Now if you want a really satisfying finale, check out Doctor Strange: The Oath #5, out today!
Civil War reorganized the Marvel Universe "into a place I can no longer recognize as a space of meaningful fantasy" [Double Articulation]
Civil War in 30 Seconds [Chris's Invincible Super-Blog]
Civil War finale message-board reaction mini-roundup [Blog@Newsarama]
How I Spun The War; too many editorial chefs spoiled the pot [The Metabunker] [via Comics Reporter]
Brian Hibbs review: It's not that bad [Savage Critic]
Large Civil War question thread for Brevoort highlights a mess of conceptual and plot problems [Newsarama]
For Neilalien, apart from a very few explodo Marvel fanboy button-pushings, Civil War and its ending was a big dud. The flat "Captain America seeing the light and rolling over" ending feeds directly and perfectly into what Neilalien's been thinking about the series: the anti-registration side was never fully developed philosophically as an alternative. Unrecognizable characters doing unrecognizable things. Of course, no Dr. Strange, and for a bad self-pity reason. And the execution was terrible, with all the delays and a shameless hundred crossover books (and it sounds like many of those had content that needed to be in the actual miniseries). But despite the morass, even this short list of changes could have made it palatable to Neilalien's tastes: (A) should have had more balance, more political teeth to the anti-reg position, (B) should have had an over-mandated SHIELD doing all the evil a-hole things (indefinite imprisonment, cloning, hiring villains, treating (and killing) unregistered heroes as worse than the villains) instead of heroes/friends like Stark/Richards/Pym (who could then stay more in character, and then be repulsed by the a-hole things), and (C) should have had the exact opposite ending: firemen seeing them all as needed heroes, rejecting overreaction, fear, divisiveness, fascism and reality-TV-ism re: the Stamford incident (and i.e. 9/11), and stopping Iron Man instead of Captain America, or stopping both guys. Ending with a majority of superheroes not in a fifty-state program but regaining their 60's Marvel 'liberal' subversiveness in a new way for our grim-gritty post-9/11 world that preserves heroism and fantasy- maybe with a new status quo setting up a triad of a majority of superheroes (the true nonsanctioned embattled heroes as Ben-Franklin 'no liberty traded for security' types) vs. a 'realistic response to WMDs walking around' slightly-fascist grey-area anti-terrorist people-protective SHIELD (analogous to government over-reach) with a minority of powerful sanctioned goody-goody heroes vs. supervillains (analogous to terrorists), each antagonistic to the other two, with the general public split on supporting the first two.
Posted 28 February 02007 - Permalink
"Stan Lee: A Retrospective" MoCCA exhibit includes pages of notes for a Dr. Strange story from Steve Ditko [MoCCA] [The Beat's exhibit reception report]
The Five Stages of Batman's Grief [McSweeney's] [via Noetic Concordance]
Astro City: The Dark Age emulates the weakness of Bronze Age comics too well [I Am Not The Beastmaster]
The Infinite Crisis of Comics [New York Sun]
Marvel/DC comics "have become an inaccessible haze of wars and crises only a true believer can follow."
Neilalien appears in new blogroll as "I Heart Doctor Druid" [Let's You And Him Fight]
Neilalien to strike comicbook humorists Dave's Long Box and Invincible Super-Blog with deadly magic force when they least expect it [Meanwhile interview]
Posted 27 February 02007 - Permalink
New York Comic-Con 02007 Mini-Report
Neilalien had a blast. Artist Alley and the small-press aisle had a great MoCCA-like feel- nothing jazzes Neilalien like finding new indie genre stuff in that huge neglected chasm between corporate superhero icon and autobioartcomix- and hopefully he'll have time to talk about some of it in a timely manner over the next couple weeks. He even has a 'scoop', unless someone else already blogged it: Sean Wang's creative juices are flowing re: a second arc of the sci-fi Runners. Yippee! Also talked with Frank Brunner and bought an elegant Doc and Clea sketch. The icing on the weekend's cake, of course, was reconnecting with ancient, old and new friends, and the Rocketship party. He's not aware of any major logistical Con problems like last year. One nitpick is that the Artist Alley was crowded, which is inherently not a disaster and probably an unavoidable layout issue- but since it was an area on the way to gaming, signatures, etc., it felt bottlenecky, or at least, unnecessarily filled with people who didn't really want to be in Artist Alley. Still, kudos to the planners for the huge turnaround from last year- the difference was night and day. Huzzah and let's do it again next year.
Update: There were still some problems, and still not good enough for New York City [ComicMix]
Posted 26 February 02007 - Permalink
Today marks seven years of the Neilalien weblog and website! Yay! Yikes!
Posted 25 February 02007 - Permalink
Doctor Strange: The Oath #5 finale preview [Mile High Comics First Look]
Posted 24 February 02007 - Permalink
New York Comic-Con weekend! Woo hoo!
Rocketship party Saturday night
See you there, Neilalienistas!
Posted 23 February 02007 - Permalink
Alex Cox, writer of Repo Man and Sid And Nancy, is selling copies of his 01989 Dr. Strange screenplay, co-written with Stan Lee, for $8 [Alex Cox Screenplays] [Alex Cox IMdB] [thanks Eric!]
Update: The screenplay is not obviously available at this time. (How can a PDF be sold out?) Developing...
Co-written with Stan Lee, based on his Marvel Comics character. Doctor Strange was my favourite superhero, and his adversary Dormammu my favourite villain. And Stan is a great writing partner. So this one - like the scripts with the other old Master, Rudy Wurlitzer - was tremendous fun to write. It starts in New York, goes to the Fourth Dimension, and ends on Easter Island, where Stan had always wanted to stage a showdown.
Very old-fashioned. It was almost made by an LA company called Regency. But they distributed via Warner Bros, who were in a dispute with Marvel Comics over merchandising, and Warners nixed it. Probably too cabalistic to be produced in the current fundamentalist climate!
Dr. Strange uber-fan Sanctum asks Joey Quesada a question [Newsarama Joey Q Fridays]
Q: "SanctumComix" - Any chance you can give some insight on the coming "End of the World" storyline that's being slowly alluded to in many of Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa's titles the last year or so? (i.e. Nightcrawler, Sensational Spider-Man & 4)
In these various titles he foreshadowed an almost "Biblical" upheaval with demons rising, waters boiling, skies on fire ("...dogs & cats living together. Mass hysteria"). etc...
Can we hope that DOCTOR STRANGE is at the forefront of it all and is treated as a SERIOUS heavyweight?
JQ: In a case like this, SanctumComix, let's go right to the source and ask Roberto himself!
ROBERTO AGUIRRE-SACASA: Being a huge fan of horror and the supernatural, I'm always looking for ways to weave those elements into my superhero comics' work. Since I began at Marvel, I've been dropping hints that a conflict of mythic - indeed, of biblical - proportions has been brewing, on the fringes of the Marvel Universe. It's been a bit of a slow build because of the different elements that have to fall into place, but a story is definitely in the works.
All I can say at this point is that it will involve a ragtag group of Marvel heroes and team them up with some of Marvel's more supernatural characters to tell a horror- and occult-tinged war epic... And, oh, yeah: More hints are coming. BIG hints. And yes, because of the natural of this project, I'm sure Dr. Strange would be involved...
Posted 22 February 02007 - Permalink
An Open Letter To Comics Fans [BeaucoupKevin]
Many great points here- waiting for the trade if a book's decompressed, "gateway comics" hilarity, waiting for reviews, etc. But it's not the best way to engage comics fans. Neilalien knows BeaucoupKevin is almost all class and joy, probably just lashing out in understandable (and congrats! now creator-type) frustration. A weblog is a great outlet/enabler for that (Neilalien keeps his own blog rage-free by repeatedly slamming his hands in car doors). The yay (embrace your arrogance! let 'em have it!) and nay (ooh another snob hates X-Men!) reactions to the Open Letter are predictable, and Neilalien recoils at both. But what loosens his pen is meta-musing on the effectiveness of an Open Letter toned like this one. It's not an ethical or high-ground question but a pragmatic one: will it work? This is more a show of support for BeaucoupKevin to stay positive than a call-out.
The Marvel/DC/Diamond/Direct Market monopoly is a plague, and just as there are always survivors of the most virulent disease, we have most of the remaining current DM customer micropopulation. Not many people in the world desire a monthly 22-page continuity-laden Green Lantern comic regardless of quality, cost, lateness or nuclear attack, to the exclusion of everything else- and that's why such a naturally small and change-resistant market is almost all who remain. They are the hardcore, the loyal, the ever-hopeful, the lover, every single thing in the universe no matter how sucky has a fangroup, the serviced yet taken-for-granted foundation; they do not want to buy other things, and they like bitching about bad books even more. They're acting like hardcore fans of something, not idiots. They would rather get something than nothing, and would rather get nothing and be nostalgic experts than medium-saving generalists. Buying only good superhero comics would improve their lot- fans with low standards get books that reach no heights. But if you're a Buffy hardcore fan, it's tough leaving that new DVD on the store shelf, even if it sucks- because it's your baby that sucks, there's collector completism involved, and you'll just host fun Buffy parties to mock it MST3K-style. Only Doctor Strange appearances generate questionable Big-Two-dollars in Neilalien's wallet nowadays- he's not an apologist, but his brain stem is enough like theirs to know: he rants online about his entitlement to good Doc stories, and then goes out and money-votes for every next slap in his face, thank you sir may he have another.
It is very challenging to alter a hardcore fan's purchasing habits- and under normal circumstances, it wouldn't be necessary to try (they would be an extreme tip of a bell curve, not the bulge). But a Green Lantern comic is so niche these days, and the Monopoly top-down sees its survival in mining the seedcorn, not meeting other nonsuperhero demands too (they barely cater to this taste well). BeaucoupKevin wants to change their buying ways and the future of comics, and Neilalien wishes that such a bottom-up revolution could be successful. So what's the best way to unharden their hearts? Bait the trap with honey, or vinegar? Offering up simply the latest condescending 'alienating the intended audience' pundit frustration-release 'you're to blame so stop habitually buying that crap you like and support the medium and better comics I like with your manpurse' Savant-timecapsule pull-list purity screed manifesto to choir applause and marriage proposals undercuts the noble mission and has rarely worked. Yelling at freaks who camp out for Star Wars won't improve movies- and if Hollywood went out of business only making sci-fi movies catering to those campers, belittling the campers would accomplish even less.
In Neilalien's opinion (and what he's trying to do on his own blog, if blogs can do anything, emails from new Runners fans suggest maybe), a supersweet way to shape the direct market superhero-only customer- if you honestly want to engage them- is exactly everything else that BeaucoupKevin's been doing very well! Teach by living the example and operating an attractive, fun, intelligent, open, enlightening website that (A) celebrates the better examples of what Marvel/DC/superhero folks enjoy, Kirby panels, Dr. Strange news, don't insult them with "I 'outgrew' X", etc.- but then (B) also insidiously includes side-by-side the positive passionate wide-ranging pimping of great indie books and reasons why they are joy-giving, and educate re: Direct Market insanity. They visit the blog/shop for (A), and hopefully increasingly leave the blog/shop with (B). Bad Iron Man > better Iron Man > Sleeper > Persepolis > manga cross-pollination might be impossible, maybe it's 99% shared comics DNA but as different as humans and chimps, each to their camp. But if you are trying to engage, essentially trying to create crossover hit books, then better to make your website itself a crossover hit across varied camps. (For the negativity-inclined skimmers, this always seems to need mentioning: Treating Green Lantern fans more diplomatically than as despised robots does not mean "no critical reviews" or eating corporate shit with a smile for the sake of flowery peace.) (Nor should any of this be taken to mean that the DM should be superhero-only, nor relegate it to be so. We all want it more diverse, but how to change when a monopoly warps consumer sovereignty?)
And if staying positive and pushing what's good isn't any more or less effective than bashing the negative and ridiculous geek-hierarchy attitude- then at least, it's the more mental-health-preserving method for the longterm comics industry-watcher and medium-lover.
Neilalien hopes that he doesn't sound like he's the political-correctness positivity police, chopping off people's heads for unpleasant outbursts of legit frustration. But an annual rant versus hating on people who enjoy supercomics isn't so bad a stress-release either. What he hates is to see such BeaucoupKevin fave-blog fire wasted. BeaucoupKevin's efficacy and sanity is important to Neilalien, so he's sending "keep your chin up" vibes.
Update: Do you know a fan of a perennially losing sports team who watches every game? Also: not a zero-sum game, people who stop buying Green Lantern won't buy Fun Home; re: yelling at stupid people [The Hurting]
Posted 21 February 02007 - Permalink
Famous Objectivists: Steve Ditko [from the Lists of Famous Adherents of Various Religious Groups]
This item excerpts heavily from the Andrew Hultkrans essay "Steve Ditko's Hands" in the book Give Our Regards to the Atomsmashers!- almost a free read if you've never seen it! ;)
What's truly strange (sorry) about Dr. Strange [the character created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko] is his utter incompatibility with Objectivism, the Randian creed Ditko embraced at some point during his Strange Tales run. Even more than Spider-Man, Dr. Strange was Ditko's baby. As in Amazing Spider-Man, Ditko began to receive plotting credit in 1965 with Strange Tales #135, but Lee, Ditko, and comic historians all acknowledge that Ditko was largely left to his own devices on Dr. Strange from the character's inception to Ditko's departure from Marvel in '66. There's no mystery to why an idiosyncratic stylist like Ditko would be attracted to the concept of a master magician operating in abstract, alternate dimensions, but it's curious that he'd want to continue with the character after becoming a staunch Objectivist, given that Strange embodied two of Rand's primary betes noires--mysticism and altruism.
MySpace launches comic book fan community [myspace.com/comicbooks] [Comic Book Resources]
The 12 Levels of Comic Book Fan Agreement [Written World]
Tim Leong won the NYCC podcast contest! Yay! [Comic Foundry]
And with a disclaimer about the journalistic integrity of his Con coverage this year that would make any 14th-level paladin or palindromic media critic proud.
Doc fans: New Avengers: Illuminati #2 out tomorrow [Diamond Comics Shipping List]
Also the big Civil War finale- eek!
Posted 20 February 02007 - Permalink
Win a Paul Roland Dr. Strange Record! Ad from an early-80's UK Marvel reprint [BeaucoupKevin]
And here's the record you could have won [thanks Kevin and Sanctum!]
Steve Ditko: The Paranormal Man [David Thompson]
Dark Tower should have launched first as a GN stacked in the Stephen King section of bookstores, and used to attract folks to a direct market ongoing floppy series [Bully Says: Comics Oughta Be Fun!]
Might have attracted more new King blood into comic books that way- as opposed to launching it as a floppy series in (a) the direct market, to be later collected for (b) bookstore graphic novel sections- (a) and (b) being two places most King fans never go.
Stan Lee tonight on Heroes!
Posted 19 February 02007 - Permalink
The Ormes Society: new organization dedicated to supporting black female comic creators
Can Comics Change the Arab World? [Harvard Crimson]
Posted 18 February 02007 - Permalink
New Avengers: Illuminati #2 preview [PopCultureShock]
Hilarious Tim Leong (Comic Foundry) New York Comic-Con official podcaster audition [YouTube] [via Myriad Issues]
One of the obligations of using longterm properties is using their tired rogues gallery villains [Comics Should Be Good]
"'[C]anon' is purely and simply about authority, real or assumed"; Doctor Who benefits from having its continuity all over the place [Paul Cornell] [via Bloggity]
More light weekend reading found after the above text inspired some Googling: Fans, Fan Culture and Their Role in the Failure of the BBC Television Series Doctor Who
Ghost Rider movie this weekend!
Here's to hoping it does not suck!
Posted 16 February 02007 - Permalink
ComicsPRO meeting report; late books, more ads increasing freight charges, more help opening new stores, more press stuff to send to the local paper [Newsarama]
Comics at their greatest peak in American culture, movies- but the industry can't capitalize [Permanent Damage]
They're trying to become media empires, not sell comics.
Peter Parker's radioactive sperm is what killed Mary Jane [Savage Critic reviews Reign #3]
Marvel/DC should be creating stable nonsuperhero genre books for collected sale outside the Direct Market [Confessions of a Comic Book Guy]
Why We Love Manga: format, 'manga' perception better while 'comics' are for kids, satisfying chunk, sex [Halifax_slasher] [via The Beat]
This week's issue of GODLAND is 60 cents [Diamond Comics Shipping List]
Matt Fraction interview re: Casanova [Comic Book Resources]
Comics212.net review series of Casanova [#1] [#2] [#3]
Massive Bat-Meme: What the hell are Bruce and Dick looking at? [Random Panels]
Posted 15 February 02007 - Permalink
St. Valentine's Day is Link Love Day
It's that fun time of year again, when Neilalien gazes into the Orb of Navelmotto and breaks taboos and runs his annual February-to-February website traffic stats report, to see who has sent the most link-love to his website- and in gratitude tries to send some eyeballs in return. So let's pour out the Valentine's paper bag that's been taped to his school desk and see who Choo-Choo-Chose him.
Top 20 Referrers to Neilalien Over The Past Year (1 February 02006-02007) (give these fine sites a visit!):
- Google searches
- Comic Weblog Updates (RIP) and Blo.gs
- Dave's Long Box
- Progressive Ruin
- Yahoo searches
- MSN searches
- The Beat (old Comicon only; no blogroll links to the "little people" now on Publisher's Weekly ;) )
- Hannibal Tabu's Buy Pile (new)
- Comics Should Be Good (includes traffic from before CBR promotion too) (new)
- Polite Dissent
- Bloglines (RSS reader) (new)
- Postmodernbarney (that meme is a gift that keeps on giving)
- AltaVista searches
- Wikipedia pages for Doctor Strange and Steve Ditko (new)
- Reverse Cowgirl (got a via from sexy Susannah re: Alan Moore's pr0n writings)
- Unqualified Offerings
- 2 Guys Buying Comics (new) (was RIP but now they're back! yay!)
- The Hurting
A big thanks to everyone who links here!
Dave's Long Box takes the top personal website spot for the second year in a row. DAVE!
Over 200 failed requests per day from MySpace for files in the past year. Yikes. Neilalien ain't your image server, dudes! Good thing he has his site set up to refuse/fail the requests.
Bloglines is the first RSS-oriented item ever to appear on the annual lists. RSS use is growing. Lots of other readers and websites that allow users to track things are in the traffic stats now, more than ever. People are doing their best to stay atop the info overload.
People are also using that web-based, publicly-written, free-content wacky encyclopedia Wikipedia. Unfortunately, that gravy train has already dried up. A 16 September 02006 revision to the Doctor Strange page removed the external link to Neilalien [immediately previous version has link]. Neilalien did not add the link on Wikipedia to himself, btw (he's never edited anything there). The Wikipedia Manual of Style for External Links states, "Links normally to be avoided: 11. Links to blogs and personal webpages, except those written by a recognized authority." Nuff said. So the grey area (for his own ego?): is Neilalien a recognized authority on Doctor Strange, and if not, then how can he become one? And links to other fansites remain, btw. Ah well, it's okay. Not worth a Wikipedia Edit War over (please Neilalienistas, DO NOT do anything there in response to this musing, sincerely). It's part of the meta-problem with Wikipedia, as it oscillates between the throngs and trolls writing in their own opinions on one side, and limiting information to what only a narrow noncredentialed consensus will allow on the other. There's no one at the wheel there to decide if Neilalien is a Dr. Strange authority or not, and why or why not. But this website gets found by the seekers- people have been searching Google and Yahoo for "doctor strange" (where Neilalien lives on the first pages) and coming here tens of tons more than they ever were from Wikipedia (although that could have changed with the launch of Wikipedia's Google-competition WikiSeek last month).
Alas, huge centralized traffic hub/source and useful tool Comic Weblog Updates is dead. Rumor has it there's another one somewhere- and it's even better, you get a blogpost title too, not just the name of the blog. Even so, Neilalien grows increasingly unconvinced that one "huge centralized traffic hub/source" is possible, desirable or usable. But there was one big story from the geek webdeveloper internet last week that might have implications for replacing the "useful tool" part. It was the launch of Yahoo Pipes, a fancy drag-and-drop web service/application for the manipulation and mashup of RSS feeds. What it means for this particular paragraph is that we're rapidly approaching the day when each person will have the ability to create their own Comic Weblog Updates, with virtually no technical skill required- and with only the sites one wants on it: no overload of a thousand blogs, not stuck with the whim of only the weblogs some distant programmer likes or knows or got emails from. One can also make a page/feed that mashes up a massive search for certain keywords, like "doctor strange", from the RSS feeds of searches on Google Blog Search, Technorati, Icerocket, etc. Less cranking up Bloglines, Netvibes, etc., less dealing with separate feeds or visiting multiple search engines. Here's Neilalien's first-draft test, playing with a small sample of fave blogs [Comic Weblog Updates Test]. But sigh, typical: Pipes is clunky and not ready for prime time at launch time for early adopters. How the output looks (showing a blog name, the post time, etc.) needs to be much more tweakable- and there's a problem sorting by date that nukes the project for now: one hopes such a fundamental functionality whiff will get fixed quickly [it's on their To Do list]. Part of the future is more and more blogs and content sources, and the need for continually better tools for managing the info overload exactly the way one wants, like maybe Pipes.
Posted 14 February 02007 - Permalink
Knowing Doctor Strange's old-school magician pedigree, Neilalien had some anticipation for two of the DC Helmet of Fate books generating new younger modern-day versions of two Golden Age mages, Ibis The Invincible and Sargon The Sorcerer. Unfortunately, the thing he came away liking most about both books were the logos. Ibis plays into Neilalien's predilection for all things Ancient Egyptian (his race once helped the Nile peoples build the Pyramids), but a standard "pushed-around snarky boy given item, instantly transforms into omnipotent grown man" Billy-Batson-type origin is not interesting to him. At least Ibis threw us a couple small bones re: a learning curve. Sargon felt too instantly omnipotent and destinied. Guess there isn't a lot of space for character growth or learning in a one-shot- but an origin told in one page showing that time elapsed to master skills (like ye olde montage panel of the hero doing various feats in a gym) is still more interesting to Neilalien than one told in a full book but showing no stumble or required struggle. Ibis felt too wordy; Sargon felt too breezy. Neilalien enjoyed Sargon more, benefiting from being more adult, the writing of horror man Steve Niles (30 Days of Night), shadowy Scott Hampton art, a little fun magic amid the energy blasts (animated suits of armor, ill-gotten legal papers a-slicing), and the font on the very last page might be the exact same Sanctum Sanctorum font used for this website in places.
They're Not Called 'Friendly' Wraiths: ROM, and its carnage, celebrated [Fortress of Fortitude]
Via the PR wire: Nerve.com this month is a special comics issue; good stuff [Nerve.com]
Some items Neilalien's enjoyed so far:
Government shut down that subversive EC
Sex and the Single Superhero slideshow
Good news: Wasteland collected in a TPB in March [Silver Bullet Comic Books]
Indie Western, sci-fi, post-acopocalyptic tale written by Antony Johnston with delicious art by Chris Mitten and yummy lettering, published by Oni Press. This book has definitely been on Neilalien's radar- but as we all increasingly do, he plugged various variables, realities and sensibilities into the computer and the output was, as it increasingly is, "wait for the trade/hope there's a trade". This is the first he's heard that it will be TPB'ed, so huzzah! More:
Wasteland official website, free PDF/JPG/CBR download #1 [The Big Wet]
Wasteland at Oni
Positive review of Wasteland #1 [Read About Comics]
Interview: Antony Johnston Sheds Light on Mysteries of Wasteland [Comic News International]
Posted 13 February 02007 - Permalink
Doc Fans: First Look: Wednesday's Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes II #6 [Comics Continuum]
Looks like this untold-tales book is doing something with the Yellowjacket/Wasp wedding back in Avengers history, which Doc attended, so he's on the cover and page 3, anyway. Neilalien will peek in the store.
No one likes the 22-page story: time to kill it [Permanent Damage]
Garth Ennis interview: The Boys moves to Dynamite; #7 preview art [The Beat] [more: Newsarama]
So interesting: "you can have comics where people do awful things to each other, like Preacher, but you can't have a comic where super people do awful things to each other, like The Boys". Neilalien's own sense is that this is part of why DC dropped The Boys: corporations clinging to a lingering halo that their trademarked word "superhero" still means kid-safe and truth-justice and "crime does not pay". This feels incongruous with the last 20 years of grim-gritty, the Identity Crisis rape, Hal Jordan going nuts on other Green Lanterns, etc.- but maybe all that doesn't fit exactly: those were just moody heroes, it was supervillains (or heroes clearly insane/turned into villians) doing the deeds, no gerbil-line was crossed. Is it so/still subversive to show "bad cops", superheroes who are a-holes?
Posted 12 February 02007 - Permalink
Braindump: New Avengers #27
Neilalien enjoyed this first issue of the new post-Civil-War Avengers lineup with Doctor Strange (and Luke Cage, Iron Fist, Spider-Man, Spider-Woman, Wolverine, Echo and Ronin). A straightforward story about Echo-as-Ronin getting into trouble with Elektra and The Hand while cleaning up the Japanese underworld, and the New Avengers rescue her in an extraction action.
The story device of the "if you're reading this, I'm dead" email to Matt Murdock works (he must have a screen reader), as does the battle banter.
Yu's art is dynamic- great crowded-panel-battle stuff, looking forward to more- if a little too sketchy-rough for Neilalien's clear bright Invincible-like tastes, and Doc's looking worse than he did during Seige of Darkness. Echo and Elektra could look a little more different from each other (they're not clones, are they?).
Neilalien seems to have a favorite/preconceived notion of what an "Avengers" brand name group should be, which he'll have to overcome, since Bendis likes his Avengers full of street-level loners and Hawkeyes rather than Thors and bylaws. Avengers fight Kangs, not gangs. But battling a large organization with a high goon quotient will do nicely for this lineup, like The Hand, AIM, Hydra, etc.
Love all the shuriken sticking out of Luke Cage and Wolverine. Why dodge?
Cage gives Elektra a Murdock-sent kick in the groin- "FOOM" must be the sound of the air quickly escaping her dress..? Can a guy hit a girl like that? The funny part is everyone else in the panel oggling the scene. [Every Day Is Like Wednesday] [Progressive Ruin]
Doc casts "a series of transient spells [that] makes them sleep and cry for their mothers", which is great (if a little bit from the Warren Ellis playbook). There should always be something interesting and non-energy-blast like that in every battle, or he's just the teleporter, the new Avengers Quinjet.
There's also a question re: Elektra shaking-her-villainess-fist that the New Avengers do not leave Japan. Doc can't teleport the group out of Japan? Maybe there's an interesting reason why not (The Hand have a mystic spell around Japan), or maybe the team's staying to finish cleaning up the underworld, or maybe Bendis has a new, lower power level for Doc in mind.
Next ish: Doc has a nasty date with a katana! But that preview image raises the same questions that hearing that Doc was going to get shot in The Oath raised: How does a guy with Doc's defenses get stabbed? Doc doesn't have to be invulnerable- that would be boring- but the vulnerability has to be interesting. That better be Hitler's katana.
Posted 11 February 02007 - Permalink
Nobody Knows The Free Books They've Seen, Nobody Knows The Sorrow
Neilalien puts on his media/"comics blogosphere" critic hat again; re: review comps [comment at Comics Worth Reading] [CWR post] [CWR follow-up]
Neilalien is wary of all the free review books that comics weblogs and review sites get. His own policy has always been to refuse free review books. He's opted for an austere, Ditko-monk-like path- one not really necessary for most people, or economically viable for full-on review websites. Neilalien's happiness dictates that he must buy the comics, support creators directly with the cash, vote with his wallet, put the money where his mouth is, buy the right to say anything or nothing that he wants to about a book, avoid any whiff of impropriety or compromise, and not turn his fun weblog into work, feeling obligated to talk positively about books he never wanted that would quickly fill up his orbital HQ.
He can't disagree with most of what CWR is concretely saying- including the main point that receiving a book out of the blue cannot come with any obligation attached.
But isn't there any obligation against setting oneself up as a review site and accepting submissions, and then turning around and selling them unreviewed on Ebay for one's own enrichment? No one else thinks there's anything wrong with that? It must really suck for creators to read that Comics Worth Reading does that.
The tone of CWR's post, how it was said and done, rubs Neilalien the wrong way. He's found many posts over the years about "the review business" by CWR and other reviewers to be off-putting, or at least, unnecessarily off-putting to creators. And you don't see many other premiere review sites posting "can you believe this lame creator email I got?" mocking, even if the email was guilt-trip manipulative (at least it was posted without revealing the creator's name).
What agitates is the impression of reviewers complaining about the oh-so-terrible burden of getting all those free books, reviewers not seeing any professional-like responsibilities with getting themselves plugged into the free-review-book system-trough, reviewers selling comps- unreviewed comps- on Ebay, etc. Talk about a sense of "fan entitlement"!
In a world of (a) reviewers unprofessionally giving gushy reviews because they are entranced with getting free comics, and (b) reviewers unprofessionally whining in public about being a part of the review process, about free boxes filled with ignored creator's babies taking up garage space- Neilalien would rather like to see more meta-level gratitude and joy and respect at being a part of the review process, reviewers having a humble appreciation that they've built a good review website or other outlet from which creators would want reviews, which would motivate a more professional reviewer attitude and approach (whether the review be positive, negative (none of this means "no negative reviews" of the books themselves), or silence, or the free book refused, or the unsolicited dealt with).
Give us a sign that the review endeavor is more than a burned-out chore of mail-, complist-, Ebay-, garage-space-, needy-creator-, and dirty-trick- management. If that unpleasantness is naturally part of the endeavor, or if that's all the endeavor has sadly become for a reviewer, then perhaps a classy mix of discretion and transparency is required, instead of potentially insulting creators through actions or "bluntness" or when providing peeks behind the curtain of the reviewing world. Does dealing with PR lead to resentment; does not having to pay for books lead to unappreciation, and forgetting the creator-source? If there is joy re: having a house full of free comics and a respected review site, but that cannot be shared without looking arrogant or inane, then can it at least balance out the inconveniences and temper how the tribulations are described? There's got to be better smell-test-passing and creator-respecting ways to engage, celebrate and criticize art, to celebrate that engagement, to educate creators on how not to submit books, to deal with disrespectful or manipulative creators, to deal with receiving undesirables in undesirable ways that necessarily comes with being an open destination for submissions, and to keep the garage uncluttered, and the website host paid.
CWR embraces the off-putting as her own bluntness- and she should, she would have to; as she says in her follow-up, she sympathizes, but if she didn't want to upset creators, she would have shuttered long ago, and CWR is probably not the right site anyway to review a book by a creator who's been put off. Neilalien's opinion is that some of the meta commentary about the reviewing life, and the trials of the reviewer, sounds uncool and lacking perspective (ungrateful is a poor word choice); posting that creator's email, selling review books on Ebay: definitely feels uncool. There's not much more for the debate after that, although there's a good discussion in the CWR comments about review policies and some possible better ways. Neilalien might start openly accepting preview PDFs.
If Neilalien had ever started accepting review copies, he would have shuttered long ago, under a book-mountain of perceived obligation. But apparently, it's all just a thick-skinned publicity-advertising business-go-round that Neilalien is uniquely not emotionally equipped to exploit for himself. Hopefully most creators feel that they can play the game. However choppy reviewers find the waters, the waters must look even choppier to creators.
Update: A supporter suggests I Wrote A Book About Rock And Roll by The Mr. T Experience
Posted 10 February 02007 - Permalink
Dr. Karma in Love and Capes #2
Love and Capes is a cute sitcom-gag comic book about the couple of Abby and her man Mark- who is also The Crusader, a Superman/Clark Kent clone- and their romance (and the bonuses and tribulations of being involved with a superhero). Charmingly written and drawn by Thomas F. Zahler [blog], also the creator of the Raider action/spy graphic novel series.
Issue #2, a Christmas issue from the recent Holidays, makes a special play for Neilalien's good side with a page of Doctor Karma, a Ditko/Lee/Dr. Strange homage and spell-casting general practitioner to the superheroes. Love the panel above (oops typo): "by the distended digits of Ditko and the linguistic legerdermain of Lee". (A Google of Karma's alter ego Nathan Carmody only reveals,
"A small publishing company specialising in unorthodox and revisionist works of an academic nature.") #3 is out next week for Valentine's Day, and #4 will be part of Free Comic Book Day. Check it out!
[Collected reviews of Love and Capes]
[Pulse interview with Zahler]
[Buy Love and Capes]
[Thanks to Polite Dissent for the FYI!]
Posted 9 February 02007 - Permalink
Vaguely Defined Powers of the Week: Doctor Strange [Mad Science]
Super-hero comics are a niche industry [Yet Another Comics Blog]
Stan Lee to cameo as a bus driver on the 19 February episode of Heroes [iFMagazine]
Artist blog Ink Destroyed My Brush reports:
From Talking To KISS About The Comics [Newsarama]:
GENE SIMMONS: (When it comes to comics) We can quote psalm and verse. For instance, I can tell you just about every title that Steve Ditko drew and inked, including how he also inked Jack Kirby's Hulk.
Unholy was our idea about a malevolence that is kind of a next door neighbor to Steve Ditko's Nightmare from Doctor Strange, maybe he also has a little Baron Mordo and some Eternal Vishantu with some Hoary Hosts of Hogarth.
Neilalien just has to believe that Simmons got "Vishanti" and "Hoggoth" right (nor was he making a joke)- is there a typist at the Newsarama comics website who doesn't know their stuff who's making KISS look bad!?
Posted 8 February 02007 - Permalink
Doc fans: New Avengers #27, with Doc as a new Avenger, out today [Diamond Comics Shipping Lists]
Mass deletion of webcomics entries on Wikipedia [Comixpedia] [congrats to Comixpedia on four years!]
Metropolis Comics retailer wants superheroes who are uplifting, optimistic, powerful, light, fun, heroic- not dark, dreary, whiny, reluctant, realistic [ICv2]
Equal Time: Superheroes reflect our modern culture, and no longer reflect the moral-simplicity fantasy of nondiverse while male nerds and children [ICv2]
The Gallery at the Franklin H. Williams Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute (CCCADI) debuts their first ever comic book exhibit: "Santerians: The Art of Joe Quesada" [TransWorldNews PR] [CCCADI]
Going by all the Stephen King headline word-choices, the rest of the world clearly does Bam! Zoom! still think comics are just for kids; undercuts the good press ["King revives 'Dark Tower' in comic form for grown-ups"]
Blake Bell: "There's never been, and never will be, a 'gateway comic book' in pamphlet form" [Best Of Most Of]
Boys And Comics [Bookslut]
Stan Lee Media's Peter Paul suing right-wing Judicial Watch, charges they used his anti-Clinton case to raise money and then dump him [PR Newswire]
Neilalien's Current Personalized Google News Page [posted in response to Micro Persuasion wanting to see what's in people's handbags]
This Google page gets used to find bloggables, and currently feels superior to several other different kinds of equivalent services, because (1) Google News is better than most news services, (2) Neilalien finds RSS generally unusable, so that eliminates most RSS options for news, (3) once you set a Google News personalized page, you don't have to tediously log in to see it, unlike some websites (FYI you'll have to be logged out of Google (including Blogger) yourself to see Neilalien's page instead of your own), and (4) it beats ye olde methode: doing several separate Google News search queries, or even using a homemade page with a list of links to queries.
Posted 7 February 02007 - Permalink
Doctor Strange in New Avengers hyped, "kick @$$"; upcoming "One More Day" Spider-Man arc to explain Doc's "appointment with death" actions (and promised "The Other Side of Darkness" Straczynski miniseries) from back in Amazing Spider-Man #42 [Joey Q Fridays at Newsarama] [thanks Sanctum!]
JMS: "So yes, absolutely and without equivocation, you will see what was happening on the other side of that door in 'One More Day.'"
Oh yeah, baby: Danger! Diabolik tonight at the Film Forum in NYC!
And it's something fun to do before tonight's midnight release of Stephen King's Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Born #1 at Midtown Comics [list of participating stores].
Posted 6 February 02007 - Permalink
Newton Comics' Doctor Strange releases in Australia [20th Century Danny Boy]
Ditko essay by Robert J. Sodaro (dba Freelance Ink) from Amazing Heroes #5 (01980) [The Ditko Days (at Ditko Looked Up)] [meta: Is Nothing Sacred?]
Interview with comics connector JahFurry [Gothamist]
Spider-Man's first TV appearance was hanging in the background of the early 60's crime TV show The Naked City [Frederator Studios Blog] [via Comics Reporter]
DC's Palmiotti/Gray Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters deals with superhero government registration, trading liberty for security, etc., better than Civil War [Eye On Comics] [via Comics Reporter]
NYCC 02007 programming schedule is up! [New York Comic-Con]
Several recent conversations at NYC comics events have confirmed that the uber-meme of NYCC 02006 has indeed settled on "ticketing clusterfuck of the ages", and dreading a repeat- or at the least, Reed Exhibitions seems to be acting like that is the uber-meme, to its credit- so anyone who may have dared some small discomfort ranting truth to power last year is allowed that small validation. Everyone, including Neilalien, is back and excited and lined up for Round Two later this month- tickets are selling out- so let's hope for a great Con for everyone this year, not just the pros and insiders (although maybe it's their turn in the barrel this year: now apparently some pros are being told to pay their own way and shanghai'ed onto panels without being asked).
Posted 5 February 02007 - Permalink
Doctor Strange gets the Bullet Points treatment [First Look at #4] [thanks Sanctum!]
Put this book on the radar, Doc fans: a What If? miniseries by J. Michael Strazynski and Tommy Lee Edwards describing an alternate Marvel Universe in which the scientist behind the Captain America super-soldier serum was instead shot and killed [JMS press conference] [TLE interview]. Going by the preview pages of the fourth issue, Stephen Strange makes a deal with Reed Richards and SHIELD instead of going to Tibet, and gets his hands fixed a la Wolverine, while Baron Mordo arises to become an ill-fated Sorcerer Supreme. Can't tell yet if Doc's in the book more than that.
Vertigo, non-superhero titles clinging for life at 10K or less sales inspires massive readable meta discussion [The Engine]
The offending DC December 02006 month-to-month sales chart [The Beat] [Marvel]
New Pennsylvania comics shop RIOT will close later this month [RIOT comics + culture]
And what was seen by many as part of the hope for a new comics retailing future will sadly close with it. Always sad to see a non-Android's-Dungeon comics shop close.
More: RIOT proprietor not without controversy, ruffled other retailer feathers, leading to pissing on his grave now [Comics Worth Reading] [The Beat] [Independent Propaganda]
Update: James Sime eulogy for RIOT [Isotope Comics]
Ditko and comics scholar Blake Bell has started blogging [Best Of Most Of]
Black Goliath tribute video [Glyphs]
The Black Proteges [Profiles]
Giant-Man and Black Goliath. Captain America and the Falcon. Hal Jordan and John Stewart. Iron Man and War Machine. Superman and Steel. An essay from April 01999, via the comments at the above Glyphs link.
When Swingin' Doc exclaimed, "By the Whore-y Hosts of Hoggoth!" [Top 15 Comic Book Catchphrases by Your Mom's Basement]:
Posted 3 February 02007 - Permalink
Doctor Strange in this week's Ultimate Civil War: Spider-Ham
Check it out in the shop. Doc's hammy, but not hammified.
The Put This Back Into Print Campaign: Doctor Strange/Doctor Doom: Triumph and Torment [Scans_daily]
Video online of Dinner For Five episode with Stan Lee [Popoholic]
Hosted by Kevin Smith, Jon Favreau has dinner with Stan Lee, Jason Lee (My Name Is Earl), Mark Hammill (Star Wars) and JJ Abrams (Lost, Alias).
The Boys leaving DC for a non-Big-Two publisher may show sales decline, reverse of "dope"-bump Powers got simply by moving from Image to Marvel [The Beat]
More re: what happened to The Boys; solicitations for future issues [Lying In The Gutters]
Retailer: In a world of lower-selling books, grosser books, later books, etc., "This is hands down the worst decision DC has made in a long time" [ICv2]
The portrayal of Native Americans in comics [Comic Book Resources]
Creator-publisher relations; legendary artists before-and-after they improved; Howard Chaykin's huge influence on modern comics [Permanent Damage]
KISS knows comics, is wondering what the fuck happened to comics, is launching new KISS 4K comic [Comic Book Resources] [interview with KISS]
Kiss Forms Comic Book Company In Alliance With Platinum Studios [ICv2]
Diamond tries to distract from its non-Direct-Market activities; returns from mass market retailers filter back into Diamond inventory and show up in unreturnable DM stores [ICv2]
Big congratulations to comics collective
ACT-I-VATE on its one-year anniversary!
Party tonight in NYC!
Posted 1 February 02007 - Permalink
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