Salvatore Pane

Tag: Geoff Johns

Free Comic Book Day 2011

So most of the people who read this blog are probably from the literary world, and hey, that’s awesome. That’s my primary… world I guess. But I wanted to take some time to talk about another medium of fiction that is near and dear to my heart: comic books. Most indie lit writers/readers always come out to support indie bookstores, and I think it’s time that we recognize we have a cousin in arms in comic book stores. They’re all indie. And they might be dying on account of a host of factors (mostly the same ones plaguing the brick and mortar book stores). This Saturday is Free Comic Book Day, an event which I think has become the comic store’s best attempt at bringing in new readers. But what is Free Comic Book Day? Glad you asked!

Free Comic Book Day is exactly what it sounds like. You go to your comic store and get free comics. Not just any comics, but a whole host of comics prepared from the major publishers and the indies to try and hook in new readers. Most comic stores have other events as well. I’ll be at Phantom in the Attic in Pittsburgh this year, but last year I went to my childhood store, Comics in the Green in Scranton. They had face painting for the kids and a couple of artists and writers doing free signings for the adults. The local news team even dropped by. But what are some of the comics you can get for free? CHECK THIS SHIT OUT!

I’m a massive fan of Dan Slott’s Spider-Man and this is the perfect jumping on point. If you enjoyed the Spider-Man films, go to your local comic store and pick this issue up for free.

Ian Brill has been knocking his Darkwing Duck and Rescue Rangers series out of the park. If you have any nostalgia for Disney Afternoon, check out this book FOR FREE.

There’s a Green Lantern movie coming out. Read this and you’ll know who the character is. Plus, it leads into Flashpoint which is DC’s big summer event.

Remember The Dark Crystal? It’s back. In comic form! This one’s from Archaia and they always put out quality work. Recommended. I picked up their Fraggle Rock book for my goddaughter recently and she seemed to enjoy it.

It’s called Super Dinosaur and it’s written by Robert Kirkman, co-creator of The Walking Dead. What else do you people want?

I’ll admit I wasn’t on the Atomic Robo bandwagon when it first came out, but I was totally wrong. This book is hilarious. Bizarre science and wacky time travel. Did I mention it’s free?

There are these movies coming out. Captain America and Thor. Prepare yourself!

More people need to be going to Free Comic Book Day. You have nothing to lose. It’s free. Seriously, if you’ve ever even considered getting into comics now is the time. Pick the series you want to get into then take the free issue. It’s that simple. They tell you want to buy next. And if you do go, buy something (I recommend volume one of Ex Machina). Support your local comic stores or we’re not going to have a comics industry ten years down the road.

Oh! And you say you don’t know your local comic book store? BOOM! This site finds it for you.

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Mark Kleman Reviews Green Lantern #55

Mark Kleman is, among many other things, my co-writer on The Black List which will see publication later this year from Arcana Comics. When he asked me to write up a little something about the recently released Origin of Dex-Starr (a cat of whom I’m a huge admirer), I couldn’t refuse. Below is Mark’s review of Green Lantern #55 where the story appears. Listen to this dude, Mark. He knows what he’s talking about. Oh, and I would like to point out that I think Firestorm is awesome.

From Mark:

“I’m going to be honest–I am not the biggest fan of Brightest Day.  The storyline does not live up to the clear direction and mega action of its predecessor, Blackest NightDay’s main book has been concentrating on resurrected ancillary characters like Firestorm and Hawkman—who only deserve a supporting role in a Justice League comic at best and probably should have remained absent from comics all together.

See, even Superman agrees. Firestorm is lame.

That said, the Brightest Day events occurring in the pages of Green Lantern are outstanding.  It has everything a true fanboy wants: heavy ring-slinger action, intrigue, and Lobo.  That’s right, you’re favorite “bastich” bounty hunter from the 1990s is back and he has run afoul of Atrocitus, leader of the Red Lantern Corps.  A massive battle ensues on the streets of New York City between Lobo and an alliance of Hal Jordan, Sinestro, and Atrocitus.  Using meat hooks on chains, flaming space-motorcycles, and giant yellow skeleton hands, Geoff Johns did a great job making this issue an action packed adventure—definitely worth picking up.

However, the best part about this issue is the inclusion of a 6-page short at the end of the comic that regales us with Dex-Starr’s origin.  For those of you who don’t know, Dex-Starr is the Red Lantern Cat and fan sensation that first appeared in Final Crisis: Rage of the Red Lanterns.  Seen here:

AWESOME

Given his blue fur, many assumed that he was an alien cat from a distant planet of ruthless felines.  But to my supreme enjoyment, it was revealed that Dex-Starr was once Dexter, a normal house cat from Brooklyn.  Until tragedy shaped him into an unstoppable engine of hatred and revenge, Dexter was a silly cat who loved playing with yarn and eating dried bits of processed meat.  Despite the fact there are literally hundreds of Super-Villains on Earth, this little cat was chosen as the being that had the most rage in its heart out of all living things that existed in Earth’s sector of the galaxy.  I don’t care who you are, that’s awesome. I found this brief story to be quite charming and funny.  Now I can only hope that one day my cat is chosen by the Red Lantern Corps.”

The Most Raged Filled Being in the Universe

Bi-Weekly Friday Comics Roundup VI: Fozzie Bear Has a Fucked Up Mustache

DC and Marvel have recently relaunched their lines into all new, all different positive directions (Brightest Day and The Heroic Age respectively). What this means is that much of the continuity baggage that’s been lugged around since Identity Crisis and House of M is being momentarily shifted to the side to focus on slightly more reader accessible tales (more so in Marvel’s case than DC). So now is definitely the time to jump on board if you’re curious about superhero comics but feel uncomfortable about diving into part 365 of a never ending storyline.

1. Green Lantern #54 written by Geoff Johns with art from Doug Mahnke

Dex-Starr was once an ordinary space kitten. Then one day, he was summoned into the Red Lantern Corps due to the unusual amount of rage in his heart. Now he lives on Earth with a giant Red Lantern ogre and murders gang members in the underground subway systems of New York City. His powers include acidic blood, super strength, and flight. Notice how he wears his Red Lantern power ring on his tail. You should now be convinced to start buying Green Lantern.

2. Muppet Sherlock Holmes by Unknown

I couldn’t really find any information on this project. The wonderful BOOM Studios just announced it, but they’ve yet to discuss the launch date or the writer or artist on board. I couldn’t care less. Look at Fozzie’s mustache! Where’s that thing growing from? Out of his fur? I’ll be picking this up for sure, and the only mystery I care about is the Case of the Bizarre Facial Hair.

3. Secret Avengers # 1 written by Ed Brubaker with art from Mike Deodato

There’s been a lot of hooplah about the relaunch of the various Avengers titles, and the one that’s got me the most excited is Secret Avengers by the superstar dream team of Brubaker and Deodato. Brubaker is known for his classic, gritty books like Captain America and Criminal, and Deodato’s page layouts in Warren Ellis’ Thunderbolts and Bendis’ Dark Avengers have been phenomenal. Pairing the two is a stroke of genius and any team lineup that includes War Machine, Beast, and my favorite Marvel character created this decade (Robert Kirkman’s Irredeemable Ant-Man) is an obvious must read.

4. Dong Xoai, Vietnam 1965 written and drawn by Joe Kubert

Dong Xoai is the spiritual successor to Yossel, Joe Kubert’s ambitious reimagining of a WWII-era Jewish ghetto uprising. What links the two together is the art style. Kubert, an industry pro still working well into his 80’s, eschews colors and inks and draws these books in a sketchy, chaotic way aimed at reflecting the madness of war. Dong Xoai is his latest to be drawn in this style and focuses on American advisers during the early days of the Vietnam conflict before the fighting intensified into a full blown war.

5. Deadpool #23 written by Daniel Way with art from Paco Medina

Deadpool is the meta superhero for the 21st century. He’s the only character in the Marvel Universe who knows he exists in a comic book and will frequtnly break the fourth wall to address the reader. Recently, when he ran into Spider-Man, he ended the meeting by telling ol’ webhead that he’d see him later that month in Amazing Spider-Man #613. Daniel Way’s Deadpool is an absolute delight. It’s filled with ridiculous violence that tops any Warner Brothers cartoon and jokes that are actually funny. #23 is the start of a new arc and a perfect jumping on point about Deadpool piloting a robot in Las Vegas and fighting villains attempting to rob casinos. Check it out.

Summer Reading List

A few days ago on HTML Giant, Christopher Higgs posted his summer reading list and asked readers to do the same in the comments section.  I’ve been constructing elaborate summer reading lists for awhile now. Check out this stack that I (mostly) devoured over a three week period last summer.

But a curious thing happened when fall rolled around: I didn’t delete the reading list file on my hard drive. I just kept adding to it and adding to it, updating with way more titles than I could consume in any given month. And now, with a new summer upon us, I have a list that has ballooned to 33 separate entries. Ordinarily, this wouldn’t be a huge problem, but reviewing has taken a big chunk out of my reading for pleasure time. Oh, and this doesn’t even include all the graphic novels I’ve saved up for the summer (I have a different file for those with only 18 entries).

Prose

Portnoy’s Complaint by Philip Roth
God Jr. by Dennis Cooper
After the Workshop by John McNally
Samuel Johnson Is Indignant by Lydia Davis
Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Feast of Love by Charles Baxter
Something else by Jay McInerney (not Bright Lights, Big City)
The Half-Known World by Robert Boswell
Desperate Characters by Paula Fox
Something else by Joe Meno (not The Great Perhaps)
Dalva or Legends of the Fall by Jim Harrison
Await Your Reply by Dan Chaon
Netherland by Joseph O’Neill
Emperor of the Air by Ethan Canin
A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Morre
The Theory of Light and Matter by Andrew Porter
Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin
Drinking Coffee Elsewhere by ZZ Packer
A Common Pornography by Kevin Sampsell
Something by Paul Auster
The Terrible Girls by Rebecca Brown
This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper
The House of Tomorrow by Peter Bognanni
Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter by Tom Bissell
We’re Getting On by James Kaelan
End of the Affair by Graham Greene
Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned by Wells Tower
Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It by Maile Meloy
A Fan’s Notes by Frederick Exley
Solar by Ian McEwan
Shoplifting from American Apparel by Tao Lin
Stories II by Scott McLanahan
American Subversive by David Goodwillie

Comics

The Nightly News by Jonathan Hickman
RASL vol. 1 by Jeff Smith
Young Avengers vol. 2 by Allen Heinberg and Jimmy Cheung
Asterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli
Omega the Unknown by Jonathan Lethem and Farel Dalrymple
The Flash book 1 Blood Will Run by Geoff Johns and Scott Kollins and Ethan Van Sciver
Fantastic Four vol. 1 by Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo
Daredevil vol. 1 Ultimate Collection by Brian Michael Bendis and David Mack and Alex Maleev
Daredevil Born Again by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli
Black Summer by Warren Ellis and Juan Jose Ryp
Batman Year One by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli
New X-Men vol. 1 by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely and Ethan Van Sciver and Leinil Francis Yu
Global Frequency vol. 1 Planet Ablaze by Warren Ellis
Marvel 1602 Premiere HC by Neil Gaiman and Andy Kubert
Superman/Batman vol. 1 Public Enemies by Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness
Wolverine: Enemy of the State by Mark Millar and John Romita Jr. and and Kaare Andrews
The Middleman: The Collected Series Indispensability by Javier Grillo-Marxuach and Les McClaine
I Kill Giants by Joe Kelly and J. M. Ken Niimura

Obviously, this list is way too ambitious for any human to complete in a single season. But I’ll take a crack at it. I imagine that most of the graphic novels will fall by the wayside as I already read three or four comics a week each Wednesday. However, if you think I’m missing something absolutely crucial, please let me know. And feel free to post your own lists in the comments sections.

Bi-Weekly Friday Art Roundup II: Electric Boogaloo

Hi all. It’s time for another Bi-Weekly Friday Art Roundup. I would have liked to do a full post on the big comic news of the week–Marvel announcing an app for digital distribution on the iPad–but with AWP looming, I’m going to have to skip that for now and focus on smaller updates. For those of you who missed Roundup I, the purpose of these articles is to showcase artists I believe deserve recognition (and also to backdoor promote my upcoming graphic novel, The Black List). So why not just get started?

1. Sweet Tooth #7 by Jeff Lemire

Last month I did a top ten list of graphic novels for the literary inclined. Sweet Tooth would have made it, but at the time, it didn’t exist in paperback format, only in monthly issues. That is no longer the case. Without a doubt, Sweet Tooth is one of my favorite ongoing series. I won’t do the book any justice  describing what it’s about, so I’ll just say the work of writer/artist Jeff Lemire has to be seen to be believed. He eschews the realistic for a bizarre style that perfectly matches his apocalyptic dystopia. The most impressive aspect of his work is his facial features, something that gets glossed over by even the most successful of comic artists, especially those who photo reference. Lemire is not one of those artists. He positions his characters in straight-on, Wes Anderson style shots and lets their expressions tell the story. Anyone interested in the comics medium absolutely needs to study the work of Lemire, and there’s no better jumping on point than Sweet Tooth.

2. Blackest Night #8 Written by Geoff Johns with art from Ivan Reis

Blackest Night is an eight-issue miniseries that shows just how fun and insane superhero comics can really be. The conclusion to a multi-year story set in the Green Lantern section of the DC universe, BN succeeds on the merits of its hyper-talented artist, Ivan Reis. Check out this article by the good folks at iFanboy raving over the man’s ridiculous art skills. The average comic reader may not understand how difficult these events comics are to put out, but these are the toughest types of books to draw in the industry. Reis has to draw a cast of hundreds and literally squeezes dozens upon dozens of characters into single panels. Even if you know nothing about Green Lantern or Blackest Night, pick up this issue at a low, low price of four dollars for a master’s class in panel composition and character placement. Reis does not disappoint.

3. Unpublished Artist Tommy Smith

Tommy Smith is another artist I found on Mark Millar’s forums, and it’s very clear from a four-page sample of his work he posted that this man has chops. Being able to convey motion is a skill that sounds easier than it is to master, but right here in this one silent page, Smith gets across movement even while segmenting the flow of time. We don’t get every moment of this woman waking up, but it’s clear what’s happening thanks to the interesting angles and quirky subject choices. He doesn’t put the woman front and center in each panel. Sometimes she’s off to the side like in panel one, while others use a hyper close-up. Smith is currently looking for collaborators so if you’re a comic writer looking for someone who has storytelling down, consider shooting him an e-mail.

4. The Black List written by Salvatore Pane and Mark Kleman with art from Lamair Nash

This is one of the first finished pages Mark and I got back from Lamair, and we were absolutely floored. We posted a bunch of ads on various art websites looking for an artist and received many, many submissions. Lamair Nash was clearly the most talented, but we didn’t realize the extent of his skills until this page came in. Lamair takes a very simple, relateable moment–a twenty-something at a McJob caught goofing off by his boss–and turns it into something downright otherworldly. The closeup on protagonist Harry’s eye. The imposing figure of the boss. You can’t teach this stuff, folks. Lamair’s ability to make even the most mundane scenes bristle with energy and tension is one of the major reasons we so badly wanted to work with him on this project. And if this is what he does with a simple office scene, I can’t wait to show off what he can do with Richard Nixon firing rockets at stone mason mercenaries in secret underground laboratories.

5. Amazing Spider-Man #626 written by Fred Van Lente with art from Michael Gaydos

Three years ago I wrote articles for a great comic book website called Broken Frontier. Around the same time, a controversial of Amazing Spider-Man came out that rebooted the previous twenty years of continuity, namely the amount of time I’d followed the character. I flipped my shit. But since then, the thrice-monthly Amazing Spider-Man has been absolutely superb. The book employs a rotating cast of creators, including the brilliant writer Fred Van Lente whose MODOK’s 11 is an absolute must-read, that continues to put the screws to the life of lovable Peter Parker. Issue 626 is no different. Michael Gaydos is one of the best artists in the industry, and like Jeff Lemire, he is a master at facial expressions. Look at this exchange between Pete and his roommate Michelle Gonzalez. Is this the art you expect from a mainstream superhero book starring one of the most recognizable characters on Earth? No. It’s breathtaking. It’s a reminder of everything comics can accomplish. If you think Spider-Man begins and ends with Tobey Maguire and Sam Raimi, you owe it to yourself to run, RUN, to the nearest comic store and jump on board the new and improved Amazing.