching and / or making women look sexy by having their watermelon-like assets exploding out of their chain mail bikini tops; Aja gives Hawkeye a perfectly desirable love* interest that is the epitome of fully clothed and in fact dressed in layers.


I love Hollingsworth’s super limited color palette decisions on HAWKEYE. He shifts to a “nothing but purples” on this page and makes it work. Kudos to Sana Amanat and Stephen Wacker (HAWKEYE’s editorial team) for green [purple!] lightning such a different Big Two book.

HAWKEYE is the story of Clint Barton when he’s not partying with the Avengers. Clint spends his down time mentoring the other Hawkeye (Kate Bishop of YOUNG AVENGERS), and pulling capers. Hawkeye — both Hawkeyes really — is / are sort of misplaced in the Avengers canon — teammates include The Strongest One There Is, the Norse god of thunder, a super soldier, and Mr. GeniusBillionairePlayboyPhilanthropist — what’s up with having someone who charges into battle with a stick and a string on the squad?

It’s an interesting question… That HAWKEYE doesn’t really strive to answer. Rather Matt Fraction puts him into situations that are just sort of more his speed. He tussles with mobsters, tumbles into an underground gambling ring, gets in car chases, and does a fair 007 impression in service to S.H.I.E.L.D. Hawkeye has a bit of the Robin Hood in him; the villain of the first issue is — wait for it — the price of rent in Brooklyn.

Personally I think that Aja is the star of Hawkeye, but Fraction is absolutely on his game as well. Fraction has gotten some high profile writing gigs at Marvel in the last couple of years, but I don’t think that most folks would put him in Marvel’s elite architect category with Ed Brubaker, Brian Bendis, Mark Millar, or the great Jonathan Hickman quite yet. But issues like HAWKEYE 3 (everything pivots around sorting his trick arrow collection) and HAWKEYE 11 (from a dog’s perspective) wink at some of the done-in-one ability of an Alan Moore… No small compliment.

HAWKEYE is up for Eisner awards this year in two categories: Best Continuing Series and Best New Series. I must say I love HAWKEYE but competition is rough in these categories. Brian Vaughan’s SAGA is nominated in both, and Hickman’s THE MANHATTAN PROJECTS is nominated in Best Continuing Series. SAGA is a smash-hit by frankly my overall favorite comics creator** and THE MANHATTAN PROJECTS by the man who finished one spot ahead of me in Comic Book Idol*** is my second-favorite current series after LOCKE & KEY.

But unlike the Cavaliers’s number one pick this year, I would be perfectly fine with my not-number-one selection in either category.


* Fraction’s Hawkeye is basically Bond in the “love” department, so take this four-letter word with a grain of salt.
** bias acknowledged, obv
*** Hickman did a pretty good job with that second place


For the Man Who Has Everything…

-Brian David-Marshall

Last week I mentioned some sort of ka-razy Superman sale they were having at ComiXology. $.99 for this; $.99 for that; $.99 for the prince’s firstborn male child; &c.

I did a quick run-through of books you might want to pick up (for $.99 no less!) but missed one on my first pass. It happens to be Brian David-Marshall’s favorite Alan Moore story; SUPERMAN Annual 11.

Dave Gibbons (who would be Moore’s collaborator on the consensus greatest comic book of all time, WATCHMEN) impressed the right DC editor and got to pitch a book; they told him he could pick his collaborator and he snap-picked Moore. Can you imagine — as an artist — being allowed to pick your writer… and having that writer be Alan Moore!?! And him saying yes??? In those days Alan Moore would actually write a Superman story for you and not entitle it SUPREME or TOM STRONG.

The story goes that it is February 29th — Superman’s birthday. Wonder Woman and Batman & Robin separately travel to the North Pole’s Fortress of Solitude to bring gifts to the man who has everything. Of the three, it is noted that only one has pants on; or superhero spandex tights or whatever (but you grok). Yes, this is the starting premise to maybe the greatest Superman story of all time (or at least BDM’s favorite… As I said, mine is ALL-STAR SUPERMAN).

Moore opens up with some nice tongue-in-cheek. The premise is fundamentally comic-book-y and not in a deconstructed “smart” way. So he throws you a curve ball with characters who could only be written this way because it was 1985 and not 2013. The Robin at the time was Jason Todd, newly in the green bikini bottoms pixie boots, and this was his first time meeting Wonder Woman. He plays it completely straight; and I think, at least as a modern reader, that must always have been part of the joke.

This was the interaction he had with The Dark Knight after making a comment about what WW was wearing:



That smile?

The long-eared blue cowl for that matter?

For many readers this is a characterization barely recognizable as Batman. I am of the opinion that Batman as an urban legend is properly every interpretation of Batman from the gun-toting first appearance to sixties camp to THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS to Christian Bale in the armor to Huntress in her stitched proto-Cassandra Cain leathers but that is an argument for another time. I actually just love how Moore wrote Batman in this one scene. Even when Moore is queering comics and knocking them on their ears in that innovative, subversive, disruptive way that only he can you never get the feeling that he has forgotten he is writing a comic book and that these characters have “lives” and draw on traditions that go way beyond even his contribution to the canon; here he is doing a great Adam West riff that would have been immediately recognizable to many readers (even if it isn’t to young’uns who might be reading this).

Anyway, all is not well in the Fortress of Solitude.

Wonder Woman + Batman & Robin stumble upon the deadly Mongul, who has incapacitated Superman. As the villain is defeated (“SPOILERS!” I guess), we see Superman lose his cool in a rare way, have already figured out that Superman’s birthday comes only every four years, and learn Batman’s heart’s desire. Fans of ALL-STAR SUPERMAN might note that Grant Morrison (who has been mostly silent in a long-standing Cold War with Moore) wrote the resolution of one of his conflicts in direct opposition to Moore’s interpretation of the classic irresistible force v. immovable object. “Surrender” is a fighting word! I’d write more on this but I really don’t want to spoil the story. The $.99 sale is over but you can still topdeck SUPERMAN Annual 11: “For the Man Who Has Everything…” for the princely sum of $1.99 at ComiXology.

Considering cover was $1.25 in 1985 $1.99 ain’t bad.

Something I really loved about this comic book is the coloring. Gibbons is of course one half of the team that put together the greatest comic book of all time (WATCHMEN); and he worked so well with Moore in particular because he could execute on Alan’s complex scripts and ideas without muddying them up with too much “artistic interpretation” … He just did exactly what he was supposed to do, and well.

If you think about Gibbons purely as Moore’s sock puppet you might ultimately be underrating him as a draftsman, which would be a shame. Check out this panel of Wonder Woman blasting the bejeezus out of Mongul with a cannon she finds under Superman’s bed or whatever:


Can you imagine how garishly colored that would have been in 2013?

But in 1985, Tom Ziuko’s use of flat colors actually highlights the superb line work of Gibbons. The heavy foreground inks on Wonder Woman are half of what this panel is about! Gibbons couldn’t rely on WildStorm PhotoShop artists so had to create contrast by varying his brush and pen nibs, giving it an almost woodcut finish. Even as a modern reader who has been used to Image Comics-style computer coloring for over 20 years, I don’t think the lack of technology detracts from the visual here whatsoever; rather I can just stare at the panel longer and longer appreciating the decisions he made.

For a more direct comparison, consider these two panels:

From SUPERMAN Annual 11:


An homage from INFINITE CRISIS 1:


Huge fan of the detailed studliness of Phil Jimenez of course; just pointing out the quite different coloring technique from 1985 to this later reinterpretation (though you may also notice the frame-breaking, black gutters, and other [potentially cool] visual decisions by an admittedly talented artist… that would have detracted from, say, a tight Moore script in a way Gibbons never has).

SUPERMAN Annual 11 has had quite a bit of lasting impact; as you just saw, successful writers like Geoff Johns are still cribbing from it for their tent pole events like INFINITE CRISIS. It was also the basis for an episode of JUSTICE LEAGUE (which you can stream on Netflix at will) (though Wonder Woman gunned all of Robin’s good lines).

In the end, my verdict is more than worth the $1.99. Go read. etc.


P.S. I have mentioned on a couple of occasions in this post and elsewhere that WATCHMEN is the greatest comics masterpiece of all time. I spent a couple of days putting together this post but apparently someone at ComiXology had their ears itching or whatnot and they decided to put together a five-day WATCHMEN sale starting today. I can’t say anything about the “BEFORE WATCHMEN” prequels other than they have some amazing creators attached (Adam Hughes, Darwyn Cooke, Jae Lee, Amanda Connor… almost every illustrator is a DI); but the original Moore / Gibbons series (you know, the GOAT) is [also] on sale for $.99 per.

Come get some!

==> WATCHMEN sale at ComiXology <==

What Sally Saw, or “That One Time Law School Ruined My Personality”


The Spoiler Alert
The Summary
The Opinion
That One Time Law School Ruined My Personality
Waiting for Superman


This blog post largely concerns action from last week’s episode of AMC’s Mad Men, “Favors”.

The impetus for this post comes out of a faux controversy arising out of the aforementioned “Favors” … And a battle between the titanic wills of YT and the missus. If you haven’t seen “Favors” (but care) consider yourself spoiler-warned.


In “Favors” we are introduced to Mitchell Rosen, the son of Don Draper’s neighbors the Mrs. Sylvia and Dr. Arnold Rosen. Earlier in the season it was revealed that Don was having an extramarital affair with Mrs. Sylvia (played by onetime Freaks and Geeks star Linda Cardellini), which has since cooled.

Now I don’t possess an exhaustive understanding of the mechanics or politics of Vietnam-era military conscription, but it seems that Mitchell did something stupid to queer his draft-exempt status as a student, and has gone and gotten himself earmarked by Selective Service. Over the course of the episode, Don calls in favors various — including putting his agency’s relationship with its biggest client in an awkward position — to shield Mitchell from a harsh destiny in a wartorn southeast Asia.

Now unbeknownst to Don, his daughter Sally has met Mitchell in the apartment building lobby and decided he was the dreamiest. Sally’s stupid friend slipped a note into the Rosen apartment, which the young Sally understandably endeavored to recover in order to avoid adolescent embarrassment. By tricking the gullible door man to Don’s building — essentially stealing her way in and committing a B&E* — Sally enters the Rosens’ apartment to recover the love note, stumbles clumsily on her dad ucking-fay a stranger:

What Sally Saw

Eep! As a “thank you” for saving her son, Mrs. Rosen has rekindled the affair with Don; to what extent we don’t know, especially after Sally’s discovery.

Predictably — Sally runs off.

Don’s machinations are as we said successful and dreamy Mitchell gets uninvited to Vietnam; Don is proclaimed “the sweetest man” by his current wife Megan (not Sally’s mom, as that marriage ended at least in part by Don’s rampant infidelity from X-[wo]Man Emma Frost); and Sally curses him angrily, running off again.

The previous Mrs. Draper. Oops.

The Opinion:

Mrs. MichaelJ declared Don 100% culpable in “destroying” Sally Draper’s young mind (or at least innocence) as she got stuck finding her pops sticking it to some woman who wasn’t his wife.

For my part, I have a low opinion of infidelity. I am totally happy blaming Don for infidelity and a dozen other affronts to good family management and / or child rearing but I can’t see blaming him for What Sally Saw 100%. What if he were cheating on the moon? Is he supposed to predict his daughter stealing a rocket ship and happening upon them up there at the wrong moment, too?

Wifey got kind of hot and bothered over my defense of Draper and asked me to ask some of my friends. One of my best friends ranted and ranted at me the next day about Don’s culpability. “Wait a minute,” I said. “Is this about Don or your dad?” MY DAD OF COURSE! (Her dad was a cheater and she stopped speaking to him years ago.)

Before I got back to my desk at the office she had already called one of my co-workers RE: this. There was an IM waiting for me.


These womyn and their conspiracies!

Poor Don!

Look people — Like I said, I am perfectly fine blaming Don for whatever. Like I said, I have a poor opinion of infidelity. Clearly he was doing something wrong. Clearly he could have gotten caught by someone. But his daughter? In terms of What Sally Saw… I really don’t think you can blame poor Don 100%.

A few weeks ago, the team of YT, Josh Ravitz, and Thea Steele scrubbed out of a Team Limited tournament. With plenty of time on the afternoon I suggested we go see Iron Man 3. Thea didn’t want to. “Who can relate to an aloof, arrogant, billionaire who thinks he is better than everyone else?”

“Well he is smarter / richer / better than everyone else.”
-Things I didn’t actually say

“You’re right… Who?”
-Also something I didn’t say.

Don Draper — for whatever his other faults — is depicted on Mad Men as the greatest copywriter ever to walk into a client meeting. He is part pitchman, part hypnotist, and all Adonis. Don’s execution has been slipping in recent seasons, delegating to junior copywriters, getting embarrassingly drunk at public events, spacing out and disappearing for weeks at a time… But his combination of luck, audacity, and self-confidence have him and his succession of partnerships landing bigger business and building a more and more successful advertising firm. For all the failings in his personal life, Don is remarkably moral in a business context, using his influence to protect associates who are weaker than he is, and to reward the hard-working or talented lower on the totem pole… even if they are — gasp — women.

I have been accused by many of these women of siding with Don “all the time”.

I have in fact sided with Don x minus one times.

Every single Don-smashing opinion I had gotten to this point was from the fairer sex. Clearly they were all biased. Maybe a right-thinking person** could jibe with YT. I put it out to the Unstoppable Twitter Army.

Not trolling.


Monster! Osyp had Peggy beat by a week!

Could I be wrong? Had I been in the wrong from the first disagreement with K? I apologized to her.

But how did I get here?

That One Time Law School Ruined My Personality

If you’ve listened to the first episode of The Official Miser’s Guide*** you know that I was attending law school when I wrote Who’s the Beatdown?.

The principal way law school ruined my personality was accomplished by my Contracts professor on the first day; he introduced the idea that lawyers think differently from everyone else. Lawyers — especially by nature of having to advocate for villainous clients they “know” are in the wrong (and / or wrangling around the intellectual acrobatics of opposing lawyers) — have to imagine alternate universes while arguing seemingly contradictory things. They also often tend to think in the manner of the letter of the law, regardless of what regular (shall we say “right thinking”) folk might believe when presented the same set of circumstances, which can be alienating.

In my mind, Sally’s B&E was not a foreseeable intervening event by Don (it was in fact an actual crime); in a court of law he would almost certainly be absolved of the wrong of What Sally Saw regardless of the fact that he was responsible for an original wrong of ucking-fay not-his-wife.

The 1/3 lawyer in me sez: Poor Don. The criminal Sally had done this to herself.

But everybody else seems to disagree (except for Lan D. Ho — who blamed Sally’s stupid friend).

So that 1/3 lawyer in me thinks one way… maybe is “right”. But what does it mean if that 1/3 person is alone in the rational universe?

When I got my NLP certification****, I learned that the most powerful tool in human experience is rapport. Rapport can a superpower more powerful than — gasp — math. It is the quality that connects historic leaders, commission-crushing salesmen, and notorious Lotharios. Rapport, put simply, is the idea that people like to do things for people that they like; and that people like people who are like them.

So basically the opposite of alienating yourself while logically convinced you are right.

In the interest of superpowers (i.e. the cultivation of future influence), I decided to graciously scoop in every direction.

Firestarter: What do you think? You know, about What Sally Saw?

Waiting for Superman

On the subject of superpowers, ComiXology is having a crazy sale on Superman comics right now, no doubt in concert with this weekend’s release of Man of Steel (which I just got home from). Basically over 200 Superman comics at 50-75% off.

Some highlights:

Action Comics (2011-)
I’m currently binge-reading Grant Morrison’s whole run on the current Action Comics; when I wrote Teddy Card Game Asks About the New 52 I had only read the first of Morrison’s 18-issue run. I am on my second and even third readings of many of these stories in the current binge-read, and I have come to the conclusion that this is simply one of the most special runs in the history of superhero comics. Rags Morales is unbelievable, conveying mass, muscle, a visceral physicality in his everyman Superman; Grant is classic Grant with his huge ideas, time travel, Easter eggs, and cameos. You really get the idea that this was a labor of love and the literal capstone of his work on DC One Million, All-Star Superman, etc. If you aren’t going to sample any of the other stuff in the current ComiXology sale, I would heartily recommend the eight issues of Action Comics featured therein.

All-Star Superman
It’s been called the best Superman story ever told. I am certainly not going to disagree; as it is in fact my favorite Superman story ever. Grant’s ideas are bigger than ever, he has the A+ Frank Quitely as his playmate on visuals throughout. All-Star Superman starts with a trip to the sun, has irresistible forces up against immovable objects, mythical heroes and villains, and Lex Luthor at his absolute bestworst. Very much a Silver Age Superman story that makes sense even to modern comics audiences; which is another way of saying it brings out the best of what makes comics comics.

Kingdom Come
Mark Waid and Alex Ross in a genre-redefining four issue steal. I own all the originals from when they were original but at $.99 it is just stupid not to pad the old iPad (I did).

Secret Identity
Stuart Immonen has become one of the biggest stars in superhero pencils since his work on The New Avengers and other Marvel “event”-style books; Secret Identity showcases an Immonen from a decade ago; looking little like he does today (his cut-down style was developed largely on Warren Ellis’s Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E.), but gorgeous nevertheless (just different-gorgeous). Rich instead of minimal. Really rich. Not quite the ROI on $4 that you would get with a Kingdom Come but still worth more than $4; thoroughly emotionally engaging comic book story IMO. And did I mention beautiful?

I mention this only because it includes my all-time favorite fight scene (Superman and Batman v. Captain Marvel and Hawkman, which I have written about multiple times before); also on sale.

I wish I could say I am a ComiXology affiliate or something, but I really just think you should get in on these steal-tacular Superman opportunities before 6/20.


* My legal opinion

** You know, with a penis

*** And if you haven’t listened to it, you can download the first episode of The Official Miser’s Guide for free here.

**** Substantially more useful than my legal training in basically every way.

Teddy Card Game Asks About The New 52

Teddy Card Game asks…

Great question!

For those of you who don’t know, The New 52 was fifty-two Number One comics releases that DC did last year, a sort of soft-reboot of the entire DC universe that incorporated elements of their Wildstorm and Vertigo imprints. Most or all of The New 52 #1s are priced at $.99 on Comixology (as a tool to attract new readers), and I for one found this an attractive way to become, you know, a new reader.

Originally I was going to write this blog post with titles in alphabetical order but then I realized that I am not a librarian and that doesn’t make for the most logical reading sense for our purposes. Instead I will break them up into these relatively unlike, but passably logical groups:

  1. Overpriced New 52 Books
  2. Stuff I More-Or-Less Never Miss
  3. Second Wave Titles
  4. Stuff I Like But Haven’t Really Gotten Around To
  5. Aquaman

Overpriced New 52 Books
Action Comics :: Batman :: Justice League

There are two main reasons I switched from almost 100% trade paperbacks for the last several years to mostly digital comics in the last year. The first is space: My wife originally had me switch from floppies to trade paperbacks so that I wouldn’t have hundreds of essentially disposable magazines coming in every month… That I refused to ever get rid of. So I amassed a pretty kick-ass trade paperback / graphic novel collection that lots of my friends take advantage of for the big borrows. But even trade paperbacks take ups space, and my wife is a minimalist in her soul. Cloud computing lets my buy lots and lots of comics and they all live on my iPad, so don’t take up any space.

The second reason is price. Again, Comixology charges only $.99 for most of The New 52 #1 issues, to help encourage people to try them (and presumably get them hooked). After 30 or so days, cover price on most books I buy — DC or not — to $1.99. However some super popular books like the ones in this section have stayed at $2.99. So it’s not like I don’t like some of these books; I can just get an extra half-Justice League Dark for the price of not buying an adjective-less Justice League instead.

Action Comics
Main Character(s): Superman
Notable Creator(s): Grant Morrison, Rags Morales

1 Issue (#1)

Action Comics is set in the recent past, before the massive proliferation of superheroes in the rebooted DC universe, so a young(er) Clark Kent has got a Superman-looking tee-shirt and farm boy blue jeans and work boots instead of his sleeker superhero-ing uniform. Morrison is telling the story of a Superman whose chosen sparring partners are greedy businessmen rather than alien green men.

Grant Morrison wrote my all-time favorite Superman Story All-Star Superman a few years ago; paired with the underrated former Valiant artist Rags Morales, this comic is squarely in my wheelhouse… Just haven’t caught up (note subsection).

Main Character(s): Batman, Alfred
Notable Creator(s): Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo

13 issues (#1-12, Annual #1)

One book in and we are already at the exception that proves the rule. Part of the bigger number is that Comixology / DC priced Batman reasonably for the first few months before deciding they could get away with the higher price point. The other, of course, is that Scott Snyder is more-or-less the hottest writer in comics, and his work on Batman is a good indication as to why. He is great on Batman and even better on American Vampire (not a New 52 book). The story is disorienting; Snyder has been planting Batman-seeds for years with Dick Grayson and some peripheral Bat-heroes… And they finally gave him the big boy title with The New 52 launch. This is a comic book about Gotham City. It is the secret origin of the Wayne family. It is action, horror, and the opportunity to see Batman do some cool stuff — all brought together with the kinetic pencils of Greg Capullo. I haven’t looked at any recent sales figures but it would not surprise me if this were DC’s top-selling book.

Justice League
Main Character(s): Aquaman, Batman, Cyborg, Flash, Green Lantern, Superman, Wonder Woman
Notable Creator(s): Geoff Johns, Jim Lee

6 issues (#1-6)

Justice League is DC’s veritable “put Mike Flores and Patrick Sullivan in Las Vegas and see what happens” cocktail. Basically they took the most sale-able artist in comics (Jim Lee) and paired him with the consistent hit-maker Johns… And give them Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman to play with. So if Batman isn’t DC’s best selling book, my guess is that Justice League is.

I bought the first arc of six issues primarily at my kids’ insistence for bedtime reading. It is set about five years ago and tells the story of the dawn of superheroes in the rebooted DC Universe — the Justice League against Darkseid!

Stuff I More-Or-Less Never Miss
Animal Man :: Birds of Prey :: Stormwatch :: Swamp Thing

With the exception of Animal Man, this section is all stuff I buy because like the proto-fanboy, I am loyal to certain characters.

Animal Man
Main Character(s): Buddy Baker (Animal Man) and his family, Swamp Thing; various Animal- and Swamp-themed peripherals
Notable Creator(s): Jeff Lemire

15 issues (#1-13, #0, Annual #1)

Animal Man was one of the best-reviewed “surprise” hits of The New 52. Surprise! (none of you have ever heard of Animal Man, I’d guess) I gave it a try and liked it. It’s pretty weird / violent / offbeat funny. Animal Man ties in to some of the Vertigo Grant Morrison ideas of the last century but is one of several New 52 books that has a superhero-y sounding name but is kind of an off-kilter horror book, similar to Justice League Dark or I, Vampire. Substantial crossovers with Swamp Thing didn’t hurt my interest.

Birds of Prey
Main Character(s): Black Canary, Starling; with Katana, Poison Ivy, and Batgirl
Notable Creator(s): Duane Swierczynski

13 issues (#1-12, #0)

If you read my favorite Batman stories blog posts a few months back you know how I feel about Birds of Prey. I was initially a bit apprehensive about a Birds of Prey without Gail Simone at the helm, but Duane has done a more-than-passable job in the reboot universe, kind of flipping the power relationship between Black Canary and Batgirl (Oracle in the pre-reboot continuity). The book initially launched with the excellent Jesus Saiz, who I loved from his work on some of Greg Rucka’s titles last decade. I think that anyone can like Birds of Prey but you will particularly like it if you like girl power and / or butt-kicking.

Main Character(s): Apollo, Midnighter, The Engineer Jack Hawksmoor, Jenny Quantum, Martian Manhunter
Notable Creator(s): Paul Cornell, Peter Milligan

14 issues (#1-13, #0)

Buying every issue of Stormwatch is Mike at his fanboy-est. The core cast here is from 1990s Stormwatch-spinoff The Authority by Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch. The Authority and some of the other Wildstorm stuff Jim Lee was publishing himself were so popular that DC bought their company!

The best thing by far about Stormwatch is Midnighter and Apollo. Midnigher is Batman. Apollo is Superman. They are unapologetically derivative… and gay for each other. It was pretty groundbreaking when this super popular superhero book last century had their Bruce-and-Clark analogues kiss, get married, and adopt a super baby. It is just one of many conventions that this book (or at least the tradition through which this book reaches us in The New 52) sets on its ear.

Just because Midnigher is gay doesn’t mean he isn’t, you know, a merciless killing machine. Midnigher is the ultimate tactician, a platonic crystalization of Batman’s combat prowess (wearing essentially the movie version of Batman’s carbon fiber armor), and explained through a superhuman lens: Midnigher can see your every weakness consciously, therefore can plan and execute on how to execute any opponent.

My all-time favorite New 52 issue is Stormwatch #9, which is a Midnigher-centric story about him fantasizing about fighting Batman, but actually having to deal with an invading Red Lantern (Red Lanterns are like Green Lantern, but baaaaahd). How does a guy armed with a belt-knife and a karate chop beat a cosmically powered alien with a magic ring?

It’s just so darn appropriate.

As much as I will buy every issue of Stormwatch until they cancel it, I would be the first to acknowledge it is the most uneven of the books I am talking about today. There are well written ones and less well written. The art has been awesome with Miguel Sepulveda (who drew #9)… Weaker with other artists.

Especially if you don’t have the same kind of emotional attachment to these particular characters that I have… Take Stormwatch with a grain of salt.

Swamp Thing
Main Character(s): Swamp Thing, Abby Arcane, Animal Man; various Swamp- and Animal-themed peripherals
Notable Creator(s): Scott Snyder, Yanick Paquette

14 issues (#1-13, #0)

Remember all that stuff I said about Scott Snyder in the Batman section?

Nothing is going to equal Alan Moore’s genre-defining run in the 1980s, but I am glad DC gave Scott Snyder the chance to try.

Second Wave Titles
Batman Incorporated :: Earth 2 :: World’s Finest

DC wound down a handful of the lower selling titles and replaced them with some of these. I split them out into their own section because I wanted to stave off the “if you like this so much how come you only have four copies of…” thoughts and reactions in advance.

Batman Incorporated
Main Character(s): Batman, Robin, various Batmen of various nations
Notable Creator(s): Grant Morrison, Chris Burnham

4 issues (#1-3, #0)

This is basically the same book that I said was one of my Top 10 favorite Batman stories last time… But with a new #1.

Typical Morrison big ideas, Batman executing on a global scale, Burnham bringing his A-game every issue, and goat-themed assassins.

Morrison also has some great nods to stories by creators like Frank Miller, David Mazzucchelli, and Neal Adams as he re-envisions his Batman. Here is a young Talia al Ghul going all Year One as it were:

Earth 2
Main Character(s): Lots of big-name superheroes from Batman / Superman / Wonder Woman to Flash and Green Lantern
Notable Creator(s): James Robinson

6 issues (#1-5, #0)

James Robinson, progenitor of maybe my all-time favorite superhero comic Starman, pens the tale of a world that is a little bit different from the mainstream DCU. “Five years ago” … That time I talked about with the Darkseid conflict in Justice League? Well what happens to a planet if, instead of the Justice League coming together to beat Darkseid, um, something else interesting happens? That is the starting point of the Earth 2 narrative. In a sense it is post-apocalyptic; in another it is one of the most hopeful and uplifting (and brightly colored) of The New 52.

World’s Finest
Main Character(s): Huntress, Power Girl (Robin, Supergirl)
Notable Creator(s): Paul Levitz, George Perez, Kevin Maguire

6 issues (#1-5, #0)

The character Huntress was originated in the 1970s by Levitz as the daughter of Batman and Catwoman. Various continuity re-writes and universe consolidations changed her, over time, to a repentant mafia princess and the trigger-girl for Gail Simone’s Birds of Prey. A version of Huntress was, during the largely regrettable No Man’s Land storyline, one of the best — or at least cleverest — non-Bruce Wayne people ever to call [her]self Batman… But hadn’t been true to her identity as the true inheritor to the Batman in some years.

The reality created by Earth 2 (i.e “another” Batman) opened the door to bring Huntress as the daughter of Batman and Catwoman back with The New 52 reboot. Power Girl, a heroine who was originally Superman’s cousin from another world, became nothing more or less than a white singlet with peekaboo[b] cleavage. In World’s Finest, Power Girl is a mite more covered up and returns to her origin’s roots, as well.

Pre-New 52 Reboot of Power Girl, by Adam Hughes

This book is great fun, with Levitz doing his best to honor his characters, and an all-star lineup of Perez and Maguire half-drawing each issue.

Stuff I Like But Haven’t Really Gotten Into
Batgirl :: Batwoman :: I, Vampire :: Justice League Dark :: Wonder Woman

Main Character(s): Batgirl
Notable Creator(s): Gail Simone, covers by Adam Hughes

2 issues (#1, #0)

Birds of Prey under Gail Simone is one of your all-time favorite books?


So you try Birds of Prey not with Gail Simone and hit more-or-less every issue?

Still yes.

But the actual Gail Simone book, featuring the main character of Birds of Prey… You haven’t gotten along to that one?

People are inexplicable.

Main Character(s): Batwoman
Notable Creator(s): JH Williams III

1 Issue (#1)

Not only was Batwoman: Elegy by Greg Rucka one of my Top 10 favorite Batman stories ever, I even wrote a separate post about the trade itself!

Batwoman in The New 52 is the continuation of that story… But without Greg Rucka. JH Williams III is as beautiful as ever on the visuals but without the mastermind that wove together realistic, military, superheroics with a “real” lesbian protagonist. It’s just not at the top of my stack. Maybe someday.

I, Vampire
Main Character(s): some vampires; can’t remember any of their names; John Constantine maybe
Notable Creator(s): Joshua Hale Fialkov

4 issues (#1-4)

I really liked Joshua Hale Fialkov’s indie Image book The Last of the Greats, so I decided to give his more mainstream vampire-superhero title a swing. It’s no American Vampire, but I, Vampire is still quite good. If you like Jae Lee-esque art, it is also quite pretty. I plan to catch up more, especially given its Animal Man / Swamp Thing-like crossovers with Justice League Dark.

Justice League Dark
Main Character(s): Deadman, Dove, John Constantine, Shade the Changing Man, Zatanna, other magic-themed characters
Notable Creator(s): Peter Milligan

6 issues (#1-6)

Peter Milligan’s Shade the Changing Man with Chris Bachalo was my gateway to Vertigo-style comics back in the 1990s (thanks to my then-classmate Brian K. Vaughan). I was into Shade even before I was into the more recognizable Sandman, and certainly didn’t know what I had missed in terms of Swamp Thing. So… Milligan put Shade into this oddball group of magic-themed characters.

Both John Constantine (one of Alan Moore’s most masterful additions to the comics canon) and Zatanna are favorite characters.

The book is beautiful.

Most of these people are pretty much assholes.

I think I like it better than regular Justice League.

Wonder Woman
Main Character(s): Wonder Woman
Notable Creator(s): Brian Azzarello, Cliff Chiang

8 issues (#1-7, #0)


One of the best rebooted concepts for a character! Great story! Cliff Chiang is even better on this book than Azz, which is saying something! More! Exclamation! Points!


Main Character(s): Aquaman
Notable Creator(s): Geoff Johns, Ivan Reiss

1 issue (#1)

Superstar Geoff Johns, superstar Ivan Reiss (ergo gorgeous), Aquaman is back in the League, great ratings on the book…

Nope, still about talking to fish.

Those, dear Teddy, are all The New 52 books I have read and kept up with.