Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Happy Anniversary !

Today is the big anniversary ! One year and 58 posts of pure comic blogging goodness.

It hasn´t always been easy but I somehow managed to hang in there. I feel a little bit like the Spartans in the 300 movie.

True to form I had some problems with the internet today so I spend a lot of time burning data on discs, deleting the saved files and defragmentating the computer. But now I have 4 GB free space so I´m all ready to go. It´s almost 21.00 as I´m writing this and I hope I can finish it in one sitting before THE UNIT starts.

Now this shouldn´t take long because today I only wanted to thank my loyal readers, my sometime readers and anybody else who just landed on my little blog because he googled Power Girl. Hey, I can´t afford to be picky with my loyal readership of 3 fans. Now I was very sad when I found out that two of my links are out of business. The first one is RedJazzRadio which was my favorite music podcast who was canceled because of some legal problems. I still have left the link available because there are now some links to other Jazzpodcasts and Videocasts.

The second one is Phil & Lamond´s Comickolumne which is still up but which will not be updated for the forseeable future. That´s really sad because I have always enjoyed their reviews which were 99 percent spoilerfree which is something I can´t stress enough in today´s day and age. It was only in german but for all german comicfans it was an undispensable resource especially for the ones who could not afford to read all the comics involved in such crossovers like 52 or CIVIL WAR. The actual content is still available so all my german readers should check it out. Now I have thought about trying to fill that void but i´m busy with this little blog as it is. And I´m not prepared to get back to writing in german.

Anyway, today I only wanted to thank my readers especially the ones who have left a comment. It´s always nice to get feedback especially when people don´t agree with me. Keep on sending me your comments. So what lies in the future of TALES FROM THE KRYPTONIAN ? Since I´m going to Spain at the end of this week I will finally get to read the SUPERMAN / BATMAN issues by Carlos Pacheco and the following storyarc by Ed McGuiness. So I hope to be writing a bit more about one of my reasons for the name of this blog. More SUPERMAN. And besides that 2007 has started very promising.

With 52 and CIVIL WAR turning out so fantastic the comic landscape has become interesting again. COUNTDOWN and THE INITIATIVE are preparing to pick up the pace and with such great series like GHOST RIDER and THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD it can only get better. Frank Cho is doing MIGHTY AVENGERS, Paul Pelletier has moved on from EXILES to FANTASTIC FOUR ( I should REALLY star reading that book ) and Adam Hughes is working on ALL STAR WONDER WOMAN.

Of course there are also some bad news because some books haven´t come out for six months or more. ULTIMATES 13 has still not come out which may have something to do with the fact that Joe Madureiras and Ed McGuiness are working on season 3 and 4 simultanuously. I just hope that Marvel doesn´t plan to hold off publishing till all three are ready to flood the market. Because I think that readers might lose interest if it takes too long. Other late books are SQUADRON SUPREME ( which may have been canceled and nobody told me ), ALL STAR BATMAN AND ROBIN ( which I guess is good news for some people ) and the gaps between issues of ALL STAR SUPERMAN are getting longer. But let´s focus on the good side. Every month those books don´t come out is a month where I have to spend less money or I can invest in other books. And at the moment it seems to me that there are more good comics out there than you can read in one month.

So I hope that the second year of TALES FROM THE KRYPTONIAN will be better, brighter and much more entertaining than the last. And that it will only be the beginning of many years to come.

Today´s clip is one of the funniest things I found on the internet in a long time.

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    Sunday, April 08, 2007

    The slow death of She Hulk

    I´m a terrible person.

    I know that in my last post I wrote about my goal to be a positive voice in the bloggosphere and to bring joy and enlightment to all comicfans. And here I am writing about the death of the She Hulk comic. Don´t let the title mislead you. She Hulk, the character, is alive and well. She Hulk, the comic, is just inches away from being cancelled and going into the great comic beyond that we comic afficionados call the comic limbo better known as " the dollarbin ". Now the reason I am predicting the demise of this series is that ( as you may recall ) one of my brothers just celebrated his birthday and one of the presents were the two trade paperbacks of She Hulk´s first season. And when I looked through the pages one burning question came to my mind : What the $%&&§& happened ?

    If you look at the trades ( especially the second one ) She Hulk was a comic that had it all. A goog looking female main character, funny and entertaining stories, lots of celebrity guest stars, good art by Juan Bobillo followed by absolutely stunning artwork by Paul Pelletier and a unique idea for a comic series : superhuman law. What was even more this series had the support of the fans and lots of raving reviews from comic critics all over the net. When Marvel cancelled the first series She Hulk had gone to the mountain top. Top writer, top series. But somehow that all chaged when the second series started.

    Now I´m not saying Marvel is torpedoing the comic books of it´s female characters. Because then Marvel would sue me and slap a cease and desist on me.

    So I´m just telling it like it is. Spider - Girl is the best series of the whole spiderfranchise and Marvel tried to cancel the series numerous times which could only be prevented by several grassroot campaigns started by the fans. Ms Marvel wants to " be all she can be " to quote a familiar slogan but the only good thing so far have been the covers by Frank Cho and the two issues by Mike Wieringo. And I´m not even touching the subject of the censored Sheena miniseries. Last but not least....when She Hulk had finally become the fan favorite comic and everybody´s darling the series was cancelled, but on hiatus for half a year and restarted at number one. To " cash in on the hype " like some suspected or to finally destroy the series as others suspected.

    Because a restart with a new number one usually means a change in the creative team - mostly a new superstar artist. But wait. She Hulk already had that - Paul Pelletier. Okay, the fact that Paul Pelletier left the book was good for the comic fans because the time between his last issue of She Hulk and his first issue of EXILES ( which I´m going to start reading any day now ) brought us the GREAT LAKES AVENGERS miniseries but our gain was She Hulk´s loss. Now before I start rambling about the fact that while GREAT LAKES AVENGERS was truly a great series that only fell short of it´s potential because on one side Dan Slott tried too much to copy the Giffen League on the other side he didn´t manage to make the villain ( who once killed Quasar by cutting of his hands and almost brought the whole universe under his control ) scary....ooops. Too late. Let´s keep that for a different post.

    Now back to the She Hulk series. Instead of using the momentum the first series had gathered Marvel opted to start at square one with the relauch.

    Juan Bobillo was ( again ) the artist but that didn´t last too long. In issue 8 Paul Smith was announced as the new regular artist which lasted exactly two issues. Coincidentally issue 8 was the last highlight of the series. Not only was it a CIVIL WAR tie - in issue it had one of the best stories in a long while. But Paul Smith´s tenure on She Hulk was a quick one and he departed to do....I don´t know what. Certainly he is not doing new issues of LEAVE IT TO CHANCE which is a great loss for all comic readers. Now his replacement was Rick Burchett whose art always makes me pick up my tv guide to check out when the She Hulk cartoon is on. Because whenever I look at his art it reminds me so much of the BATMAN ADVENTURES or SUPERMAN ADVENTURES. Now the art on BATMAN ADVENTURES and later franchises to animated series looked that way to convey the feeling of the tv series. I still don´t get why the She Hulk comics look that way. Is there a She Hulk animated series coming and Marvel is preparing it´s reader to prevent them from going into shock ? Was the artist chosen to give the readers the feeling of a lightharted but kind of dealing with serious issues animated series ? Or is this really the best that Marvel can come up with for a female character that was the favorite female Marvel character of most artists not so long ago ? What´s happening here ? Here are some pages to see the new art for yourself

    She Hulk 9 / issue 10 / issue 11 / issue 13 / issue 14 / issue 16

    Another thing is the new direction of the stories into this whole She Hulk as an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. thing which I hope is only temporary. The series is at it´s best when the courtroom is involved. It´s nice that She Hulk finally finds out the ugly face of superhuman registration, which is your government telling you what to do. I just hope the writer will not lose sight of the original idea fotr the series. But since the whole CIVIL WAR mess seems to be long from over who know what kind of cases the law firm will get when we return to that part.

    And since when did She Hulk sleep with anybody she could get ? I have the feeling that Dan Slott has written himself into a corner with this whole " She Hulk bad - Jennifer Walters good " ideology. His argumentation that the gamma rays bring the bad and dangerous aspects of people to the outside just contradicts the whole Hulkhistory. Bruce Banner was always a very emotional person but because of his father he kept his emotions bottled up inside him. So when he transforms into the Hulk he let´s his emotions reign free. And because of the strenght of the emotions he becomes awhat he never was - physically strong. Now Jennifer Walters was always a little bit shy and maybe repressed her sexyness and her adventourous streak. So when she turns into She Hulk her inner beauty and metal strength come out for all to see and she´s sexier and more riskprone. Which according to Dan Slott is a bad thing. If you act true to your inner self and look like the person you really are that´s dangerous and just not right. You should be like others want you and you should behave according to the prejudices other people have. Don´t be yourself - be what others want you to be. Meek, weak and ugly.

    And what´s up with Wolverine in issue 16 ? How did he go from ladies man to monk ? In all of the comics I have read Logan never said no to a woman. He´s the kind of guy who gets licky with the mother, her daughter and the sister and suddenly he says no to She Hulk ? When did he get so picky ? I mean GOOD LOVe from the South Park soundtrack used to be his theme song.

    Another problem is that on one side Dan Slott is commenting about the fact how inflatory death is used in comics today....and on the other side the character of Stu Cicero is killed without so much as the blink of an eye. Okay, Stu Cicero´s only reason for being was to attack the comic reading audience as well as the comic writers ( like the character Monkey Joe in GREAT LAKE AVENGERS which got really annoying......after the second time ) but I still don´t understand why the recorder chose to kill him but to let Ditto live. Why does he chose to tell Ditto his secret but not Stu ? It doesn´t make sense. And it is much more difficult and dangerous than to trust in Stu. At first I also was thrown by the fact that Ditto isn´t even shocked a little by the notice of Stu´s death but we´re talking about a guy who works for lawyers. He doesn´t have exactly high moral standards.

    Oh, by the way it´s just three ways of lame to name a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Cake - Cheese Cake. That´s the kind of punchlines we used to make in elementary school. I really don´t know if I want this series to continue or to just end the agony. When John Byrne left She Hulk Marvel wasted no time to burn the book to the ground and it seems that history is repeating itself. I know it can get boring if I´m always saying the same thing but why do I have to be right time and again ? Why can´t comic companies learn from past mistakes ?

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    Tuesday, April 03, 2007

    Whatever happened to the Super Skrull ?

    Hello, fellow readers of TALES FROM THE KRYPTONIAN. I know that my posts have been coming much more infrequently in the past few months. Having a job...even an underpaid, half - time job really put a dent in my posting schedule. Much more than I anticipated. Add to that the fact that I don´t have as much free access to the internet as I planned....well, we all know what happens to the best laid plans of mice and men.

    When I started this little blog almost one year ago I had pretty lofty plans. After almost three years of posting in a few online comic forums and then writing almost exclusively in one discussion group I was ready to take the next step : start my own blog. And I guess I have to say that I blame DAVE´S LONGBOX for it. Whenever I was at the end of my wisdom and ready to annihilate the whole of humanity because of what comicrelated hysteria was on the internet at that time I turned to Dave´s wonderful blog. And I found peace and calm there because I was reminded what a beautiful world comics can be. So I set out to do the same...or an incredible imitation of it and spread around some comic book loving. Because there are already too much blogs where you only find....I don´t know....only spoilers and player hating. I wanted to write about the good things in comics, warn readers to avoid bad comics and just have a good time.

    Now it´s almost one year later and instead of the over hundred of posts I wanted to write I only managed to write 56. Which still makes more than 52 which means my quota is above one post every week. But it still is not as much as I planned to write. I thought this blog would become sort of my online diary with my daily thoughts about life and comics - not necessarily in that order. But after one year of blogging I´m still not sure if I have found my own voice. You always try to make it individual and distinctive but that´s not as easy as it sounds.

    Be that as it may, what´s past is past so let´s see what we can do about that quota for the next year. Which officially will begin at 11th of April so that this post will not be the big anniversary post. Maybe I can crack the 60 mark till that time. After all this time I still have never managed to write one post in one sitting and true to form I´m writing this post in two seperate sessions. I have a little more free time now since my job at the museum in Kornwestheim ended last month and on one side I´m glad about that. Because it means more free time ( at least I get something like regular sleep intervalls ) to do things like catalog the video cassettes, finally watching the last two or three seasons of CHARMED, DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES or ONE PIECE.....or writing more posts for my blog like this one. And last but not least I have to make the preparations for the SALON DEL COMIC in Barcelona which I will attend this month.

    Yes my friends, after endless years in which my vacation always took place right before or after the comic salon this year I have finally managed it. This year SUBZERO goes to the SALON DEL COMIC. I´m going to Spain for only a few days but I will be at the salon for the whole four days. I won´t have any money but I will be there. Maybe I will even get a sketch from Carlos Pacheco.

    Which reminds me of the downside of not working at the museum : less money. Yes, that extra money ( which in fact was 150 percent of my normal HARTZ IV money ) did really come in handy for several things like buying the birthday present for my brother ( I hope he appreciates it ) and it will be sorely missed in the months to come when I have to reduce my pull list drastically. And I guess that somehow I will also miss my work and the people at the museum. It really makes a difference if there is something meaningfull to do every day or not. And one thing´s for sure : the work at the museum was always different and interesting. With all the insight into the political fights and backstabbing and all the problems involved in leading a museum or preparing an exhibition maybe I should make a comic about it. But before I start to forget the meaning of this blog let´s get to the comic I´m writing about in this post that ( as you can see above ) I call :

    Whatever happened to the Super Skrull ?

    Alan Davis is not a comic superstar. And I´m not writing that to dis the man. I´m one of his greatest fans and whatever he does or did you can probably find it in my comic collection. He has done every comic character or series there is, he´s one of the best writers ( just check out his EXCALIBUR issues ) and one of the best artists ( just check out.....well, almost anything he did ) in the business. He influenced other fact Brian Hitch probably owes him his career but Brian Hitch became a superstar and Alan Davis didn´t. But life is not fair. That´s a fact. There are some people who are superstars and for the life of me I can´t fathom why ( no, that´s not a pun. I think Michael Turner is a very talented guy ) that is. And there are other artists who have it all but who never achieve the status they deserve. Like David Finch before he started on Moon Knight. But that´s not what I want to write about. What I want to write about is FANTASTIC FOUR : THE END, a six issue miniseries written and drawn by Alan Davis and inked by longtime collaborateur Mark Farmer. Who for me has become synomimous with Alan Davis. They have worked on so many projects together and they compliment each other so well that it´s hard for me to imagine any other inker on Alan Davis stuff. Whenever people argue about digital inking that is my number one argument against it. Because you never can get this great mix of two real masters combining their crafts to achieve a work of art that is greater than the sum of their parts.

    Now if you don´t know what THE END means, that is a line or series of miniseries or oneshots detailing the last days of a superhero / or superhero group. Since most comic readers don´t live forever but some comic series do it is probable that comic readers will die before the final issue of their favorite comic comes out. Or the comic might get cancelled before the writers and artists get to tell their great finale. Or the artistic team might change and the end that was planned get´s cancelled and they just write something else. And that is just sad. But then Marvel thought about that : Why not keep the cake and eat it too ? We get the best writers and artists to do their version of the end days of our favorite superheroes and tell them now. We can make them kind of WHAT IF or ELSEWORLD style so we can tell as many as we like and if they don´t fit into continuity we can always ignore them. Which sounds like a moneygrubbing and exploitative idea but which has produced some really excellent reading material like THE HULK : THE END or PUNISHER : THE END. So everybody wins. Like in FANTASTIC FOUR : THE END.

    The first thing I thought when I read the first two issues ( they went to the " save for later " part of my pile ) was : I really like the Fantastic Four. And I know why. Because this series has it all. If there is one thing you just love about the Fantastic Four may it be the outer space adventures, the high tech gadgets and super science, the interesting family dynamics of the Fantastic Four, the endless fights between the Thing and the Human Torch, the many guest stars, the Inhumans, the Negative Zone, Sue Storm ( yummy ), She Hulk ( double yummy ), the Silver Surfer, Black Panther, Super Skrull, etc. doomsday robots and the end of the world / universe this one has it all.

    Without giving too much away just go to Dave´s Longbox for more about the story

    Now the story starts after a tragedy has split the team and most of the members have gotten on with their lives. Ben has found a happy live with Alicia, Johnny Storm does what he always does and Susan has taken up archeology. Like in EXCALIBUR or his GEN 13 bootleg work Alan Davis effortlessly conjurs a world in which a whole generation has passed complete with the next generation of Fantastic Four offspring - this time by Ben Grimm and Alicia Masters. The world has changed very much thanks to Reed´s inventions. And Reed Richards who always was the archetype for the absent minded professor has become so involved in his experiments that he fails to realize that it has been years since he had any kind of contact with the other members. But like in all stories events occur which force the Fantastic Four to come together.

    In this series Alan Davis shows his expertise in writing great stories, drawing breathtaking sequentials and....depicting female booty. I don´t know if it´s just me, the fact that it´s been so long that Alan Davis did a regular series or a combination of both. But there are some really hot women in the series like a female captain Marvel, Crystal, She Hulk and last not least Susan Storm. It doesn´t matter if it´s her skintight underwater suit or the regular unstable molecule costume Alan Davis remind us why Susan Storm is the premiere MILF of the Marvel Universe. And she looks even sexier with her new short " pixie haircut ".

    His Susan Storm really knows how to fill out that skintight scuba diving suit. Massita !

    And not to forget Alan Davis´faible for drawing superhero costumes. I don´t know how he pulls it off but every costume looks good if HE draws it. That´s a fact. You can take the most ugly costume with the most ridiculous design and absolutely garish colors and have Alan Davis draw it. And somehow he turns it all around and makes it shine. It´s a gift.

    Now while this is one of Alan Davis´ best work there is a little problem I have with one scene, well actually two, which as you might have guessed has something to do with the Super Skrull. In all the comics I have read the Super Skrull was one of the most formidable enemies the Fantastic Four had. Posessing not only the combined powers of ALL FOUR members of the Fantastic Four but also the shapeshifting powers of all skrulls PLUS hypnotism it always took all four members of the Fantastic Four ( plus the hired help in some cases ) to defeat him. In this miniseries not only does Mr. Fantastic alone fight him to a standstill, no, later on he let´s himself be carried away to the mines by Annihilus underlings without so much of a fight. The greatest warrior of the skrull empire who can lay waste to entire cities goes like a sheep to the slaughter. That´s not right.

    And to add insult to injury Annihilus gets dispatched in a few panels in a similar way. Now I only can assume that Alan Davis had not enough pages for a prolonged confrontation in both cases and didn´t want to focus the attention of the reader away from the overall story. Nevertheless it would have worked better if he had used some nameless skrull instead of the Super Skrull. Maybe he just wanted to include the Super Skrull in some way. But apart from that this comic is the granddaddy of them all. I´m not sure but looking in the superdetailed artwork it seems that everyone who ever appeared in a Fantastic Four comic can be seen in these pages. Like George Perez you get the impression that Alan Davis is paid by Marvel per superhero or person he draws and he wants to send his children to college. Because some artists who write for themselves would think twice about including too much stuff to draw. Not so our man. Why one alien armada ? Make that two. And let´s include the Imperial Guard. Can´t have the Shiiar without the Imperial Guard, man. And how about giving Johnny Storm a new costume ? And instead of Dr. Strange let´s do a female version. I really thought that Marvel had told Alan Davis that this was his last shot at drawing the Fantastic Four so he better include anybody he wanted to draw. No really.

    One thing I noticed over the past months is that while most comics go for 2 bucks 99 some books have really thin paper and other books have a thicker, heavier and glossier paper. Now I don´t know why that is but FANTASTIC FOUR : THE END has the latter one. Which really brings out the bright colors and adds to the uniqueness of the series. I also want to mention that the first two issue include the pure version of the next issue´s cover without logo and other obstrusions. Sadly only the first two issues. Final verdict : go and get it. This is one of the best FF stories with a cast of hundreds, an intruiging story and apart from the excellent artwork it´s not as depressing as PUNISHER : THE END.

    One last piece of advice for all fans of Alan Davis : if you have the chance go and buy the ROUGH CUT edition of issue one. It´s really worth the four bucks since it not only includes the script for the first issue but also the complete pencils.

  • review issues 1 to 6

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  • It´s better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.

    By the way, I know that CIVIL WAR is over but here in Germany it has just started. And since the aftereffects are only now starting I will go on to post those cool banners. It has now become something with which I can pimp my posts so I will continue for the foreseeable future.