Its not the Meltcast, but beggers can't be choosers!
I was able to track down THE man THE myth THE legend Chris Rosa Rage himself, and in the second week of the Weekly Comic Brew assaulting your auditory senses, I grill Chris about what he's been up to lately (hint, he's rising up and taking no prisoners in the comics world, only this time its for an actual publishing company), we chat about one of the huge books of DC's relaunch that he has an affinity for (yes there may be a 7ft. tall amazon involved) and we also discuss other New 52 books including Animal Man, Swamp Thing, Snyder's Batman, as well as his recently concluded Detective Comics run.
Its not the Meltcast, but beggers can't be choosers!
Decided to switch things up this week and do a quick audio blog about Action Comics #1 and a few knick-knacks. Don't worry, I'll try not to make it a habit, after all, the Meltcast this aint'...
Last week marked the first occasion where I missed a Weekly Comic Brew since its semi-recent inception, and for that I apologize. My excuse for being gone was that I was traveling across the country to see a friend get hitched, and needless to say, it was great time had by all (as you can see below). I also started a new job last week, so I've been staying fairly busy, but I did manage to read comics throughout. So I'll try to make it up by talking about several books I read since our last get-together.
I guess I was feeling like reading about some violent exploits of one skull-chested vigilante because on the plane to the east coast I brought a bunch of Punisher Max trades with me that I hadn't gotten around to reading yet. These consisted entirely of the book post-Garth Ennis and before Jason Aaron took over, in that space that encompassed issues 61-75 roughly.
Basically after Garth left the book, a trio of crime novelists were brought in to each contribute an arc to the story. Gregg Hurwitz wrote the first one called Girls in White Dresses, which I had read a while ago and wasn't a huge fan of even though one of my favorite Punisher artists, Laurence Campbell, did the interiors. I just felt like the storytelling could of been better and clearer overall, and while its not a terrible arc, the fact that it directly followed Ennis did not do the story any favors.
The next arcs were written by Duane Swierczynski (Six Hours to Kill) and Victor Gischler (Welcome to the Bayou). I took both of those on the trip as well as a trade that collected four Punisher Max annuals that were written by various people but all illustrated by the previously mentioned Laurence Campbell.
To keep it short, Six Hours to Kill was a fine enough story, definitely worth a read if you're a Punisher Max fan, and although it doesn't quite measure up to Ennis' run either, not much really does so I think you'll be entertained by a good Punisher story if you give it a chance. Welcome to the Bayou was a much different story, and if Six Hours to Kill was more of a straight up hard-boiled crime story, WTTB was a southern fried horror tale in the vein of the Hills Have Eyes… with Frank Castle. Goran Parlov, a frequent Ennis collaborator on his run provides the art, and this helps give the story a Barracuda vibe throughout (Parlov drew the Barracuda arc and mini during Ennis' run). Overall the story was again fine, but in many ways was fairly clique (because of course all rednecks in the backwoods want to throw bbq's with the "other" white meat as the main course). It was a short, amusing story that moves well though, and again worth reading if you're a fan of the Punisher, or maybe horror stuff like "The Hills Have Eyes" or "The Devil's Rejects."
I would most highly recommend the Laurence Campbell collected one-shots trade, as it provides several entertaining stories that are varied and interesting in what they provide together. Also, it should be said, I'm a sucker for Cambell's art when he does Punisher stories, its exactly how I imagine the character in my mind, the art is heavily shadowed, sparse, moody, and provides exactly the type of atmosphere that captures the world Frank Castle lives in. The collection includes the stories "Naked Kills" (The Punisher goes after a torture porn ring), "Get Castle" (Frank goes overseas to mete out justice on corrupt British army officers), "Butterfly" (A tortured female hitwoman is stalked by the Punisher), and "Annual 2007" (A small time crook runs from the storm that is the Punisher as his crew is decimated around him). I had heard heaps of praise lauded on the "Butterfly" story, but maybe my expectations were too high, I didn't think it was heads and shoulders over the others, in fact they were all pretty uniformly good, I would probably take "Get Castle" as my personal face (its just all kinds of badass to see Frank go up against the British SAS).
Moving on, I originally was just going to talk about the Punisher stories I read, but after reading this gem I had to throw it in as a huge recommendation. The book is of course BOOM! Studios Planet of the Apes, written by Daryl Gregory with art by Carlos Magno. I was really surprised how much I dug this book. I wouldn't call myself a huge Apes fan, I vaguely remember the first movie, but to give you an idea of how much I got excited about the mythos of the Planet of the Apes, after reading these four issues, I promptly bought the entire collection of the original films. On blu-ray none the less. It really is a cool world, and the comic just whetted my appetite for more.
Now, about said comic.
This book takes place hundreds of years before the first film, when humans could still speak and they lived with (but apart) from the Apes in an uneasy peace. A peace that is shattered when the Ape lawgiver is killed by a mysterious human assassin. In the first trade, collecting the first 4 issues, the simmering water reaches full boil by the end and I absolutely cannot wait to read the next collection to see what awaits the two races. Social commentary about our culture and world has always been embedded in the Apes mythos (thankfully not too on the nose, but its there), however, what I really loved about this story was the family and relational aspect. The Apes and humans at this point in the world have practically lived side by side for generations, and that has led to some complex interweaving of relationships, such as the mayor of "Skintown" (the human settlement) and a high ranking Ape having been both raised by the elderly lawgiver who was slain. The tension that erupts from the assassination brings certain relationships to the forefront, and it has the effect of really investing the reader in what is happening, because you understand the characters and their history. Kudos to Daryl Gregory for crafting such a deep, rich world in the span of only a few issues, I really hope he is on the book for the long term.
Carlos Magno's art serves the story well. He provides detailed pencils, and renders both the apes and humans with skill. His action choreography is also top notch. Ditto for hoping he also stays on the book.
If you have even a passing interest in the world of the Apes, or maybe saw the recent movie, do yourself a favor and read this book. And you know what? Even if you haven't ever been interested before, you should try it anyways.
This is just damn dirty good comics.
I know, the above statement pretty much says it all.
I officially popped my digital comic buying cherry today, as I picked up the one comic that DC has hyped to no end - Geoff John's and Jim Lee's JUSTICE LEAGUE #1. If there was going to be a first digital comic that anyone would buy, I suppose this would be it. And 3.99 later, I must say… I'm not disappointed to have spent my money this way.
The future of digital?
First, a bit of background. I do not have an iPad as of yet, which I think to most comics-conscious people is the preferred viewing device. I do have an iPod touch on which I've downloaded a few comics, and of course my trusty 13' Macbook pro. Recently, Comixology, who has pretty much been at the head of the pack when it comes to digital comics development and sales, came out with a web viewing application that lets a user look at their comics in much the same way that they would using the iOs or Android apps. What I didn't realize about the site app until today is that one can jump into a book online, and go into something called "guided view" that allows you to seamlessly jump panel to panel. It zooms in, cuts out to give you a full page spread view, and even will give close ups from one part of a single panel to another part of the same panel, almost as if a director is screening his film before your eyes. The difference is of course that in the guided view mode, you choose when to go to the next panel or viewpoint, and you can jump out to see the whole page and view it in a more traditional way whenever you choose.
Frankly, I love it. I've been pretty hesitant about the "digital comics revolution" or whatever blah blah blah, but I'm slowly being won over. To the point where (referencing last week's Brew) I'm not planning on buying another DC floppy after this - its going to be digital single issues and trades/hardcovers from now on. The few simple reasons are again -
The agony of organization.
1) Space. This week I decided to put away the massive stack of comics I've read in probably the last 6 months. Needless to say, it took forever to separate them into individual titles and then board and box them. In fact, its still not completely done. The worst part too is I have 5 or 6 long boxes of recent Marvel comics I've bought in the last 7 or 8 years, and they're getting full. Like I'm gonna have to get more boxes full. Which is really upsetting, because I don't have the space to store these things, so the prospect of having them in a digital space is really appealing.
Letting life stack up.
2) Price. Comics are expensive. I mean really, bang for you buck, in today's world of 3.99 comics, you're not getting a great price for the amount of time you enjoy a book. I mean, netflix is 7.99 a month and with that you get practically unlimited entertainment, and for 3.99 you get a single issue that is consumed in 10 or 15 minutes on average. That doesn't' mean I don't think the story or art isn't great, but I have a hard time justifying the amount of money I spend on these things. Having said that, online comic retailers will offer steep discounts on physical books, sometimes 40-75%, so you can save money there, but the space issue remains, and most back issues now on Comixology are $1.99. The same date release is full price, but DC announced that after a month, they will drop the price from 2.99 (which is what the majority of their books will retail at) to 1.99. So simply wait a month if you want a better price or get your instant fix. For DC, I'm gonna wait a month, and plan not to spend over 2 bucks on a book. As I said before, Marvel is going to be a harder habit to break, but I have a feeling they'll follow suit with getting more of their books online and if DC's pricing structure works, I can't see why they wouldn't adopt a similar system.
Now that I'm done rambling about why I like things about digital comics, for those of you that haven't read it, you may be wondering… How was the first issue of Justice League?
Well, as near as I can tell, the Flashpoint event that just ended supposedly changed things about the DC universe, such as reverse aging characters, erasing pesky bits of continuity, but keeping things that "worked" (which seem to mostly only include not messing too much with Geoff John's Green Lantern run and Morrison's Batman run). I think that they may tell some stories right now that go into a recent past in this universe, such as when heroes first meet up in Justice League, or the early years of Superman (which apparently will be covered in Action Comics by Grant Morrison).
Justice League #1 starts with a bang in Gotham City, with police trailing the mysterious "Batman," a costumed vigilante, who like many others have been popping up recently. Batman almost literally runs into Green Lantern, who tells him that he's policing this sector and picked up mysterious extraterrestrial activity in the city. This leads both of them to going to Metropolis to investigate… well you can probably figure out who they meet up with.
The art was gorgeous and the story felt fresh… this is a world where heroes aren't known and beloved by the public. As GL says in the issue "the world is afraid of us" to which Batman replies "It's necessary." It gives the proceedings an edge, and while it feels somewhat familiar (after all, the essence of these characters has not really changed) it was enjoyable for a reader who has read a few DC books in the past, and to a new reader I think this would be pretty cool. All around I think as a first issue it was a success, now I just hope the books can come out on time and the storytelling doesn't get stale or fall into tired cliques - this is a brave new world of possibilities, lets see these creators lets their imaginations go nuts and give everyone stories we haven't seen before.
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.