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More then just a Flash-in-the-pan?

1 Jun

 Good day folks!
Welcome back to another Weekly sit-down with yours truly. A pleasure, as always, bringing comic thoughts to you.
I was going to write about a new madcap series in an effort to top last weeks Kill Shakespeare piece which Ive actually been told was enjoyed by more than a few – but at the last minute decided to shelve that till next week because there’s something I really want to talk about NOW!! (While there’s still time…)
Those of you who saw the previous post here by our venerable leader himself know have read DC comics announcement of the relaunch of all DC title post August when the latest event “Flashpoint” by the nigh-legen-waitforit!-dary Geoff Johns comes to a close.

What I want to touch on is a little more of a readers perspective on the event itself and the aftermath. I have to admit right off the bat that my eagerness for this series is predicated on three points primarily:

  1. I love alternate world titles, some of the best ever have been in this genre!
  2. Im a MEGA fan of Booster Gold, even more so since DC’s iconic “52” event and how that has tied into this event! 🙂 Love it!
  3. And finally, because the teams of writers and artists working this event… I dont think Ive been this awed by the writing talent in a LOOOOOOONG time! 


Don’t believe me about the guys behind it? Check it out then in this handy-dandy list of all things Flashpoint! (for the sake of keeping things interesting, the list is at the end of this whole thing!
So we have a basic alternate reality created through the actions of one evil sonofagun (hey, Im trying to be family friendly here!) named Professor Zoom a.k.a. The Reverse Flash who is one of the sickest b******s (key word being ‘trying’) in the DCU(niverse), his history with The Flash (Barry Allen) was that he was a future born villain who ‘loved’ Flash and then realised he (Zoom) was destined to become a villain and went nuts, powered himself up and even made himself look like Barry, then made Flashes life hell and eventually killed his wife by vibrating his hand through her head when she rejected his advances! BUT WAIT! There’s more! He then came back and kept at it and then later tried to kill wife #2 on their wedding day but Flash snapped his neck before he could. There’s even more still because don’t forget that between time-travel mechanics and this being a fictional story – he doesn’t stay dead (obviously!) and does a WHOLE lot more – leading up to now, this mega alternate reality.
Not a bad resume if you’re going for the whole “Maniacal arch-villain” thing.
So anyway, in Flashpoint we have The Flash of the DCU proper waking up to find himself without his costume or anything in a strange new world where Wonder Woman are Aquaman married and the kingdoms of Atlantis and Themyscira waging war on the rest of the world including killing 30 odd million folks in Europe and sinking a country – or something to that effect…
Then we find Superman never existed because (it seems) when he crashed as a baby he was found by some secret agency/group and has been living in contained conditions ever since and turns out to be this super-powered malnutrition-ed looking kid-thing because he was never allowed to develop or his growth was retarded – your guess is as good as mine! Oh and for those that don’t know this, all rights to this character revert to the original creators family in 2013 and they can literally take it to a new publisher and tell DC to jump off a cliff if they want to so I wonder if DC is planning for this possibility?

On top of that we have Batman now being Thomas Wayne (Im still trying to figure that out!) who watched his wife and son die – I imagine logic would make him 70 years old so maybe he uses Lazarus Pits? Oh and he runs ‘Wayne Casino’ in Vegas and is a bit of a douche-bag.

And there’s a whole load of other madness with Villains and familiar characters not being what we know them as at all, good is bad, bad is good, new faces formed from old and some that we don’t even know anymore coming back to the light. I think its going to be a total wild ball and all fans of superhero comics will likely love the no limits renditions of this familiar and almost family-like world that is the DCU for so many of us who’ve grown up with it.
Next of course we must move on to the aftermath!

As you all know by reading the DC announcement that Manks kindly posted up – with Flashpoint shutting shop in August, every title in DC is being relaunched with a brand spanking new #1 and not just that – DC is literally recreating the DCU in a way that is totally unprecedented and even more so for a line of characters and books with this much back-story. They’ve played around with continuity and events for decades both here and at Marvel, but this magnitude of change is truly a deadly gambit!

On the one hand the potential for this being just what DC needs given how theyve been massively over-burdened by continuity and history and all the baggage that theyve built (unlike Marvel who have that sliding timescale thing going) up since the first real big event – the now legen-waitforit-dary! CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS. If you haven’t read it, go now. I mean it. Go and read it. Folks tend to overlook how amazing the older stories are sometimes amid the flood of comics and stories we get today.
But by the same token a change like this can be disastrous – Marvel tried something similar once called Heroes Reborn. Man was that utter crap! I mean really, it was some of the worst re-imagining of things and left such a horrid taste with most folks that it was left behind and the reboot got rebooted back! Of course I hold far greater hope for this new one seeing the talent behind it unlike that reworking which was headed by the one man I would never let near a comic if I had my way – Rob Liefeld. But I’m not going to talk anymore about him lest I lose my famous cool and start tirading! (yes I know thats not a word…)

In any case, back to the matter at hand – There is no clear answer as to what will happen to the characters.
Will Batman be Bruce, Dick or someone else?
Will Superman still be who is and will he still be married to Lois?I doubt it. more so given the very recent teaser of Kal-El and Diana getting *ahem* together in some fashion…
What happens to the Green Lanterns and the Martian Manhunter?
What happens to the various Flashes? Who takes up the mantle now that they are all back and which ones will survive Flashpoint?
All these and more are among the swirling mass of questions that have been on my mind the last couple of days and the scale and impact of this on these books and characters. Some of them could do with some modification and others would be better served left alone.

I wonder what this means for titles like Batman Inc.? Will the JSA be majorly affected? (I hope not because its been consistently the best team book on DC lineup since this current run began – though I will be happy to see Guggenheim get taken off it!) Will the fantastic recent runs on Action Comics and Detective Comics (the numbering of these two is uncommented on…) be changed too? This last one I really hope not because between Paul Cornell and Scott Snyder they have made these two arguably the best books DC is putting out right now. Excepting of course this cruddy Doomsday thing theyve shoehorned into Cornells otherwise impeccable run on the title!
We have a new JLA (as seen below) with J’Onn replaced by Cyborg, all redesigned by Jim Lee – who normally I like but he has limitations and it shows in things like his cyborg design which is cheesy 90’s style overkill in my view and details like all the guys having that V-cut in their collars and of course that crotch cannon he’s given GL here!

Im just kidding, there are always flaws but I have to admit that overall I hold great hope for this event because unlike all the Crisis’ that came before this leading up to the recent “Final Crisis” (yeah right…) this one actually seems to be likely to change the world and reboot the history and the potential for DC to get it right this time and not get mired down by all the heavy luggage that hampered its previous events – plus an actual desire to change it all – I think feel it could be great.

A DCU which can tell fresh stories, recreate characters and play with EVERYTHING almost like wiping a slate – or at least most of it. The potential for awesomeness is epic! Of course we can all expect the hardcore nuts (Id rather just call them that then names like fanboy which just make the rest of us look bad) who will be up in arms about Wonder Woman not having the right colour underwire on her bustier or Clark Kents glasses being shaped wrong or maybe even Power Girls boobs being the wrong size – I think its better to skim the surface of their clamor for valid angst, ignore the din, enjoy the good books as they come and if there’s something truly heinous *COUGH*One-More-Day!*COUGH* then the fans can make some noise and honestly, if you dont like – DONT BUY IT!
Thats what I do… at the end of the day, if there are enough fans who will happily shug out for some of the crappy stuff Ive read in Spidey books, Super-book, Bat-books, Rulk and X-books in the past… well they’ll keep making them! So Id rather not burn my money or my brain cells on them, buy the ones I truly like or think are worth seeing more of to add to their sales, enjoy the book and hopefully do my part to keep some of the good ones going as long as possible.
So here’s hoping that this event is all we hope it will be! See you all on the other side! (Umm, yeah, I mean of course that I’ll be back on Flashpoint after the event but I will be back next week!) Cheers till next time Wayfarers!

…OH! and here as promised is the list of books you can look forward to the next few months, many with some great cover artists like Francis Manapul attached as well!…brought to you faithfully by this wacky wayfarer:

Preludes
Time Masters: Vanishing Point #1–6
The Flash #9–12
Flashpoint titles
Flashpoint #1–5
Booster Gold #44–47
Mini-series
Whatever Happened to Gotham City?
– Flashpoint: Batman Knight of Vengeance #1–3, scribe Brian Azzarello and artist Eduardo Risso
– Flashpoint: Deadman And The Flying Graysons #1–3, scribe JT Krul and artist Mike Janin

Whatever Happened to the Aliens?
– Flashpoint: Abin Sur – The Green Lantern #1–3, scribe Adam Schlagman and artist Felipe Massafera.

– Flashpoint: Project: Superman #1–3, scribe Scott Snyder & Lowell Francis and artist Gene Ha.

Whatever Happened to Europe?
– Flashpoint: Emperor Aquaman #1–3, scribe Tony Bedard and artist Ardian Syaf & Vicente Cifuentes.
– Flashpoint: Wonder Woman and the Furies #1–3, scribe Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning and artist Scott Clark & David Beaty with covers by Ed Benes.
– Flashpoint: Lois Lane and the Resistance #1–3, scribe Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning and artist Eddy Nunez & Sandra Hope.
Whatever Happened to the World’s Greatest Super Villains?
– Flashpoint: Citizen Cold #1–3, scribe and artist Scott Kolins.
– Flashpoint: Deathstroke & The Curse of the Ravager #1–3, scribe Jimmy Palmiotti and artist Joe Bennett & John Dell.
– Flashpoint: Legion of Doom #1–3 scribe Adam Glass and artist Rodeny Buchemi & Jose Marzan
– Flashpoint: The Outsider #1–3, scribe James Robinson and artist Javi Fernandez
Everything You Know Will Change in a Flash
-Flashpoint: Kid Flash Lost #1–3, scribe Sterling Gates and artist Oliver Nome with covers by Francis Manapul.
-Flashpoint: The World of Flashpoint #1–3, scribe Rex Ogle and artist Paulo Siqueira
He Never Got the Ring
-Flashpoint: Hal Jordan #1–3, scribe Adam Schlagman and artist Ben Oliver
Whatever Happened to Science & Magic?

– Flashpoint: Frankenstein & The Creatures Of The Unknown #1–3, scribe Jeff Lemire and artist Ibraim Roberson
– Flashpoint: Secret Seven #1–3, scribe Peter Milligan and artist George Perez and Scott Koblish

One-shots

– Flashpoint: Grodd of War #1, scribe Sean Ryan and artist Ug Guara
– Flashpoint: Reverse Flash #1, scribe Scott Kolins and artist Joel Gomez
– Flashpoint: Green Arrow Industries #1, scribe Pornsak Pichetshote and artist Mark Castiello
– Flashpoint: The Canterbury Cricket #1, scribe Mike Carlin and artist Rags Morales
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"Though this be madness, yet there is method in’t."

25 May

In case any of you were wondering, this weeks title is a quote from Polonius, Hamlet Act 2. Hey I wouldnt expect a Shakespeare quotation in a comic review without it trying to be pretentious either but here it is amazingly apt.
If you’ll but bear with me a little you might be intruiged.
Today we are gathered here folks to talk about a series that apart from its curious name did not appear to me to be anything but another Fables like rip-off or parody or some such and thus I avoided it for the first couple of issues.
Of course me being me I could not contain my curiosity (I swear if I was a cat Id be long out of lives by now!) and had to give it a shot – the book I refer to is an intruiging new title from the fine folks at IDW, which incidentally is one of the more interesting publishers out there in terms of alternative content. Like Image and Dark Horse these guys also publish a vast mix of things from books like Peter David’s lovely, morally ambiguous, noir-like and fantasy laced Fallen Angel stories (I really like em, maybe one of these weeks if you guys are intrigued enough…?), some basic stuff like nicely rebooting the G.I.Joe franchise (better then that steaming pile of a movie…) – alongwith numerous other franchises they’ve been putting out nicely like Tank Girl, Underworld, 24, CSI, Tranformers, varied Doctor Who books including by Grant Morrison among many and recently even Godzilla! Then they have horror books like the 30 Days of Night series, carrying on TV properties like the Angel franchise (which I thought was so much better then its parent program ‘Buffy’) and of course completely independant and intriguing new titles like Fallen Angel and… the one which this post… is supposed to be about…
So on to the book then before I meander off again!

On this week’s mental menu is a recent ongoing by writers/creators Anthony Del Col and Conor McCreery and lead artist Andy Belanger with lovely cover images by Kagan Mcleod. Yeah I know, sounds a little like a Highlander or Braveheart character list (sorry but to me it did at first, in a good way! I love em both!!)
This is a crazy book called Kill Shakespeare and is literally all about that. Not the easiest concept to explain and believe me if I can say that then its a weird one alright! But in all seriousness, this is a truly masterful piece of story-telling and re-telling as it takes characters and ideas from all over the vast world of Shakespeare and throws it all together in this marvelous mix of fantasy and literature with dashed of high adventure intrigue and power-play. In its way a fitting tribute to the Bard himself who is the inspiration and glue that holds this world together.
As the official website of the comic Ive linked above states, this is “An epic adventure that pits Shakespeare’s greatest heroes against his most frightening villains.” 

In this book we see amalgamation of various aspects of the Bards many works – our primary heroes are Hamlet (seemingly between Act 4 and 5 of the play itself which works because in Act 5 he has aged to 30 in which case he should have been made king when his father died – I realised this after some random online research! Clever me!) and suprisingly Juliet, here without a Romeo who is apparently dead as at the end of that play whereas she did not in fact die but survived.
 The roles of vile villains is aptly filled by the iconic (to fans) Lady Macbeth and King Richard III.
Banished from his kingdom after killing the wrong man, the aforementioned Polonius, in a failed attempt to kill his uncle the king to avenge his father who’s ghost has been haunting our young hero, (for those who did not know it…) Hamlet is on his way to a new land – England. Morose and fatalistic and lost, our hero is besieged by demons both within and without and eventually finds himself on a quest for his new friend Richard III because he is apparently special, referred to on several occasions as the “Shadow King”of some prophecy who is the only man who can find some special magical being called Shakespeare who is either (a) a threat to all things and evil tyrant to be destroyed or (b) the saviour of all – depending on who you believe of course.
And so we follow the journey of Hamlet and discover all the intrigues and subtleties and plans within plans at play around him and we come across a plethora of characters, some obviously familiar from the get go like Othello, and others not necessarily so to folks with limited knowledge of the plays.

In addition, the art is surprisingly suitable to the narrative as the artist has a good grasp of the characters and the visuals needed, nicely complementing the dark, gripping and occasionally violent story as it unfolds. Vibrant and unflinching, the covers also suit the feel of the book perfectly – each one a lovely and enticing work that again has the percfect feel of a modern graphic story mingled with a classic Shakesperean image.

There are people who have shown issue with the series and cry foul using their scholarly standing to belittle and pick at this book, and there have also been those who have praised it among those self-same circles.
Personally I feel that while it may not be the greatest work ever, it is a truly well written and interesting read that works so well bridging in a way the old world of Shakespeare and his works and the newer worlds of story-telling that we have now.
I would recommend checking this to any and all fans of fantasy and high adventure and of course to fans of the Bards may works – however if you are a tight-arsed purist who must have only the original English and can make no allowances in altering the sheer perfection that was Shakespeare… dont bother and possibly reassess your mind-sets.
Everyone else should have a rollicking good time regardless, whether you know the originals or not, a 12 issue saga nearing its end (#11 releases this week) that is a clever and fun adventure filled with its share of great story-telling and art.

Till next week then folks, stay shiny!

Welcome Wayfarers!

20 Apr

In the immortal words of Théoden of Rohan, “How did it come to this…?”
 

Don’t get me wrong folks, Im truly kicked to be here writing a weekly column for all my fellow comic cravers out there, courtesy the fine folks on this site – guys I promise I’ll do my damnedest to behave and to hopefully not make you regret giving me this opening! Really, I mean it I do!
My quoting the Lord of Edoras was to convey the slight disbelief and simply wonder how it is that me, a good Indian boy working 9-5 in the business world have come the direction I have and today am contributing an online column about comics and graphic stories. C’est la vie non?
Anyway!
So, before carrying on any further and confusing you more dear reader(s?) – welcome to the first edition of the Weekly Wayfarer.
Here we will be reaching around comic-dom for the oddball, the intriguing, the unusual, the amusing and occasionally the disturbing – not for any other reason then simply to expand horizons. In a medium overloaded with folks in tights and dominated by The Big Two pretty much everywhere, we as fans must give a shot to the more unique voices, the off-the-grid talent that makes us look again and again and helps change our perspectives on what comics can do.
Now I would like to say this here and now so that there is no confusion about it – this is not an indie comic column. There will be everything from Superheroes to Silliness, covering any and every genre I can think off and for the sheer fun of it we’ll be following no linear reading time-line, instead jumping from new releases to golden oldies to ancient obscurities and all in between! And if this post runs a little long, forgive me but its my first time at bat.
So without further adieu, let us begin the first reviewing session shall we? After much thought (Ok pretty much off the top of my head..) it occurred to me that the ideal book to kick off with would be none other then the brilliant “Fanboy” by the legendary Sergio Aragones (“A Mad Look At…”, “Marginals”, “Groo the Wanderer”) and Mark Evanier, long-time humour comic writer and writer for the entire 7-season run of ‘Garfield and Friends‘. Yes I like to find and provide obscure details, its fun what can I say.
Released as a 6-issue mini waaaaay back in ’99, Fanboy is not a title too many folks are familiar with. Understandable given its nature as a parodic humour comic and famous yet not always familiar names as its creative team.
However I’ve always felt this to be a gem of a book that more comic fans should read. The term ‘Fanboy’ itself comes with various connotations meaning several things depending on who you ask such as (1) A passionate fan of various elements of geek culture (e.g. sci-fi, comics, etc.), but who lets his passion override social graces or (2) A person who is completely loyal to a game or company regardless of if they suck or not or (3) A pathetic insult often used by fanboys themselves to try and put down people who don’t like whatever it is they like or (4) A person who loves something without question. Essentially all four guys from “The Big Bang Theory” can be seen as great examples.
Over the years its taken on a somewhat negative note but I think that like any number of things, its a term that most snotty fanboys and fangirls take WAY too seriously.

And THAT concept is in a sense what this book does – it shows you the cliché, the expected and then throws in a surprising turn, an unexpected moment of character and just that little bit of intelligence and clever wit that makes a good story and is a must for a good parody I think.

In the story we follow out narrator and first time star of his very own comic – Finster. He is the quintessential geek and fanboy – how he lives, his hopes and dreams, his fantasies and his outlook on the world and the reality he faces everyday.
Sure in India we don’t have exactly the same culture and stereotypes as America, but some things transcend the globe – be it the cool tough guy, the beautiful and unattainable dream-girl, the angst of youth and all the turmoil that comes with it… these are things that everyone can relate to I think. But Im sure at this point you are wondering what part of this is a humour comic? Well thats the beauty of it!
We have this average geeky life familiar to many presented before us in the Aragones signature style of art rendered in great form, and each issue is peppered with pop-culture references and loads of humour that drives the story forward as our hero Finster tries to navigate the hurdles of his day-to-day life. From biker gangs to crooked politicians to teachers to comic thieves (the fiends!) and the dreaded enemy of the geek – girls – we see him traverse them all in chortle inducing adventures mingling his real world and the world of mystery and imagination brilliantly as he teams up with some of his favourite comic heroes to win the day and learn little lessons that will serve him well down the road.
Each issue also has numerous guest artists that make this madcap adventure all the more entertaining – from Gil Kane drawing Green Lantern to Batman going through his entire evolution from the earliest days with the bat-phone et al, to the 80s grimmer Bats and so on and so on. Its a visual feast and for a fan it is indeed a treat par excellence. Guest art from Kane, Neal Adams, Brian Bolland, Bruce Timm, Dave Gibbons, Dick Giordano and MANY others.
But in the end the question I asked that made me want to write this piece was very simply: “what is the point of this series except the fun?”
Well plainly put – its about being who you are and being happy in your own skin no matter what. What I like about this story is that in the end it does not try and be high and mighty and impart massive moral lessons or the like. It just does what any form of story-telling should aim to do – draw you a picture you can relate to and let you take what will from it.
In the case of Fanboy to me it was about how we all react to so many things in so many ways, sometimes running, sometimes fighting and so much in between – its about how many of us retreat from the challenges and bullies that make life painful, and how to realise that life is what it is and we cannot simply lose ourselves in fantasy. Comics are most often a way to get away from the rat-race just for a little while, to return to childhood in a sense where the world was black and white and things made sense.
But in the end they are but a means to an end – life is still all around us when we put the book down and needs to be faced. Take heart and hope from our heroes in the books, gain knowledge, get ideas and get a few chuckles after a hard day. That is what fanboys (in the derogatory sense) tend to forget – its all in fun and created with joy and love and passion and should be simply taken as such. I don’t mean take everything thats hurled at you, a bad comic is well-worth getting ticked off about *COUGH*RULK!*COUGH!*… sorry, bad throat… but seriously, its good to feel strongly about these things and to have an opinion and declare it but it should be done in a fair fashion without getting carried away by your love of the material – because whatever else, at the end of the day these are just stories and like I said once already, sooner or later you have to put the comic down and face the world.
PHEW!! Wow, really went on and on didn’t I! Well, with this done, I will take your leave folks and if you find this kind of thing amusing and wish to see more, let us know and feel free to discuss stuff in the comments since we don’t currently have a discussion thread – and I’ll see you next week, Same comic time (probably)! Same comic channel (..er..site actually)!!!
Cheers!

Random Musings – 12 /09/2010

12 Sep
Pax Romana

I have been following JONATHAN HICKMAN for some time now (Pax Romana, The Nightly News, Red Mass for Mars). With his latest stint at Marvel Comics (Fantastic Four, Secret Warriors, Shield) , he is telling very interesting stories through highly innovative concepts. Reminds me of Grant Morrison’s work. Is he the next Grant? Hmm..Future will tell.     
 
Just got my TOM STRONG  (by Alan Moore) deluxe edition volume 2. Very few comics are such joy to read these days, but thankfully their number seems to be increasing. The top two contenders undeniably are Hellboy and Atomic Robo. Maybe I should be writing about them someday..

Started Reading “RAIDERS” (Yen Press), the premise seemed interesting : The search for holy grail(or blood!) and some unusual Zombies ( Zombies seems to be new Vampires now! o Wait, we already have a glut of Vampire comics).. but despite of high concept and action sequences, somehow couldn’t get emotionally vested in the series…

Deadman Wonderland

On the other hand am enjoying DEADMAN WONDERLAND (Tokyopop) .The characters are slowly growing on me and am looking forward to the next installment. Though this series has much grounds to cover to rival any of the top shonen manga’s in the market today, it definitely has potential.

Are you reading Gail Simone’s “SECRET SIX“? Why the hell not?

Too many DEADPOOL books in the market seems to be taking the charm away. Marvel: Just do a few books, with quality content. Now Deadpool jokes seem more “eh” than amusing. But I guess, with deadpool movie on the horizon, it was expected.  Me? I just miss my insanely FUNNY juvenile Deadpool…less and less laugh out jokes every day, which is not good.. no.. not good at all

Sayonara ,Zetsubou-Sensei

Still enjoying the dark humor in Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei

CONAN the CIMMERIAN” is going on a hiatus.. I am not too happy. Hopefully its coming back sooner than later.. I need my Conan fix damnit.

Read an interview with Eric Trautmann ( Co-writer of Checkmate, sadly another brilliant series which was cut short due to low sales) on Vampirella. And I am glad he is not looking jazz up the Sexiness of Vampirella, but rather tone down the over emphasis on (almost) naked female form in lieu of story content. If it would have been any lesser writer than him, this would have been difficult to believe . But Eric has brownie points for CHECKMATE.

Want some more ASTRO CITY… Can’t wait till the ongoing starts

Recently read Blackest Night, no emotional attachment whatsoever. That’s all I am gonna say to this one.

If its one comic book you read before you die, let it be TRANSMETROPOLITAN, ’nuff said! Here’s my post  on it


That’s it folks .. Leaving you with a random page of Transmetropolitan , apologies for the scan quality, but if you make a slight effort to read, you would be rewarded  🙂

’till next time then