September 30, 2008

The devil you don't

Free idea for aspiring creators who have a half-done pitch for Cloak & Dagger or Ch'p or whatever sitting in a drawer: somebody pitch a Kid (sorry, Red) Devil solo series. It will be the last thing anyone expects, and those Titans are just totally holding him back. There would be so many hilariously awkward yet redemptive adventures to explore. At least think about it, let me know what you decide.

September 28, 2008

ABC Podcast, Episode #16 and visual aids

This episode of Awesomed By Comics would be sponsored by Two and a Half Men, if it hadn't been interrupted by the unexpected appearance of a certain creator's rarefied air. Aaron hearts Nova 4ever, and Ubu Bubu once again yields the most absurd pages in comics. Fables has a slow period, while baby Justice Leaguers continue to enchant. Also, Aaron and Nova sittin in a tree.

Download/subscribe in the right sidebar, and leave an iTunes review!

Cover(s) of the Week

Evie's Pick: Fables #76, cover by James Jean

Aaron's Pick: Nova #17, cover by Francesco "Matt" Mattina

Panel(s) of the Week

Aaron's Pick: from Thunderbolts #124 by Christos Gage, art by Fernando Blanco

Evie's picks: from Angel: Revelations #5, by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, art by Adam Pollina

And from Ubu Bubu #3, by Jamie Smart

September 25, 2008


Ok I know we're supposed to focus on comics up in here, but a million more people read this blog than my erratic, topically-void site where I would normally post this stuff (because it's erratic and topically void), and I want to make sure you had the opportunity to see this if you haven't already. Then when it's done you can pour pixie stix in your eyes and watch Leonard, Part Six to ease the discomfort.

Watch CBS Videos Online

Mr. T is a typical American

As per usual I've been doing a lot of reading of and reporting about comics this week, as well as working a lot, but it's a little hard to focus on anything with this swirl of absurdity that is the election and the financial crisis. And even that has its own distractions, like how President Bush's podium kept making those farty noises last night.

So in the interest of offering you something relevant, here's a lovely Q&A with Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert in this week's delightfully covered Entertainment Weekly.

September 23, 2008

Full Q&A with Greg Rucka on Queen & Country, other stuff

Ok, so this is kind of long--I could have trimmed it more, but if you're a fan of Greg Rucka, you know he has a lot of interesting things to say. If you missed the Publishers Weekly story this interview was for, it's here.

Otherwise, enjoy! Queen & Country Definitive Edition: Volume 3 is in stores tomorrow October 8th now, apparently.

After the third volume of the Definitive Edition comes out, there will be one more volume, correct? Are there plans for Queen & Country after that?

GR: Yeah, and I’ll really be getting my hands dirty with the fourth one. If I can find the time I’d really like to do some interviews with the different artists that have been involved (including Steve Rolston, Jason Alexander and Carla Speed McNeil). It will be the last one for this iteration of Q&C. There is the intent to do what we’ve been referring to as Volume 2 of the series starting probably late 2010. It’s one of those things that I really want to do, and there’s simply a question of the time to do it. There’s an artist in particular who’s indicated a desire to work on it, and she and I have a handshaking agreement that she will be the one to draw that arc, but she has rendered herself exclusive to DC at the moment. That will influence it as well, because I really don’t want to throw her under the bus, for lack of a better phrase.

After reading both the comic series and the Queen & Country novels, I have to ask, how the hell do you learn all this stuff? The stories are incredibly detailed, and it seems like you would have to be on the inside of espionage, or have a very diligent imagination, to come up with some of it.

GR: I think it’s a lifelong healthy obsession with spy stories. When I was young, and I mean young, I picked up books at the library like “How to become a spy,” and it seemed like a viable career. But I don’t think I have what le Carré would refer to as the "intestinal fortitude" for it. I can’t remember which of the le Carré books it is, I want to say it’s one of the (character George) Smiley books, one of the early ones, there’s a description of George leaving his townhouse, the instinctive check of the street--he’s in London, and the narrative talks about the fact that he’s not so much expecting trouble but there’s always that ever-present lurking fear that somebody from the past is one day going to come walking by, looking to settle a piece of history. Between that and another le Carré description of George when he’s in Germany, those panicked moments when you’re finally able to fall asleep and then you wake up and those first few seconds thinking “Am I alone? Or is this going to be the worst day of my life?"

I also remember being very young and seeing (1965 James Bond film) Thunderball on TV, I think I was in a hotel in Washington, DC, and I didn’t know what the hell I was seeing, all I knew is that there were sharks and a motorcycle.

So it all sort of conflated, and I entered the world of espionage—it was opened to me by Bond, which I suppose is true for a lot of people in my generation, certainly for a lot of guys in my generation, that was the entrée. But I was fortunate in high school to have this one instructor, and amongst the things he taught aside from Latin and European History, he did a class on film that some of us took. And at that time, the (le Carré adaptation) mini-series Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and Smiley’s People with Alec Guiness had come to the US, and I’m not sure what engaged me with that material directly, because I was really quite young, I think 14, but he really encouraged that and told me you gotta read the books. And I did and that really pulled the curtain back. Because on one extreme you have Bond-- well actually these days on one extreme you have Austin Powers--and sort of from Powers you go to Dean Martin, but then you slide into Bond, and then as the scale moves farther to the right you have these le Carré adaptations, which in many ways are tragically tragically dull, because they’re so cerebral. And then, finally, I encountered this show called The Sandbaggers created by Ian Mackintosh, and that to me, that was Moses coming down from the mountain with the tablets, saying here is how you marry the two.

I think for a lot of writers, how they’re introduced to drama, how they’re introduced to good writing, affects them profoundly going forward. And for me that was a seminal show. In the same way I can remember episodes of Magnum P.I. with crystal clarity, I can remember certain episodes of The Sandbaggers and going "Holy Mother.” It was smart--the realization that all espionage is political, it’s something that I wasn’t able to articulate until much later, but for all the stuff that Bond had done, those stories largely ignored issues of politics--he was always fighting supervillains, a global evil organization. And the realization, I’ve said this before and had conversations with various people trying to understand the nature of Q&C, and it’s both the case in the novel and the comics, the way I explain it is that every Q&C story has to have two antagonists—the first antagonist is whoever it is that’s trying to blow up the bridge or assassinate the prime minister or steal the missile codes. But the second antagonist is always Tara’s own government, the bureaucracy. And I’ve had friends at the State Department and elsewhere explain to me that the bureaucracy cares only about its own perpetuation. It exists to ensure that it continues to exist. And I love that inherent drama, that we ask people to sacrifice so much on this altar of patriotism and defense of intangible ideals, and they’re doing it for people who will write them off at a moment’s notice if it becomes the politically viable thing to do.

Do you go to any great lengths to reflect the realities of international intelligence, or do you sort of give yourself the liberty to look at the Queen & Country universe as largely fictional?

GR: I think the Q&C universe is tied very closely to this one, and for that reason I work very hard on the verisimilitude, I want it to feel as authentic as possible. I know just enough to make me potentially dangerous. But I think I’m very good at what I refer to as logical extrapolation—if A is true and B is true, then it is logical to me that C would also be the case. It’s the logic that I think carries forward. That’s always been how I’ve approached it. Just trying to take what I’ve been able to find in research and in talking to people, and I do a lot of reading—I read those big 800-page Metrokin archives, things that really only people with a sadistic streak would take the time to read. Either that or need a good book for self-defense.

Obviously there are very real political issues in the stories—what motivates you to focus on one conflict or region vs. another?

GR: It’s almost invariably outrage. I almost always get angry about something… my wife is fond of saying that I do my best writing when I’m angry. I think that’s her shorthand for saying I do my best writing when my passion is engaged. My anger is easy to engage I suppose. You look at a novel like Private Wars (the second Queen & Country novel) for example—all of that stuff at the beginning, all that stuff about how (the Uzbek) government is propped up, that’s all researched. I couldn’t make up any of the stuff about torture, those were taken from first-hand accounts. And that just drove me crazy. And I think that novel is very much about political expediency—who is our friend now versus who is our friend tomorrow. By the same token, when I was writing (first Queen & Country novel) A Gentleman’s Game, I was looking at, you know, there’s a global war on terror—good luck. I don’t think that would work out well. And it’s a global war on terror, not on terrorism, and as a writer, that’s an interesting distinction to me. I think there’s a fundamental question posed in the novel—Tara does something, in response to an act that is reprehensible at the beginning of A Gentleman's Game, Tara does something that is equally reprehensible. And she does it at the behest of her government, but when she does it, her government says “well we didn’t mean to do it THAT way,” and she says “but you told me to kill the guy. Was I supposed to kill him nicely? It was an assassination, I did the job, you don’t now get to say I did it wrong.” And again it goes all the way back to the comics as well, you look at an arc like "Morningstar" which was the second arc we did and pre-9/11, and that was an arc entirely about what the Taliban were doing to women in Afghanistan. Seeing footage of a 14 year-old girl in a burka being shot through the head in a football stadium in downtown Kabul, as everyone in the stadium cheered. Because she had shown an ankle. And good lord. I saw red.

Since the series was running when 9/11 happened, did you struggle at all with how to incorporate the event into the clearly very relevant setting of the series?

GR: I wanted to, it was interesting--when 9/11 happened I was working with an artist named Rick Burchett on a project for DC comics, a mini-series set in the Batman corner of that universe. And he and I had a conversation about the relevance of writing Batman comics post the collapse of the towers, and we really wanted to re-evaluate and think about that, and I think a lot of people did this, but to take a harder look at what I was doing. I do believe that what I do is art, entertainment absolutely, but they’re attempts at art, they may be unsuccessful attempts but attempts nonetheless—and I remember talking to Rick and realizing that if nothing else at that time, that there were going to be soldiers on the ground very soon. We were going to have boots on the ground, asking young men and women to put themselves in harm’s way for us. And for several of them, what Batman does is going to be an important escape, they’ll want to turn to that comic book. But the comic industry as a whole responded very oddly to the event, almost immediately they were saying “we’ll do tribute books.” And I remember, I was asked three separate times to contribute a story to one and I just said “I can’t, I’m too close to it. I cannot offer anything relevant right now. I'm still reeling from it.”

The sequence with Tara at the beginning of (story arc) "Crystal Ball," which is the sequence that happens on 9/11, was the only response I felt I could validly write. Because in the world of secrets and violence for these people, that was a violence that took them by surprise and horrified them. And then what do we follow it with in that story? We follow it with business as usual. Except now business as usual with a very directed focus. Instead of going after X for whatever reason, now we’re going after X because we want to get the information on these terrorists.

Turning to the relationship between the comic series and the Queen & Country novels: From a reader’s standpoint, my experience is that the suspense aspect is very different between the two media—the comic has a lot of momentum, while the novel causes near heart attacks in certain sections with the build-up. Have you ever been writing one and kind of wishing you had the tools of the other for a particular story?

GR: That’s honestly the reason that I wanted to write the novels. While I was working on the comic series on a particular arc, I found myself at times thinking “well if I was writing this as a novel I would be able to do X, Y and Z.” But one of the things I love about comics is that as a medium you are able to do very different things—time works uniquely in a comic, in ways that it can’t work in any other entertainment medium—doesn’t work that way in a film or TV, or on the stage and certainly not in a novel. But by the same token, a novel will allow you glimpses at the inner life of a character and the exploration of those crucial details that reveal so much in a way that in a comic you can’t. So it was very much, from a very early point I knew that I would be writing Q&C novels, I knew that there would be at least one novel if not more that would allow us a more intimate view. And I think as a result of that the stories for the novels tend to be—well I think of myself as a very character-driven writer, even when writing espionage, for the purposes of whatever the plot may be, I’m more interested in how the characters interact with their goals and in that interaction how they change and how the goals obviously change. So it was always a very logical projection. And I found myself thinking during the series “would this make a better novel?” Which is not to say the ideas for Private Wars and A Gentleman's Game would both be fine comics, but they’d be very very different comics. And I really felt that for what I was trying to accomplish, they’d be better served in the context of the novels.

In terms of audiences, do you have any sense from feedback you get that your novels have helped create new comics fans?

GR: It’s vice versa. I can think of almost nobody who’s read the novels and then went and tracked down the comics. I think honestly there’s still a vast majority of readers… well there’s a few things going on, there’s always a chance that they weren’t aware of the comics. So before I indict anybody for bigotry with regards to comics, I should acknowledge that there may very well be people who read this and go “there are comics, what? There are books that precede this?” But I do think that there is a stigma attached to comics, and someone who walks in for instance to a specialty book store and someone presses into their hands A Gentleman's Game, there’s a good chance that the store is not carrying "Operation Morningstar" which was the first Q&C story. And there’s a whole divide there. Do they not carry it because they don’t know how to get it or how to stock it? Do they not carry it because they think that comics have no place in a “serious” book store? And again when we’re talking about specialty stores like that again we’re talking about the ghettoization of genre, which I also think is absurd. I’ve found though that Q&C readership from the comics almost universally went to the novels. They were very in tune that ok, there’s a novel coming. And I’ve actually gotten a few cranky letters from people who said “I loved the comics and you made me go out and buy this novel and I read it and I’m really angry that you did this in the novel! Why didn’t you do it in the comic?” But it worked better in the novel.

Now obviously the comics series came before the Queen & Country novels, but in your career, was it comics or prose that came first?

GR: I was a novelist first. I actually had published my first three novels before I had my first comic out. I was very much working in both media at the same time. I’d always wanted to write comics. I had come in writing private eye novels, and thought "perhaps I will grow up one day and write espionage," which sounds terribly pejorative, but it’s not intended to be, it’s more to say that I would branch out, but I was very taken by the idea of the American private eye, and I was all ready to write serious scholarly works on the subject. But I would go to the San Diego Comic Con before it was this enormous beast of a show and definitely try to get myself in front of editors, and I’d wave my books at them and say "look look, I’m for real, people paid me to write these,” and almost universally they’d say “go away kid you’re bothering me.” But I was fortunate that a friend from high school was working at DC, and that friend put the novels in front of his boss, and she in turn really championed me coming into the medium and put my work in front of various editors, and one of those editors was a guy named Bob Schreck who was, along with Joe Nozemack, at that time founding Oni press. And I met with them separately at a San Diego con and they asked me if I wanted to do my novels as a comic, and I said “no, no that would be ridiculous, those are novels, and I have an idea for a comic—it’s a murder mystery set in Antarctica. It’s one woman and 2000 guys.” And they immediately saw what I saw, which is that that was a very visual idea, and the 500 words it would take me to describe how utterly cold and dry and miserable it is in Antarctica, as opposed to one really well-done panel by the artist Steve Lieber, the obvious choice was to go with Steve. And that sort of brought me in. And once Whiteout was done, this same woman Patty Jeres at DC put me in front of Denny O’Neil who at that time oversaw all the Bat books, and Denny is legendary in comics, I met with him briefly and he said why don’t you write me a story, and I wrote him a short literally on the flight back to Oregon. And the next thing I know they’re giving me work, and giving me a lot of work. The first thing I wrote for them was a short story called "Two Down," which was the first meeting of Renee Montoya and Two Face.

I’m sure this is a cliché of a question for you at this point, but I can’t not address it because of my personal experience with your work—you have a reputation for writing some of the strongest, most complex female protagonists in comics—can you point to any specific reasons for this, do you have any particular role models that have helped shape your approach, degree of empathy, what have you?

GR: I feel like every answer I give is at the same time redundant and also vaguely different. The honest truth is that I’ve always self-identified more as a woman, and I don’t know why that is, I mean this is from a guy who shaves his head and has a beard and goatee and earrings and tattoos and is very manly—motorcycles, cigars, beer! I think on one level it’s that. My mom was and is to this day, we’re very close, she had a profound influence me on a writer and as a reader. I’m fortunate to be married to a wonderful woman and wonderful writer (Jennifer Van Meter) and she’s always been a great resource for me, staying on the straight and narrow, keeping me focused. There’s an evolution, I can point to certain moments. For instance when I started doing Whiteout, one of the things I wanted to play with was this idea of homoerotic tension that I kept seeing in all these buddy cop movies. Like John Woo movies—there would be these huge gun fights and then these two men would stand there covered in blood, gasping for breath, and they’d look meaningfully at each other and then they’d start shooting people again, or each other. And I’d always be like “just kiss him!” And it felt to me that there was legitimacy in exploring a buddy cop theme between two women.

So that was one thing, and then the second thing that happened specifically with Whiteout, was coming across the statistic that in Antarctica it’s something like one woman to every 300 men in the summer season, and in the winter it’s like one to 2000. I’ve always had an interest in gender politics and issues of sexuality, and that really struck me as a great lens, and backdrop for this issue of sexism. But when I wrote the character of Carrie who’s the main character in that story, it was a character I was actually transplanting from another work. She appeared in a stage play that I’d written, so I felt that I knew her very completely, but for whatever reason, as much as there was a subtextual issue of gender throughout Whiteout, it was not one that I felt that I had to particularly educate myself to write for or from. And then I wrote the fourth Kodiak novel, which isn’t actually a Kodiak novel it’s a Bridgett Logan novel, Shooting at Midnight, and for that one, I spent a lot of time talking with Jen and another friend named Daria—and it was really important for me, I knew I was going to write this novel from that point of view, it’s going to be a first-person narrative from this Bronx Irish Catholic girl, which is about as far from my experience as it could be, and on top of that one that had a history with drug abuse. I spent a lot of time talking with Jen and Daria about perception, and those key details, the things they noticed and that they talked about. We’d play 20 questions, and Daria would say “ok what does Bridgett think about this,” and I’d say something and she’d say “ok, but why?” And I remember Daria saying “does she get cramps?” and realizing that we were talking about her menstrual cycle, and I said “well I hadn’t thought about it,” and she said “well I get horrible cramps, I get cramps so bad that one day out of the month I wish I was dead.” And honestly that was this huge revelatory moment for me, because you know it’s easy to talk the talk—I’m not going to write a character who’s a guy with breasts. I want to write an honestly a female experience as I can. But that was honestly what said to me “don’t fool yourself.” I think that did really raise the blinds in a way, and I think it made me a better writer across the board, not just in terms of writing female characters but all characters. And in terms of logic, what was fair, what were the things that I needed to be asking myself about these characters as I write.

On top of that I’m a heterosexual guy, so I think one of the reasons I write these female characters is because I’m in love with them—I like strong capable women, and I am I believe a feminist, and I think I exhibit my feminism by being as mean to my female characters as I am to my male characters. I’ve had people accuse me of sexism for that, but it seems to me that going easy on a character, especially in a drama in a kind of fiction where we define their strength by the abuse we hurl at them, that would be to me the height of sexism. Saying I’m not going to be mean to Bridgett because she’s a girl, that would be sexist. I think, you know what, we live in a sexist society, she’s dealing with bad guys, and you know what these bad guys are going to do? They’re going to cop a feel, that’s what they’re going to do. So to be honest with her and be honest with the world, they have to do that and she has to be able to roll with it. And how she deals with it tells us about her. It would be cowardly and dishonest of me to write around it.

You talk about a medium that’s really inherently sexist, simply in its portrayal of women, especially mainstream superhero comics where you know what, secondary sexual characteristics of women are very prominent. I mean show me a bulge in Superman’s shorts. But I think for me at the end of the day it ultimately comes down to character. I honestly think that writing Shooting at Midnight taught me more than anything else how to write character in every instance. Gender is an element of character because gender influences our interaction with the world, men experience the world different than women, and anyone who wants to argue that with me I always use the same example, which is that when I walk down the street alone in the morning, that’s a different experience for me than it is for a woman. And that’s a matter of fact, and societal but it’s true.

So you said you’d like to restart the Queen & Country series in a couple of years, will there be another Q&C novel any time soon?

GR: The novel I just finished, which will be out in June or July ‘09 is another Kodiak book, but the novel after that which I guess would be out in summer 2010 is going to be Q&C. Ideally, in the grand plan of the novels interacting with the comics, the novel will serve to bridge the end of the first series and where we’re going to start with the second. It’s an idea for a Tara story that I’ve had for a while. Again when we were talking about time, and the differences in what you can do in a novel versus a comic, it’s a very compressed clock for this novel in way that I think would be very difficult to execute in a comic book. What I want to do is basically set the action across 3 ½ days, in pretty much three different locations. I have Tara in location X, Crocker back in London, and a third party in location Y, and as each does what they do in their place, the others are forced to react. Again I really want that clock to be running, to see the numbers spinning. And I think that would be potentially very confusing in a comic.

What about upcoming comics? Do you have anything coming for DC after Final Crisis: Revelations?

GR: I’m doing a new DC series that will be announced hopefully in the next six weeks—it will be very clear what I’m doing. There will be two ongoings for DC. One that will be announced in the fall, one that we’ll be able to announce in early 2009.

I’ll also be doing Stumptown (for Oni) with Matthew Southworth, we’re looking to be shipping the first issue in early ’09. It’s my great big love letter to the Rockford Files. I wanted to just do a straight up private eye story.

September 22, 2008


So since Evie couldn't do this stuff from work today, and since I wanted to write about my Book of the Week here anyway, behold ... VISUAL AIDES!

Here's Evie's Panel of the Week, from I Kill Giants #2 by Joe Kelly and JM Ken Niimura. Technically her P's otW are the two on the left, but I included the image on the right because it's an awesome image.

My PotW, from Chris Giarusso's Mini Marvels strip, appearing in the back of Incredible Herc 121 (and probably a few other books as well) I just love that one in the back left.

I'm not going to bother posting my Cover of the Week, because it's the Craaaaazy Wild Drunken Superman Cover, which you've all seen a dozen times. But here's Evie's, a sweet Captain Marvel from Mike Kunkel.

Now, to what I actually came here to write about - My pick for Book of the Week (and what probably would have been Evie's pick too, had she not known it was going to be mine) Tales of Penance: Trial of the Century Issue #2, from Arcana Comics.

This book features story and plot by Sean Wise and Paul Gilligan, brilliantly paced Scripting by Ryan Foley, art by Gian Fernando (credited as GOOF) and pitch-perfect colors by something called "EvE" - about which no further information can be easily googled.

So here's your back o' the trade blurb for this one.


Here's another one.


And I mean both of them. When Evie and I came up with the format for the show, we decided to include a category for First/Last of the week - hoping that the Firsts would force us to pick up a few Indie titles, perhaps forgoing the latest Wolverine one-shot or Geoff Johns retconned origin in favor of a lesser-known book that we could recommend to our listeners.

Now in the 15th week of this podcast, I can already count several previous "first of the week" winners as among the books I look forward to the most every month. Jonathan Hickman and JM Ringuet's Transhuman is one. This book is another.

I'm not going to bore you with plot descriptions that you can easily get elsewhere, other than to say it's a gritty-ish, noir-enough crime/law/cops/tights drama that takes place in a vastly underutilized setting (the south) and involves a murder mystery.

What you need to hear from me are the superlatives. I can't say enough about Foley's scriptwork. His characterizations and mannerisms are spot on. He uses background media brilliantly as an expository device. And while the book isn't ROTCFLMAO funny, when there are punchlines, he nails them. And I'll get to his pacing in a second.

The plot, whether devised by Foley, Wise, Gilligan, or some combination thereof, managed to pull off a relatively shocking surprise twist in a universe less than 50 pages old. This is no small feat. Thanks in large part to Foley's pacing, the reader finds him or herself easily immersed in a very dense world, and absorbing elements of character and backstory at a remarkable clip. This is what allows for the storytelling team to pull off the twist at the end of issue #2 and have it feel like it's got some weight behind it.

That's not to say the book doesn't have its faults. Fernando's art is lively and the colors by EvE are much more vibrant than one would expect from a book of this tone - but the art really takes a back seat to the words, and while that serves the book fine, it could be stronger. Fernando has some curious profile shots in the book - whether purposely or not - that I found a bit distracting. And while his art is perfectly fine throughout and quite good in places, the book would probably be even better in the hands of someone more experienced like Sean Phillips (who did a beautiful cover for this issue) or Michael Gaydos. Fernando does have quite a knack for expressive eyes, though.

And I must say, the seemingly obligatory use of other comics creators' names in a non-comic setting has really gotten a bit old at this point - so the references to "State V. Miller, State V. Lee and State V. Bendis" were a bit too wocka-wocka for my taste, and only served to pull me out of the story, albeit momentarily.

Still, these are tiny faults, and I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Especially given the fact that Evie's LCS (one of the bigger comic stores in Manhattan) didn't stock it, I'd like to see it getting more attention. Thankfully my LCS (the biggest comic store in Manhattan) did.

So you know what I'm going to do here? I'm going to do something my old comic store in NH used to do. I'm going to offer you, our readers and listeners, the Tom Guarantee. And yes, it should probably be the Aaron Guarantee, since Tom won't be giving you your money back. And neither will I, actually.


If you pick up the first two issues of this book, and you don't agree that it's on a par with Alias, Powers, or Gotham Central, e-mail us. You send me those issues, and I'll send you a TPB of something else, worth a bit more.

I have a feeling I won't need to, though.

ABC Podcast, Episode #15

This week's episode of Awesomed By Comics is sponsored by "Two and a Half Men," and Harriet's Halfway House, and three-quarters of a banana. Aaron and Evie revisit the awesomeness of Arcana's Penance: Trial of the Century with the second issue, say a sad goodbye to X-Men First Class as an ongoing, and finally give something to always-a-bridesmaid Tangent: Superman's Reign. Editing may not be super tight, Aaron has a lot of actual work to do.

I actually couldn't get this up when I was at home with my scanner and whatnot, so no visual aids for Cover and Panel of the Week just yet--maybe tonight, if I get a burst of energy.

Download/subscribe in the right sidebar, and leave an iTunes review!

September 18, 2008


Hey, does everyone remember this Final Crisis cover, where it appeared as though our 17 year-old friend Supergirl was perhaps signaling that she might like something special put right there because this big bad awful final crisis was just so darn scary?

But WHAT?!

What could she have possibly been telling horny fanboys all across this great nation that she would like put right there? What do young, innocent, impossibly sexy girls want to put right there, right where Supergirl is pointing?

You'll be happy to know that Marv Wolfman and Phil Winslade have your answer in this week's Brave and the Bold.

Why, it's toothpaste of course! White, gooey, sticky, runny, not-at-all-suggestive toothpaste! I'll bet you're all embarassed now, you dirtyheaded gutterminds.

September 17, 2008

Ok, I'll Embrace Change, anything but this shit we got

Is it just me, or is this Skrull PSA (which I assume is the ad played on ESPN2 last night--we never hit the right commercial breaks) completely fucking depressing? I mean, holy hell. Seeing that script written out in a comic book would be no big deal, but somehow, set to music with moving pictures, I'm kind of praying for a tyrannical alien invasion to put us out of our soulless misery.

September 16, 2008

Interview with Greg Rucka on Queen & Country

Seeing as I'm usually all superheroey up in here, I probably haven't mentioned my affinity for Greg Rucka's non-capey work for Oni and his related novels. But also I was saving some of it for this article in the current issue of Publishers Weekly Comics Week about Queen & Country, for which Oni is releasing the Definitive Edition, Volume 3 later this month. My interview with Greg was long and yielded much more material than I could use, so I'll put the full transcript up here in the next day or so.

September 15, 2008

Great Hera, don't get her started

So, in case you were wondering what Wonder Woman thinks of Sarah Palin--she's beyond ripshit, actually.

Neil Diamond could totally be an Avenger

This has almost nothing to do with comics*, but you all like music, right? Right! So anyway, this week at work we've been celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Billboard Hot 100, also essentially known as the definitive American pop singles chart (when by "definitive" you mean based on radio play and sales--how this corresponds with any given person's definition of quality is clearly all over the map). It's been pretty fun because we've gotten to research and write up mini-histories of many of the iconic songs of the past 50 years, plus Chubby Checker hung out last week ("The Twist" topped the all-time list).

Besides writing up several of the blurbs you can find here, I wrote about how ladies totally commanded the chart's No. 1 spot in the 1990s, despite the perceived reign of angsty boys like Kurt and Eddie. It was a surprising discovery, and obviously a pleasant one except for the part where I've had Wilson Phillips in my head for a week and a half. So, uh, sorry about that. Also sorry about the chuckleheads who choose to post comments on re: their perceptions of the validity of the various lists--no matter how much info is posted about methodology explaining that the lists come from solid quantitative factors for one particular chart, they still can't imagine why "Macarena" would be included while epically awesome masterpieces like "Personal Jesus" get the shaft.

*Here's what it has to do with comics--I wrote the blurb for "I'm A Believer," and the Monkees had a comic book once.

September 14, 2008

ABC Podcast Episode #14, and visual aids

This episode of Awesomed By Comics is brought to you by "Two and a Half Men," used around the world either for the crisp petiole or the fleshy taproot. Kooky heroes with claws get lots of love, as does a new indie book inexplicably edited by the guy who created "America's Funniest Home Videos." Special not-to-miss feature is Aaron's Secret Invasion #6 Crap of the Week Flashblast from the Backpast Old Timey Radio Comic Book Haberdashery.

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Cover(s) of the Week

Evie's pick, from X-Men: Magneto Testament #1, cover by Marko Djurdjevic:

Aaron's pick, from Final Crisis: Revelations #2, cover by Philip Tan:

Panel(s) of the Week

Aaron's pick, from Wonder Woman #24, by Gail Simone and Bernard Chang:

Evie's pick, from Patsy Walker: Hellcat #3 by Katherine Immonen and David Lafuente:

September 13, 2008

You can get anything you want

Good news! Very helpful reader Steven Stahl sent me the link to the Alice and Carlo the physicist Large Hadron Collider comic that I and a lot of people had trouble finding, called Alice and the Soup of Quarks and Gluon. You have to download it as a PDF, and it's rather large, but no doubt worth it. Especially now that we're not all dead from man-made rifts in space-time.

September 11, 2008

Speaking of world-changing catastrophes...

So, about five years after everyone else in the world, I'm finally reading Y The Last Man. It's curious that it took me this long, seeing as Brian K. Vaughan's Runaways was, as pretty much anyone who's visited here for half a second knows a million times over, basically responsible for my comics habit to begin with. Maybe it's because I was afraid of disappointment, with all the expectation of it being, you know, supposedly the best comic of all ever. I'm pleased to report though that I'm enjoying it immensely, although I might be able to make a case that Ex Machina is at least as good. If you'd like to fight about that, let me know.

But really the main point I want to make is this: Yorick Brown is Peter Parker if he were written really, really well. I don't expect him ever to be, but now I can imagine what it might be like.

September 9, 2008

There are several superheroes who could help in this situation


September 8, 2008

Go ask ALICE, when she's ten feet tall

In a previous life, I spent a week at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research outside Geneva, and my clearest memory is that the cafeteria's soda fountain dispenses the world's foulest Cote du Rhone pinot noir. But I'd blocked out even that until this weekend, when it was all over the news that CERN is firing up its 17-mile radius Large Hadron particle collider to recreate the Big Bang and either reveal the secrets of the universe or destroy it with mini black holes. Personally I'm all for balls-out science, so I vote that it's worth the risk.

Anyway, the reason I'm mentioning it here is that "the team working on one of the four major installations in the tunnel — the ALICE, or 'A Large Ion Collider Experiment' — produced a comic book featuring Carlo the physicist and a girl called Alice to explain the machine's investigation of matter a split second after the Big Bang." I've been looking all over the webs for this, but all I've found is the rap. If you turn anything up, let me know.

September 7, 2008

ABC Podcast, episode #13 checklist

So you know what might be handy for several reasons? A list of the books we talk about on the show! Also, a knife that automatically detects human flesh, and refuses to cut it! The former would be handy as it would allow you, our dear listeners, to be alerted to what comics/things we're going to be talking about this week, that way you can more easily avoid spoilers, AND so that there'll be a reference guide, in case someone ever wants to go back and listen to a show about a particular issue long after the fact. The latter would be handy as it would cut down on both kitchen accidents (ow, my thumb!) and knife fights.

So as not to spoil the show itself, We're not going to list which books won which categories just yet.

ABCP13 Topics of Converstaion
Fables 75
Spider Man loves Mary Jane 2
Manhunter 34
Secret Six 1
The Authority: World's End 2
X-Men Origins: Beast
Marvel Apes 1
X-Men: Manifest Destiny 1
Eternals 4
Supergirl 33
Next Avengers (DVD)
Sub Mariner: The Depths 1

So if any or all of this stuff is on your list to read, read it before listening to us! And if any or all of this stuff piques your interest in what we think about it, then by golly, this episode is for you!

ABC Podcast, Episode #13 and visual aids

This episode of Awesomed By Comics is sponsored by "Celebrity Real Estate Blunders," because oy we should have such problems. Evie and Aaron salute the crop of excellent first issues this week, and wonder whom to blame for the terrible one. Be sure to stay listening through the end of the episode for a special story time with Aaron.

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Cover(s) of the Week

Evie's pick, from Fables #75, cover by James Jean:

Aaron's pick, from Spider Man Loves Mary Jane Season 2 #2, cover by Terry Moore:

Panel(s) of the Week

Aaron's pick, from Manhunter #34 by Marc Andreyko, art by Michael Gaydos:

Evie's pick, from Secret Six #1 by Gail Simone, art by Nicola Scott:

September 5, 2008

Sarah Palin rounds down when she tips

While Barack Obama is Your New Bicycle,

Sarah Palin washed your whites with her red parka

Sarah Palin tried to get on the elevator before you got off

Sarah Palin left the copy machine on 'staple'

Sarah Palin answered your Craig's List ad and then didn't show up

Sarah Palin said she didn't care where you got take out, then bitched about not being in the mood for Indian

Sarah Palin tried to recall that email she accidentally sent you

Sarah Palin likes Rod Stewart's version of "People Get Ready" the best

Sarah Palin regifted your handcarved salad bowl

Sarah Palin claps on the one and the three


Update: I just want to add that several hours after writing it (and after a Mets/Phillies game filled with heinous meatheads), I think this post is a little obnoxious, in that it's a cheap way to dis on the governor without thoughtfully calling her out on anything meaningful. So let's just say that my real problems with her are the same as everyone else's (unless you don't have any problems with her, in which case you and I can stick to talking about fictional funny books and everything will be just fine).

September 3, 2008

Arrested Development

Last night we watched The Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow, the new DVD feature about some hypothetical Avengers offspring who get spirited away after Ultron kills their parents to a Truman Show-esque bubble in the arctic circle where they are raised by a silver-haired Tony Stark. It was actually pretty good, if predictable at every turn, but cleverly scripted and nicely designed with an appropriate level of humor and melodrama. I apologize if the language in my review is a little rigid, there were a lot of robots. Anyway, Thor's daughter Torunn was particularly endearing, and it's kind of funny to think about Tony Stark raising all these superkids on his own. The movie did take sort of unecessary liberties with things like claiming that Tony built Ultron--there was some justification for it but not quite enough, he could have just been around Hank Pym a lot at the time or something. But otherwise it's a fun story for those of us who will inhale any animated superhero adaptation the companies bother to throw together.

It also confirmed a suspicion that has been mounting this week, which is that I am an 11 year-old boy. Or at least the comics companies think I am. If you listened to the podcast this week (episode #12, right over there in the sidebar), you know that Aaron and I are both big suckers for the Marvel Adventures line, which is frequently more satisfying on an issue-by-issue basis than the "regular" books (they're obviously not as gratifying in the "big universal picture" department, being mostly one-shots out of continuity, but you know, eh). This must also mean that Robert Kirkman things I'm an 11 year-old boy, because he's under the impression that Marvel Adventures talks down to kids. What they actually do is talk fairly head-on to the absurd side of my 31 year-old lady sense of humor. I definitely love me some "grown-up" comics too, but they're not better or more important (most of them anyway), they just serve a different chunk of my entertainment-consuming brain. And some of them, like the most recent issue of Superman Batman, alternately serve both.

Unlike Rich Johnston's tongue-in-cheek suggestion that he would buy the newly announced DCU Elementary for his daughter only, I will say without qualification that I will eat that up with a shovel. It has baby Lobo for cryin' out loud. Yes, shrinking superheroes to kiddie size is a gimmick pounded into the ground a million times over, but that's because it humanizes them to the level of "I may be an invulnerable black belt with eye beams and microwave powers, but there's a part of me that did and sometimes still does have a preoccupation with Hot Wheels and pudding pops." It can be done poorly, for sure, but there's something about the juxtaposition of ultimate power with immaturity and baby fat that tends to strike a little bit of gold for some dumb reason. And even the books like Marvel Adventures Super Heroes, where the heroes are still adults, put them in situations where they are awkward and distracted and vulnerable in ways that having super powers would not necessarily eliminate.

The irony is that calling something "all-ages" signals that it's primarily for kids, possibly driving away adult consumers, when in reality a lot of this stuff truly is all ages--great fun for grown-ups and incidentally appropriate and accessible for kids. Well, except Super Friends, which I find to be genuinely dumbed down. And yeah, if someone said I could only read X-Men: First Class or Ex Machina but not both for the rest of my life, I'd choose the latter. But I'd whine about it, and probably pull their hair, and not in the it-means-I-like-them way.

September 1, 2008

ABC Podcast, Episode #12 and visual aids

Episode #12 of Awesomed By Comics is brought to you by "Two and a Half Men," which is, strictly speaking, a specific internal structure of the female anatomy. Evie and Aaron deal with some plagiarism by computo-robots from the future, welcome new listeners, and bid a fond farewell to Catwoman. Marvel's kids' line schools its grown-up counterparts in a number of award categories.

Download and subscribe in the right sidebar, and please leave an iTunes review!

Cover of the Week, from (sniff) Catwoman #82, cover by Adam Hughes:

Panel(s) of the Week

Evie's pick, from Angel Revelations #4 by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, art by Adam Pollina:

Aaron's pick, from Nova #16 by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, art by Wellington Alves and Geraldo Burges: