Where I Freak Out About ‘Sandman Overture #2’

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OMFG YOU GUYS! I cannot even deal with how friggin’ gorgeous Sandman Over #2 is! J.H. Williams III is a GOD. I will build an alter in his honor and put food there every Wednesday (because that’s the sacred comic book day). Next door to the JHW3 alter I will build a shrine in honor the letterer, Todd Klein. I will pray to The Endless there and all my dreams will come true.

Williams’ panels in Overture #2 are some of the most creative I’ve ever seen. But he’s been stuntin’ on these pages since Overture #1. Remember that “OMG IT’S A MOUTH! Panel”? Genius!

Well back to #2. I open the first page and there is Daniel Dream looking gorg in all white (Oh hey, boo. *wink*). But peep the panels! I mean can you even call them panels at this point? Well, the pentagon goes all Inception on us because it’s a panel within a panel. The pentagon shape itself probably has some Gaimanesque 4-layer literary meaning. But I can’t figure out because I’m lost in Dream’s beautiful black eyes.

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Neil Gaiman’s story is too magnificent to be confined to regular box panels. The rest of the issue is all like, “Panels? WTF is a panel?”

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Then you skip a few pages and you feel like you’ve taken some hallucinogen. But don’t worry, it’s just what happens when you combine the awesome power of Klein’s lettering, JHW3’s art and Gaiman’s words. You start trippin’!

Then there’s a freakin’ Dream convention which is both brilliant and hilarious. We meet the very first Dream (holy crap!) and all of the creatures he was/is Dream for (holy crap!). Then all of the different Dreams basically realize that they can be, “self-satisfied, irritating and self-possessed”. I love him, but come on; Dream can be such a dick. If you’re like me, you probably spent like 10 minutes on this page because there is so much going on. It’s so overwhelming! But it makes you happy because it’s so epic. I took the time to marvel at every single Dream.

This page is also where Todd Klein shows why he’s an OG. The thing with lettering in comics is you don’t really notice it most of the time because most speech bubbles are “regular”. But Klein’s lettering in Sandman is legend. My favorites are Dream’s black bubble with white text (and sometimes the opposite) and Delirum’s rainbow bubbles and irregular text size.

On the page below, he goes ham and each Dream gets their own unique speech bubble. This was my favorite part of the entire comic. I had so much a fun coming up with the voices for Dream to match the different types of bubbles.

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Then some really cool things happen in the story. Like we find out Dream is going to see his DAD with the Dream of Cats. OMFGWUT?!

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East of West #9: The Black Experience Done Right

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Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Art: Nick Dragotta
Colors: Frank Martin
Publisher: Image Comics

People of color are underrepresented and misrepresented in comics (we should all know that by now). However, there are some creators who do diversity right. (Quick shout-out to the creators of ChewSaga and Nowhere Men, to name a few.) This issue of East of West took it a step further and not only had an issue full of black folk, but it gave them depth and realism.

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East of West is a crock-pot that’s brewing an oncoming apocalypse and each issue is an ingredient. Because of this, there isn’t much progression in the story, just more world expansion and history lessons. The newest ingredient is the black Kingdom of New Orleans. This is where Jonathan Hickman does the black experience justice.

Too many black characters in comics are what I like to call “happenstance black”. Their blackness has little or nothing to do with the character’s personality. They are the token black character. Don’t get me wrong, just because a character is black doesn’t mean everything about that character should do with race and racism. But it cannot be ignored either.

The King of New Orleans mentions that the other nations call blacks “oilmen, like it was a slur”. This was a smart way to add an aspect of racial realism. Even the last name of Jonathan Freeman gives the reader more insight into this family and their core values. But these are not simply race-related plot devices just for the sake of it, they blend effortlessly with the story.

East of West shows us that it’s possible to incorporate the black experience into a comic in a genuine way… if you give a damn.

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Breaking Up With “The Walking Dead”

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I feel like I’m breaking up with a longtime boyfriend. I’ve been dating “The Walking Dead” for a few years now. Our first date was at the Compendium One and it was love at first sight. I was head-over-heels. Smitten even! I think it was partly due to having previously been in intense relationships with older men like “The Invisibles”, “Sandman” and “Transmetropolitan”. Albeit beautiful and brilliant, those relationships were filled with mind-fucks, counter-culture, social commentary and layers upon layers of metaphors. So “The Walking Dead” was a welcomed brain break from my “Top Three”. That’s not to say that I was dumbing it down or settling by being with “The Walking Dead”. But that relationship was heavier on the heart, rather than the mind.

I adored his grayscale gore and the excitement I felt whenever we were together. But then, things started to change…  The dates became repetitive and predictable. His friends weren’t interesting anymore or they were dead. It started to seem like all of the reasons why I loved him were slowly fading away.

Instead of thinking fondly of the future we’d have together, I find myself focusing on the good times we had in the past. I used to get excited whenever I saw him. Nowadays, I barely make time for him. A relationship that started with love now exists solely out of habit and comfort. I keep telling myself maybe he’ll change. Maybe the next time I see him, things will be different. He’ll be different. But things went from bad to worse when he brought a tiger to one of our dates.

It’s hard to break up with “The Walking Dead” because I’ve invested to many years into this relationship. But I think it’s time to let go. After the next few series of dates, it will be time to part ways. It’ll be tough. We had great times together, but I have to be the bigger person and know when it’s just not working out anymore. Maybe we’ll grab coffee every few months and I’ll see how he’s doing. I don’t know. We’ll see…

My Pull List: East of West- The Promise #4

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East of West: The Promise was exciting from panel to panel. I had to tell myself to slow down because I was so exited my eyes were jumping all over the page like a happy puppy not sure where to focus! Nick Dragotta blew me away once again with his art, especially the panels where The Raven and The Wolf transformed. How cool was that?! And we can’t forget about Frank Martin’s stunning coloring, which makes the world and characters blend and pop at the same time.

EoW definitely has some of my favorite character design in a series so far. Death and his black and white crew are the most remarkable. I’m pretty obsessed with The Raven. I also noticed in the scene when Death was kissing Xiaolian, his skin was black, and not the white skin we see now. It makes me think he’s been through some sort of rebirth (that probably has to do with her). Can’t wait to see what that’s all about. He went all Gandalf on us!

The scenes at the House of Mao were definitely the most exciting parts of the issue. When Death knocks on your door, you know sh*t’s about to go down! Not only was there a huge battle going on, but Jonathan Hickman still managed to weave in important dialogue about the story’s mythology. It was a bit of sensory overload, but I didn’t mind.

We get to see Famine, War and Conquest from a different point of view, too. Their tough demeanor falters during the scenes with Mister Chamberlain. You would assume the last thing you want is three-fourths of the Horsemen of Apocalypse angry with you, but Chamberlain told them who was boss, and his name is Death. Actually, I take that back, Xiaolian is the real boss. I mean she’s the one who conquered Death. He fell in love with her. And I hear he’s been around for quiet a while so that must mean something.

This issue showed me that East of West is the story of what happens when Death falls in love.

 

My Pull List: Jupiter’s Legacy by Mark Millar & Frank Quitely

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Have you ever experienced something new and you’re practically buzzing with excitement? That’s how I feel right now after reading Jupiter’s Legacy, the new series by Mark Miller with art by Frank Quitely.

I love comics, obviously, but I don’t typically read a lot of the mainstream superhero stuff. I’m obsessed with certain series like Batman from DC or Hawkeye from Marvel. But typically, I prefer comics that are intended for mature readers from Vertigo and Image. It’s just my thing. So when I heard about this new Image series by Millar, the guy who created Kick-Ass, I was pretty excited. Even thought it had superheroes.

Quitely’s art and Peter Doherty’s coloring captivated me from the first panel. I loved Quietly in We3, and my eyes welcomed his work once more. I missed his rough yet surprisingly soft art-style. Especially the subtle details, everything down to the wrinkled shirt and lit cigarette.

As I said, I’m cautious when it comes to superheroes comics, but Millar’s jarring realism had me hooked. (Yes, I used realism and superheroes in the same sentence.) Jupiter’s Legacy is like a reality show about the conflicts between two generations of superheroes, except it’s not trashy. Actually… Grace and the Utopian’s children, Sampson and Chloe, are pretty trashy. Just look at them, they are a hot mess. They need rehab and a bath. And unsurprisingly so.

It’s a behind-the-scenes take on what life would be like for supes and their kids in today’s society. It’s unflattering to say the least, but that’s what makes Jupiter’s Legacy so intriguing. Some children follow in their parents’ footsteps and others rebel.

Millar, Quitely and Doherty give you a lot of reasons to fall in love with Jupiter’s Legacy. I mean, where else will you find a superhero overdose on space coke? I didn’t even know that was a thing.

 

How Batman Helped Me Deal with Death

batman18bfAs some of you may know from my post, For the Love of Geek, my uncle passed away last year. We were very close and he’s one of the major reasons I love comics, anime and SF/F today. He was the first major death I’ve experienced. When I read Batman #18 by Scott Snyder a few weeks ago, it hit me hard. Very hard. If you’re not familiar with what’s going on in that series, Damian Wayne aka Robin, Bruce’s son was killed. In issue 18, Batman struggles to deal with the death of Robin. He acts recklessly and overworks himself and does everything in his power to not have to deal with the death of his son.

It takes skill to authentically replicate the mourning process in any work of fiction. Everyone mourns differently. Not only did I feel Batman’s pain, I could relate. I know what it’s like to keep yourself busy so you don’t have to think about the loved-one you lost. Or occupy your mind with work, TV, reading, games and pretty much anything that will keep you from being sad. You try to fill that hole with these things, but you know it’s never going to work. I knew what I was doing. I knew that I would keep myself busy on purpose so I didn’t have to think about it.

This issue of Batman was the push I needed. No more distractions, this is something I need to face. I saw myself in Batman, and that’s what helped me realize that this wasn’t the way to deal with death.

I know this is really personal, but I write this in the hopes that it helps others in the way it has helped me. If Batman could do it, so can I.

A Detailed Reader Experience of Batman #17 the ‘Death of the Family’ Conclusion

There will be spoilers.

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Batman #17

‘Death in the Family’ Conclusion- The Punchline

Story: Scott Snyder

Art: Greg Capullo

As a reader, you know deep down that Alfred can’t die. But then again, it’s comics and I’m sure that at least one version of Peter Parker would disagree. So you worry, and worry and worry (or at least I did) until the day has finally come. The conclusion of Death of the Family is in your hands. You have all this excitement and anxiousness built up and you delicately open the first page, not even realizing that you’re holding your breath.

batman 17 alfredYou slowly enter Gotham. Each panel takes you one more step into the city until you’re entirely consumed and everything around you disappears. As you begin reading each speech bubble, you simultaneously try to remember what happened in the last issue. It’s as if your eyes are adjusting to a bright light, slowly you begin to focus and remember. Once everything is clear, and a few panels in, you start to fight with yourself about your pacing. Do you take your time, read slowly and carefully? Or do you rush through, eager to find out what happens? In the end, you settle for a blend of both.

Then the moment of truth approaches. The Joker’s hand is on the dish, and your hand is already turning the page. You flip the page to see… Alfred is alive, a little crazy, but alive. You laugh to yourself when you realize you and Batman are like a married couple finishing each others sentences such as, “Alfred… Alfred, thank God.”.

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A rush of emotions overcomes you. Joy. Relief… and something else you’re not completely comfortable admitting. You’re relieved… but is it just relief you’re feeling? Or is there something else hidden? Is that… disappointment? Not because Pennyworth isn’t dead (I’m not that sick), but because the rollercoaster ride is over. Death of the Family was all the best parts of a rollercoaster, the big dip, the loops and fast turns. It was a lot of fun, but you were always kind of scared at the same time. And once you see Alfred’s manic grin, you hear the mechanical clicks of the track slow down your cart. The yelling stops, the arms go down and you’re left feeling like a cocktail of happy and sad emotions. You slowly catch your breath as you turn each page and realize more and more that the big threat is over… and you don’t quite know what to do with yourself.

As you read on, you feel like the Joker is talking to you. You experience a strange epiphany when you realize you love The Joker more than you love the Bat-family. You quickly tuck that thought away because you should probably feel bad about it, but you don’t.

The story arc is over, and instead of worrying about Alfred, you now have to worry about Bruce.

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My Pull List: Grant Morrison & Darick Robertson’s “Happy!” #1

There will be spoilers about the issues discussed in this post.

Happy!

Issue One of Four

Author: Grant Morrison

Artist: Darick Robertson

Grant Morrison’s series The Invisibles is what got me interested in reading more comics, and because of that I’m forever grateful. I think he’s utterly brilliant and last year I had the honor of meeting him (I blogged about it). So, now that you know how much I love him, it should come to no surprise that I was elated for the release of Happy!. Especially since the art is by the Darick Robertson (Transmetropolitan). This is the kind of collaboration I’ve only dreamed about.

After reading just the first page you know Morrison is back to telling his post-modern, mind-fucking stories and I couldn’t be happier. The gritty surroundings (impeccably illustrated by Robertson) and the blunt language give the comic a dark and dangerous energy. Just when you start to think that Happy! getting real hardcore, real fast, a blue pegasus-unicorn hybrid swoops into the panel disrupting everything you thought you knew about the comic. That stark contrast threw me off, despite the fact that I was expecting it to happen. But of course, that was on purpose.

Since Happy! is a four issue series, I know that each page is busting at the seems with meaning and each word holds a lot of weight. Morrison doesn’t do anything gratuitously, and I think that the cartoonish début of the horse is his way of making light of the over-saturated violence that’s common in comics. And of course, it also means something within the comic as well.

Sax is a quintessential anti-hero, and not even a charismatic one at that. His life and his happiness are in the gutter. It only takes one issue to realize that he is miserable. And as a result, his mind (may have) created a talking horse to literally save his life because he can’t do it on his own. Not only does this horse want to save him, but it also needs his help saving someone else.

The horse said that it was Hailey’s imaginary friend, so who knows, maybe somehow this is true and Sax didn’t imagine the horse on his own. Everything isn’t always by the books when it comes to Morrison, sometimes what you see is what you get. Even though what you see, to quote the first word of the series, is “unreal”. It wouldn’t be the first time that I’ve said “WTF” to myself while reading a Morrison comic. The appearance of this imaginary friend goes to show that Sax not only needs to save himself, but after all of the mindless ultra-violence in his life, he needs to save someone else and feel like his life is more than just murder and money. 

Knowing how Morrison works, Happy! is more than just a story about Sax and his imaginary horse friend. After one issue, it gives us a reason to reflect on our own lives and ask ourselves, am I really happy? How low does my life have to go before I need an imaginary horse to make me happy?

My Pull List: The Walking Dead #102 & Revival #3

My Pull List Intro

Some of you may know that I’m fairly new to the comic book scene. I started reading comics a few years ago, and only recently felt that I had enough older (and complete) series like Sandman, The Insivibles and Transmetropolitan (among others) under my belt where I felt I was ready for the new stuff.

I started with The Walking Dead, or more accurately, I devoured The Walking Dead. I caught up on years of issues faster than a walker can chew through your large intestine. Once I was caught up, I needed more comics. But to tell you the truth, I was intimidated. I liked things like X-Men and Batman but when it came down to the comics, I didn’t know where to start. That’s when the new DC 52 walked into my life, looking all tall, dark and handsome. I thought to myself, “This is what I was waiting for!” Now I finally have a soft reset and can easily start from issue #1(ish). And now here I am, officially plugged into the Matrix.

I’m currently reading Animal Man, Swamp Thing, Batman (Snyder), Chew (hilarious), Sweet Tooth (pulls at my heart-strings), Revival, Harvest, Punk Rock Jesus (amazing), Hawkeye, Fashion Beast, Saga (brilliant), Gambit, American Vampire, a few older series and that’s it… for now.

I wanted to start an ongoing blog series that was a comic book version of TV Talk. Where I gush from the heart about the comics I read every week. I’m not going to sit here and review them in a formal way because that’s not how I read them. I read them with emotion, sometimes too much emotion. These comics make me happy, stress me out and sometimes (almost) make me cry. I’m always looking for new comic suggestions, so feel free to share with me what you’re reading!

So here we go, onto “My Pull List” for the week of September, 19th!

There will be spoilers about the issues discussed in this post.

The Walking Dead #102

Writer: Robert Kirkman

Penciler, Inker, Cover: Charlie Adlard

My first thought was Rick was acting like a punk when he said he wanted to let two-face go. I want Negan, and the rest of his crew, to suffer. Even better if it’s death by Lucille. But I realized Rick was just being realistic.

I was expecting Rick to blame himself for Glenn’s death. I am glad Andrea reminded him about all of the good that he’s done to help keep the community alive. I think this scene also served as a reminder to us about all of the smart choices Rick has made. Which foreshadows the news we discover on the last page between Rick and Jesus. Even when Rick’s decisions don’t seem to make sense in the beginning, they usually work out in the end. Usually.

(Side note: I don’t really care for this Rickdrea relationship. I don’t hate it, but I don’t really like it either. I feel like it’s too soon after what’s her face… Well, maybe not that soon since I can’t remember her name. I’m also still sad about Lori. I have a long grieving process.)

I love Michonne and I say it every chance I get. Having a strong black female comic book character, (who’s still alive mind you) makes me incredibly happy. Because honestly, they are few and far between. So every scene (or panel rather) that has Michonne, I savor like the last bite of my mom’s cheesecake.

I’m extremely glad Kirkman addresses something that’s been bothering me about Michonne for a while now. When she mentions to Rick that she’s felt like a killing machine, I’ve felt the same way. If I remember correctly, there was a panel a few issues ago with Michonne, Rick and zombies and all Rick said was her name, and she immediately sliced off their heads like a trained dog. That panel has bothered me ever since. Granted, she’s one of the most skilled fighters/killers they have. But it left a bad taste in my mouth. I’m glad that it was something Kirkman had done on purpose and not haphazardly.

I felt like this issue really read my mind, and I’m sure yours as well. Especially when Michonne and Rick started to talk about he who shall not be named. The Governor. I don’t know about you, but I haven’t been as excited, or stressed, about The Walking Dead since the Governor story arc. I felt the series hit a plateau for a while. I’m glad I’m back to being scared of what I’m about to read. I love that feeling. I’m still traumatized about issue 100.

I feel in the coming issues we’ll see a rift between Rick (including everyone who witnessed Glenn’s death) and Andrea (including everyone who stayed at the community). I wonder what Rick and Jesus have up their sleeve!

P.S.- If you haven’t read the letter hacks yet, you’re in for a treat! ;)

 

Revival #3

Writer: Tim Seeley

Art: Mike Norton

Since Revival is pretty new, most of my commentary on it will be filled with a lot of questions. But I’ll start by saying I really enjoy this series. There are bits and pieces that don’t fit yet and it’s exiting to try to put them together.

Here are a few questions I have:

  • Did Martha (the detective’s sister) have an affair with the teacher?
  • Who killed her and why won’t she say anything about it? My guess is it has something to do with the affair. Or that she killed herself.
  • – What is this alien-like creature?
  • – What was the original thing that Mrs. Vang wanted to show Martha?
  • – Is the Limp Bizkit ringtone guy the “ghost”/alien?
  • – If not, it’s clear he has something to do with it. If it is a ghost, rather than an alien, maybe that’s why the faux exorcist guy is involved.
  • – And finally, what’s up with the revivers? It seems like the old woman, Arlene, goes back and forth from her original self to her… let’s call it her “reviver self”, where she’s rabid and out of control. It looks like she tried to kill herself, not wanting to live like that anymore.

I can’t wait to see when these pieces all start to connect. Until, then it’s more questions!