Saturday, May 29, 2010

18 Things I Loved This Week (in Comics!)

Man, I am in love with monthly comics right now.  Both Marvel and DC are producing some of the best mainstream fare I have read in YEARS.  Welcome to my weekly (?) love letter to comics. [read whole article on the NEW Double Articulation]

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Tales From the Pull-List: The Truly Awful

Outsiders -- Titans: Villains for Hire

[read new post here]

Tales From the Pull-List: The Good

Birds of Prey - Secret Six - Green Lantern - Brightest Day - JSA
[Read the new post at the new Double Articulation]

Saturday, April 10, 2010

All New Mutants All the Time

There are so many reasons not to let myself get too excited about the just-announced New Mutants Forever miniseries by Chris Claremont, Al Rio, and Bob McLeod.  But I can’t help it.  My inner thirteen-year-old (not known for his discretion at the best of times) is squealing with glee. 

[Continue reading]

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Moving Day...

Dear friends,
I'm slowly but surely getting back into blogging comics again after a several year absence.  To kick things off, I'm moving Double Articulation over to wordpress.  Basically because it's about a million times prettier.  Hope to see you there!  (Things are still very much under construction, but I have a little new content up. Bear with me!)
All best,

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Tales from the Pull-List

Hi there. I hit a grouchy patch for awhile, which corresponded with a general belt-tightening and pull-list shaving. Thinking too precisely about money puts me a foul mood, which I typically seek to allay by setting up a variety of ascetic regimes. These are pleasing for awhile, but then I rebel and gorge myself on cake and comics. ( I know—what vices! ) And I feel better: restored and human. Albeit penniless. But that's what credit is for.  And so, I’ve been fattening my pull-list again.

Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps. were sustaining me during the lean months, and they are better than ever. The multi-colored lanterns and the war of light are fundamentally silly, but they are being handled so deftly—and wrung for such great melodrama—by Johns and Tomasi that it hardly matters. Johns has an eye for locating the contours of myth within any comic book cliché, and his riff on the color spectrum works splendidly, despite its (so far) somewhat goofy conflation of metaphysical diffraction (the splitting of the “white light” into colors by the “darkness”) with an arbitrary assortment of affects. Like all of Johns’s plotting, the whole event—from the Lovecraftian design of the various corps. to the Biblical allusiveness of the action and the moral tenor of the allegory—seems like a semi-profane Sunday School lesson, which is precisely why I like it. It doesn’t hurt that the entire series of linked books is gorgeously illustrated (and in a relatively consistent style no less) by Ivan Reis, Doug Mahnke, and Patrick Gleason.

Batman and Robin is my favorite kind of Grant Morrison, and if any character needed a little freshening, it’s Batman. Having Dick assume the cowl was the best thing DC could have done to make the “death” of Batman into something more than a stunt. It completely reinvigorates the icon in a way that doesn’t seem arbitrary, and having Morrison helm it has brought a kind of perverse energy to the series that I’ve felt missing from Batman for a long time. The problem with Batman’s rogues’ gallery for me has long been that none of them are scary anymore, if they ever were. Fear requires a certain amount of novelty, and Morrison is good at inventing frightening things. I found Professor Pyg and his “Dollies” genuinely creep-inducing. Good. More of that, please.

For the whimsically depraved (which means most of us, I would assume), Secret Six is a gem of a series that has improved since it began. It remains superior to Simone’s still-enjoyable Wonder Woman, though I’m not quite sure why. The Silver Banshee revelation had the quality of all great reveals: the it-was-so-obvious-why-didn’t-I-think-of-that? factor. And the Scandal/Bane pairing is sentimental drivel and insanely hot all at once. (So of course I love it.)

And then there’s the new Fantastic Four creative team of Jonathan Hickman and my fanboy crush, Dale Eaglesham. Ah, that logo. I’ve been obsessed with it for a week now at least. They’re laying it on pretty thick—the nostalgia trip, I mean. Eaglesham is of course the go-to guy for Norman Rockwellizing your world’s greatest comics magazine. But throw in the Perez-era Fantastic Four logo to boot and you’ve basically lobotomized Mama Roeg’s little boy. He’s in the corner, rocking and hugging himself, crooning softly, wrapped in the cloak time, a far-away smile faintly on his lips as he slips back, fatally, into that golden year, 1977…

I pulled myself out of my fugue state long enough to give Adventure Comics a try—and I have to admit, it is nicely done. I’m not particularly interested in Superboy, but the Legion “second feature” has whetted my appetite for Paul Levitz’s return to the Legion.

Those have been the highlights for me lately, though I have also been enjoying The War of Kings over in Marvel’s space books. Anything space-faring drawn by Paul Pelletier is fine by me. I wish I were enjoying the Titans and Outsiders books more. The best of the bunch is Teen Titans, which everyone else seems to hate, but which, for me, has at least developed an aesthetic and a reasonably interesting team. Tomasi’s Outsiders has been a disappointment so far, primarily because it is too focused on missions and not enough on the Outsiders as people outside of the costumes. It hardly needs saying that the adult Titans book is nearly unreadable. Please fix it, DC. (Or perhaps that is what James Robinson is doing with his new JLA. I’m curious about that development…) Finally, I’m reserving judgment of JSA, but, like many, I’m skeptical that anyone can follow Johns on this book, and so far, Willingham has not done anything to make me feel otherwise.

To be continued.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

The Seventh Coming of Jim Roeg (Maybe)

How many times do you have to die and be resurrected to qualify for Jean Grey status?

I peeked out of my burrow a few days ago and saw that Mike Sterling has Double Articulation listed as “retired” on his blogroll. My first thought was: wow, Mike Sterling is really organized. I should do that with dead blogs on my link list. Waitaminnit… I’m what?

Let’s call it semi-retired—the semi-retirement peculiar to new parents. Kid arrives, castle walls spring up, drawbridge retracts: fortress of solitude. Well, not from the inside, of course. Inside everything’s cake and ice cream. And like the Lady of Shallot’s garret, a little bit squirrely. But it’s okay, because you’re so in love that you don’t notice. Until someone reminds you that the world outside the castle thinks you died. “Retired.” Which, of course, you did. So, here I am again. Blame Mike Sterling!

And speaking of blame, it would be easy to blame the kid for my disappearing trick. He is, after all, my new excuse for everything. But that’s not the whole story. Looking at it now, I can’t tell whether my vague disenchantment with comics over the past year was an inevitable side-effect of parenthood or the result of a whole confluence of other things. Was I burnt out by the demands of work and family? You know it. Was this a particularly bad year for comics? I kind of think it was. At the very least the “event fatigue” I’d been fighting finally got the better of me. On the other hand, it was such a good year for me personally, how could the satisfactions of fanboy obsession do anything but pale in comparison? Perhaps I was just getting tired of generating all this chatter, the endless rehearsal of my by now all-too-predictable “opinions.” Is there a blogger out there who doesn’t confront that particular nausea at some point? And let’s be real: Double Articulation had been clawing and gasping its way across the desert with prey-birds circling for at least a year before this most recent “hiatus.”

So, what now?

To be honest, I’m not sure. I’m feeling contemplative but lazy and not particularly fanboyish these days, though that may change I suppose.

I’m buying far fewer comics than I once did. Nostalgia acts, mostly. Titans. Outsiders. They’re not particularly good, but 1983 is a harsh mistress and, in any case, I’m not so much reading as clinging to them—in a “these fragments I have shored against my ruins” kind of way, you understand. Green Lantern does a better job than either of these titles at capturing the sense of richness that I, rightly or wrongly, associate with the DC universe of that earlier era, so it has become the “cornerstone” book for me of late. Like many, I admired but did not particularly enjoy Final Crisis and need a break from Morrison’s exhausting delirium. Green Lantern is the cotton candy version of the same thing, so of course I’m wolfing it down. I’m still mostly off Marvel, though I tried the new (old) New Mutants, predictably. Eh. I don’t know. I’ve been rereading Mike W. Barr and Jim Aparo’s magnificent Batman and the Outsiders—what ever happened to comics like THAT?

God, I’m grumpy this morning. Back into the burrow, Roeg!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

DCU: State of the Nation

Well, the bloom is off the rose, and the backlash is in full swing.

Like the rumors about Joe Quesada’s probable axing following Civil War and One More Day, the recent rumblings about Didio’s post-Countdown firing are no doubt so much hot air.

Still, there are plenty of reasons to hate on DC these days. Countdown was, without a doubt, the most self-destructive example of corporate greed and editorial incompetence that comicbookland has seen in quite some time. It tore down—week-by-week, with striking symmetry and efficiency—all the good will and fuzzy feelings that 52 had built up. So, post-Countdown, DC was in effect starting from scratch—at least as far as its weekly series was concerned.

The good news is that Trinity rocks. Hard. It’s exactly what I want from a weekly series. Busiek is on his game: the plot is intriguing and clearly going somewhere. The characterization and dialogue are tops. And Mark Bagley’s art is fantastic. I think that this might actually the be the best work I’ve ever seen him do—so energized and polished. The “back-up” stories (though this is the wrong word for what these stories actually are) are effectively interwoven with the main story and yet still feel like a bonus—what a great way of sharing the creative burden of the weekly book without making the art in the main story seem like a jigsaw puzzle for readers. I really like this. Simply put: Trinity is great comics.

Final Crisis. Well, huh. Looks like Morrison’s series got royally screwed over by DC editorial. Is anyone steering this ship? I say we follow Morrison’s advice and just treat Final Crisis as an extension of Seven Soldiers and 52 and forget that Countdown and Death of the New Gods ever happened. What a pathetic spectacle; if this were the real world and not the comics industry, someone would actually be fired for this mess.

Something else I’d like to forget ever happened is the utterly incompetent relaunch of the Wolfman-Perez Titans by Winick, Churchill, and Benitez. I won’t beat this dead, rancid, decomposing horse’s carcass any more than I already have except to say that DC should cancel this shit RIGHT NOW and give all of us 35-year-old fanboys a chance to get the awful stink out of our noses before trying, once again, to rekindle the old magic at some far off point in the future—hopefully with a creative team that has some idea what they’re doing. Dropped.

The other notable ongoing screw-up at DC is the handling of its flagship superhero team. Justice League of America is a truly awful comic from start to finish. Just everything about it is wrong—starting with the fact that nothing happens (where are the adventures?) and what little does happen always feels underdeveloped or stupid or is just plain confusing. I’ve tried to give this book the benefit of the doubt and have stuck with it for twenty-two issues—much longer than it deserves. As I’ve mentioned before, Dwayne McDuffie (who is good on other things) is at his worst here—though certainly DC’s use of this series to pimp its various other projects has not made McDuffie’ job easy. Thankfully, I don’t need to review the current issue to back up my case because Comic Book Resources’ Timothy Callaghan has already provided the definitive diagnosis of this terminally bad series. Dropped.

On a smaller scale, but equally aggravating is the fact that awesome former-Batman and the Outsiders scribe Chuck Dixon “is no longer employed by DC in any capacity.” I don’t know anything about Dixon as a personality, so who’s to know quite how to take his (totally delicious) innuendo-laden internet posts about “Jim Shooter.” Talk about a sour-candy treat for fans who are already disgruntled by TPTB at DC. Whether or not Dan Didio is an editorial ogre, it’s the readers who really lost out on this one. Dixon’s departure from BATO has me in the dumps, because, as you know, I was loving his take on the relaunch. Drat. I’ll stick with the series for now and hope for the best.

Of course, all is not terrible. DC continues to publish some fantastic books, though god help them if Geoff Johns decides to jump ship. Action Comics, Green Lantern, Booster Gold, and Justice Society of America are some of my favorite DC books at the moment—all penned or supervised by the boy wonder. Wonder Woman is also excellent again, finally. All-Star Superman is in a class by itself. The much-missed Manhunter is back. And Nightwing is still being given a satisfying star treatment by Tomasi, Rags, and Kramer. I’m enjoying Shooter’s Legion of Superheroes too.

Morrison’s Batman still has me a bit puzzled, but I’m enjoying it more now that R.I.P. has finally begun. Green Lantern Corps is pretty good as a military adventure book. Tony Bedard’s Birds of Prey is also okay, but that title is still having trouble soaring beyond the heights it achieved under Simone’s tenure. Speaking of thankless jobs, Bruce Jones’s Checkmate is…nothing at all like Rucka’s. It’s passably entertaining so far, I guess, but I certainly wouldn’t be buying it if I wasn’t still being carried forward by the momentum of Rucka’s superb run. Jones had better dazzle soon, or this series is toast. People seem to be accepting Mike Norton’s replacement of Cliff Chiang on Green Arrow/Black Canary, but for me, the change in artists just highlights how little-invested I am in Ollie and Dinah’s quest to find Connor. I’m think I’m done with this one. I’m also done with the awful Rann-Thanagar Holy War. Just, ugh.

Fortunately, there are at least a few things on the horizon to look forward to. I’m psyched about Simone’s new Secret Six series, obviously. Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds looks amazing. I’m optimistic about Reign in Hell, primarily because of the creative team, not the concept, which doesn’t do much for me. Perhaps, most importantly, there’s Ambush Bug. After the last year, this series will no doubt be profoundly cathartic.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

I (Heart) Hergé

Sorry to have disappeared there for a time, dear readers. I'm totally immersed in "real life" these days--work, family, you know the drill. I have, however, recently written a little piece about Tintin for Blog@Newsarama's summer feature, "I (Heart) Comics!" The essay, which begins to describe my infatuation with Tintin, is called I (Heart) Hergé.

More new content soon.