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Posts Tagged ‘Image Comics

One of my New Year’s Resolutions this year was to buy a comic every Wednesday that I know nothing about. Considering how much I enjoyed last week’s Who Is Jake Ellis?, this has actually been a pretty good plan. On this week’s Wednesday pilgrimage, I came across Infinite Vacation by Nick Spencer, a guy whose previous efforts (Forgetless, Morning Glories) have been pretty great and is slated to have some pretty big superhero titles coming up (taking over Supergirl, Iron Man 2.0). So what the hell is this Infinite Vacation thing?

The concept of a multiverse in comics is nothing new, but what about capitalizing on it? A company has created a smart phone application which taps into a parallel dimension and allows a person to buy their way in to another version of themselves (or, if they don’t wanna do that, hang out with them). With every decision made by the user, no matter how mundane, they can go in and see exactly what would have happened if they’d done something else. And Mark has kinda become addicted to the whole thing. Averaging about 10 changes per day, Mark is clearly not happy with himself (himselves? Is that a word?). To make matters worse, his parallel selves start to die at an alarming rate (and before you ask, yes, they point out that if there’s an infinite number or yous, you’re always dying somewhere). Also, he’s suddenly fallen head over heels for a Deadener, a person who finds it morally repugnant to jump into another universe’s you.

Nick Spencer’s writing here is damn good, and only a tad bit confusing (but what story involving hopping universes isn’t?). For a book starring an infinite number of the same dude, it’s a cinch to figure out which Mark you’re rooting for. Plus, he does a great job of making sure that any skeptical questions are answered immediately by Mark’s narration, giving the reader no room to go, “Wait a minute, that doesn’t make sense.” While not being particularly fast-paced, he whole issue had me engaged (with the exception of a four-page live-action parody which only lost me because it was missing Cameron Ward’s fantastic art).

Speaking of Ward, where the hell has this guy been? With a style this similar to Alex Maleev’s, you’d think this guy would be everywhere. All I can find is that he lives in London and took part in the Totoro Forest Project. His art in Infinite Vacation is fucking beautiful to look at, though. There are a pair of two-page spreads throughout the book that I spent way too long staring at (and I normally hate two-page spreads). Here’s hoping we see more from Ward, and soon. [Edit: Upon doing, like, a minute’s more research, I discovered he had another Image series called Olympus. I’m a dumbass.]

Anyways, this book is definitely worth picking up. Hell, I’d even go so far as saying it’s the best single issue out this week. I eagerly await picking up the rest of this five-issue miniseries.

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10 (tie).  Walking Dead – Robert Kirkman

I can’t help feeling like this book should probably be #1 on our list. It isn’t (not even in my own personal ranking) because a few others were more popular, had greater impact, etc. But for sheer quality- in both concept and execution- The Walking Dead stood peerless in the 2000s. The book starts from a simple question: “What if every zombie movie you’ve ever seen didn’t actually have to end?” Series creator Robert Kirkman anchors the horror in his characteristically well-drawn characters, each of whom has the opportunity to show complete emotional range and complex, totally natural motivations usually absent from traditionally truncated zombie genre fare. Protagonist Rick Grimes and company endure a hard-fought existence that calls into question the nature of concepts like morality, justice, society and sanity when life becomes a nonstop pursuit of one goal: survival. And that makes anything possible- when the story doesn’t have to work itself to resolution after 90 minutes, all of the rules change. To spoil even one moment of The Walking Dead for a new reader would be criminal, but suffice it to say that nobody is safe, and in a world like this, any/every “normal” person can and will be pushed to things you’d never expect possible. And it is, in all likelihood, the best currently ongoing series in comics.

-Brendan

10 (tie). All-Star Superman – Grant Morrison

I love Superman. I love him as a supporting character. After 80 years as the flagship superhero of comics it feels like everything there was to say about Krypton’s last son has been said. In fact, it was said before a guy like Grant Morrison was even in the biz. Going in to All-Star Superman I felt this way. Then, for 12 marvelous issues I was convinced I needed to know more. Who knew Big Blue had one last arc of good reading in him? I’m sure at some point there will come another author who finds something entertaining to do with Superman, but in the waning years of this last decade it was nice to see creative duo Morrison and Quitely tell me something about Kent I didn’t already know, and wrap it all up so tidily that I felt a sense of closure when it was all said and done.

-Jonny

9. Final Crisis: Revelations – Greg Rucka

Whoa, whoa. Hold on a hot second. A tie-in to an event that’s better than the event itself? That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.

You’re dumb, and here’s the proof. While Final Crisis was a little, um, disjointed, Revelations was straight up Biblical goodness. Basically, while Darkseid is busy mind-raping everybody with the Anti-Life Equation, newly-appointed Question Renee Montoya is fighting off the Religion of Crime in Gotham (if you ain’t read it, you’re now officially confused). Meanwhile, newly-appointed Spectre (and Renee’s ex-partner since Batman: the Animated Series) Crispus Allen is serving out justice on God’s behalf for those held responsible for the death of the Martian Manhunter. Basically, the book is a team-up between these two: the Huntress, and Radiant, God’s angel of mercy in a battle against many of Darkseid’s Justifiers and Vandal Savage (who is possessed by Cain from the Bible).

-Rob

8. Y: The Last Man – Brian K. Vaughn
Sort of a weird thing happened in the last decade. Since Hollywood’s bankruptcy of original intellectual properties, we’ve seen so many mediocre, utterly forgettable comics adaptations that we’ve forgotten a time when not every book was viewed in terms of its potential to sustain a film or television franchise. Instead, we’ve begun new lives in an alternate universe where your Aunt whose favorite musician is Michael Buble can tell you who Harry Osborne’s dad is, and the more intellectual set might deign to deride a new theatrical release by saying something like “Eh… I think it would have been better as a comic book.” A shining example of the opposite in effect, Vertigo’s Y: The Last Man is one a truly few number of titles that openly begs to be realized in moving pictures small or large. The story of the last living carriers of a Y chromosome on Earth (20-something Yorrick Brown and his monkey, Ampersand) moves along a pace that perfectly balances its dual nature as both an episodic and serial narrative while introducing us to a hugely diverse cast of female (naturally) characters who all have different goals and motivations driving them to live in a new world without men. At times, the book could be almost soapy in how relationships progress and evolve, and I’d be lying if I said I loved the plot’s final resolution, but for 60 issues Y exhibited an undeniable quality that said this is just the kind of great story- and storytelling– that’s fit for today’s enlightened masses. It’s no wonder that series co-creator Brian K. Vaughn wound up plying his trade doing just that as a writer on ABC’s Lost.

-Brendan

7. Astonishing X-Men – Joss Whedon

Poor Piotr. He spends all that time being good while falling for that underage Lolita, Kitty Pryde. Then he dies. And then, suddenly, he comes back to life and she’s of age! They bump legal uglies and everything is coming up Colossus! Until, you know, Ord shows up with a giant space bullet pointed at Earth and Kitty Pryde has to phase into it and ride it into deep space to save all of us. Yup. Joss Whedon has made a career out of cockblocking and then killing off your favorite characters in everything he touches (see: every girl Xander ever got involved with).

Oh, yeah, plus this book gave us Abbie Brand and S.W.O.R.D. (which is kinda cool) and features art by John Cassaday and Simone Bianchi that is just fucking gorgeous. Now, with Warren Ellis at the helm and the announcement of a few more Astonishing titles, I’m curious to see where they take this from here.

-Rob

6. Invincible – Robert Kirkman

I’m not really much of a fan of Image Comics. I’m not sure if it’s just the stigma that comes with the name (and, yes, I’ll admit that Liefeld’s name does subconsciously affect my opinion) but I just can’t get into it. I’m sorry. Get over it.

Now that I have that out of the way, let’s discuss Invincible. The story of a young man who develops superpowers and decides to use it for the good of mankind yadda yadda nothing new. So what sets it apart exactly? Well, for one, our main character (conveniently named Invincible) has some, well, let’s say family issues with his father, fellow super-being Omni-Man. Pair that with his kid brother’s budding powers, dealing with his girlfriend/classmate/former superhero partner, and the government jerking him around, it is actually a very compelling superhero story. Needless to say, it’s a far cry from the other stuff on Image’s line-up. So far.

Why do I say this? Well, Invincible has all ready had a crossover with Savage Dragon, Astounding Wolf-Man, and Brit (which, might I add, was done surprisingly well). With Invincible #60, they’ve decided to throw Spawn, Witchblade, and Pitt (oh, Pitt) into the mix and, well, that’s where I get a bit dodgy. I can’t bring myself to read Image United but here’s hoping that it doesn’t turn a great book like Invincible into just another Image title.

-Rob

Sometimes comics make us cry. Here are the top ten comic moments that made Maggie sob, Jonny bleary-eyed, and set ole Rob a-drinkin. These are pretty much ranked in order of how hard Maggie cried. Except one, but she’ll never admit which one.


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(10) Archie & Veronica’s Wedding – Maggie: SHUT UP. This issue will make 99% of women cry like babies, so just -HEY! SHUT UP!

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(9) Beak Beats Beast – Maggie: Cassandra Nova, that twisted, sick bitch, mind controls poor, confused Beak into beating the shit out of his mentor and bestest buddy, Beast. WITH A BASEBALL BAT. No matter how hard he tries, Beak can’t stop beating the good doctor, apologizing to him and crying the whole time. Man, imagine being forced to beat the shit out of your childhood hero.

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(8) Astounding Wolf Man’s Wife, Murdered – Maggie: The weeping moment here was less the murder itself than the fact that Gary was blamed for the murder. Frak, the ONE GUY you trust to help you deal with your lycanthropy (who happens to be a vampire) up and chomps your wife. Then you get framed for it and your ONLY daughter hates you. You also lose your fortune and your home. But man, when Gary didn’t even de-wolf and cradled his dead wife in his arms and shrieked, jeez.

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(7) Reddy Loses His Arm – Maggie: The Red Tornado becomes human, makes real hot sexytime with his wife, truly hugs his kid for the first time – it’s great. Then he gets into a fight with Solomon Grundy, who rips off his arm, practically killing him. While this is going on, his wife has to watch helplessly through an unbreachable portal. I didn’t know what my worst nightmare was until I read this. (Well, until I saw that one episode of Battlestar where Boomer, well, you know, with Helo.)

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(6) Tim Drake’s Father, Murdered – Rob: Pretty much the entirety of Identity Crisis could fit in this post (Ronnie & Sue!) but, when you think about it, nothing is as tragic as the death of Jack Drake. Tim was the only Robin who actually had some family left and that was all taken away from him when Jean Loring sent the original Captain Boomerang to attack. Despite getting shot numerous times, Captain Boomerang managed to throw a boomerang straight into Jacks’ chest, killing him. All the while, Tim is listening in on his dad over Oracle’s frequency, unable to get there in time. OOF.

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(5) Black Canary, Tortured – Rob: Oliver Queen had never killed anybody before. That was before he and Dinah moved up to Seattle, Washington and ended up taking up their own little projects, hers being trying to break up a drug ring. That’s before Ollie happens to hear that the head of the drug cartel was found dead and that he still hadn’t seen from Dinah. When he tracks her down, he finds her strung up, beaten to a pulp, bleeding profusely, nearly naked, and being threatened by a man with a knife. If that image isn’t heartbreaking enough, the only thing she can say to him while Ollie holds her near lifeless body? “Oliver, sorry I missed your birthday.”

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(4) Buddy Finds His Family, Murdered – Jonny: As a man there are certain survival instincts that nature puts in us (by the way I’m a man). Call it God, call it nature; we’re hardwired to protect our “zone” with our lives. Obviously women do this too, but for them it’s a much more holistic experience. Men, we want to fucking DOMINATE and OBLITERATE any perceived threat. We won’t get into the psychology of this. If you’re a dude you know what I’m talking about, and if you’re a woman you’ll just have to take my word for it.

Buddy Baker. He is one of the few, if any, super heroes who had a family integral to his story rather than some minor aspect of his background. Ellen, Cliff, Maxine. I still know the names of Buddy’s family, and as a man who was months away from getting married when I read this comic it was completely devastating to see Buddy’s family sprawled on the ground of his own home and lying in their own blood. This was all the more poignant because this wasn’t just a casualty of some war or what have you. This represented a fundamental failure on Buddy’s part. He chose to follow his dream and be a superhero, and while he was out with HIS dream, the family that he was supposed to protect with his LIFE was butchered in his OWN HOME. As a man I cannot possibly think of a more horrific scene to come home to, and this was the most gut-wrenching piece of literature I’ve ever read.

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(3) Kitty & Colussus in Astonishing X-Men – Maggie: So Kitty phases through about a million feet of metal to find presumed-dead for years Peter Rasputin captured like a lab rat. Imagine finding your long dead first love alive and well. She lands right in front of him when she drops into the sub-basement, he runs through her, she puts her hand to her heart. And then! They get together and it’s adorable. But then Kitty phases a giant bullet through the Earth, saving the world, and Peter loses her again. Fuck. I’m getting upset just typing this.

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(2) Snow Sends Ghost Away – Maggie: Snow & Bigby’s zephyr of a seventh child is a bit, um, special needs. Snow didn’t even know Ghost existed until Frau Totenkinder dropped the hint, but by the time Snow figured it out, it was too late, Ghost was wanted for murder. Snow sits alone speaking to her immaterial child, tells him to go, far, far from here and find his exiled Daddy. She bursts into tears. *I* burst into tears.

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(1) Coast City Solidarity – Maggie: So at the behest of Cyborg Superman, Mongul completely destroyed the place, along with nearly all of it’s seven million residents. As if that weren’t bad enough, it’s champion, Green Lantern Hal Jordan, freaks out in the wake of the destruction, gets possesed by Parallax AND the Spectre and then (mostly) dies. But once he comes back to life, he wants his city back. Coast City is rebuilt, but after the destruction, no one wants to live there.  During the Sinestro Corps War, Coast City is under threat yet again but just when the worst is about to happen and Hal himself has almost given up? Thousands of tiny green lights (shit, I’m getting choked up) start shining through the sparsely populated Coast City. Hal ends up kicking Sinestro’s ass over the rooftops of Coast City, which is reborn as “The City Without Fear.” Aaand I’m officially verklempt again.

Add yours in the comments!

Here’s a list of our favorite second string couples (when we say second string, we mean lower tier at Marvel or DC, or not from Marvel & DC at all. Mostly we just didn’t want to deal with Lois Lane or MJ or Cyclops & Jean. We pretty much made up the parameters and we’re using the term loosely. Shut up. Who pays for the domain name, you or me?)

When it comes to couples in comic books, it seems like the phrase “opposites attract” is a huge fucking understatement. Despite the fact that getting involved with a superhero is bad news (see: Kyle Rayner and Matt Murdock), they seem to manage to endure through thick and thin, and death after death after death. As a matter of fact, we need to make a game out of this. Every time one half or more of a relationship is dead (or presumed dead), take a shot!

atominvinc(10) Invincible and Atom Eve – This pair went through the required will they/won’t they for about EVER, complete with Invincible’s hot blond jealous non-superhero girlfriend. Invincible goes to the future one day and Future!Eve gets emo and tells him she loves him. When he gets back to the present, Invincible starts mackin’ on Eve, but she gets mad. “You only love me because Future me told you I love you!” which is a pretty stupid reason to bail, but she’s made up for it more than once by pulling a move that most women her age just can’t pull off. Almost every time she starts getting angry at him over something stupid, she takes five and cuts it the fuck out. Invincible will probably be able to punch through a PLANET one day. And then Eve can completely rearrange the molecules like nothing ever happened. Hell yeah, these two! They’re at number 10 though, because they can’t even legally drink yet and this shit could fall apart at any moment.

Incredible_Hulk_124-01(9) Bruce Banner and Betty Ross – Not as second string as the rest of the list, but Hulk and his lady-friend were never quite as in the spotlight as the other Marvel couples, so we snuck them in anyway. Bruce and Betty pretty much had everything going against them. First off, Betty is the daughter of General Ross, one of Bruce’s biggest enemies. After the world found out that Bruce Banner was the Hulk, she freaked out and married Glenn Talbot, leader of the Hulkbusters. After that marriage didn’t work (and years and year of “COME ON, GET ON WITH IT”), Betty and Bruce FINALLY got together and got married. Then Abomination poisoned her with his blood, framing the Hulk, and she died (as comic book wives are wont to do). But she was always the only one who could soothe the Hulk, which made her pretty badass. You know, until she croaked.

hawkeyemockingbird(8) Clint Barton and Barbara Morse – It only really took one mission for Hawkeye and Mockingbird to fall in love. They teamed up, defeated Crossfire, eloped, and started the West Coast Avengers. Then everything totally went to shit. Time travel, cowboys, and Satan (can’t make this shit up) interfered with their lives and the two of them drifted apart. Over time, Mockingbird and Hawkeye split up. She was replaced by a Skrull, he made out with Moonstone, died, and came back. It wasn’t until a Skrull ship with the Real Mockingbird aboard crashed to earth that the two of them were able to come face-to-face and get back that ol’ spark the way that comic book heroes do: beating the snot out of aliens.

ralphsue(7) Ralph and Sue Dibny – No list of comic couples would be complete without this tragic pairing. An inseparable item since the early 60s (that’s a lonnnng time, I wonder how they kept it fresh? [insert elongated man joke here!]), Ralph & Sue were Justice League staples. Then Identity Crisis happened, Sue got raped by Doctor Light and killed by Jean Loring. Eventually, Ralph Dibny sacrificed himself to Neron in 52 in order to reunite with his wife (albeit in spirit form). They didn’t stay spirits for long though, they can currently be found running around ripping out Thanagarian hearts in the name of the Black Lantern (aw, how cute). FLESH!

03_swamp_34(6) Swamp Thing and Abby Arcane – After her husband got possessed and Abby ended up dead, it seemed as if this relationship was put to an end before it really started. Pffft, fuck that. Swamp Thing was serious about this one. He went into the afterlife and dealt with the Spectre and Etrigan to get Abby back. Once he does, she drops her coma-hubby and eats a weird hallucinogenic tuber growing out of Swamp Thing (which apparently means they’re married?). Later still (in a very beautiful story arc), Swamp Thing had to go to Gotham City to bust Abby out of jail after she was arrested for fucking a plant-man, both confronting and eventually getting help from the Batman.

flash165(5) Barry Allen and Iris West – Iris West is the most tolerant woman on the planet. For being married to the fastest man alive, she sure does have to put up with him being late all the fucking time. Hell, she even waited for him for twenty years after he got sucked into the Speed Force and everybody thought he was dead. But it’s totally cool, because when Barry fucks something up, he makes it priority number one to make it up to his beloved Iris. Honorable Mentions? Jay & Joan Garrick. Wally West & Linda Park. The Flashes have remarkably healthy marriages. You know, for superheroes.

Green_Arrow_and_Black_Canary_1(4) Oliver Queen and Dinah Lance – Whenever anything seems to be going right for this pairing, something goes horribly, horribly wrong. Dinah gets kidnapped and tortured in The Longbow Hunters, Ollie makes out with the ONLY other employee at Dinah’s flower shop, Ollie has illegitimate kid after illegitimate kid (including Connor Hawke) come out of the woodwork, Ollie dies, Ollie comes back, and Dinah accidentally marries and kills an impostor Ollie while real Oliver is trapped with the Amazons. Finally, when they do get married, the ceremony is attacked by a ton of villains trying to kill all the heroes at once. Man, I’m pretty sure these two are fucking cursed.

396px-Bigbywolf2(3) Snow White and Bigby Wolf – Snow and the Big Bad Wolf of Fables started sniping at each other pretty much in the first panel of the series, which is how you knew they would hook up. After they got brainwashed and date raped each other, Snow White wound up knocked up with a bunch of wolf/wind/fable babies. Then Bigby and Snow basically saved the world even though they weren’t technically in charge of anything anymore. Snow and Bigby are arguably smarter and more versatile than all of the other Fables (excluding maybe Flycatcher.) I guess they’ll be fighting the Boogeyman now, but they’ve got that killer zephyr of a seventh child, so I’m thinkin’ they’ll be jussst fine.

shadowcat-and-colossus-35963(2) Kitty Pryde (Shadowcat) and Peter Rasputin – Shadowcat and Collosus always had a mutual crush on one another, there was just one problem: she was 14, he was 19, and I guess the X-Men take statutory rape seriously. When Peter’s sister, Illyana (a.k.a. Magik) died of the Legacy virus and Peter sacrificed himself to find a cure, his remains were cremated and that’s the end of that. Case closed. No way, just kidding! Turns out aliens had Peter’s body and he was actually just fine. This gave the pair (now both of age) an opportunity to fuck. Hooray! Together forever! No way, just kidding again, Kitty got shot into space in a giant space-bullet. You know, something tells me these two might not be meant to be together.

Mallah and the Brain(1) Monsieur Mallah and Brain – One of them is a gorilla with a ridiculously high IQ and a machine gun. The other is a French scientist’s brain in a jar. And they’re both dudes. Grant Morrison (who else?) made these two an item in his run on Doom Patrol and I’ll be damned if it wasn’t beyond absurd from the start. Unfortunately for this pair, who finally got together when Brain was transplanted into a Robot body; said robot body was rigged to explode if anyone ever put a brain in it. They kissed and KABOOM. If that ain’t love I don’t know what is.

Holy shit, were you actually taking shots? Awesome. I counted thirteen drinks and you must be totally fucked up. Gimme your keys, I’m calling you a cab.


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