Month: August 2012

How to tell that the comic you’re reading is actually a movie pitch

There are 3 easy ways to tell if the comic you’re reading is really just a pitch for a move.

  1. Does the story summary sound appealing, but the actual story is full incomplete ideas?
  2. Is the person being credited as the creator not credited as the writer or the artist?
  3. Are you reading Cowboys & Aliens.

If you answered yes to all three questions, then the comic you’re reading was actually intended to be a movie pitch.

Last summer, I saw Cowboys & Aliens in theaters, and was mildly disappointed (review) that we didn’t get a stricter adaptation.  Granted, I hadn’t read the graphic novel, but it sounded better.  Well, finally, I have read the book, and I’m still a bit disappointed.  The ideas for the story are fine.  But that’s just it.  They’re just ideas.  Nothing is really expanded upon.  It’s as if they just wanted to give quick run through of all the neat things that you could put into a movie, if you have your screenwriters flesh out the details.  (more…)

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A new Justice League of America book

At Fan Expo Canada, Geoff Johns announced that  new Justice League of America title would be launched sometime in 2013, and this image was given to announce the lineup.

That guy you don’t recognize is Vibe, or Steve Trevor, or the new Green Lantern.

From left to right you have Vibe, Catwoman, Steve Trevor, a new Green Lantern that is being introduced soon, Martian Manhunter, Stargirl, Katana, Hawkman, and Green Arrow.

Personally, this seems like a new definition of a randomly thrown together group.  Especially Catwoman.  Yes, out of this group, I question the inclusion of Catwoman.  And it’s not really a surprise that Johns would put Stargirl on the team, given his history with the character.  I haven’t dug too much into reaction, but I do think this title will be shielded from the “no-name JLA” criticism (like James Robinson’s JLA run) a bit because there is still a big name Justice League running around.

But I have no complaints.  Really because there’s nothing to complain about.  We haven’t seen why and how this team is assembled.  I assume that this title will spin out of the events that happen in the Trinity War story that is taking place in Justice League.  Of course, what those events are is still a complete mystery.  And I do really like putting the Martian Manhunter front and center of a high profile book.  And I’m not really a fan of David Finch’s art, but hopefully Johns’ writing will make up for it.

Around the web

This month’s edition of “Around the Web” features a comic titled “Joseph & Yusra.”  It is written and drawn by Monique Blaize.

So, a Christian, a Jew, and a Muslim walk into a Manga comic…nah, I got nothing to follow that up with.  What do you get when you add a long standing religious conflict, super powers, and  Manga?  You get this webcomic.  Of course, you probably could figure that out, because otherwise, why would I bother asking the question.  Simply put, this is the story of an unlikely friendship that develops between a Muslim girl named Yusra, and a Jewish boy named Joseph.  Yusra was sent to live with her Aunt in America after an attack kills her parents, and her other relatives only wanted her brother.  On a playground, she meets this boy named Joseph, and they become close friends.  What makes this more extraordinary is that (spoiler alert) she can’t speak any English.  They’ve been communicating telepathically.  Things get complicated a few years later.  I won’t detail how.  For that, you’ll need to read the comic.  Though I will say that it includes super powers, mysteries, intrigue, moral values, etc…

I really want to like this comic, and as I read all 387 pages of it, I mostly did.  Where I think this comic excels is with the day-to-day lives of the characters.  The characters are well defined, and I genuinely cared about what they were going through.  The things that took me out of the story were developments that had to deal with their special abilities and (spoiler alert) Joseph’s Catholic cousin named Mary spying on and testing them.  It’s not like it was bad.  It just make it feel like there are 2 different stories going on.  The story of two friends from opposite sides of a conflict is a fine story on its own.  An unsuspecting person having a special gift, and a larger role to play in the conflict is also a fine story.  But I feel that combining those two elements doesn’t work.  I think it’s the use of a real world conflict that makes it difficult for me to accept.  Had a different world been created with the same circumstances, I may not find any issues with it.  That may be my personal bias, though.

The art is done in a Manga style.  It’s okay.  It’s Manga.  If you like that style, you’ll think the art is fine.  If you don’t, then you’re not going to like it.  There’s really not much more to say about it.  You can tell the characters apart?  That’s good.  I also want to point out my favorite ongoing joke in the strip.  Joseph takes great care not to touch Yusra, because that’s the proper thing to do.  However, there are many moments throughout the story where this just can’t be avoided, and they always lead to humorous, awkward moments.  But, they are rare enough to be enjoyable, and not tire out.

In the end, I do recommend that you read this comic.  Despite what flaws exist, there is plenty to like about it.  And it shouldn’t take you too long to start at the beginning and read all the way through.  I did just that yesterday.

Weekly Readings

Welcome to this week’s “Weekly Readings,” where I go through what I read during the week.  Well, really, what I bought.  Although, I may toss in the odd collection if I happened to get it read during the week.  This week includes:

  • Fables #120, in which Darien tries to avoid his own destiny.
  • The Fury of Firestorm #12, in which Jason Rusch fights to save Ronnie Raymond.
  • Justice League Dark #12, in which the search for the Books of Magic begins.
  • Superman #12, in which Superman fights another alien, just because.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #13, in which everyone takes a moment to prepare for what comes next.
  • Saucer County #6, in which we get a history of alien encounters.

As you can probably guess, there are spoilers past this point.  (more…)

Arounding the web

Both J.R. and I try to spin around the interwebs when we get the chance and check out the seemingly limitless supply on web comics offered throughout.  He usually checks out new ones for our monthly Around the Web feature (which I am not allowed to write ever since I no-showed a month of Crossover Madness) while I peruse for both entertainment as well as pointers on working on my own very long-in-development web comic.

To search out new web strips, I usually Google search a webcomic link list and randomly follow links from the middle of their ranking system (since the top spots are usually reserved for the likes of Penny Arcade and other such “mainstream” strips).  Over my several years worth of searches I’ve found a surprising number of themes (ranging from dull to horrific), schemes and styles, but for every roaring success there are literally scores of half-bred and abandoned failures.  And with that, I feel like I’ve been able to create a sort of guide for the fledgling web comic-er.  It’s what I’ve kept in mind when creating my own.

1) Pick a format
There are basically two types of web comics out there.  The first is the storyline comic – it’s what the typical comic book fan thinks a comic should be.  A cast of characters starts somewhere and a story unfolds.  There are plots, settings, themes, conflicts, resolutions, development, etc.  These are the types of comics that we look at Around the Web.

The second type is what I call the “zinger” type.  This is the type of comic where an edition will have a group of characters basically setting up a joke and hitting the punchline, usually about a specific theme.  Penny Arcade is this sort of comic, where a strip sees its two characters bantering about a certain hot topic in video games.  The two characters really aren’t too developed, nor do they need to be.  They only exist as funny mouthpieces to tell jokes.  There might be small story arcs, such as the characters going to a convention, but the strip still follows the same format, with each edition of the “arc” being a topical zinger in the usual format.

I differentiate the two forms because I see a bunch of comics try to bridge the gap between the two, usually at the cost of storyline pace in the former.  If the storyline comic wastes an update stopping the action to tell a joke about something going on in the news, it leaves readers feeling like they’ve been used as listeners to a soapbox.  This is easily fixed by having a separate area in which the characters might speak on other things out of the normal story.  But if you’re selling readers on a specific type of story, it’s best to stay with it.

(more…)

First Thoughts on Hawkeye #1

I finally got around to reading the first issue of Matt Fraction and David Aja’s new Hawkeye series.  Yes, I’m buying a Marvel book, get over it.  Anyways, I picked it up because I’d heard good things about their run on Iron Fist, and Hawkeye is my favorite non-metallic Marvel character.  Overall, I enjoyed it, even though the book is a bit mis-titled.  It should be titled “Clint Barton” rather than “Hawkeye,” but that’s okay.

The title page of the book says:

Clint Barton, aka Hawkeye, became the greatest sharpshooter known to man.  He then joined the Avengers.  This is what he does when he’s not being an avenger.  That’s all you need to know.

That’s a wonderful way to start a book set in a much larger universe.  Especially when you’re launching this new title in the middle of a large event.  Books tying into the larger universe is what always made me cautious about buying Marvel titles.  Like, I was considering getting Bendis and Bagely’s Avengers Assemble until I found out that it would be in-continuity (even just a little bit was more than I wanted to risk).  But this pitch gives me hope as I read the rest of the issue.

The story starts off with Clint Barton getting out of the hospital while sustaining many injuries as Hawkeye.  He returns to home to the rundown apartment complex he’s staying at to find that the landlord has raised the amount of everyone’s rent a ridiculous amount, hoping to be able to evict everyone.  When Clint is unable to pay off the landlords, things turn violent.  And of course, violence solves everything.  Well, violence, ultimatums, and still large amounts of money.

I thought the writing was pretty good.  It made sense, Clint had a defined and distinct voice, and the supporting characters all seemed like separate characters and not the same character with just different appearances.  Your mileage with the art may vary.  Personally, I enjoyed it, but then again, I like this style of art.  I’d compare it with someone like Tim Sale.  So, if you like Sale’s art, then I’d imagine you’d like Aja’s.