Read Along With Ghostmann: Doomsday Clock #1

I was fourteen when Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’s Watchmen first hit the stands. I was already a huge Moore fan from reading his Swamp Thing run. I picked up Watchmen on his name alone.

At fourteen I really wasn’t aware of the magnitude of what I was reading, but I knew it was good and that it meant something. With each subsequent reading I grew to love it and understand it more and more until my appreciation of the series grew to giant squid proportions!

Now, over thirty years later Geoff Johns and Gary Frank have brought us a sequel – a continuation of Moore and Gibbons story. Big shoes to fill.

For the next twelve months I’ll be analyzing each page and breaking things down.

In other words…

It’s time to read along with ghostmann! Doomsday Clock #1!


PAGE 1:

Ahh the 9 panel grid. A sight for sore eyes.

Panel 1, of course in true Watchmen tradition, echoes the cover of the comic.

Rorschach is setting the tone, much like he did in the original Watchmen #1. It’s 1992, seven years after Rorschach died. Wait, he DIED! How can he be narrating?

The “The End is Near” sign that Rorschach / Walter Kovacs carried around in the original series gets altered a bit here. It’s now “The End is HERE.”

“Undeplorables,” “Totalitarians,” “Moderates” – very timely political terms being thrown around by Geoff Johns here.

The angry crowd turns into a mob and rushes the Veidt tower.

The scene is set perfectly by page 1: The world of The Watchmen has turned ugly since last we visited it. Continue reading Read Along With Ghostmann: Doomsday Clock #1

Old Man Logan #31

I’ve been feeling kinda burnt out on all the Wolverines running around the Marvel U. We currently are at three and with the original Logan returning, I was wondering how Old Man Logan’s place would be affected. I didn’t really have too high of hopes for Old Man Logan #31 going in because I’m not the biggest fan or either the character or artist Mike Deodato; however, I can say I was pleasantly surprised by both.

Aside from a few scattered lines, the book doesn’t really deal with OML’s time issues. Instead it focuses on Japan. For some reason, I always find myself liking Logan in Japan stories. I don’t know what it is but the setting always makes people bring their A game.

Writer Ed Brisson chooses to focus on a war brewing between The Hand (led by Gorgon) and the Yashida Corporation (led by fun Jason Aaron creation Shima Harada). Of course, Logan gets caught up in the war by accident and thus the story begins. Mike Deodato seems very well suited for this story of bright lights, ninjas, Yakuza, and mechanized samurai suits. It’s honestly one of the times I’ve enjoyed his art the most.


Continue reading Old Man Logan #31

Moon Girl & Devil Dinosaur #25

This holiday season, we’ve got quite a bit to be thankful for. In theaters: a Thor movie that is fantastic, and a Justice League movie that isn’t completely terrible (I might have hated it more than most, but the general consensus in our little collective is that, apart from The Flash, Zach Snyder’s latest DCEU flick is at least somewhat enjoyable). On the couch: a wonderfully satisfying Stranger Things follow-up segues into a surprisingly good Punisher series. And on the stands: DC’s Doomsday Clock is garnering rave reviews, and Marvel, godbless’em, still doesn’t mind publishing comics that feature superheroes without a film or television deal, and who have been seemingly forgotten entirely.

Moon Girl & Devil Dinosaur #25, by Brandon Montclare and Natacha Bustos, continues to be one of the most charmingly entertaining books on the stands. It’s the kind of book I want to give to my little cousins to show them that superheroes and superstories can exist outside of movies and video games. In fact, this little gem of an issue, part of Marvel’s Legacy initiative, may just open up their young impressionable world to the fact that comics not only gave birth to the characters and wonderment that are so pervasive in pop culture today, but its pool is exponentially more deep and engaging. Case in point: who the hell are the Fantastic Four?

Or in the case of this storyline, the Fantastic Three. We got the teasers in Jason Aaron’s Legacy one-shot, but it’s nice to be reminded that Marvel’s first family is merely gone but not forgotten. Lunella, smartest human on the planet now that Reed Richards is out of the picture, may be sans one giant red dinosaur at the moment, but she will have no shortage of team-ups and sidekicks if this FF-inspired new story arc is any indication. I was one of the kids who thought H.E.R.B.I.E. was simultaneously stupid and awesome back in the day, and it made me smile to see that same kind of reaction elicited in this comic. Welcome back, guys. And pay attention kids — you might learn something.

Continue reading Moon Girl & Devil Dinosaur #25

The Punisher #218

The popularity of The Punisher seemed to have peaked during the gritty anti-hero 90’s, in a forgettable era of comic book vigilantes that lost the plot, turning Golden Age ideology on its head and forcing us to examine what heroism really means. The Punisher began his comic book career as a villain, plan and simple, a foil for Spider-Man intended to underscore the fact that revenge and justice are not the same thing. But the character took on a life of his own, and for good reason — it’s a helluva concept and a brilliantly iconic design — and this week’s issue, the first under the Legacy imprint, hits shelves a few days before The Punisher stars in his own thirteen-episode series on Netflix.

The Punisher #218, by Matthew Rosenberg, Guiu Vilanova, and Lee Loughridge, has lofty aims. On the one hand, there’s the appeal of a Garth Ennis run, more at home in this Call of Duty era among espionage or crime comics like Queen & Country or Criminal. On the other hand, there’s this notion of Legacy, and, in Week 7 of the initiative, we’d still like to think that Marvel’s storied legacy is populated with more light than shadow.

Rosenberg, an up-and-coming writer who has already tackled Marvel’s underworld with his Kingpin series, looks poised to make good on both goals. There are lots of gangsters’ heads getting blowed up, and several sadistic grins from a Frank Castle who, of course, looks a lot like Jon Bernthal. He’s the same ruthless badass that he’s always been, and we are never asked for a minute to consider the humanity of his victims. But there’s also the matter of a certain piece of ordinance that Frank steals in the opening to this arc, and a wider scope to the story than we’d come to expect.

We gave him the War Machine armor, but he’s not becoming War Machine. He could never. War Machine is James Rhodes, a hero, an Avenger, something to aspire to. Frank is simply The Punisher, nothing more and nothing less. These characters we all love aren’t their suits or their weapons, they are the people inside that we care about. Hopefully, by having Frank steal the iconic armor, we can shine a light on not just Frank’s legacy, but Rhodey’s as well. – Matthew Rosenberg

Continue reading The Punisher #218

Port of Earth

In the great tradition of thought-provoking first contact science-fiction like District 9 and Arrival, comes Zack Kaplan and Andrea Mutti’s Port of Earth, out this week from Image and Top Cow.

Kaplan, whose Eclipse is one of the better sci-fi comics to come out in recent years, sets up a near-future Earth that is visited by aliens not motivated by conquest or exploration, but by business. In exchange for permission to establish a galactic port fifty miles off the coast of San Francisco, a consortium of alien industrialists shares planet-saving technology with our world: the ability to transform water into power.

The series doesn’t seem to be about the ramifications of averting an energy crisis (which is a good thing, because there is no explanation as to how consuming a non-renewable energy source like water can be of “no consequence”), but rather the allegorical implications of setting up business in someone else’s backyard. Indeed, right off the bat, outbreaks of violence lead to the creation of an Earth Security Alliance, tasked with keeping the peace and protecting both humans, as well as the alien investment.

The premise is interesting enough, but what will really keep me reading is the mystery that unfolds with the latest incident. An ESA buddy cop duo report to a crime scene where an unemployed mechanic is found murdered, a softball-sized hole ventilating his torso. And the clues on the scene point to a red threat level alien. I dig on some cosmos building, and this first issue’s appendix features a fun sourcebook on some of the extra-terrestrials Kaplan and Mutti have cooked up for this series, separated into known consortium members and hostile species.

Continue reading Port of Earth

Four Color Primer: Valkyrie, Part 4

Taika Waititi’s highly anticipated Thor: Ragnarok opens in theaters this weekend, and the hype engine has been revving ever louder for the indie filmmaker’s first Hollywood blockbuster. Among interview bon mots like Waititi’s stance that he’d love another chance at an MCU film, so long as it’s Thor, because he doesn’t “really like any of the other characters,” is buzz regarding Marvel’s first openly LGBTQ character, Valkyrie, played by Tessa Thompson.

boom! – nice to meet you

We’ve been detailing Valkyrie’s comic book backstory and, if you’ve been following along since the first installment, know that this unnecessarily in-depth primer is finally getting wrapped up. Thanks for sticking it out. If you’re here for the first time, welcome as well! And if Valkyrie’s bisexual orientation is what steered you here, then you’ve arrived at an opportune time. This four-part series on the Nordic shield-maiden is, ostensibly, a guided reading list of key storylines. In the process, however, we’ve shed some light on how the visions of various creative teams, over several decades, can shape and define a character. Her sexual orientation, for example, really came into focus within the last few years.

When last we left Brunnhilde of the Valkyrior, she had finally been restored to her true form, body and mind in the same place for the first time in centuries. Her memories were no longer muddied with those of mortal hosts like Samantha Parrington or Barbara Norriss (may she rest in peace); her powers of enhanced strength and combat skill had become more pronounced; and she was leading (at least in her own mind), the “New” Defenders. And then she died. Again.

Back Issue! #65, the B-Team edition

This was an editorial mandate to free up all those former X-Men for the launch of X-Factor. Without Beast, Iceman, and Angel, there was very little rack appeal for The Defenders, and the series was ticketed for cancellation. Despite her lengthy tenure on the team, Valkyrie really didn’t have a life outside of that title, so she was sadly sacrificed along with super-nobodies Interloper, Andromeda, Gargoyle, and Manslaughter. In an interview for Back Issue, Peter B. Gillis bemoans the premature demise of the team he had been building.

My long-term plan was to populate the Defenders with my own crew of characters… characters who nonetheless had ties to interesting parts of the Marvel Universe. Andromeda, while not the Sub-Mariner, gave me a connection to Atlantis. – Peter Gillis

Even though he didn’t get his chance to develop that crew, including some remarkably stupid characters (“I fell in love with Manslaughter as much as Don [Perlin] did. He was definitely going to stay a member”), Gillis found a way to bring back Valkyrie et al, in the pages of another book he was writing, Doctor Strange: Sorcerer Supreme. Continue reading Four Color Primer: Valkyrie, Part 4

Captain America #695

Marvel probably couldn’t have picked a better creative team to follow Nick Spencer’s subversive Captain America epic than Mark Waid and Chris Samnee. As great as the Hydra-Cap saga was (and despite mixed feelings regarding the conclusion of Secret Empire, it was great; don’t let the naysayers fool you), it was time for a fresh start. And in Captain America #695, his first issue under this season’s imprint, this new creative team perfectly captures everything that we’ve ever loved about the character, celebrating his past and paving the way for the future. These guys take their Legacy directives seriously.

The stellar team behind brilliant runs on Daredevil and, most recently, Black Widow, bring that same gorgeous storytelling to this Cap relaunch. Samnee’s elegant lines and fluid layouts are matched up with a vibrant color palette that manages to capture some genuine Golden Age nostalgia. And Waid’s first storyline doesn’t completely abandon the topical political bent of Spencer’s work. Cap goes undercover, returning to a town he had first helped when fresh out of the ice years ago, to intercept the plans of a supremacist organization. There’s some of that signature Marvel chronology compression that the continuity junkies will complain about, but just give us something to get excited about, is what I always say.

Waid and Samnee do just that. This issue is all about the core values of heroism and protecting those who can’t protect themselves. And just reading Waid’s afterward, a love letter from a talented writer to an iconic character, generates a good deal of excitement on its own. Waid has already made Avengers a monthly must-read, and his new take on Champions is almost as good. But with this title, returning to a character he explored in the late 90’s, he might be inspired to put together his best work to date.

I don’t recommend, as an adult, drawing all of your morality and ethics from super heroes. They are fortunate enough to live in a wonderful world where might always makes right, one sometimes absent the gray areas we struggle with as we mature. Nonetheless, I will share Steve Rogers’ core belief until the day I die. If you have the ability to help, then you have the responsibility, because everybody ultimately benefits. Life isn’t fair, but people can strive to be, and we are all better for it when we do. – Mark Waid

Continue reading Captain America #695