Friday, February 29, 2008

Update: Marvel Trying To Capitalize On The Loss of Stephane Peru?

Let's examine a few press releases from Marvel:

No mention of the colorist.

None here, either. I think that Marko might do his own colors, though. Don't have any of his current work handy to be able to say for certain, though.

I know for certain that Joe Mad doesn't do his coloring, though.

So...I think it is fair to say that we've established that Marvel generally doesn't mention inkers or colorists in their PR. They skip right over crediting an inker to credit Stephane?

Just seems a bit off to me. I'd like to think it is just trying to help bring attention to a great colorist that fans will, unfortunately, not get to see further work from.

I fully recognize that others might not be so quick to think this is Marvel trying to cash in. Trying to look at it fairly, I can't come up with a scenario where they could have mentioned him in the PR that would have came off any more sincere and admirable, nor would I suggest that it is fair to say they should simply not have mentioned him at all. Possibly the only thing that might have saved it was that, if they were going to go all the way to crediting the colorist, maybe they could have credited the inker as well.

Edit: looking at David U.'s mention of Hulk #2 having the colorist noted, it might be that this is a new decision by Mark Paniccia to credit colorists because of the huge effect they have on the comics they help produce. Maybe the loss of Peru and the realization that probably not enough people recognized his great contribution to the titles he worked on led to this change?

Credit David U. for finding the one possibility that could eat its way through my normally insurmountable cynicism and allow me to see a sincerely noble reason for the crediting.

Update 2 (7/11/12): I had this old entry brought to my attention in a discussion with Stephen Wacker on Man, I'm embarrassed that I considered this as not only a possibility, but one worth sharing with the masses. I'm, also, embarrassed that I responded with snark to David Uzumeri pointing out how appalling my cynicism was, since he was pretty much right on the money. I'd just delete the whole thing, but I feel like that'd seem more like I was trying to hide from my error. It's unlikely that many will bump into this addendum, but, if they do, my sincerest apology for the offense caused by my cynical theory.

Dan Slott: Is He On His Meds Now?

Just thought it worth pointing out: Slott's sock puppet, BBraddock, hasn't posted a single thing in Talk@Newsarama since the Guggenheim/Slott/Huxford brouhaha wrapped up.

Funny, that. He only existed to try to silence critics of OMD who were looking to boycott BND and to try to make Newsarama look bad for MY COMMENTS made at Guggenheim and Slott.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Fourthman Reviews: Ropeburn

By Lee Newman

Ropeburn #1

Published by Fragile Press

Written and Illustrated by Jeremy Smith

Imagine all the heart of Peanuts mixed with the meditation on the mundane found in Clerks and you will have an idea of what Ropeburn is like. It in format and overall artist style, it is more reminiscent of Schultz. In angst and setting, it is a companion to Kevin Smith’s work.

Jeremy Smith is a winner of the Xeric Award (editor's note: Jeremy is selling his work directly from his blog, in addition to through Diamond). The Xeric Foundation started by Peter Laird is a corporation that offers financial assistance to folks looking to self publish their work. Jeremy used his award to get Fragile Press off and running. His first comic is this collection of slice of life anecdotal vignettes. The humor is smart assed, but the spirit of the book looks for the silver lining. If you look at the cover, you’ll see a single splash of color in a bloom rising from the crack of a grey dull world. That is what the humor of the book does. It looks at the things that frustrate us and makes light of them.

Much of the book appears to be auto biographical. More than half the strips are centered around Pizza Delivery boys and their trials & tribulations. The reason I say that it seems to be autobiographical, is that the dead on voice that is associated with these pieces can only come from experience. If Smith has not worked as a delivery boy then he has a keen eye for the world around him. Even if he has, that eye is just as acute.

Much of the rest of the material falls into the same category thematically, but is not as genuine. They are cute. Just as humorous, some are more thought provoking – for example, there is a series of one page panels that display a single man’s struggle with devils surrounding him that are peppered throughout the book.

The art is appropriate. It is of the newspaper strip variety, with clean lines and a strong sense of character design that leads to a very consistent look. Honestly, the whole project reminds me of the early work by Snoopy’s creator and this reader hopes that Smith’s career is as long & storied.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Hart D. Fisher Talks To Schwapp!!!

Imagine my surprise when an e-mail popped up in the bin over at the Schwapp Online mailbox and it happened to be from the infamous Mr. Hart D. Fisher.

He was, apparently, pleased and impressed with my taking the time to try to look at what one of the things influencing him during this time may be: his wife's ongoing recovery from cancer.

Cervical cancer and Ovarian cancer nearly killed my wife. She's lucky to be a live. Her cancer is rare and vile. She has a 50/50 shot of it coming back in the next 4 years, so yes, for me, the clock is ticking.

You should sit down and think- what would happen to you if you applied for a job, they checked your resume and found something on your resume that didn't check out (not your fault, the fault of someone else) and then you find you didn't get the job because the company pegged you as a liar because this fact on your resume didn't check out.

Then you start thinking about how lies like this could effect a person in my shoes in other ways.

Glad you actually took the time to think about this thing beyond the initial kneejerk reaction.

So, it appears that the emotional and financial tolls of such a catastrophic illness as cancer and the life changing impact of a resulting hysterectomy do have a place in the process. But there, also, appears to be an added dynamic at play here: the implication that Gerard Way's prior lack of acknowledging his Boneyard Press work has led to people calling Mr. Fisher a liar. Thus far, I haven't seen that mentioned in any other coverage, leading me to assume this is something that will come out as he shares the rest of the story that he's been promising in other statements.

In discussing this with Mr. Fisher, he is quick to want to avoid his wife's condition becoming any kind of focus of the discussion (though he did give me permission share all that we discussed via e-mail):
My motivation is a letter I got from a fan, her friends were giving her shit about On Raven's Wings. Go back and read what I said on my journal about this. My story does not change. And things are only going to get uglier as this thing plays out. This story has barely broke, wait until people simmer down and actually take a look at this situation and the real world ramifications of what these folks did.

Am I struggling to take care of my wife? Yes I am. It's very hard. I am her sole care giver and that's a heavy load. Go read my blog, read about how my brother turned on me during my wife's chemo/radiation treatments, how he started a competing editing business, how he went after my customers and gave them credit terms and cheaper rates to take them away from our company while we were fighting for Waka's life. It's a shit world.

The more you know about me, the more you'll see there's a different story than the one you're reading now. If you want to write about what I've told you, yeah, Go ahead and write about it. Here's a good place to start if you want to know my real story.

Thank you for taking the time to think. I appreciate it. Best of luck to your mother and her struggle. (editor's note: I shared with Mr. Fisher that my mother, also, had cervical cancer in the past)

As I spent time suggesting to Mr. Fisher that, if more people knew about what he and his wife are going through right now, it might soften their view of him and better allow them to digest what he's saying without bias. As it stands now, right or wrong in his position, I don't think that many people are going to give much effort in trying to give him a fair shake. Deserved or not, it seems that most people are more inclined to dogpile on him without reading through much of the story.

The following are two separate responses where he made it clear that he's not willing to personally draw attention to his wife's medical woes, regardless of whether it might increase the number of readers that give his argument a chance:
You can talk about it. At this point, I can't. I won't put Waka out there like that. My reputation is already shit. I'm only worried about my real life and my wife's life. This whole thing is one big shit sandwich for me. But you have to fight for your work, otherwise everyone will take everything you have until you're gone, nothing but gone...

You can quote what I wrote you. You can talk about our interchange here. But I'm not going to issue a big press release about my wife's cancer. All of my information is public. It's right there. Just like the optimum wound interviews. They're public knowledge.

For me, I have to be careful how I deal with this battle. I have been advised to not go ballastic, and there is more to this story to come out.

So by all means, you can attribute everything I've written you as a quote. I talked to you because what you wrote took some thought. I won't deal with the witless and get dragged into the mud.

But now, I'm hanging out with my wife and we're laughing about this. Laughing is good.

I don't pretend to know what the truth of this whole issue is. All I do know is that I refuse, at this time, to demonize anyone involved in the clash. Hart D. Fisher may be a controversial figure, but I'm more concerned with wishing him and his wife all the best during their trying times than trying to blast him for a story I don't know all the elements of.

Updated: The Marvel Swipe Club Grows One Larger!

Over in Rich Johnston's Lying in the Gutters forum, a poster has pointed out a HORRIBLY OBVIOUS photo-reference swipe job. This is the sort of thing that Marvel sent out a memo to all artists telling them not to do, in order to cover their asses legally.

I'm not running the pictures here because the poster was bringing it to Rich's attention and his column doesn't run until Mondays. He should be the first place with the image.

Update: A Newsarama poster named MartianChild has given more examples of Mack's history of swipes (dating back to before his Marvel time):

I am a fan of David Mack's work, and I find him to be a very talented writer and illustrator. But as a longtime follower of his career, over the years I have noticed literally countless times that he has swiped, or copied, or traced, or "paid homage to" other very recognizable sources, without even attempting to disquise the fact that he was swiping, or copying, or tracing or "paying homage". I direct your attention to the following examples :

This Kabuki illustration ...

... was taken from an advertisement for a bridal boutique :

This Danger Girl illustration ...

was taken from a fashion magazine editorial featuring model Frankie Rayder :

This Daredevil sketch ...

was taken from, of all places, an advertisement for Durex Condoms :

And that's just 3 samples. There are many, many, many other examples. Much of his work seems to be directly based on (or traced from) some kind of photographic reference.

Fourthman Reviews: Project Superpowers/RASL/Kick Ass

Project Superpowers #1
Published by Dynamite

Written by Jim Kruegner w/ Alex Ross

Pencils by Carlos Paul w/ Alex Ross

I really enjoyed the zero issue of this book. So much so that I became excited for the title. I did
not enjoy Justice and after not enjoying The Twelve #1, I was dreading the release of this title. The #0 shipped and I read The Twelve #2, suddenly this book seemed like it could rock.

Wait a second, I had the same hopes for Justice... and then delays and a spotty story ruined that book for me. Here I find much the same as far as story is concerned. First of all, this is a #1 and I understand the whole idea of giving content not available elsewhere in the #0, but Jungle Girl and Black Summer, while enhanced by the #0 were not dependent on it. Here, you are thrust into the middle of the story and beyond it being impenetrable for new readers; the damn thing does not logically progress from the last issue. Instead, there is some new crap thrown at us, all of which makes very little sense. I assume this is still the distant future, but there is no indication in the book of its setting or time. Things just sort of happen and all of it requires that you have read the #0 to understand it, but even beyond that some of those things make no sense. Why were the Llama and Dynamic Man immune to the events of #0? How did Dynamic Man come to his position of power? These are things that hurt the narrative and need to be addressed now, not later.

The events in the end of the issue are just enough to make me read issue #2, but it has to wow. I am sure this will sell like hot cakes, hell Justice did, but this is not a good start. Issue #0 was a great story told through characters and actions and was a neat idea. Here everything that was good about #0 is either ignored (characterization) or used for convenience (the urn was merely a set up for random fights). It sucks that two issues in (and with the book on time), I am where I was at on issue 7 of Justice.

The art is better than the story, but not by much. The character designs are great, and Paul does a great job of adapting to Ross's style. This is something that is hard to do. I don't think Epting draws the new Cap costume very well in full view, but Paul seems to do okay with the designs here. Problem is the book flip flops between Alex Ross esque painted photo realism and absurdist out of place humor. There is too much emotion happening. This takes the characters out of the realm of serious comic book characters and into the realm of caricature. It is odd and lessens otherwise solid art.

I will check out issue #2, but this is based on the strength of the #0 and has almost
nothing to do with what was read here.

"Ultimate Comics, we have more comics then your shop has!"

Published by Cartoon Books

Written and drawn by Jeff Smith

First off, let me get this out of the way. For the younger readers out there, this book has mild language. It is not as all ages friendly as Smith’s previous work. Parents will want to make the decision as to whether or not this book is appropriate. There is nothing you won’t see or hear on network TV, but fans of Bone and Shazam!: Monster Society of Evil may want to think twice.

Next onto the book itself. Much like Bone, the start of RASL puts us firmly into the action and seeds a mystery. I am sure much will be explained over the coming issues. For those curious as to what the book is about? Rasl is an art thief. He can travel through time and/or dimensions and this makes him very hard to catch. In this first issue, he ends up in a place that is not what it appears to be and he finds out something (that is not entirely clear) that leads him to believe that he may have people following him. There are problems with “the Drift”, his means of travel as well. The issue is very fast paced and well executed. Many intriguing ideas and scenarios are introduced. This is as good as first issues get. Smith brings his unique character designs to the table and his ability to tell a compelling story from the start is on full display.

There is no doubt that this is the beginning of something special. If you have never read Bone or Monster Society this is as good a place as any to start. While you are at the shop pick up the other two as well, they are superb comics.

"Ultimate Comics, we're doing it up right with a midnight opening for Dark Tower: The Long Road Home!"

Kick-Ass #1
Published by Icon

Written by Mark Millar
Pencils by John Romita, Jr.

The Millar hype machine went into overdrive for this book. The guy putting the Fantastic into Fantastic Four, the author of the smash Civil War, and the creator of this summer’s Wanted, wants to make sure when he does an Icon book, it sells. So a viral campaign, a poster campaign for retailers, and a spreading the word of mouth campaign later, how is the actual book?

Love or hate Millar, he likes to give us big ideas. It would seem that a book about a lonely and miserable teenager becoming a vigilante would have already happened. Who knows? It may have, as there are a lot of comics I have yet to read. I am fairly sure this is the first one to happen in the “real” world. Told as an issue long flashback that gives us the origin of our hero, Dave Lizewski, this issue lets us in on something other than just the beginning of Dave’s story, it also lets us know that many, many people have taken up his idea and run with it. Between a throwaway phrase from Dave and the opening sequence, things may get out of control for more than just our young protagonist.

The rest of the book focuses on why this young man chooses to put on a mask and a wetsuit to take up crime fighting. It is an interesting character study into the mind of the isolated teenager. The lonely kid, who in this world all too often turns to gun play in cafeterias. I almost wish that some read this book and go this route. It would lead to more tragic stories, of course, but less body bags of innocent children. Millar handles it all with a keen eye on the voice of the “geeky” teenage kid. I am sure that his message board has been great research for this project. That’s right kiddies, brother eye is watching and being inspired.

This is not the only book to sport pencils by John Romita, Jr, this week, but unlike X-Men Legacy, this book sports not only good work by JRJR, but the emergence of a different style. Oh, the lines are the same, but he is going for a more realistic character design and I like it. Dean White’s colors give it all a nice tone and it works well.

If this book continues to be a meditation on the consequences of “real life” vigilantism, then we may have something special here. We already have a special #1.

Lee Newman works at Ultimate Comics, where they'll be participating in the Marvel midnight offering of the new Stephen King project, DARK TOWER: THE LONG ROAD HOME, at 12am on March 5th.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Schwapp@TheMovies: SEMI-PRO

By Kevin Huxford

I went into the screening of Semi-Pro last evening expecting to see another Will Ferrell vehicle. That's not a bad thing, mind you.

But what I got was a much more well-balanced flick where all of the cast has its moments, especially
Woody Harrelson and André (Andre 3000 of the Outkasts) Benjamin. It doesn't spare the laughs by doing so, yet gains some heartfelt moments along the way.

To be sure, Ferrell still leads the way on the belly laughs here. About 75% of the funny in this film is borne out of his scenes. The rest of the crew often plays the straight man to his funny so often. But it works, time after time.

The casting here is inspired.
Maura Tierney (as Harrelson's love interest) looks remarkably like Jenna Fischer here, which helps keep the feeling going that Ferrell movies recycle the same cast, even when they aren't. She's initially paired with Rob Corddry, in what this reviewer would call his best work outside of The Daily Show. The results of their strange love triangle wind up leading to some of the most satisfying laughs of the film. Note to those casting Corddry in the future: wigs work well on him.

Much of the rest of the cast is made up of sketch comedy alumni. Will Arnett & Andrew Daly (the sketch superstar who managed to be on Upright Citizen's Brigade, Mad TV, and SNL) make a wonderful announcing team that provides a fair share of laughs. Lord knows what the Oscar nominated Jackie Earle Haley is doing in a bit part here, but he plays a hippie-dippie, stoned fan perfectly.

It is hard to really go into any amount of detail about the movie without giving up some of the twists. Yes, it is a comedy that focuses on the laughs more than the story, but one wouldn't want to accidentally telegraph the punchlines for any of the fans. Suffice to say, this is a very funny flick that uses ludicrous scenarios and, at times, copious amounts of foul language to great effect. The poker scene is an interesting take on a somewhat cliche scenario that is, nevertheless, outstanding.

Get yourself a courtside seat for Semi-Pro this weekend and, if possible, score a corndog at the concession stand.

SCHWAPP!!! Comics Week 22.1: Mighty Avengers #8

WGBGB: Support for my "Valerie Situation"

(Editor's note: this is republished from 2008. I had taken it offline as a draft, but put it live again because I think there's some revisionist history going on with the D'Orazio/Sims thing. I might try to restore the proper date if I can track it down.)

Originally posted on 2/26/2008.

It started out as just one Occasional Superheroine reader who came to my blog to find out that the way Valerie was spinning things made me look much worse than my actual deeds would merit.

Andy: Well I'm glad I got to read the posts here, thanks for posting them. I did assume they were much worse seeing the deleted posts, so I can validate your argument there.
Then came a completely unexpected correspondence from a comic professional. He didn't want to be named, but allowed me to share his words under a pen name. Let's call him Richard Alpert.
Richard: "The inherent contradiction in Valerie's posting is that she simultaneously wants to be the victim and the champion. She wants your sympathy for her trials at DC, but she also wants you to agree with only her. It's an inherent contradiction that makes it seem like she was less angry about her treatment as a woman, and more angry that she wasn't put on a pedestal for being so obviously right. Then again, she edited books with Black Lightning and can't recognize him. Yeah . . . I'm sure DC is crushed they let her get away."

"I don't hate female creators; I just hate Valerie."
He manages to hit a point that I wanted to draw attention to when she made the Jefferson Pierce/John Henry Irons mistake, but was trying to stay reasonably cordial at the time. She certainly doesn't seem to employ the keen powers of observation in her current work that she'd have obviously needed to perform adequately as an editor.

I'm wondering if she didn't spend more time fretting over "causes" during her work rather than doing what was asked of her. I remember doing the same when I was interning at a music promotion company and incessantly pitched that Half Pint needed to try to work something out to pimp KMD because they had a completed record with no one willing to press it. Even called Bobbito (from the Stretch & Bobbito show on Columbia University radio at the time). Really didn't endear me to my direct supervisor.

Maybe I'll hear from others who have similar opinions they're afraid to express for fear of being unjustly labeled as misogynist?

Hart Fisher: A Disturbing "Artist" With An Honorable Goal

Nearly this entire video seems like a joke. Horror porn? Touting a horror movie he is working on with a blind director? A blind director?!?!? Really...if you want a laugh, you really need to watch the first 2:30 of this video.

But at 2:31, you'll see likely why he is making such a big deal of Gerard Way not pimping his work from Boneyard Press back in the day. He's apparently selling all of the Boneyard stuff he has to try to pay for the medical bills from his wife's hysterectomy. So it might just be possible to understand why he's making such an irrationally large issue about whether "Garry" is making sure people know about his first work. Maybe...just maybe...there are no bad guys in this thing...not even Hart.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Comedy Wars II: Silverman/Damon Vs. Kimmel/Affleck

Comedy Wars I: Silverman/Damon Vs. Kimmel/Affleck

Double Duty: Batman & The Outsiders #4

Batman and the Outsiders #4
Published by DC

Written by Chuck Dixon

Pencils by Julian Lopez

FourthMan's Take:

I should really like this book. I dug The Outsiders and am a huge fan of Batman. I fondly remember the days when Dixon was a good writer. He still shows that gleam every once in a while (check out The Iron Ghost for proof).

Thing is: this book has been forgettable so far. On top of that I can’t even remember when issue #3 came out, making it that much harder to remember the details of the book. For those of you in shock about that, remember that on average I read 10 comics and a trade a day. That puts me at close to 500 single issues a month, delays on books can cause huge problems with my comprehension.

With that out of the way, this issue does pick it up some. I still don’t quite understand this team or some of Dixon’s out of character voices. For example: Green Arrow, of all people, should be all about some second chances. Yet his attitude towards Batgirl borders on strange. Is there some jealousy there and if so why? These are the kind of character issues that make a book stand out, but when dropped like this make it forgettable. Oh yeah, there is the whole “Brother I” thing, too. Is Dixon being a smartass?

The big thing here though is the “Remac”. Unfortunately a lot of the tension that could have been built on this idea is given away almost immediately. We see a regular OMAC pretty much copy the “Remac”’s abilities. This is a missed opportunity. I don’t see how withholding that till next issue would have harmed anything. It is nice to see the OMACs playing a huge role in the DCU again, check this week’s Countdown for more on that.

The biggest plus on this book is the art. Lopez has some shaky lip scenes at points, but overall it is very nice. His Batman and Batgirl are very impressive and his Green Arrow iconic. Might have to hunt down some more of his work

All in all, this book is better then the last three, but it will really only be a true achievement if I remember what happened when #5 ships.

Huxford's Take:

I held off on reading Lee's take on the issue until I had already read it. I was originally expecting that he might have a more positive take on the issue than I expected I would (based on previews for the book on Newsarama). Imagine my surprise in finding out that we had many of the same gripes. Well, at least the gripes were in the same area. Given Green Arrow's problems with certain members of the League of Assassins recently, I can understand him not being understanding of Batgirl's presence right away. I was a bit surprised by how familiar he was with her role with the League and how little faith he had in Batman choosing her to be on the team. The resolution of his concern was every bit as clunky as the introduction of it, really.

In fact, this whole issue doesn't have even a coherent, consistent voice. It makes me wonder if Dixon's script wasn't changed to a noticeable degree by editorial. I can grasp not liking his work on the issue, but not the idea that it feels incompetently slapped together. That doesn't seem like Dixon at all. I'd have to agree that the artwork from Lopez here is a positive. It, also, isn't completely consistent...but it is largely enjoyable. Even when given a goofy, out-of-place Remac shape-changing display. I'm not sure how well this book is going to hum along with the apparent sloppiness effecting the first 6-8 issues (at least partially caused by the whole Bedard/Dixon shuffle).

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Fourthman Reviews: Zorro/Amazing Spider-Man/Hulk

By Lee Newman

Zorro #1
Published by Dynamite
Written by Matt Wagner

Art by Francesco Francavilla

Zorro is one of those vague memories from my childhood. I remember digging a couple of movies and a television show, but not much more. I know the mask, the hat, the cape, the sword and his trademark, but origin? Yeah, not so much. So unlike The Lone Ranger, I was excited about this book, but had very little preconception.

Wagner takes a very pulpy approach to the story. It is a discussion on the nature of a legend, not too dissimilar from Ditko’s similar discussion in Mysterious Suspense. This is interweaved into an origin story as well as soldiers account of the first activity of a vigilante. It is an exemplary work, almost immediately you have real concern for Diego and Bernado. There is also a clever twist in the origin which takes you down a somewhat unexpected path.

With the moral play (again referencing Ditko) that is presented, Wagner is a perfect fit for the book. What is most notable about this particular work is that he does not fall into the trap of just writing Hunter Rose in a different costume. This is the problem which has plagued his work on Batman.

Francavilla...I’m gonna have to punch that name into Wikipedia or Google. Before Left On Mission, I had neve
r heard the name, but now I need more. His layouts are amazing with a variety that gives an added energy to his already lively pages. His detail work is just as impressive. When the boys are in the cave, the torchlight seems to actually flicker on the page. This achieved by painstaking attention to the shadows and the use of a heat glare effect. Wagner is credited as the art director on the book, but I don’t see how this art is different from Left On Mission. It makes me wonder what the title means.

I was excited by this book the second I heard about it and I was not let down in t
he least. With this and his new Grendel book, I think Wagner, a noted master comic writer, may be at the top of his game.

"Ultimate Comics, we have more comics then your shop has!"

Amazing Spider-Man #551
Published by Marvel
Written by Marc Guggenheim

Art by
Salvador Larroca

Spider-Man has not been this good in a very long time. Dan Slott knocked the first three issues of “Brand New Day” out of the park and while Guggenheim’s run was not as good, it somehow manages to finish stronger. Part of this lies in the mystery re-established in the last three pages. Most of it has to do with the mistake that Jackpot makes in the issue. It is one of those perfect Spidey moments that harkens back to the death of the Stacys or the Goblin saga. I will be honest: I am not spending much time trying to figure out the mysteries. I am going to let the answers come in their own time. There is still much that doesn’t make sense from the “One More Day” fallout, but, as long as the stories remain on this level, I will hang around.

There are other inspired moments. The fact that Peter seems to be constantly out of fluid is a nice touch. The new publisher of the renamed “DB” is a winner and shows his heart in this issue. With the revelation of the identity of Mr. Negative, you have to wonder if this guy doesn’t have some ulterior motive.

The problems that I had with the coloring in issue 549 seem to be resolved her. Spidey seems to reside in his surroundings now. There are a couple of issues with some faces particularly with Jackpot and Mr. Bennet, but overall the art is very nice. You do have to wonder if Larroca felt a little rushed though as there is a distinct lack of backgrounds in much of the book.

"Ultimate Comics, we have more comics then your shop has!"

Published by Marvel
Written by Jeph Loeb
Pencils by Ed McGuinness


I’m sorry. I couldn’t resist, especially after page 6.

Alright, here’s the deal: this is not, by any strech of the imagination, a GREAT comic book. Loeb has written a couple of those. They star Batman. There is one with Superman. I hear there is a good one with Spider-Man. This comic is fun, though. A heckuva lot of fun. It really doesn’t make one lick of sense, but a team of Iron Men carrying a golden helicarrier will make up for a lot of stupid. That AND Tony contemplating the wisdom of staying dry are worth the price of admission alone. There are a few twists here. Some people are wrong about identities and the last page was STUPID with a ten story tall capital S.

McGuinness is McGuinness. Either you love him or you hate him. I fall closer to the former, but this is not his best work. The spread on pages two and three is five different kinds of fugly, but at least She-Hulk doesn’t look like a passenger on the short bus any more.

This book makes me laugh. That will keep me reading, even if it is pretty dumb.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Worst Kept Secret: James Robinson on JLA

Really. I imagine they will announce it this weekend, but all the evidence points to that. Unless they only plan on having him do a Green Arrow/Green Lantern book.

But let's remember a few things:

1. Geoff brought Robinson back in.
2. Geoff wanted to have a writer he loved working with partnered with him on the Superman titles.
3. Geoff, I believe, expressed wanting to make the JLA/JSA crossover stories a semi-regular thing.

Mind you, the two working out some sort of Green Arrow/Green Lantern Hard Traveling Heroes thing could work, but it would seem to be more than the properties can support. Has to be Robinson on JLA after McDuffie's run ends.

I'm sure it will be great, but McDuffie has certainly gotten screwed over (albeit with a regular check) in the last year, becoming just a place holder for JLA and Fantastic Four.

Edit: D'Oh...while it wouldn't render my guess completely incorrect, THE SILVER AGE has been floated as something he might do. That would make a helluva lot of sense.

Friday, February 22, 2008


I don't know how many of you might recall this, Civil War was apparent mole at Marvel was revealing many secrets of the mini-series before they hit the stands.

Its Spider-Man that gets unmasked in Civil War. He does it willingly on live TV. Thor comes back as a clone/cyborg created by Richards and Stark and Sue leaves the FF with Black Panther and Storm filling in for her and a mortally wounded Human Torch. And Namor's still a prick.

Discuss amongest yourselves.

What's up with the lack of Spoilers? Civil War is in full force and you aren't dropping hints on anything.

Like, who's gonna be on the new Fantastic Four?

Will Tony and Reed be able to control their Clone Thor?

Is it true that the Winter Soldier will be wearing Cap's costume when this is all said and done?

What's up with the mutants leaving the mansion, and how does the world's first mutant play into that?

Who is Hulk bringing back with him when he comes back in World War Hulk?

Is everyone's favorite scottish writer really taking over after whedon leaves the house that Xavier built?

And most importantly, how much is Marvel paying you to keep your mouth shut?
Inquiring minds want to know.
He hits Blog@Newsarama to drop a hint:

Tigra’s a double agent. Wait, I mean….Spider-man unmasks on TV. No, what I meant to say is that Punisher kills two v-, no, no, actually Cap is really le-, ah forget it.

Comment by The Painted Doll — December 13, 2006
In January 2007, he shares the following on a CBR thread:
That Amazon review is bogus.

Cap gives up in issue 7. During the big super hero slugfest (which ends in the streets of NY), civilians jump to Iron Man's defense, making Cap realize the error of his ways. CW ends with his ass in jail. As for what makes them kiss and make up.....go reread the end of Watchmen for your answer to that question.

So...the question remains...who is THE PAINTED DOLL? A Marvel staffer? A Marvel writer? Rich Johnston, alluding to being paid off in some manner for not reporting it himself, but still getting the info out there? All one knows for sure is that this person had amazing resources or contact within Marvel editorial and appears to have been a fan of Alan Moore/Promethea.

Maybe they are still out there?

SCHWAPP!!! Special: Black Adam: The Dark Age Review

***do not adjust audio until review begins***
***the music is designed to play much lower than the review***

In this installment, we take a look at one of the best mini-series of the past year, BLACK ADAM: THE DARK AGE (from DC Comics).

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Fourthman Reviews: Abyss #3

Abyss #3
Published by Red 5

Written by Kevin Rubo

Pencils by Lucas Marangon

Red 5 Comics
is the best new publisher period. Too bad this is not their best book. The problem with parody is that all too often, people throw in too much. That’s why I don’t really go for the whole Airplane or Scary Movie thing. As a parody of Wanted, Abyss functions really well. In fact in that aspect I would call it pitch perfect. Problem is it is marred by all the pointless Scarface gags. It drags down an otherwise great book.
There are some inspired gags here that take jabs at Superman, Batman, the Thunderbolts, etc. Knowing your comic history makes this a more enjoyable book. It did produce several audible laughs and that is hard to do for me. The pencils are fine. It is what I expect of a funny book, but the coloring. Who the hell let Top Cow’s digital coloring guys loose at this thing? It makes it very hard to look at. All in all, Abyss is almost a good funny book.

"Ultimate Comics, we have more comics then your shop has!"

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Fourthman Reviews: Loaded Bible #3: Communion

By Lee Newman

Loaded Bible 3: Communion
Published by Image Comics

Written by Tim Seeley

Pencils by Mike Norton & Christopher Johnson

Seeley brings the first act to close with all the pomp and circumstance of a Star Wars movie. In fact, the last page is greatly reminiscent of Attack of the Clones. As far as a solid action saga, it is as exciting as Star Wars, but the religious aspect of this book seems to grow with each issue. It is interesting to me that a self-proclaimed non-religious person gets the feeling of the “character” of Christ down perfect. Here we have an anti-establishment rebel, consorting with the “enemy” and being hunted by the stalwart leaders of the current incarnation of the Church. There is also a parallel in the Lilith thread this time, which bodes well for Book 2.

Most interesting to this reader is the interaction between Jesus and Sistine in this chapter. It would seem that this Vampire has taken the role of Magdalene. It will be interesting to see how the events of this book play down the line. Seeley has managed to create a world that is very rich. So much so, that now on top of the other two “Books” of Loaded Bible, I would, also, like to see a prequel story about the Vampire Wars. Wow, I sound like I did for years about Star Wars. I guess that’s cool, because this book is generating the same kind of awed fanboy response from me at this point.

Norton’s pencils are much removed from the last issue. They are not as drop dead gorgeous as they were in Norton’s last issue of The All New Atom, but they are significantly advanced from the pencils in Loaded Bible 2. The real neat trick here is that Johnson’s pencils are not intrusive. I would be very hard pressed to tell you where one artist stops and the other begins. I have my suspicions about a couple of panels and one page in general, but I can’t really tell. It is very much the best looking of the three so far.

Loaded Bible 3: Communion does its job amazingly well… it leaves me wanting more right now. Hey, Tim, if you want me to buy the trade, convince Image to do a nice hardcover!

"Ultimate Comics, we have more comics then your shop has!"

10 Random Questions - Raven Gregory

Raven Gregory is an executive editor and prolific writer for Zenescope. When he's not producing quality work over at Zenescope Entertainment, he makes for a great drinking buddy and a fashion risk taker (with his innovation, "shirt pants", due in stores sometime soon, I'm sure). He joins us for 10 RANDOM QUESTIONS here at

1. What was your first pro comic book work and what do you think of it when you look back at it now?

THE GIFT #1. I think I was all over the place. Narration captions, internal caption, dialogue. I was all over the place trying to find my voice. It took awhile to clear away all the extra stuff but when I look at that book today I see all the stuff I should have left out.

2. If you could live anywhere without it impacting your career, what locale would you choose to move to?

San Diego. Love the smell of the ocean.

3. Who would you say is your biggest writing influence?

Peter David and Bendis. David is always evolving his style, but still maintains his own unique voice. And Bendis's dialogue is second to none. I'm very much the talking head writer, so I get that from him.

4. What's the biggest travel nightmare you've experienced?

Arriving in Florida for Mega Con and realizing that all my books were still in Phoenix because we got to security late and they held back the boxes.

5. Best party night you've had at a convention (feel free to change the names to protect the guilty)?

Wizard World Philly with Christian Beranek and Mike Bencick. Suffice to say by the end of the night, I was literally wearing a shirt as a pair of pants.

6. What's the biggest scam you've ever fallen for, know someone that fell for it, or had someone try to pull on you?

None. I've never fallen for any scam. (Editor's Note: Very lucky man!)

7. What's more difficult: trying to come up
with a story from whole cloth or trying to come up with a new story that you weave as an extension of a classic (i.e. RTW)?

Both have their good and bad sides. A new story or concept has the advantage of occasionally spilling out on the page. Get the characters in a good place and the story writes itself. Where as with established material you have to make sure the story the publisher wants told is being told as well as finding the right voice and making sure that elements established in the original translate well into the new version without losing too much of what made the original great.

8. Best year of your life?

1984. No idea why.

9. What's been your biggest WOW moment working in comics, whether it is a personal achievement, meeting someone that you admired the work of, or something else?

Having Peter David say he liked my work. That meant a lot. And that we were both using a character that we were both familiar with beyond comics.

10. What job did you dream of having as a kid?

Marine Biologist.

And the plugs, sir?

This week:
Return To Wonderland #6
Grimm Fairy Tales #21 The Sorcerer's Apprentice

In Two Weeks:

Grimm Fairy Tales
#23 & #24 - Snow White Rose Red

In Three Weeks:

Grimm Fairy Tales
#25 & #26 - The Little Mermaid

In One Month:

Tales From Wonderland: Queen of Hearts

In Two Months:

Tales From Wonderland: The Mad Hatter

In Three Months:

Tales From Wonderland: Alice

In Summer 2008:

Beyond Wonderland #0 & #1
THE GIFT Maxi-Edition

Have your own random questions for Raven? You can chase him down for the answers in his forum over at Shots In The Dark.

More OMD Fallout? JMS Ends Marvel Exclusive

JMS has decided to end his exclusivity with Marvel Comics, effective on February 1st (but only announced publicly today via

Fans, of course, want to jump to assume that the One More Day fiasco (the end being largely re-written by Joe Quesada and editorial) was the straw that broke the exclusive back. I'm amongst those.

JMS tries to ward that idea off through this statement:

So I'm now in a comfortable place to opt out of exclusivity. Consequently, a few weeks ago, I contacted Joe Quesada and Dan Buckley to let them know that I would no longer be exclusive after the first of February, 2008. They were gracious and understanding and I have nothing but praise for both individuals. That Joe and I have disagreed over stuff from time to time, as will happen in any working relationship, that has no impact on how I perceive him as an editor and a stand-up guy. Stuff is just stuff; it has nothing to do with the person. Ditto and then some for Dan Buckley, who has always been an absolute mensch. They understood the importance of being able to grow by working in different universes, and have been completely supportive in this decision.
The timing seems odd. If it were just about finishing his commitment to Amazing Spider-Man, he could have ended it in January without a problem. January first would have been after the end of OMD shipped. But, instead, it ends after the Joe Quesada spin interviews over at CBR that JMS seemed to object so strongly to. The JMS view on what he was set to do with OMD is diametrically opposed to the view Quesada expressed. The following month, JMS is a free agent? Far too convenient to not have much of anything to do with each other.

Why Read Previews When You Can Read Caleb?

Over at Everyday Is Like Wednesday, Caleb is having a lot of fun at the expense of Marvel and DC solicits. I honestly think you're not missing much if you just look at his solicit coverage rather than the actual company ones posted at places like and CBR.

Some of his best hits?


Check out The Flash, who’s so fast that, instead of running at super-speed, he’s power-walking at super-speed!

God, this book looks and sounds terrible…
Booster Gold:
OMAC or not, this looks awesome. Hey, wait a minute....apparently Booster's messing with the timeline has not only lead to a present dominated by OMACs, but it's had drastic consequences for Martian Manhunter's foot wear as well. He's wearing red boots now! Red! Boots! Change back to blue, J'onn; those make you look like a whore!
The War That Time Forgot:
Army guys + Dinosaurs is a formula that’s pretty hard to improve upon, but adding the likes of Enemy Ace and Tomahawk sure does the trick. Why, the only way to screw something like this up would be to—Oh. Written by Bruce Jones, huh? Nevermind; DC beat me to the punchline.
The Invincible Iron Man:
I know the guy’s got a movie coming out and all, but two ongoing monthlies? (Three, if you count Marvel Adventures Iron Man). Isn’t that a little much? I mean, it’s not like the regular Iron Man monthly is selling that well…

And Jesus, check out the “Variant Cover by” credits. Is that a record for a comic from Marvel or DC in this century? It’s a hell of a lot of variants for a book from a publisher that isn’t Dynamite or Avatar…
Sky Doll:
Ready the pulpers! I think I see areola!
Ultimate X-Men:
A story ripped from the headlines! Will Colossus start taking super-steroids like his favorite baseball players in order to up his game? Man, who’s responsible for this after school special-sounding story? Oh, a TV writer, naturally. Damn you, WGA strike!

You really must check out Caleb's work. He has to have the league records for best blogging batting average and humorous home runs.

Schwapp@TheMovies: VANTAGE POINT

VANTAGE POINT: The Best Place To View It Isn't The Theater

At an advanced screening Tuesday evening, I had the opportunity to view the film set to hit theaters on Friday and came to the following conclusion: Vantage Point tries so hard to be different, that it loses focus on being good.

We get a fairly
good start that demonstrates the potential of the movie. We see the chaos set loose in Spain that could lead to a great mystery/thriller film. But right at the end of the first or second "vantage point" that the film gives us, the downfall of the movie begins.

The first vantage point is from the van of the CNN analog (headed up on location by Sigourney Weaver) that is covering the peace talk summit that presents the opportunity for the assassination attempt that the film centers around. While the interplay between the various people putting the coverage together isn't perfect, the moments presented from inside that van after the "fit hits the shan" really captures the movie-goers' attention.

It is just too bad that they spoil it with such a bad soap opera reaction from Dennis Quaid to something he sees on the screen when his "vantage point" intersects with theirs. It is such an old school mystery movie device that it can't help but come across as far too blunt or cheesy. The only thing that could have made it more clunky would been to have used organ music (think silent film style) or the classic "dum dum dum" sounds.

This is the path to the movie's failure, as it leads to their "twist" being all too easy to see coming. This is when I lost considerable interest in the film.

Judging by the reactions of t
he rest of the crowd, their most disappointing decision of the film was to continually pull back to 12:00pm to check out everyone's "vantage point" from there. From going back to that exact moment to actually "rewinding images" on the screen, the groans grew more audible each time it occurred. Such a device has been used much more effectively by other films, with only slight differences in style.

With the twist made transparent, the viewer is made to sit through a nice chunk of set-up that they're no longer compelled to be interested in. The viewer is left to feel like the 6 year old on a long road trip, constantly saying to themselves, "are we there yet? are we there yet? are we there yet?"

Along the way, we're presented with a few items that could be much more interesting if not for the "vantage point overkill" effect. For instance, there is a lost girl looking for her mother that wanders into danger. Once this is presented, it is repeatedly beaten over the head of the viewer to the point that you're almost rooting for her horrible death. Anything else would just seem to be a ridiculous waste of all of the attention.

The movie tends to largely coast on the "isn't our way of viewing this from an excessive number of angles great" at the expense of attention to plot and detail. So many elements are pedestrian in the film, but one of the failures that sticks out is the constant reference to the President as POTUS. The Secret Service assign a much less obvious codename to those they protect. For instance, Obama's SS codename is Renegade. It takes precious little time to research such things. If researched and not used, it is some miscalculation involving underestimating the intelligence of the viewing audience. Whatever the rationale, it is one of the many little things that add up to a film that gives you more reasons to step out of its world than to immerse yourself in it.

Finally, the ending places the final nail in the film's proverbial coffin. The manner in which a split-second decision by the lead terrorist/cold-blooded killer effectively brings about the conclusion is just utterly unbelievable. The action is less believable than the main conceit in PRETTY WOMAN, which doesn't fly nearly as well for this type of film as it does in a romantic comedy.

If you're tempted to see this flick, please re-think it. If you still feel yourself inching towards the local multiplex, recall how you felt about The Sentinel...then decide if you'd feel satisfied with paying admission to a slightly less realistic or competent film.