“Would you prefer yellow spandex?” LOL, Movie Cyclops! New X-Men by Grant Morrison, Frank Quitely, Etc

“Would you prefer yellow spandex?” LOL, Movie Cyclops! New X-Men by Grant Morrison, Frank Quitely, Etc

There’s two things I really love about Grant Morrison’s New X-Men and BOTH of them begin with the letter U. But first, for those  hearing about X-Men and mutants for the first time, mutants are super-powered beings whose mutations (super powers or deformities) manifest at puberty. The X-Men are a team founded by Professor Charles Xavier to protect mutants from a world that fears and hates them. And on a metaphorical level, Mutants are young people, they’re teenagers, they’re minorities, they’re anyone who FEELS like a minority (again, teenagers).

1) Uniforms: Grant Morrison and his artists put the X-Men back in uniforms (for awhile they all wore…whatever. There were pouches…so many pouches). The first X-Men movie did this first a few years prior, but these were way cooler. There’s kind of a variation of these in the film X-Men: First Class, but I think they worked a lot better on the page.

2) Ugly Mutants: For the most part, “ugly mutants” in X-Men comics were blue. Fuzzy and blue. Essentially Muppets. Yeah, there were some weirdos living in the sewer, but where would they fit in a swinging soap opera with super powers? No one wants to bang an ugly mutant. Well, except for OTHER ugly mutants, and the trashy girl who smokes (she makes out with this dude).

But Morrison really took the X-Men to a point where he boiled them down to their essential concepts.

  • Mutants are feared and hated.
  • Mutants are the next stage in human evolution (And he makes it FOR REALS this time, when we find out that humans will be extinct within a few generations).

For the sake of not having an absurdly long title, I cut mentions of the artists. BUT, here’s who collaborated with Morrison on New X-Men: Frank Quitely, Ethan Van Sciver, Igor Kordey, Lenil Francis Yu, John Paul Leon, Keron Grant, Phil Jiminez, Chris Bachalo, and Marc Silvestri. Each one contributes their own unique style, but maintains the “try to keep up, gonna throw a lot of weird stuff at you pace” that comes with a Grant Morrison comic book. Lenil Francis Yu draws one of the more experimental issues of the series, which is entirely “widescreen,” in which the character of Xorn, a mutant with a star for a brain in an iron prison (see weird stuff, thrown at YOU!), is introduced while Cyclops, Wolverine and the gang indulge in some espionage.

This is probably the best X-Men comic. Period. Whether you’re new to the concept, or coming into it from the movies, or grew up with them as a kid. Morrison and the artists he’s paired with never let you forget that this is all inherently weird.

Hmm…I don’t think I’m doing a great job selling this, but I’m still gonna publish it, and keep this line in pondering it. BUT, this is the best X-Men comic. Beyond boiling the X-Men down to their basic concepts and doing it right, there’s ALSO aliens, evil twins, designer mutant drugs, harvesting of mutant organs, and as I’ve mentioned, weird bird guys making out with skanky girls with wings. If any of my terrible musing on this has interested you, you can buy this on Comixology, or get a couple of beautiful trade paperbacks like I have (that I am TERRIBLE at photographing as you can see from the panels above).

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(Insert other teen rebellion song) OR, Morning Glories by Nick Spencer and Joe Eisma

(Insert other teen rebellion song) OR, Morning Glories by Nick Spencer and Joe Eisma

So let’s kickoff with the “Why you should read Morning Glories if you’ve liked X” portion of things first. If you’ve dipped your toes, or gone all in for television shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The X-Files, Supernatural, etc. Really if you’ve enjoyed character based Sci-Fi or Fantasy in general, this could be for you. Also, according to my good buddy Seth, there are people who like stories about boarding schools. So if you liked the Harry Potter series, The Catcher in the Rye, or the third Mighty Ducks film, this could be for you too. Also, the book’s writer, Nick Spencer, has pitched it as “Runaways Meets LOST.” So to expand on that, if you have enjoyed Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona’s comic book, Runaways, or the TV show LOST by JJ Abrams, Damon Lindelof, and Carlton Cuse, this is probably for you. You can buy it physically or digitally in any of the ways I’ve told you about (Your local comic shop, Amazon, Comixology).

Morning Glories is about a group of teens selected to attend the prestigious Morning Glory Academy. Very quickly, they learn that things are not what they seem, and there’s danger around every corner. And mystery. Oh, the mystery.

Spencer, along with artist Joe Eisma, are about 20 issues into this series. They’re not revealing much yet. The two are layering mystery upon mystery. It’s a seven layer cake of mystery, and I’d say roughly only 2-ish layers are done. (Supposedly this book is planned to run 100 issues, so my math kind of works here). But what I’m getting at, is they’re in this for the long run. There isn’t a rush to reveal anything. Morning Glories is a slow burn book that re-uses phrases as well as scenes without feeling repetitive or padded.

Within the first six issues, the phrases “For A Better Future” and “The Hour Of Our Release Draws Near” are seen frequently. Below are just three examples of this:

The students are imprisoned at the academy, but somehow, I don’t think the phrase is that literal. I don’t think it has anything to do with their being freed from the school. If anything, the phrase is more likely to involve (crazy theories to follow) the afterlife, moving onto another plane of consciousness or breaking free from a time loop.

On top of everything else, this is probably also a horror comic, too.

That gentleman’s death comes courtesy of a ghost-like (or possibly unstuck in time??? my own theory–plus there’s a shit ton of travel through time AND space in this book) wraith who appears to be named David and seems to get off on moving around creepily and reaching through people’s heads. Eyeballs are falling out everywhere.

Now while the mystery and horror are all nice, as is the snappy dialogue (which is almost on the verge of being too heavy on the pop culture references), without a solid artist, it would all fall pretty flat. Eisma’s art has really grown in a short time as the series has progressed, really giving each character their own unique personality. He’s also done a great job at conveying emotion. See? Terror!

I mentioned this comic involves time travel, yes? Not only in a Pulp Fiction-y, jumping around the narrative way, but actual time travel! Jade, who’s a pretty insecure character as seen in the panel below:

…grows up into a confident, assured woman, who seems to have a real good idea of what’s going on with everything. And Eisma does a great job of keeping Jade looking like herself, while also gaining that physical and emotional maturity. There are some artists who can make you feel like you’re in an action movie, and there are also those like Eisma who can make their characters act (and act well!).

So again: Mysteries, murder, teen characters. Plus some romance, some bromance, some betrayal…really, there’s a lot of everything in this series. Another phrase that’s repeated is “What did you see when your eyes were opened?” The characters often don’t have an answer. Their eyes haven’t been opened yet. Well, most of them haven’t. And those that have, I don’t think they fully understand things yet either. They’re like those of us reading the book, thinking we have an inkling of what’s going on, when in reality, we know nothing. But I’m excited to keep reading Morning Glories to see if I’m right about …well…anything. 

Casanova: Gula or Bear With Me As I Talk About Comics and Emotions

Casanova: Gula or Bear With Me As I Talk About Comics and Emotions

I’m going to do something weird here, so bear with me.

Ok, ready to indulge me? Of course you are! I’m not going to start with the beginning, or with the most recent volume. Today, we’re talking about Casanova: Gula, the second of three volumes of Matt Fraction, Gabriel Ba and Fabion Moon’s Casanova series. You most definitely should start with the first book, Luxuria, and read the follow up Avaritia. And then read the four books that are to come (there’s supposed to be one for each deadly sin).

I’m talking about Gula, because as I mentioned in my post earlier this week, this book really moved me.

“I’ve told a lot of lies. Pretended to be a lot of things to a lot of people.” THIS. Man, on man. THIS. First off, this (again with the this?) is the titular character of the series, Casanova Quinn.

SUPER QUICK PLOT DOWNLOAD! Casanova Quinn is an international thief, hunted by his father and sister who are super spies UNTIL he’s brought into a parallel universe where HE is known as a super spy and his sister is a super criminal AND…shit, well, it’s complicated. And that’s mostly setup and dealt with in the first volume, Luxuria. This volume, the above panel? Well, it’s where shit gets real. 

But that panel, and the scene that it’s a part of? I felt it. I really did. I could go into the anxiety I feel in being someone different to different people, but it would get all rambly. Short version, this comic book series gets me. On both a “real shit that I feel” level and on a “crazy fantastical action-adventure level.”

That page? Both levels at the same time. Art talk: Gula is drawn by Fabio Moon, while his brother Gabriel Ba draws Luxuria and Avaritia. They’re very similar, but I feel like Moon draws everyone just a smidge bulkier. I love both their styles. They manage to pull off kinetic balls to the wall action while making their characters emote like crazy. Also, Cris Peter’s colors are insanely good. Aside from this book and Hawkeye (which Fraction also writes), I don’t know of too many that use colors so effectively. And this series started out as a book with a two-tone color scheme in order to save money on printing and keep the costs down (It’s great in two-tone as well, but THE COLORS, DUKE, THE COLORS! Um, disclaimer I guess…if you are color blind, you may not appreciate this book on a color level like those of us that aren’t color blind do).

I tend to, or at least used to tend to read comics fairly quickly. Sometimes missing things and needing to go back. Reading panel by panel digitally has helped with this, but Fraction adds a suggested soundtrack to some of his comics. I haven’t done this yet, but I want to attempt to read a comic, with the suggested soundtrack, at the pace of the music. I will report back when I do so.

SEX!

On top of you know, emotions and all that, this book is DRIPPING with sex. And not in a “Hey nerds” kind of way, but in a “We’re artists from Brazil, so we’re going to draw sexy art in a mature, artistic, sensual manner” sort of way.

And I think I mentioned balls to the wall action? What about…boobs in your face action? Like the “using an empty gun as a weapon move” that I’m so fond of, the “distract the opponent with boobs, then kick them in the face move” is one that isn’t used enough, despite it’s innate practicality, efficiency, and high success rate.

So I started kind of deep and then covered myself up with a few layers. This comic goes back and forth with that as well. There’s a lot of “Matt Fraction, Comic Book Writer” in this series, and how that makes him feel.

Casanova: Gula is something that worked for me. The book appealed to the part of me that loves over-the-top action (und comedy), to the part of me that loves slow-cooked food, to the part of me that loves sex (and sexy things), and to the part of me that’s gotten gut punched emotionally. It is most definitely not for everyone. But for those who know me, and in reading this site have gotten to know me a bit, if you feel we’re pretty alike, then you should most definitely READ THIS COMIC!

The First Comics I Read

The First Comics I Read

The first comic book I ever read was an issue of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures. I was likely in Kindergarden or first grade. While at my parents’ friends house for dinner, I’m guessing my folks mentioned that I was into the Ninja Turtles toys and cartoon. So their friend showed off a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic book. Soon after that, I was in my first comic book store, Flashpoint Comics. (The store closed when moving from elementary school to middle school. One of the last issues I bought was an issue of Ghost Rider. I cried. Cried due to the store closing, not due to Ghost Rider. I think).

One of the first Marvel Comics I read was X-Men. I started reading it before the cartoon, but can’t tell you exactly why. I know there were toys first. I had a Cyclops action figure before I ever had a comic book featuring him. The comic was probably drawn by Jim Lee, or one of the Kuberts. Rogue probably called someone “Sugah.”

The first Superman comic I ever read was Superman #75 which featured his “death.” (Spoiler: he got better).

I bought a lot of “Indie” books as I got into middle school. These were published by Image and heavy on the boobage. During this period, I bought a lot of comics that I thought were going to be worth something one day. (Spoiler, they weren’t, and won’t likely be worth anything. If anyone ever pays money again for the bulk of the comics I got rid of, they are a nostalgic fool). They mostly looked like this:

There was a lot of time spent…alone…with these comics…

I stopped buying comics in the middle of high school, the idea being, that that would make me cooler to girls. See also: buying stereo system, guitar lessons, and joining art club for other failed high school attempts at impressing the ladies. My first comic after this self imposed sabbatical was an issue of New X-Men by Grant Morrison and Igor Kordey. It was unlike any comic book I had read before. The art was ugly (by my understanding of what comics were supposed to be), and everything was confusing and different from the way comics used to be. I talked about this comic with my senior year art teacher, and the fact that an adult was into it helped legitimize comics for me.

 

My first non super hero, non toy-based comic was read in college. I don’t recall exactly which was my first, but my friend Chris Ritter introduced me to a lot. He’s responsible for making me aware of Grant Morrison, Alan Moore, Brian Wood, Jim Mahfood, and generally, the idea that there were people making these books, and not just awesome characters punching each other.

I bought a lot of comics after college, mostly out of habit, not really enjoying them. The first comic I read that helped break me out of that, that got me excited again was The Nightly News by Jonathan Hickman.

 

Then I fell back into reading stuff that depressed me. Or maybe it wasn’t the comics that depressed me, but the act? The act of going to the comic store after work, looking for escape. The excitement caused by a cover, followed by the ultimate disappointment at either a padded or just plain old disappointing story.

The first digital comic I read was…well, I don’t really recall. But I got some gift cards at Christmas this past December. I had recently bought a Kindle Fire, had started reading some comics digitally, and the first comic I read in that format that really excited me, that really lit my comic book fire in general was Casanova: Gula by Matt Fraction and Fabio Moon. I had read Casanova: Luxuria (also written by Fraction, with art by Moon’s twin brother Gabriel Ba), the first book in this series, but Gula was so…heartbreaking.

You never see the aftermath of an action or horror story. You don’t get to see characters deal with things or try to fix things. Gula is that on a COSMIC scale. This is another comic that I’ve promised to talk about more, and will do so later this week. But anyway, these are a bunch of my “first comics.”

 

P.S. My LAST Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures comic featured a back up story with “The Mighty Mutanimals.” They were all similarly mutated or alien creatures that had teamed up with the Turtles at one time or another and had formed their own supergroup. They dealt a lot with environmental issues. They were all brutally murdered in this issue. It was…weird.

 

What I Bought: Week of 9/7/12

What I Bought: Week of 9/7/12

AKA: Hawkeye is great at boats!

See!

Anyway, here’s a run through of what I purchased this week (on Comixology). Quick, short form recommendations, GO!

(Soundtrack for this post “Caught by the Fuzz” by Supergrass)

First off, Hawkeye #2 by Matt Fraction and David Aja

Aside from the simple “this is what Hawkeye does when not on missions with Avengers” concept, there are hints at something larger for the book and for Hawkeye’s character. He’s a man who’s attempting to make up for his past as a criminal, his past with women, but on top of that, he’s also trying to solve things that are at his level. Fraction and Aja are doing an amazing job at making Hawkeye into more than the stock 60s Marvel hothead character that he’s been for 40+ years, and are telling a hell of an entertaining story while doing so. Also, another amazing job by Matt Hollingsworth on color. The dude is making me love the color purple (the actual color, not the film starring Oprah) even more than I already did.

Seriously, if I’ve told you to read this comic (I Have!) and you haven’t (You probably haven’t!), punch yourself in the face, and then read it. If by next month’s issue, you still haven’t read it, there will be more face punching.

Remember when I told you about Runaways??? Well, if you enjoyed that post, and enjoyed that comic, then my next purchase is for you!

Morning Glories Volume 3: PE by Nick Spencer and Joe Eisma.

This is a series I intend to go more in-depth on, but the basics, here, for you: Six kids start a semester at the exclusive Morning Glory Academy. Things immediately get weird. And not like, climbing the jump rope in gym class weird, but your teachers murdered your parents and are trying to drown you weird. Also, there’s time travel. I will write more about this, but for now, head on over to Comixology and buy the first issue, or the first trade, as it’s all on sale for super cheap this weekend. I’ve been reading this series for about a year, and I’m still totally into ALL of it’s mysteries, both plot and character based. Again, I intend to do a more detailed post on the series, but it’s got a quick, engaging story with snappy dialogue. Eisma’s art is really fun, and he manages to retell scenes from different character POVs without making you feel like you’ve read it already.

Revival #1 by Tim Seeley and Mike Norton. “The Dead Walk.” Put that somewhere in your logline and you’re guaranteed my interest if not my moneys.

 

Now Revival doesn’t appear to be about straight-up zombies. Maybe a little bit more in the Pet Semetary or Re-Animator vein. Dead people seem to come back, and come back wrong, and it’s localized to one small town. No one knows what to make of it, or what to do. No matter what’s going on, Seeley and Norton have me hooked for at least another issue. Seeley’s plot gives just enough, but leaves a lot of mystery intact, while Norton’s art is clean, kinetic, and a bit scary. There’s also a beautiful sequence with a zorse (1/2 zebra, 1/2 horse) that kicks off the issue, and I will not share ANY of it with you, cause I want you to go read it yourself.

 

Ok.

I’ll give you a little taste.

 

A special shout out to “dougvondoom” for recommending Revival in the comments!

 

 

 

Shut Up, Batman! You’re Not My Dad!

Shut Up, Batman! You’re Not My Dad!

 

I know, I know. I still need to review Saga 4 & 5 for real since a TON of people seem to be clicking on my “ha-ha, boobs!” post in the hopes that someone, somewhere, is talking about that amazing book.

Today’s post is for all y’all who saw The Dark Knight Rises, or any film in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy. Today, I’m talking about Gotham Central. If I were to put things in “this is this meets that” terms, Gotham Central is The Wire meets Batman. Sheeeeeee-it.

A more in-depth description of the premise is this: Inspired by Batman, Commissioner James Gordon has done his best to clean up the corrupt Gotham City Police Department over the years. During his term, anyone who has made the rank of detective has been hand picked by him. Detective Marcus Driver, who’s giving Batman the stinkeye in the above panels, was the last detective picked before Gordon’s retirement.

Now, the series isn’t entirely about Driver, but it’s about a bunch of cops like Driver. Cops who want to do their best to solve crimes in Gotham City without resorting to putting a spotlight in the sky to summon “The Batman” to do their job for them.

Or to simplify things again, “Shut up, Batman! You’re not my dad!” (Sidenote: Batman IS your dad, and you better respect that).

The first five issues of the series are collected as Gotham Central Volume One: In The Line of Duty. The first arc introduces Mr. Freeze from the point of view of the major crimes unit, and ultimately, he’s still someone they (reluctantly) need Batman for.

“Say I’m your momma!”

Mr. Freeze…hell, wait a minute. Let’s talk about something. Mr. Freeze is the Warren Buffet of super villains. Gimme a minute, this kind of makes sense. Take Doctor Doom, for example. Dude didn’t even graduate college and he runs around making people call him doctor. Mr. Freeze went to college, got his doctorate, THEN became a super villain, and he still says “call me Mr.” Now, he’s not gonna say “Oh, please, call me Victor,” but he’s not so full of himself that he’s going to make you call him doctor, just like I assume Warren Buffet doesn’t make you call him Warren Buffet, Billionaire.

But anyway, forget Mr. Freeze. Cause it’s not about him, it’s not about Batman. It’s about the cops. Co-writers Ed Brubaker and Greg Rucka, along with artist Michael Lark create a cast of characters that you give a damn about. They make you want to stand up and say along with Detective Driver, “shut up, Batman, you’re not my dad!”

Where can I buy such an amazing comic that will make me forget all about Batman and his rogues gallery? Well my friend, you can of course purchase this comic on Amazon, at your local comic book store, and…can it be purchased digitally? YES! Yes you can, and the first issue is only 99 cents!