Below you can check out a short film from Director Joe Miale. I got to work with Joe when I first moved to LA on this music video, and later got to help him out with the production of this short promo piece. It was the first time I had ever been on set with a lot of green screen, but this was the result, and I think its the business, check it out!
I wanted to go in a little bit different direction this week, for several reasons:
1)I haven't read anything I felt strongly about (I'm through 3 issues, and Fear Itself is not doing it for me, sorry)
2) A realization hit me when I was filling out my October pre-order form, read on if you dare...
The day has come.
I read too many comics.
I know this now.
A decision has been made.
Now comes the reckoning.
The great comics purge of 2011 hath commenced.
This is not my bookshelf. But it could be.
The above statement may be shocking to some of you reading this. You're thinking, "the guy who used to do a podcast devoted to comics is pulling up stakes on the medium? He's walking away and not looking back? How could this happen, has yours truly, truly lost his ever-loving mind?"
Well, the last part's debatable, but no, I'm not walking away from comics. Just taking a little step sideways to avoid getting crushed by the ever-present, oncoming train that is monthly comics. This is a decision that was made both with heavy heart, but lightly at the same time (huh?). The heavy heart part comes from knowing in the back of my mind, and yes, heart, that I was gonna have to slow down sooner or later on monthly issues of comics. The light part of the decision comes from the fact that I looked at my comics pre-order form (yes, I am that hardcore, and yes, you should have known this already), and realized that in the face of an impending job loss (which I knew was coming and had time to prepare for, no worries) and the fact that literally half of the free space currently on my bedroom floor is taken up with comics, a lot of them unread, made me realize that it was high time to step away, catch up, and recharge.
I have a ton of comics that I buy month in and month out. In any given month, I probably only get to reading roughly half of them. This has been going on for the last couple of years, and while its awesome to get a bunch of comics, its not so awesome to not being able to get around to reading a lot of them. It just comes down to the simple fact that I like to do too many other things, and while my comics reading is one of my favorite things to do, I'm not wired in a way that I can sit down and read 30 comics in one sitting (Mr. Rosa, I applaud you).
At my peak (which sadly due to the way the big two publishers pile on the books month in and month out, has plateaued into "normal") I probably get on average about 50 issues and trades in any given month. The problem is, when you pre-order like I do, going through the order form, its just way to easy to go, "hmm, that book looks good, let me try it out." The problem is, I have the collector mindset engrained in me, and so what ends up happening is when I'm adding a new series, I'm not replacing something else, but just adding on because I don't want to drop something and not have the "complete run," which is a mindset I admit is patently ridiculous.
So today I'm making a stand, and adopting a new mindset.
And that mindset is, I am going to (as much as possible) move away from single issues, and go to a mix of trades and digital. I had already moved over to trades for a significant portion of my reading, but Marvel and DC were the holdouts, and to a degree, in Marvel's case, still is. I'll admit, I'm pretty much a Marvel reader for most of the stuff out of the big two, and there are some series that I've been reading for years, and I will continue picking up in single paper issues probably as long as they come out in paper issues (Spidey and Fantastic Four, I'm looking at you). Others I can't bear to drop in singles yet are the (now greatly-lessened) Marvel Cosmic line, Avengers, Thunderbolts, and yes, Daredevil (but you already knew that).
Scott Snyder writes a kick-ass Batman.
With DC, I saw the relaunch as an opportunity to jump off, and I did in a big way with the superhero titles. The only cape left standing was Batman, and just because I was in love with what Snyder was doing in the pages of Detective. The "Dark" branded books were intriguing to me and so I ordered the first issues of Animal Man, Swamp Thing, Frankenstein, Demon Knights, and I-Vampire (oh and Nightwing and Deathstroke, but thats because my buddy writes those and I really enjoy his writing in general). This month the #2 books were available for pre-order, and it hit me -
- if there ever was a time to jump on the digital train, this was it.
The publishers have seemed to go this route in mass lately. DC has obviously taken their entire line day-and-date digital, and most of the smaller publishers like Image and Boom are doing the same. Marvel, for all their posturing when DC announced the big move, has now taken the entire Ultimate line day and date, and are following with the Spider-Man and X-Men lines, respectively. I think its only a matter of time before everything is there.
I don't know what its been in the last few days, but for some reason, the idea of reading these things on an iPad or iPad-like device is really starting to appeal to me, moreso than it ever has in the past.
I've actually been reading some comics on my 13' Macbook pro (Comixology released a pc reader that makes it pretty effortless to read directly from the website) and its starting to grow on me. Whats even more appealing though is not having a ever-growing closet of long boxes. I love the great runs of single issues I have, but I'd really love to get them custom bound and eventually just not have a hoard of bagged and boarded comics that are hidden away, but have them sitting on a shelf where they're easily accessible. I like being able to go to my bookshelf and grab and read something, and not have to go digging through comics boxes. If/when I eventually get an iPad (a prospect that is becoming ever more appealing), I think being able to try issues digitally will be convenient and practical - they'll all live on a device only the size of several comics total.
I know I'm not exactly breaking ground here, but in my mind, its settling into place. For better or worse, I'm gonna try this…
You understand, right?
New Mutants #25
Written by: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Art by: Leandro Fernandez
Ahh the X-Men…
I have a scattered relationship with Marvel's Merry Mutants. For one, I never really read X-books consistently growing up, I would be able to pick up a random issue of Uncanny here, Wolverine there, but never on a regular basis until about 5 or 6 years ago when I started reading Mike Carey's X-Men and Ed Brubaker's Uncanny (for those who remember, those were the new creative teams at issues #188 of X-Men and #475 of Uncanny). These two books provided nice gateways into the world of the X-Men on a monthly basis, and I read each title for several years afterwards.
However, New Mutants was a title that I knew was fondly loved by X-Fanatics (just ask Sam Humphries, Hammer will tell you all about that), but I never remember reading even one issue of the title growing up. When I finally had access to a comic shop (a story for another day), Craig Kyle and Chris Yost were writing about young mutants in the pages of New X-Men, but I can't remember a New Mutants book on the stands when I was going to a shop until the book relaunched several years ago with Zeb Wells on writing duties.
I must admit, I really have no history with most of the roster of the New Mutants, they were always just the second string "young team" to me (although for some reason Sam Guthrie is one of my favorite X-Men, love that character, maybe its his southernness…). However, when I heard one of my favorite writing teams was taking over the book, I figured if there was ever a time to try the book, this was it.
Abnett and Lanning will have eternal love and affection from me for their work in the cosmic side of the Marvel universe, and really everything they've touched lately has been pretty awesome, including recently the excellent Heroes for Hire book. So if there was one team that could convince me to check out a corner of the X-Pantheon that I had never done before, they were it.
Issue #25 marks the debut issue for the team, with the capable Leandro Fernandez on art (his Punisher Max stuff with Garth Ennis was great), and we get the train rolling. In the issue the team is coming off a world ending-level event that I won't spoil, and DnA are left to deal with the fallout from this and how it affects the team.
If you thought this means "standing around moping about what happened" you'd be wrong, as we are thrust right into action from the opening salvo as Wolverine leads a remnant of the team against an army of Nimrod tech that has taken over an auto plant. In this scene we see what a capable leader Dani Moonstone is, and later this transitions to Cyclops basically giving her leadership of the team to undertake a unique set of missions. These "unique missions" are interesting in a way that could make a non X-junkie's head explode, because the missions involve taking care of the X-Men's "unfinished business." With this mandate, this could be a literal never-ending series of missions, considering the years and thousands of X-Men stories they could draw from.
Knowing its Abnett and Lanning, I know whatever directions they take it will be entertaining, they do such a great job of balancing action with humor, and emotion with a lightness that just makes their stuff a joy to read. I won't spoil what the first mission the team is sent on, but it involves X-Man (aka Nate Grey), a character I hardly know anything about, so it will be nice to see what they do with him in the context of this team.
Also, for those of you who are reading the book are probably shaking your fist at me, because although its issue 25 I'm discussing, the book has reached its 29th issue I believe. Sorry, I'm just that behind. But, for those who may want to try it out and live in the LA area, check Meltdown Comics, they had a fair sized stack of issue 25 when I was there last.
Here's a little video I finally completed, it was shot a few weeks ago at the Major League Gaming convention in Anaheim, CA. My little brother happens to be extremely good at a game called Starcraft 2, a real-time strategy game put out by Blizzard, and he was playing it competitively at the convention, along with Halo: Reach and Call of Duty: Black Ops. It was a really fun, exhausting experience (the first day we stayed up watching him play till 2am in the morning) and here is the video chronicling our experience, enjoy.
Music: In Flames - Sounds of a Playground Fading
What a crazy week.
On the week that sees me hitting my fourth (yes, four years, don't know how thats possible already) anniversary of being out here in LA, I got called by the job to fill in during the day. Thats fine, I'm ok with working days but after a long stint of working on a show in the PM, I'm just used to the routine the way it is, and when it unexpectedly changes, its crazy how your life seems to change with it. First off, who knew that after consistently working out 3-4 times a week for probably the last 4 months, that this week I would somehow lose all motivation to exercise, and only manage one day (which was monday btw, after that the downward slide occurred).
If tired and out of sync could describe the first part of the week, lazy and unmotivated definitely described the latter part. I had hoped to have a Pro Gaming convention video done early this week since I couldn't finish it last weekend, but now it looks like I'll have to finish this weekend, which is sad that a 5 min. video will take this long. There really is no defense for this, but after sitting in front of an avid all day this week and actually having to WORK, I just could not bring myself to do the same thing after getting home every night.
So after toiling through a week of mediocrity that I feel was at least partially brought on by a pretty big shift in my life made me think of a comic I read this week that was dealing with a pretty big shift of its own. However, the results of this first issue could be called anything but mediocre…
"…it has been a miserable last few years. And every time I thought I hit bottom, God somehow found a bigger shovel."
- Matt Murdoch
Well, Mr. Murdoch may have indeed had a rough few years of late, but as Hornhead readers, we've been subjugated to a brutal last year on the title. As much as I've despised Andy Diggle's run on the book, if I'm being honest, the first several issues weren't exactly great, but they weren't all that bad either (and the gorgeous Roberto De La Torre art helped). Diggle was left with a great premise by departing writer Ed Brubaker - Pushed to the edge by numerous enemies and feeling his city was sinking into a crime-ridden cesspool, Matt took control of the Hand ninja clan, in order to proactively rid Hell's Kitchen of crime once and for all.
Thats an great setup in my opinion, I think just as strong (albeit in a different way) as the one Brubaker himself was left with by outgoing writer Brian Bendis (which of course saw Matt on his way to Riker's Island prison facility, and probably my favorite ever story arc of Daredevil ever).
However, jumping ahead, after Matt took control of the Hand he further distanced himself from his circle of friends and allies, leading them all to think that he was dealing with a rapid deterioration of his grip on sanity. That guess turned out to not be far off, but in the end a more nefarious reason was uncovered (which I called- and yes, I know, I'm gloating in this case, but I was wrong with the I-think-Ult.-Spider-Man-is-being-replaced-by-Jessica-Drew so no, I don't think I'm always right, I just was in this case - oh and its on record here).
I really don't want to talk about the details of the later part of his run which morphed into Shadowland, but I actually do think in this instance it was a case of editorial fiddling which contributed to the overall ineptitude of the story. However, Diggle cannot be excused for his part, which included painful dialogue, lackluster action, and shoddy character work.
But that that was the bad.
This isn't about that.
This is about starting over, taking a deep breath, and (excuse the pun) seeing the world through new eyes.
And no, I am not talking about Daredevil Reborn, which was so bland and uninspired that it was the equivalent of sitting in a room with nothing but white walls, eating plain yogurt, listening to an entire album by Hilary Duff.
This is Matt coming home, and putting the past behind him. He's not looking ahead or behind him anymore, just staying in the moment and using that as his therapy. He even tells Foggy in the issue that this is how he's getting through things and if he dwells on the past any more, he'll literally go crazy (again).
I have to say, I'm much more in the camp of liking DD as a dark brooding noir-ish character, his world full of shadows and pain, than in the "swashbuckling" aspect of the character, but that was before Matt was brought so low that it was practically impossible to push him down any more. The weight was just too much. It simply had to be lifted with the right creative team, and I am ecstatic to say that based on the first issue, it looks like this is just the team to do it.
Waid, Rivera, and Martin bring a freshness to this character that has been absent for years, and Waid skillfully reminds us the other aspects of Matt Murdoch that was been underplayed or simply ignored for seemingly forever. For one, Matt has always had an adventurous nature, and the reader is reminded here why he has the moniker "Man Without Fear" (I think kissing the bride of a mafia bigshot less than 5 feet away from said bigshot qualifies as this). Also, his heightened senses are given full stage here, which previous writers tended to treat like "vision substitutes" but by reading this issue we again realize that Matt Murdoch hears, tastes, feels, smells, and in a way, sees the world in a completely different way, which is part of the characters uniqueness and appeal.
Since I'm going long I won't go crazy into the art, but just trust me - it is a sight to behold. Rivera and Martin are quite different but share a sort of "spiritual similarity" that makes them a perfect duo to trade stories on. I was in love with their art in Spider-Man, but DD is my favorite Marvel character, and just take my word for it - you must see what these artists are doing on this book - its incredible.
And that is what Waid and Co. have brought back to this book in one issue, an incredible sense of wonder, coupled with a brash impulsiveness and carefree attitude - its who Matt Murdoch is, and they're hooked me for as long as they stick around to tell stories. I'll be ready in time to see Matt get a little dirty again, but I'm more than happy to see him enjoy life a little.
Its about time. And you know what? I think I needed this as much as he did.
Heroes for Hire #6
Time has been precious this week, and I'm working on other stuff that I'll hopefully have out in the next few days, so I'll get a quick hit review out today to cover the "weekly" part of the Weekly Comic Brew.
In my continued effort to plow through the ginormous pile of single issues I have, I read several books last night and today before work. I almost wrote about Scalped #50 (I read it and #49, the only time in recorded history that I've let two issues of Scalped pile up on me- yes, its that busy), but in the end I feel like I would be saying more of the same (its not like the quality has dipped or anything) and so I decided to go in a slightly different direction and talk about a book that inhabits a small, dimly lit corner of the Marvel U, in an effort to hopefully shine some more light on it.
Heroes for Hire sees the always excellent team of DnA tackle yet another segment of the Marvel universe, this time covering the mean streets of New York, and utilizes a small cast of main recurring characters, with a much larger cast of rotating characters thrown in every issue or two. These are mostly heroes that are generally considered "B list", like Iron Fist, Punisher, Moon Knight and others (I say generally, I think in the right hands these are very cool characters that are A list in anyone's book, and thankfully thats the case here). However, with the above heroes so far in the series being purely glorified guest stars, DnA interestingly chose to make Misty Knight (this is a Heroes for Hire book after all) and the under-appreciated Paladin (who I think I remember last from Andy Diggle's Thunderbolts run?) the two main characters. These two rank even lower on the hero pantheon (with Paladin himself admitting in issue #6 or 7 that he's probably only C list at best), and yet Abnett and Lanning are able to give them a fun and engrossing story in which the reader probably becomes more invested in these characters than anytime in recent memory.
Paladin shows Danny Rand whats up.
This is a very different book than DnA's cosmic work, and truthfully, it has to be. The heroes here are mostly all solo-type vigilantes who (despite a few being on various Avengers teams) would prefer to work alone and in the shadows instead of out in the open, but they cleverly construct a plausible situation in which they can bring in all sorts of different heroes in and out. It gives the book a great I-Don't-Know-Who-I-Might-See-Next vibe, and the characterization for all the characters, even the ones who only see briefly, is spot on (but since this is DnA, that is par for the course as usual). In fact, there is one scene in issue 3 where Moon Knight is dispatched on a mission and disobeys a command in a very cool moment that speaks to the essence of the character in my opinion, and is just one example of the writers' knowing how to write and use these characters.
I haven't talked much about issue #6 yet, but its a veritable showcase for artist Brad Walker, who has been the main artist for most of the series except for the occasional fill-in. DnA aficionados may remember he penciled the one-shot opening issue for DnA's last big cosmic event, called The Thanos Imperative: Ignition, which was great work, and that continues here. I think he is one of the better superhero artists in recent memory, he has a knack for drawing figures and costumes well, and can handle an action scene like nobody's business.
Anyways, issue #6 sees yet another guest hero stepping in, and this one's definitely A list. Spider-Man appears in a hilarious sequence to back up Paladin, who is the only "hero" that is willing to undertake field missions after the events of the first arc (no spoilers here, but it was a great suspense-filled story with many twists and turns that must be read, and the aftermath plays out here). DnA's handle on Spidey has me salivating for them to take over Amazing if Slott ever leaves the book, but I'll take what I can here, and issue #6 starts a great mini arc with Spidey heavily involved.
I know budgets are tight, and most hardcore Marvel Zombies that are strapped for cash will probably overlook this book in favor of one of the myriad of X or Avengers titles, but I would challenge thee - check this book out, its unlike anything else out there, has fantastic art, is written by two of the best in comics, and you are guaranteed to have a fun time with characters that are oft underutilized in today's Marvel U.
Seriously. Read this book. Or Misty will send somebody after 'ya.
Aaron Brewer is an aspiring filmmaker, musician and writer living in Los Angeles. There are many irons in the fire, and hopefully one day he'll be able to complete all the ideas he has floating around in his brain stew.