ratcreature: First fandom: RatCreature as Donald Duck (first fandom)
[personal profile] astridv gave me the prompt "First online fandom, and first fandom overall (in case those are different replies.)"

(BTW, if you want to ask me a question or prompt me for the January Talking Meme, you can comment here. Most dates are still open.)

I have always been a fan. I've been collecting comics even before I could properly read, and I can't remember a time before I self-identified as a fan. And I don't mean that I did fannish things and had fannish feelings while not aware of fandom, but I always knew that there were other fans like me.

My biggest early comic love were definitely Disney comics, in particular the Duckburgh ones, but I've always read and collected other comics too, like Yps, and a bit later I started reading Spirou and Tintin and all kinds of Franco-belgian ones, which my sister collected too, so once I was old enough not to destroy her stuff, I was allowed to borrow those, and of course I read comics from the library too. Though I soon bought my own copies, even if I had read them elsewhere, because collecting comics as physical objects has always been something I loved.

So well before I found internet fandom I was in offline comic fandom. I regularly went to comic stores and collector meetings, attended comic cons, bought zines, read books about drawing comics and comic history, went to open university lectures about comics, and drew comics and cartoons myself. I still have the comics I did in fifth grade. They aren't very good of course, but I was never a "drawer production" person, so I was showing these to my friends. Unfortunately even then I had trouble coming up with interesting stories. Worldbuilding I could do, but not plot. The results were best when I could collaborate with someone, so I did comics together with my older sister and with classmates, but it was hard to find someone wanting to write comics, have it be the kind of comics I'd want to draw and also have them happy with my drawings. I even met with other local teenage comic fans in a comic drawing workshop, but the others there were also into the art mostly, so that wasn't for collaboration. Also quite hilarious in retrospect, this comic drawing group for teenagers was actually some sort of thinly disguised city social work for drug and gang prevention, I think. Only at the time I didn't realize that I probably wasn't the target audience.

I mean, I was of course in the sense that I was a teenager and wanted to become better at drawing comics, and I had seen this offer advertised at the central public library, and went because it was a free comic drawing group. However, the group leaders were an artist together with some sort of youth social worker, and we always met in these youth centers in slightly dodgy places, first some mildly dilapidated building near the central station, then in some sort of anti-drug youth project thing, where I (as sheltered comfortably middle class girl) would have never gone otherwise. I was somewhat out of place, one of the few girls and among the youngest too, but it was quite fun, I learned a lot, and we did a fanzine together and had an exhibition at a local comic con (though I'm still disgruntled that I never got my original art back from that).

That was the only comic fanzine I've had my comics published in, though I also had my comics as serial in our school paper, and did some cartoons for that too.

The first times I ever used the internet were also because of comic fandom. I think it was in 1993 or 1994. My older sister had access through the university, and had told me about this, and I wanted to find what fan resources there were. So I visited her, and browsed newsgroups and FTP sites with FAQs about comics, using Lynx and Mosaic and Gopher for searching, and then printed the pages for reading at home. I still have a folder around somewhere with a stack of these printouts, I think.

But accessing the internet that way is rather inconvenient, so I didn't get to participate in online fandom yet. When my brother got a Compuserve account, I also visited him to use that, and I tried joining a due South mailing list, but the list traffic flooded his mailbox capacity, and it turned out to be totally impossible. But as you can see I was kind of trying to join online fandom before I was online, so as soon as I had personal internet access, even if it was dialup and cost me per minute, I was in online fandom. That was late 1997, iirc, and by then there were already many web sites and lists and lots of infrastructure besides newsgroups.

My first real online fandom was The Sentinel. As usual episodes aired here were much behind the schedule in the US and initially I just wanted to find an episode guide to see whether it was continued in the US, and I found Nightowl's Nest, and found much more than just an episode guide. I read my first fanfic then, and promptly wrote a squeeful email to the author how awesome it was to have found fanfic and their story (it was probably odd, I never heard anything back, and unfortunately a hard disk calamity destroyed my carefully hoarded early emails, so I can't reread it now with hindsight to check how it comes across). But as you can see I wasn't shy, and not even everything being in English could deter me (it certainly increased my English language practice a lot).

So soon after I joined my first mailing list (Senfic), didn't bother much with lurking there either, but started to participate in discussions. Of course I was reading lots of fanfic once I had found it, only gen at first, mostly because I was confused by all the slash warnings, assuming they were for violence (as in "slasher movies") rather than sexual content, though I couldn't quite put together why TS of all things would inspire so much gore, but that didn't misunderstanding didn't last long.

As far as online participation goes I was almost a monofan for my first years in online fandom, though I did read X-Files and Star Wars and some other fandoms too. I wasn't drawing fanart, because it never really occurred to me that I could. It wasn't a very fanart friendly environment. Part of it was technical, with it being on mailing lists and bandwidth issues on archives, but the bigger part was that there was little diversity in styles, and it didn't seem like fanart was welcome. What little fanart there was, were mostly just collage type photomanips (often not very good ones either, so I didn't like what I saw of that art form) and the few illustrations were all aiming for a very photo-realist style, which is not anything close to what I draw like. I know now that even at the time there had been other fanart styles around for tv fandoms, but I didn't know that then. Very few artists showed anything online, and zines were expensive, so I only ever ordered a couple, and even those often did not have any illustrations at all.

Anyway, I thought to be accepted as fanart in live action fandoms art had to try for photorealism. So at that time I didn't even realize that anyone might be interested in the kind of fanart I could do.

For full disclosure of my firsts in fandom, eventually there was a Sentinel fanfic for which I couldn't resist drawing an illustration, but the result was really quite bad. I was too embarrassed to attach my internet identity to that, and incidentally was also for a story I did not want to admit to have liked under my regular pseud either. These days I'm much less embarrassed about my kinks. Of course like I said above, drawer works are not my thing, so I actually posted my first piece of fanart as a sockpuppet (in a way similar to daring to post in anon kink memes first these days). The author didn't react at all though to getting my illustration for her story, so that rather confirmed my impression that fanart wasn't wanted.

Sentinel fandom quieting down coincided with the shift towards LJ, and I became more actively multi-fannish there, and I got drawn into DC fandom (against all my expectations, I never thought I'd like superhero comics in my first decades of comic fandom). Unlike the live action fandoms I was in, it seemed less daunting to draw comic characters than to have to try for a realist style, and there was more encouragement for it too, and with LJ it was easier to post pictures. So I posted my first proper fanart only after being in online fandom for over five years already.
ratcreature: Like a spork between the eyes. (spork)
So, I couldn't resist giving the new Animal Man series a chance, because I love the character, and the story may have potential, or at least the opening doesn't seem worse than average, but yikes, that art is seriously bad. (I preordered just based on series title, if I had seen page samples I might not have spent money on this.)

It completely lacks details and textures in the background that would create atmosphere, or even just normal looking rooms and environments. Seriously, it's like empty squares, boxes and tiles, and the artist couldn't be bothered to put in any effort, but not in a deliberate minimalist way, but just because they couldn't think to put something else on a nightstand besides a square clock, or give texture to a windowsill that would make a square look like an actual window and so on. (ETA: I don't necessarily expect excessive detail rendering, considering that there time/effort constraints on a comic production schedule, but there are ways to make panels *look* decent and alive through blacks and dynamic lines and hinting at detail and texture, just look at for example Ditko's art in old Spider-Man comics.)

Then the layout is atrocious with panels being given odd shapes for no good reason, same for some perspective choices. And the artist can't really draw humans well either. All their hair just looks odd, and okay, hair is difficult, but they get paid for this after all. Then there are sometimes odd scribbles on the faces, like in one scene taking place at a hospital I thought Animal Man contracted a weird infectious disease and those were skin sores, but he didn't. I have no idea what that texture on his face was supposed to be.

I honestly have trouble believing that they paid someone for this.
ratcreature: RatCreature as Daredevil (daredevil)
quick, and not all that spoilery opinion, just cut to be safe )

Unrelated, I just have to gripe about the weather a bit. Admittedly it is far, far better than a heat wave, because even moderate heat will make me truly miserable, but I would not mind if the highs weren't quite *this* low. Seriously, 14°C with rain? Couldn't it be a sunny 22°C? *grump*
ratcreature: RatCreature is buried in comics, with the text: There's no such thing as too many comics.  (comics)
On the bright side, I'm happy that there is going to be a new Animal Man series. I'll probably give that a try. I also might check out Morrison's Action Comics, because I enjoyed his All-Star Superman.

I haven't really kept up with the recent developments in the Batverse, and the September solicitations don't really entice me to get back to it. For some of these setups I just don't have nearly enough trust in the DC writers, for example that Batwing series by Winick is a disaster waiting to happen, IMHO. I mean, as bad as it is to have whole continents ignored except for occasional fantasy country escapades, it's even less likely to turn out well when they put one Bat character on covering all of Africa, with a headquarter in the Democratic Republic of Congo with excursions into RL issues. I mean, it seems like jumping in at the deep end when it comes to diversifying their universe, mixed with some tokenism.

Perhaps I give Nightwing series a try for old time's sake, because that was really the first DC comic I bought regularly and Dick is still one of my favorite characters. Though I'm slightly disgruntled that they made the new costume black/red instead of black/blue. I guess it could have been worse, looking as what they did to Tim. Seriously, those feathers on Tim's costume have to be the most ridiculous I've seen since Dick's disco era costume.
ratcreature: RatCreature as Daredevil (daredevil)
I post about Daredevil so rarely because I tend to wait for a couple of storylines to accumulate before reading, even though I collect the monthly issues.

Now I've read DD #107-110: cruel & unusual, #111-115: Lady Bullseye, #116-120 (500): Return of the King )
ratcreature: Tech-Voodoo: RatCreature waves a dead chicken over a computer. (voodoo)
That Scott McCloud drew the promotional comic for the upcoming Google Chrome Browser made me actually curious enough to read forty comic pages explaining why Google's browser is going to be better than the others. Unfortunately the comic doesn't say anywhere whether there'll be a Linux version any time soon.

The browser does sound neat (as it well should in its own PR material), and if it would really make bloated javascript applications run faster as they promise, I'd try it if only to see whether maybe there'll finally be a browser that might make the delicious tag bundle interface usable for me.

After I looked around some in the news covering the Google browser, I found that apparently Mac and Linux versions are planned, but I didn't see anything specific. :( However if you use Windows you will be able to download a beta version soon.
ratcreature: RatCreature as Superman (superman)
I was perusing DC's June solictations, trying to decide whether I should get Trinity or not -- on one hand I quite like Busiek, and also like stories featuring Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman, otoh it's another weekly title from DC, so that's a lot of additional comics to buy -- when I got stuck on how Superman's hair looks on that cover: As if he was channeling Wolverine (well, minus the cool claws, but still).
ratcreature: Procrastination is a Lifestyle. RatCreature in a hammock doing nothing. (procrastination)
It's been a while since I've made icons for others to grab, but I just spent some time catching up with the webcomic Two Lumps: The Adventures of Ebenezer and Snooch by J. Grant and Mel Hynes, and thought while reading that some of the images would make good icons. Also, if you're like me and somehow missed this webcomic, you should check it out.

Just comment if you take one (or more), say if you're willing to share, otherwise the icon belongs to the first person to claim it, and of course you can modify them any way you want.

Some examples:
artwork from Two Lumps by J. Grant and Mel Hynes artwork from Two Lumps by J. Grant and Mel Hynes artwork from Two Lumps by J. Grant and Mel Hynes

all icons behind the cut )

To keep the comments by people taking them in once place despite x-posting to two journals, I've disabled comments in the IJ post and enabled anonymous/Open ID comments for the LJ post. Sorry for the added inconvenience for people only or primarily using IJ, but more people are reading my journal on LJ.
ratcreature: RatCreature as a (science) geek. (geek)
No meta, but I know I'm not the only one whom it has been driving nuts trying to figure out what Sheppard is reading in this episode, and I finally managed.

a couple of high resolution screencaps )
ratcreature: RatCreature as Batman (batman)
So, I still haven't progressed into following the current DC main continuity, but I've read the first eight issues of Batman Confidential. The art is kind of mediocre -- both art teams actually, they switched teams when the new storyline started in issue #7 -- but not really bad. I think mostly it bothers me that it looks, um, squirrelly? Somehow there isn't really a clean line, or maybe it's that the shadows aren't really mood setting, I just rarely like that kind of style in comics but favor either a "cleaner" look or something that has a really distinct style otherwise.

Like many other Batman (mini-)series not tying directly into the current timeline it is also set in the ever more crowded early days of Batman's career, before he was joined by a Robin, so it is just him, Alfred and Gordon. I don't really have a problem with that, at least not as long as Ican turn off the obsessive inner comic geek who wants to figure out how all this could possibly fit. It's not as if I don't know that comic timelines are kind of hopeless, but obviously that never stops a fan from wanting to try...

Anyway, the first story, Rules of Engagement, in issues #1-6 (written by Andy Diggle, pencils by Whilce Portacio, inks by Richard Friend), deals with Bruce/Batman, as well as Wayne Enterprises, facing off against Luthor and his company. The story is fairly action heavy, but the action is rather fun not pointless, like this weird endless snowmobile chase I lamented about in the R'as Al Ghul Year One. The main thing I don't get is how Superman could not make an appearance in this scenario, and without any mention or explanation too. Still, other than that I enjoyed it, and I kind of like stories with Wayne Enterprises and Bruce and Lucius Fox working together in particular. Actually if it was for me Lucius could have had a bigger part. And well, there are battle robots, which counts as a plus for me. (What? I like Batman fighting robots...)

The current story, Lovers & Madmen (written by Michel Green, pencils by Denys Cowen, inks by John Floyd), is apparently another Joker origin, though so far he isn't the Joker yet. On principle I'm kind of wary of such Joker stories, but so far it is decent. The scenes with Bruce and Alfred are a lot of fun, and I like the crime spree plot okay so far. I'm a bit dubious about the girlfriend plot, though. I didn't like the "mental healing through sex" vibes I got -- you know, Bruce feeling "at peace" after he sleeps with her described in ways that imply more than that getting laid is good against insomnia. And it looks like she's going to be the damsel in distress next issue, and I half expect her to end up dead for his angst. Also, these "the blight of drugs in Gotham" plots always are somewhat cringe-worthy. Still, so far the fun bits outweigh the rest.

I've also read the first five issues of Superman Confidential, an obvious choice since I'm a Tim Sale fan, but I figure I wait talking about these until the first story ends in the next issue.
ratcreature: What? Who? When? Yes, I have been living under a rock... (under a rock)
Somehow this month I have a hard time deciding which new (mini-)series are worth giving a try. I probably should wait until this stuff is actually published when in doubt, so that I can take a look at the comic or maybe read reviews, but my store doesn't always order a huge surplus number of all these series.

In particular I'm wondering what you think about the Outsiders relaunch as Batman and the Outsiders (written by Tony Bedard), the Gotham Underground mini-series (written by Frank Tieri), and that Simon Dark series by Steve Niles and Scott Hampton.

I'm also waffling about getting this Crime Bible: The Five Lessons of Blood mini-series by Greg Rucka. I mean, I like his writing more often than not, but the blurb kind of confuses me on what this is about, maybe because I'm still lagging so far behind with the current DC events?

Any opinions on these? Predictions or tea leave readings on their likely readability? Any other thoughts on DC's October solicitations? Like, what is it with this bazillion of Countdown tie-in mini-series, anyway?
ratcreature: Procrastination is a Lifestyle. RatCreature in a hammock doing nothing. (procrastination)
Well, since I won't get my copy of DH until tomorrow morning, and it's not like I could randomly surf to pass time lest I ruin my unspoilt state this late, I've been reading another comic:

Shazam! The Monster Society of Evil #1-4 (written and drawn by Jeff Smith)

This is the first Captain Marvel comic I've read. I've come across the character a couple of times in ensemble stories (like in the Justice limited series), but in general I'm not that much into the magic DC characters. However I really like Jeff Smith's work (in case you couldn't tell from my pseud *g*), so I got the series because of that.

Since I had no clue about the character beyond that he says "Shazam!" and then transforms, it was fortunate that this mini-series retells the origin story (or maybe retcons it? I've no idea whether this is in continuity or not). So I can't tell how this story would come across for long time fans of the character, but I found it was quite a lot of fun, in an entertaining, angst-free adventure story way.

I mean, it's not heavy on any mythology for the character, so after reading it I still don't know why there's some wizard bestowing powers from gods to a boy, or what kind of entity this Captain Marvel is. Before reading this I had always thought that Captain Marvel was Billy, just with added powers, but apparently he is something else and just uses Billy as a host. Kind of like a Tok'ra maybe. I also still don't know why Billy and Mary were split up or any kind of background. But I didn't really care. The comic worked much like a children's book that way, that is there isn't any attempt to reconcile it with more realist constraints.

Basically I liked the art, the transformed monsters where fun, there was a talking tiger, and the Dr. Sivana guy was hilarious.
ratcreature: RatCreature as Batman (batman)
I've read both six issue series falling under this umbrella, i.e. Batman & The Monster Men and Batman & The Mad Monk. From what I've heard these are supposed to take place after Year One, but before that new Joker origin story that I haven't read (yet), but as I've said before, it is kind of tricky to make the overcrowded timeline of Batman's early career work, so I found it best not to worry too much.

Batman & The Monster Men (by Matt Wagner)

I liked this one. The combination of the mafia story with the creepiness of Hugo Strange worked well for me, and Strange made a good foil for Batman. I liked Bruce's girlfriend, Julie Madison too, and how she gets frustrated and suspicious with him.

Also, I just <3 the younger Jim Gordon, because among other things his expression when he says to Batman: "Giant mutant cannibals... you... you're serious?" was priceless. The poor guy will get used to a lot through his association with Batman over the years.

Alfred's dry humor is great here, e.g.: "And so, in keeping with conventional wisdom, you've chosen to secretly drug your girlfriend."

And not that I'm complaining exactly, but-- wow, this was rather more bloody than a usual Batman comic. So you should probably avoid it if you have problems with gore, but otherwise it's a good read.

Batman & The Mad Monk (by Matt Wagner)

This is also a mix of Batman vs. mafia and an encounter with the "new kind" of creepier villain. I liked that Batman worries whether he inspires or encourages the costumed villains. True, that angst is somewhat of a classic theme, but it works for me.

I also enjoyed the tension that comes from Gordon still working within a widely corrupt police force, and that Batman was shown doing detective work. To get some nod to the pre-Two-Face Harvey Dent was pretty cool as well.

I found Norman Madison's fear of Batman quite believable. However the (fake?) vampire cult didn't work as well for me as Hugo Strange did in the first series. While it was plenty gruesome, it just didn't build up as much terror somehow as I would have expected with the threat to Julie and the whole bunch of injuries Bruce suffers while fighting them. Still the plot overall was engaging enough, and some of the scenes in the castle were bizarre yet worked.

Anyway, I enjoyed both series but liked the first better.
ratcreature: RatCreature as Batman (batman)
Year One: Batman/Scarecrow #1-2 (written by Bruce Jones, art by Sean Murphy)

This was pretty good. I really liked the art, and I actually recognized several panels from icons I've seen around, so I guess I'm not alone in my fondness for Murphy's art.

I'm a bit tired of yet another psychopath getting a cliched backstory with an evil mother (or rather grandmother in this case) figure warping him, aided by the ubiquitous bullies, at but least the specifics of his case with the birds were rather cool and creepy, and I liked the Scarecrow overall.

In particular I liked the visual parallels between the young proto-Scarecrow's defining scene with the birds swooping down on him through a broken skylight, and the typical iconic panels in Batman's origin stories of bats coming down on young Bruce and such. That nicely sets up the following scenes where Bruce angsts about his similarities to costumed villains dressing up as something scary.

I also liked that this story, despite being set earlier, already includes Robin, though it would have been nice if Alfred had been present as well. Also it seemed that for information gathering purposes this particular early version of Batman could have used Oracle's talents with the way their investigation progresses. But I didn't mind that much, overall the plot was okay, and the art and atmosphere made the comic as a whole really enjoyable for me.
ratcreature: RatCreature as zombie. (zombie)
First, the whole Harry Potter thing is making me jittery. I haven't sought out the leaked copy because I'm not about to slog through hundreds of pages as crappy photographs, that's just unpleasant for reading. Not to mention that I don't really reread the HP books, so I'd rather read it the one time as proper book. But it is hard to keep away, knowing other fans have already read the book and are talking about it, even though my f-list is good with not spoiling me so far. (*insert the obligatory dire threats here*).

I will only get my copy on Saturday and I'm not the fastest reader, so at the earliest I'm going to talk about Deathly Hollows on Sunday if at all, and then I will of course use cut-tags and be very careful not to mess them up accidentally.

But until then I definitely need to distract myself with fandoms besides HP-- those still exist after all, even if half of my f-list apparently decided to avoid LJ and sometimes the internet entirely to be on the safe side. Anyway, thus I'm going to talk some more about Batman comics, in particular:

Year One: Batman/Ra's al Ghul #1-2 (written by Devin Grayson, pencils by Paul Gulacy, inks by Jimmy Palmiotti)

One of my main reasons to buy these (besides being a general sucker for all Batman comics DC publishes) was actually that I found the three color covers (black, white, and red) really attractive. I like the interior art okay too, but not as much as the covers (take a look at cover #1 and cover #2). If only the story had lived up to the packaging...

For the sake of my sanity I didn't even try to figure out why this is published as "Year One". I don't think this is supposed to fit in Batman's "Year One" or even just his early career, but rather after Batman: Death and the Maidens? But I don't have Ra's al Ghul's backstory that present. Maybe it is because of some flashbacks in the comic, and those could be made to work somehow in his first year.

First, while the basic idea that the Lazarus Pits affect death and life's balance in general was neat (even if what exactly their connection is was never really explained in any remotely consistent or logical way), the plot built around this was too thin for 96 pages. On the bright side, it had zombies, which is always a plus, but I can't say I enjoyed much else.

And even the zombies weren't particularly great specimens. Okay, so destroying the Lazarus Pits somehow stopped and even reversed death, thus the zombie problem, but I didn't really get why that particular horde of disgruntled undead was after Batman.

The action sequences were plain confusing sometimes, like when Batman was running from the zombies I had no idea how he suddenly got into the Batmobile again after, or if that even was still the vehicle he started out in earlier that night, which was definitely a car not some sort of glider. Yet later his vehicle could suddenly fly. Traditionally the car can't, right? So maybe what he used then wasn't the car, but some magically appearing Bat-Glider or whatever that was supposed to be, that we don't even see him remote call as far as I could tell. Maybe the Batmobile car transformed into a glider.

I also didn't understand what happened to the zombies he lured into that supermarket, did he lock them up there somehow? I couldn't tell, later it seemed he did lock them up, leaving them to rampage there, but why didn't they smash the glass?

Other times the action was just boring. You can tell that a comic has too little plot if it shows a frelling snowmobile chase over eight(!!) pages. Eight. I like certain kinds of action in comics, but snowmobile chases just don't come across that well in this medium. Certainly not if they last eight of the 48 pages in an issue and that on top of other chase scenes. And in a fairly pointless flashback at that.

Anyway while we get zombies, we don't really get to see Batman fight them for plain zombie fun, he flies flies around the globe interspersed with boring Ra's al Ghul flashbacks about some magical peach, and then Batman happens to find a monk chanting the Lazarus Pit formula, yet Ra's al Ghul followers were too stupid to figure that out... The whole thing made no sense to me.
ratcreature: RatCreature as Batman (batman)
I actually read this a few days ago, but didn't get around to take notes right away, so this is lacking detail. (me = sloth)

Batman: Journey Into Knight (written by Andrew Helfer, art by Tan Eng Huat)

Overall I enjoyed reading this limited series quite a lot. There were some elements that bugged me (like that hypnotist was cringe-worthy), but in the end those didn't overshadow my enjoyment.

The first major problem of this series is of course that Bruce Wayne's early career as Batman is already kind of "overcrowded" so it is hard to fit yet another thing into the continuity, especially if it covers things that were addressed previously (like Bruce getting involved in Wayne Enterprises) and presents them differently. But if you read with a relaxed attitude and don't view it as a canon puzzle this story is quite cool.

I liked that Bruce wasn't yet fully competent and equipped to deal with the criminals he encounters, especially the crazy ones, because he expected to fight "normal" crime. He still makes mistakes and still learns. In some instances he made mistakes that I couldn't quite believe Bruce would make, even this early, and thought he should be more competent, but overall I liked this view. I also liked that he just acted plain younger. I also liked Alfred and Bruce's relationship with Gordon. I could have done without the Joker though.

Still, I think it's worth picking up.
ratcreature: RatCreature as Two-Face flipping a coin. (twoface)
Batman: Jekyll & Hyde #1-6 (written by Paul Jenkins, art by Jae Lee)

I didn't like the art much, the inking in particular. The black areas--and there were many of them--seemed more randomly dumped than being placed deliberately for either consistent composition, drama or lightening reasons, so there was a lot of black scattered around making the page look flat and dark, and the shapes harder to see for the lack of a clear line, and the many smallish black areas didn't help guide the eyes through the panels and pages either. All of which made the reading slower and more tedious than it needed to be, with no equal gain on the "dark and gloomy" mood scale.

That said, I quite liked the mini-series otherwise. Okay, so there didn't really need to be yet another origin story for Two-Face making his history even more complicated, and the mad scientist running creepy gothic labs in Gotham (in cooperation with Two-Face no less) isn't the most original thing either, but the basic set-up of the drug plot worked for me.

And while I don't have all the details of the various Two-Face background stories very present, this expansion still goes with the general stuff I recalled from the others, so it's probably not a retcon or intended to be outside of continuity. It made about as much sense as these attempts at supervillain psychology ever do, and is IMO actually one of the better examples for this kind of plot. (I'm kind of ambivalent about the trend to somehow rationalize supervillain behavior through some cobbled together (pseudo-)psychology because it almost never works well.)

And it was nice to see Batman working with Gordon, and there was plenty of Alfred too, so overall I think this was a solid mini-series.

Also, I made a Two-Face!RatCreature icon, because I don't have any Batman villain icons yet.

pencils and larger inked version )
ratcreature: RatCreature is buried in comics, with the text: There's no such thing as too many comics.  (comics)
I spent much of last night catching up with 30 issues of Y: The Last Man.

First, I didn't notice this as much in monthly reading, but I really like the series' structure that alternates between single shot stories giving more background on the characters or focus on minor characters elsewhere, and the multi-issue stories.

Y: The Last Man #27-57 (written by Brian K. Vaughan, pencils by Pia Guerra and Goran Sudžuka, inks by Jose Marzan, Jr.)

my reactions while reading, cut for length and spoilers )
ratcreature: RatCreature as Superman (superman)
When I asked what next to read from my waiting comic pile, Y: The Last Man topped the list, followed by All Star Superman and Fables. Since of these three All Star Superman didn't involve me remembering the place where I stopped and previous plots, I decided to go with that firstt.

All Star Superman #1-8 (written by Grant Morrison, pencils by Frank Quietly, inks by Jamie Grant)

I am less enamored with this than I thought I'd be. It is a lot of fun, but I think it is a bit too whimsical for my taste. Or rather... it's not that I mind the absurd, but I think I miss the underlying angst that I appreciate in mainstream superhero comics, which is strangely absent, and that despite the overarching plot being Superman facing his death from Lex Luthor's cunning plan to overload his system with solar radiation, and subplots like flashbacks to when Jonathan Kent died. Also, the art is okay, but not outstanding, that is, I can't really find anything wrong with it, but it didn't grab me on a visceral level or really connected with me.

That said, the series is definitely entertaining to read, and there's a lot of humor, both in the dialog and in visual jokes. From the start we get hilarious lines, like Luthor's exploding monster telling Superman "The purpose of my existence is to explode! You have no right to limit my ambitions, fascist! No right at all to stand in the way of my self-realization!" or the visual jokes, like when Clark, without disguise, saves people by being clumsy, e.g. when he saves someone from a dropping part of a flying vehicle by stumbling into him, without anyone even realizing it. Or the punchline with the key to his fortress being regularly sized (for being more secure) but actually turning out to be superdense and thus even heavier, and impossible to lift by anyone but him etc. The series is packed with funny details.

And I enjoyed the wacky hijinks in the plots, like the dinosaurs at earth's center, the Frankenstein scientist in a rainbow coat, who is actually kind of creepy if you stop to think about what he does, Jimmy Olsen crossdressing, the Bizarros zombiefying lots of people... and while I wasn't too impressed with the art, it does very well with illustrating all the quirky and bizarre stuff, like that Chronovore rampaging through Smallville.

Anyway, if you like wacky and funny superhero comics, and don't need baseline angst in the genre, this series is perfect.
ratcreature: RatCreature is buried in comics, with the text: There's no such thing as too many comics.  (comics)
and no matter what my icon says, I do wonder sometimes whether that statement isn't phrased too boldly. See, I'm kind of intimidated by looking at several shortboxes of DC comics, trying to decide where to start, which comic to pick up.

[Poll #1017600]
ratcreature: RatCreature as demon victim, Supernatural-style, i.e. eviscerated, pinned to the ceiling and burning alive. (supernatural)
Not exactly a reprieve from the comic posts, but it's about the Supernatural comics, so no people wearing their bright underwear on the outside! :D

Supernatural: Origins #1-3 (written by Peter Johnson, art by Matthew Dow Smith)

First, I like that the art doesn't try for photographic likeness, because that is really hard to pull off well in tv tie-in comics, i.e. far too often the likeness is mangled and/or the drawings look stiff. So I'm fine with the art being stylized. One major problem is though that the artist doesn't seem to be able to draw small children. Baby!Sam in particular just looks really, really odd. Also the coloring doesn't always work for me.

As for the story, cut for spoilers )
ratcreature: RatCreature as Cyclops (cyclops)
Astonishing X-Men #1-21 (written by Joss Whedon, art by John Cassaday)

I wonder whether I shouldn't have waited for the final issues to come out before reading. Now that I'm faced with a cliffhanger again, I remembered how irregularly this came out for a while. Still it was entertaining so far, and I like the mix of an overarching plot that's coming to a conclusion in the final issues, i.e. that alien world that is convinced by some prophecy that an earth mutant will destroy it, which makes for a nice mystery keeping you hooked, and the subplots threaded into that.

Though the subplots didn't all work equally well for me. The one with the mutant cure was pretty cool, but I didn't really get into the sentient danger room thing as much, though it wasn't bad. I have to admit that the Hellfire Club stuff left me mostly confused, as I had no idea who all these people and their history with the X-Men were (though I have come across some in fanfic), and I didn't know anything about this Cassandra Nova character and her history with Emma Frost. Eventually I read with a couple of reference and overview websites open and skimmed those to get the gist, but I still felt lost. How did anyone manage to follow superhero comics at all before reference websites?? Anyway, I suspect readers familiar with the background may get more out of this (or hate it for messing with something, I guess that's always a possibility).

Still, even with my confusion the basic suspense worked for me, or I wouldn't have bothered looking up all these Hellfire Club people and their history and powers in the first place. Also I'm inclined to like this X team because it has Cyclops, Wolverine and Beast who are among my favorite X-Men characters.
ratcreature: RatCreature as Spidey (spidey)
Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #11-19 (written by Peter David, pencils by Todd Nauck and Scott Eton, inks by Robert Campanella, Rodney Ramos, and John Dell)

I enjoyed those three stories. While they aren't outstanding all are solid and entertaining action-adventures with Spidey and some of his classic villains. All are set during Civil War and the direct aftermath, but not closely connected to any Civil War plots, except for Peter's identity being known. In the first several Mysterios appear at the school, mayhem ensues, and Flash deals with Peter as Spider-Man, the second, is set after Peter changed sides to oppose registration, and the government employs the Vulture to fight and capture him, but it's mostly irrelevant why the Vulture is attacking Peter just then. In the third The Sandman seeks Peter's help to exonerate his father from the murder of the alternate Ben Parker, so that also brings the future Spider-Man story to a close. Actually I liked the last least, probably because I wasn't too fond of that earlier plot in the first place. There's also a strange school nurse with a spider affinity and spikes like Peter's new poison stingers, so I assume she's the spider-creature from Spider-Man: The Other.

I've read somewhere that Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man is going to be canceled soon in favor of ASM coming out more frequently, and I'm not sure how I feel about that. On the one hand I like ASM better, and having it come out more often with more room for a single, consistent Spider-Man plot arc isn't bad, on the other hand FNSM seem to have hit its stride and provides decent adventures with the classic Spidey villains, and it's kind of nice to have a slightly less angsty break from ASM.

Amazing Spider-Man #539-541 -- Back in Black (written by J. Michael Straczynski, pencils by Ron Garney, inks by Bill Reinhold)

I kind of hate it that I'm now caught up so that I have to wait for the next issue again, especially with cliffhangers. But I like the story so far. Peter is hunting down those responsible for shooting Aunt May, and it's fast paced and tense. Peter being pushed to his limits, not just from the assassin shooting Aunt May, but also from Captain America's death and from being hunted himself, comes across as very believable here. I also like how he keeps in contact with MJ. And I'm curious what will happen during the fight with Fisk. I mean, Fisk isn't going to die, especially not since this seems to be set before the whole FBI deal in Dardevil ended, so he obviously survived, and I don't see Peter dying yet again either, but still.

One random quibble though-- what is it with comic rats having canines?? I've complained about this before, but let me say again: rats are rodents. Their incisors are plenty sharp, but they just don't have canine teeth, nor are any of their teeth pointed. Giving them canines doesn't make them look more scary, it just looks ridiculous.
ratcreature: RatCreature is buried in comics, with the text: There's no such thing as too many comics.  (comics)
Okay, figuring out the reading order was a bit of a pain in places, especially between ASM and the main Civil War series since I just couldn't get a real grip how the events sort out into a single timeline for Spider-Man. (A bit more on that below.) Also I haven't bought all the tie-ins, so I'm missing chunks, and I think I've rad the specials (War Crimes and The Return out of order).

Anyway, the Civil War issues I read were:
Road to Civil War: The New Avengers Illuminati
Amazing Spider-Man #529-538
Civil War #1-7
Civil War: Front Line #1-11
Civil War: The Return
Civil War: War Crimes
Civil War: The Confession
Civil War: The Initiative
New Avengers #21-25

Overall I quite enjoyed Civil War. cut for lengthy rambling )
ratcreature: RatCreature as Spidey (spidey)
Well, all that Spider-Man reading has some nice side-effects: I had a neat Spider-Man/Superman crossover dream last night. Sadly no slashy content or anything, just a wacky action-adventure, and I mostly forgot the details soon after waking up. Still, nicer than lots of other dreams.

Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #5-7 (written by Peter David, pencils by Roger Cruz and Michael Wieringo, inks by Karl Kesel)
These issues were kind of forgettable, except for the brain-hurting part where they somehow compressed or relocated the timeline to make weblogs a common thing when Peter attended high school, but it is best not to notice these details. Also, I'm really not interested in wrestling, much less into mythical wrestling gods or whatever that villain was, so it didn't do anything for me, and some angsting by Peter about the origin of his powers (i.e. are they (comic-book) scientific or from magical totems?) didn't make up for my lack of interest in the rest.

Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #8-10 -- Jumping the Tracks (written by Peter David, pencils by Roger Cruz and Michael Wieringo, inks by Karl Kesel and Mike Manley)
And this story was just-- it just didn't work for me. It's not even the timetraveling future Spider-Man whose daughter is the future Hobgoblin as such. I mean, yes, that's weird, but this is comics and you deal. But the whole setup was lame. First, some crazy torturing Peter with his guilt over dead relatives and friends yet again gets old, and really there is no need to bring back Uncle Ben (again? maybe they don't count the ghost thing). Also, to me it made no sense that a future Spider-Man ends up as the boss of the time police, and that they don't even prevent that stereotypical apocalypse that apparently happened. And the whole thing with the alternate Uncle Ben just got more boring with him seemingly shooting that Spider-Man. Obviously the "real" Uncle Ben, or a reasonable equivalent from another universe as the one in the Spider-Man as pro-wrestler AU flashbacks seemed to be, wouldn't just turn into a homicidal lunatic, even when he's depressed, so the shooter isn't that Ben, no matter what the artificial tension is supposed to be. So he's either some evil!Ben brought from yet another universe (but that crazy timetravelling Green Goblin said she only brought one) or some shapeshifter bad guy who will then try to trick Peter (*yawn*), only I was confused by the clothing issue. The guy who confronted alternate!Ben first appeared to wear a woolly hat, and then later the dead!Ben (whom I assume is alternate!Ben) wears a baseball cap, so where did that come from? Alternate!Ben didn't wear any hat. Other random annoyances: as far as self-referential meta jokes go the "retcon bombs" were on the really clumsy side and not that amusing.
ratcreature: RatCreature as Spidey (spidey)
Spider-Man: The Other--Evolve or Die (in Amazing Spider-Man #525-#528, Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #1-#4, and Marvel Knights Spider-Man #19-#22, written by J. Michael Straczynski, Peter David, and Reginald Hudlin, pencils by Mike Wieringo, Pat Lee, and Mike Deodato, and inks by Karl Kesel, and Joe Pimentel. )

Overall I really enjoyed this crossover. I think the changes to Peter's powers have cool potential, and it was really creepy in parts. Some of the subplots didn't quite come together for me though, and I thought the first half was a bit weaker than the second.

For example I liked Tracer okay as a villain, but he vanished rather abruptly and didn't seem much connected to the main Morlun and spiderpowers plot thread. Also I was disappointed that we never found out what caused Peter's cell degeneration illness in the first place. Was it random? A long term after effect of the initial bite? of Peter not accepting the spider fully? or a side effect of that radiation thing he did to defeat Morlun the first time? Also I was a bit confused why Morlun wasn't always visible to others besides Peter.

I thought the part where he travels to see all these other scientist-type heroes was somewhat boring. I mean, I guess it makes sense that he had to ask around, but it just didn't do anything for me. MJ an Aunt May helping him to play with cool gadgets at Dr Doom's place was fun though.

Another random thing I liked in the first half was MJ beating up that creep with her pool cue. Granted, the creepy stalker fan cliche was trite, but MJ was cool. Peter imagining this plan to make money in Vegas was cute too, though I think a better bet for financial security for his family would be patenting his web fluid or something.

Anyway, IMO the story really picked up once the main fight with Morlun started. Things got much more tense and creepy. Morlun gouging out Peter's eye was really gross, and I actually found it almost OTT for a Spider-Man comic because it wasn't as necessary for the story as the later grossness when Peter transformed. That transformation Peter went through afterwards almost shocked me. I mean, he mutated before, like in stories where he grows extra arms, and that iirc fairly recent change (I forgot when it happened exactly) that brought the comic powers in line with the movie version so that he produces his own web fluid, but the teeth? weird poisonous spikes? and most importantly that then Peter ate Morlun?? It's creepy and unexpected when a hero goes for cannibalism. Not bad though. I actually kind of liked it in this story's context. And it even escalated further when he somehow pupated or something, shed his skin and then regenerated in that cocoon. Somehow cocoons have an inherent creepiness.

I've been a bit dubious when JMS first introduced these spiritual spider connections earlier in ASM, but here Peter's dream of embracing his inner spider or whatever that was, worked for me, and I'm intrigued about Peter's new powers and his control (or lack thereof) over them. I mean, he reacts now faster and on instinct just to being touched in a friendly way, and has suddenly possibly poisonous spikes at his disposal during a fight, that opens a lot of potential way for him to hurt others without meaning to. Especially considering that he already ate one guy, even if it was a villain.

I'm less fond of the upcoming costume change, I like Spidey's classic costume and and gold just isn't as nice, also kind of ominous in that those are Iron Man's colors (and it's not like I want to slash these two) and it's bad enough that apparently Tony Stark listens in on Peter and MJ making out like a stalker. Though I guess it's related to the whole Civil War event.
ratcreature: RatCreature as Spidey (spidey)
Amazing Spider-Man #519-#524 (written by J. Michael Straczynski, pencils by Mike Deodato, inks by Joe Pimentel)

I liked this Hydra storyline better than the previous arc. While terrorism plots aren't exactly my favorite, it was a solid action-adventure, and how it mixed with the personal B-plot in the aftermath of their places burning down worked for me. And the sinister foreshadowing of Peter's worsening symptoms, first subtle then more and more serious, has left me actually curious now about their cause.

While the story didn't seem to rely much on being familiar with non-Spider-Man comics, I think it was still a stumbling block for me that I don't know much about the Avengers. Like, I don't really know Tony Stark, but he comes across as kind of smarmy here when he offers Peter help, and I wondered whether he's always like that. Also reading this I wondered whether I shouldn't have read a bunch of the New Avengers comics that are apparently overlapping with ASM first to better follow what's going on here with Peter, his family and how he became part the Avengers now. I'm also quite lost with all this Hydra stuff, their world domination scheme and how they cloned? duplicated? the Avengers.

Also, maybe I just don't know enough about the Avengers operation, but how was Aunt May and M.J. moving in with them supposed to work while Peter still has a (at least somewhat) secret identity anyway? I mean, Aunt May has neighbors, Peter teaches at a high school, and M.J. has a job with people needing to know their address too, right? How do they intended to explain staying with the Avengers? (I can't imagine that Tony Stark blackmailing reporters into silence was the first choice of plan.) It wasn't even discussed between Stark, Peter, M.J. and Aunt May when they moved, though in a later issue it seemed to be implied (by that reporter confronting M.J.) that it wasn't public knowledge that this was the Avengers' headquarters, just that it belongs to Stark, and apparently they didn't even think of a good cover story. Though I thought that the Avenger place was known. Then again maybe that was one of the previous places. Wasn't some mansion destroyed not too long ago?

Jarvis and Aunt May are cute together though. And on a somewhat random note, am I the only one who thinks it's kind of pathetic of Hydra to produce hoodies with their logo on the back (like the one we see in the closet in #522)? At least I assume it's a hoodie because that piece of clothing didn't look anything like the spandex Hydra uniform Peter puts on later.
ratcreature: RatCreature as Spidey (spidey)
Amazing Spider-Man #509-#514 - Sins of the Past (written by J. Michael Straczynski, pencils by Mike Deodato, inks by Joe Pimentel)

The story didn't really grab me. I'm not fond of affairs and children who are retconned in years later in the first place, and while I like the basic Gwen Stacy storyline, I don't think it needs to be changed/retold again to get yet another Green Goblin out of it. Also somehow I couldn't really feel for Peter and his angst here. I guess this was supposed to be shocking, the sudden (retconned) "revelation" that Norman Osborn had had sex with Gwen and got her pregnant to make little future Green Goblins or whatever, and I didn't think it was awful or anything, but mostly just felt indifferent.

Amazing Spider-Man #515-#518 - Skin Deep (written by J. Michael Straczynski, pencils by Mike Deodato and Mark Brooks, inks by Joe Pimentel and Jaime Mendoza)

Why do the scientist geeks in comics always go completely insane when they mess up with their weird, irresponsible experiments? There's no reason why that Charlie guy had to escalate to hurting the rescue workers and worse. Obviously with the lab blown up, the work there was already lost and the plot device of the chemicals making him insane and irrational was lame, and it's not like he intended to be covered with his armor goo. So any normal person, even a somewhat obsessed mad scientist type, would want to be checked out by some medical professional just then, not murder their rescue workers and go on to become some crazed supervillain/serial killer type. And I'm completely sick of the stock character of the geek who somehow becomes insane or looses any ethical perspective because some bullies hassled him in high school, and never gets over it either. Not to mention that the counterpart, the perpetually mean/evil jock, gets old too. Also if Peter knew that guy had problems he should have known better than not to keep at least an eye on him. I mean, living in the Marvel universe he's seen enough supervillain origin stories to be apprehensive about such setups. Well, at least Peter is somewhat aware that he should have known better, but still. Anyway, this story was made of fail, IMO.
ratcreature: RatCreature begs, holding a sign, that says: Will work for food, with "food" crossed out and replaced with  "comics". (work)
Since finally #12 of the Justice maxiseries (written by Jim Krueger and Alex Ross, art by Alex Ross and Doug Braithwaite) has come out I got around to reading the series.

cut for spoilers )

May 2017

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