Saturday, March 05, 2022
Saturday, January 01, 2022
- The Immortal Hulk by Al Ewing, Joe Bennett, Ruy José, Belardino Brabo, Paul Mounts, Cory Petit, and others: with the caveat about the artist being a gross bigot, this series really went out with a bang this year.
- Power Pack: Outlawed by Ryan North, Nico Leon, Rachelle Rosenberg, and Travis Lanham: a really fun and smart comic about my favorite young super-team, which deals with the "why don't superheroes use their powers to solve real-world problems?" question in a more innovative way than Bruce Wayne cutting checks or Superman going to a climate protest.
- Kent State by Derf Backderf, technically released in 2020 but I read it this summer. An absolutely infuriating exploration of a tragic injustice, the causes of which have not been addressed in any way whatsoever.
- The Nice House on the Lake by James Tynion IV, Álvaro Martínez Bueno, Jordie Bellaire, & Andworld Design: Between this, Batman, DC vs. Vampires, and Something is Killing the Children, Tynion has kind of had the best year ever.
- The Avengers by Jason Aaron, Javier Garrón, Ed McGuinness, Aaron Kuder, Carlos Pacheco, Alex Sinclair, David Curiel, Matt Hollingsworth, Rachelle Rosenberg, Cory Petit, and others: I know this series is somewhat controversial, but month in and month out it's the kind of wild, over-the-top action I want from a team like the Avengers.
- The 6 Sidekicks of Trigger Keaton by Kyle Starks & Chris Schweizer: Shocking, I know, but Starks and Schweizer, individually and as a team, have yet to miss in my experience. This series was fantastic. Read it if you haven't.
- Superman and the Authority by Grant Morrison, Mikel Janin, Jordie Bellaire, Tom Napolitano, and others: Morrison somehow manages to cram more good ideas into four issues than most writers manage in three times that. One of the few comics this year that consistently left me wanting more.
- Eat the Rich by Sarah Gailey, Pius Bak, Roman Titov, & Cardinal Rae: Gailey is rapidly becoming one of my favorite authors, and this series helps to illustrate why. When most novelists turn to comics, they have a tendency to struggle with the medium a little, over-narrating or failing to remember it's a visual medium. Gailey and Bak, however, do some seriously innovative things, in service of a story that's interesting, relevant, and breezing right along.
- Captain America Infinity Comic by Jay Edidin and Nico Leon: Jay shows that he isn't just an X-pert on the X-Men with this X-cellent turn on a timely Captain America story.
- Witch Hat Atelier by Kamome Shirahama: Continues to be the most gorgeous book I read on a regular basis, with a more interesting and original take on the "kids at magic school" concept than certain other popular series I could name. Over the last few volumes, the centering of disability in the narrative has become significant and fascinating.
- It's Jeff Infinity Comic by Kelly Thompson & Gurihiru: Best comic of the year, finpaws down.
- Across the Green Grass Fields by Seanan McGuire: This might be the only book I read this year that was actually published in 2021, but when a new Wayward Children book drops, it moves to the top of the TBR pile. This one was fantastic because they're all fantastic.
- Ever Cursed by Corey Ann Haydu: A fairy tale for the #MeToo era that frequently drops lines which feel like they should be on the poster for the movie. The one real drawback to this one is that we don't spend enough time on the protagonist's sisters.
- The Escape Room by Megan Goldin: A bunch of rich jerkwads get put in a deathtrap for revenge (and class war) reasons. It's not exactly what I wanted it to be (moar deathtraps pls) but it's solid.
- Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen: Hot take: this book is great. Just a bunch of people who are so rich and sheltered that they have no idea how not to be awkward and overdramatic, and it was shockingly relatable.
- Mortal Kombat: A lot of people complained that this movie didn't have a fighting tournament, and I guess that's legitimate, but it found multiple opportunities to force two people to fight like they were limited to two dimensions of motion, and that's kind of amazing? This was exactly the level of stupid fun and special effects that I wanted from a Mortal Kombat movie. All it was missing for me was the "toasty" guy.
- Gunpowder Milkshake: The second film I've watched that could be dismissively called "John Wick but with a woman," and the better of the two (sorry, Peppermint). It's a good, fun action movie that never takes itself too seriously.
- The Suicide Squad: Speaking of not taking itself too seriously. I'll never quite manage to accept characters from Detective Comics Comics dropping f-bombs, and there was an unnecessary amount of gore in this one for me, but I enjoyed it otherwise. If nothing else, it captured a lot of what I feel like the Suicide Squad should be: bad people doing bad things for bad reasons, but it all kind of comes out okay and the real villain is imperialism?
- Black Widow: Better than I expected! Kind of a shame we won't be seeing any more of Natasha.
- Dune: I also read Dune this year and enjoyed both the book and the movie reasonably well. But I found them both, if you'll excuse the accidental pun, kind of dry. Gorgeous, though.
- "Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)" by Brian David Gilbert: It's probably a shame that, in a year where ABBA dropped their first new album in decades, I spent a lot more time listening to Brian David Gilbert covering ABBA songs from the perspective of horror movie characters. This may be the only adaptation of Frankenstein I've ever encountered that acknowledges the creepy sister-wife dynamic.
- "Big Big Friend" by Cheekface: I discovered Cheekface this year, and while "Big Big Friend" isn't quite as fun a jam as "I Only Say I'm Sorry When I'm Wrong Now," it's still pretty great. I don't know how to describe Cheekface; the best I've got is "halfway between Cake and The Presidents of the United States of America" but that just feels really incomplete.
- "Build a B*tch" by Bella Poarch: Somehow this didn't make it into my Spotify wrapped playlist, despite the fact that I listened to it like three dozen times this year. I just love the nonchalant attitude Poarch has here, and I'm very interested to hear her next single.
- "Haunted Mansion" by Demi Adejuyigbe as Ray Parker, Jr.: Not just the best song I heard this year, but a song that practically became a belief system for me. I have never been so happy to have a song stuck in my head for weeks on end.
- Other things I listened to and liked but didn't listen to enough to have a take on: the new Halsey album, the new ABBA album, some of Lil Nas X, Doja Cat, Dua Lipa, & Ariana Grande's new stuff, Orville Peck's "Fancy," Lizzo & Cardi B's "Rumors," and apparently a ton of stuff that came out in 2016-2018 but is totally new to me.
Wednesday, August 11, 2021
|Toy Snake Mountain...|
|...and cartoon Eternos...|
|...and a kind of hybrid Grayskull, with the toy playset's handle visible.|
|I like Gore-illa's little pirouette.|
|The Sword of Power|
|Similar to, but legally distinct from, the Sword of Power|
Wednesday, August 04, 2021
When Marvel buys the rights to license characters from a movie, TV show, or even a toy, we usually try to find characters that are incredibly popular—that have a huge following of their own. That way, when we publish the comic book based on such a character we're hoping to reach thousands of people who may not have picked up a comic book in years!
While it [Wilson & Janke's art] will be slightly different from that of the HE-MAN cartoons, it will be every bit as down to earth!"
Listen to your mother and father, brush your teeth after every meal, look both ways before crossing the street, never take candy from a stranger with a blue hood and a skull face, and most of all, accept no imitations!
Friday, July 30, 2021
Our story begins at another party, where Prince Adam is continuing with that playboy lifestyle, though we get explicit confirmation that this is at least in part an act.
I think this is a really interesting hook for the character, even if it clearly wasn’t very sustainable for a children’s property, particularly one as beset by watchdog groups as Masters of the Universe. The alter ego with a different personality from the hero is nothing new in superhero comics, and we’ve even seen characters like Batman playing the carefree Casanova, but Adam feels a little distinct here, characterized closer to Johnny Storm than Bruce Wayne. Usually the immature, impulsive character who’s always thinking about the opposite sex is played straight, as character flaws that the hero genuinely needs to overcome; it's less common to make those the hallmarks of his secret identity.
Adam gets attacked by demons in his bedroom, and finds Cringer when he hides under the bed, which is a solid gag. We never do find out what the demons were doing there. They rush off to the Goddess's magic cavern, where they are transformed—but find Skeletor instead of the Goddess (who is occasionally also called the Sorceress in the story). Skeletor has imprisoned her, and will only release her if He-Man retrieves the Power Sword for him, which the Goddess has hidden away. In order to find the sword He-Man will need to find three talismans (talismen?) representing the sea, the sky, and the cosmos.
It's a fetch quest to start the fetch quest. Not the most auspicious start to a series. Or end to one.
He-Man returns to the palace, where we get confirmation of something that fans have always speculated about: do He-Man and Prince Adam really look that similar? In the DC Universe, the answer appears to be yes:
It also plays into a longtime fan theory that Queen Marlena knows Adam's secret. Now that he's back to the palace, He-Man seeks help from the palace wizard, Tarrak, who is being attacked by demons himself!
He-Man, Teela—wearing for this issue only a sword-and-sorcery standard metal bikini—Battle Cat, and Man-at-Arms manage to defeat the demons, but not before they take the cosmos talisman. Meanwhile, the Bird-People of Avion are attacked by a squad of Beastmen, who are after the sky talisman, which Stratos wears. Stratos seeks help from He-Man, and with Tarrak's assistance, the heroes set off to find the other two talismans.
|This specific outfit and pose feels so familiar.|
He-Man and Battle Cat head into the jungle, where they meet a clan of barbarians that He-Man has encountered before, in what feels like a nod to his classic origins. He-Man once helped them battle a sexy evil wizard named Damon.
The barbarians know where the cosmos talisman is, but before they can retrieve it, the group is attacked by demons again. He-Man takes the talisman, and is transported away.
Out in the Sea of Blackness, Man-at-Arms, Teela, and Stratos are looking for the sea talisman, which is being held by the Mer-People. Fortunately, Tarrak gave them potions so they could breathe underwater. Mer-Man leads a fight against them, because this version also has ambitions of his own, until Skeletor pulls a Darth Vader from a distance. Teela is less than grateful, so Skeletor leaves them to the mercies of the Mer-People.
|Just going to admire how great Skeletor looks in that first panel for awhile.|
But Stratos claims the sea talisman just in time, and the whole crew is transported into a Steve Ditko drawing.
They get attacked by demons again, but are saved by Zodac, who refuses to give them any information about the person sending the demons, but a page later we learn that it's the wizard Damon, who wants the Power Swords so he can control Eternia, not that dimensional-carpetbagging wizard-come-lately Skeletor. He's gotten considerably less sexy and more...problematic since that brief appearance in the previous issue.
Zodac uses the talismans to open a portal to the Sword's location (sort of?) and then gives them to Zoar the poorly-drawn falcon before sending the heroes on their way.
|Feels like the reference got away from you a bit.|
Meanwhile, Damon decides to tip his hand by attacking Skeletor, who lashes out with magic that is strong enough to teleport them both into Castle Grayskull, just as Damon had planned. But in a pretty great moment of both villains trying to two-steps-ahead each other, that was all part of Skeletor's plan, and he apparently kills Damon.
These comics go pretty hard for stuff that was based on toys for babies.
|Also, this happened earlier in the issue.|
The heroes also end up in Castle Grayskull, which is apparently where the Power Sword is, even though we already saw Damon with the Power Sword before he was able to access Castle Grayskull.
You and me both, He-Man. The heroes split up to search the castle. Stratos gets caught in a giant spiderweb, Man-at-Arms gets blown up by a tripwire, and Teela ends up in a hedge maze until she stumbles on Skeletor, who pulls the Power Sword out of a magic warp.
He-Man shows up shortly after, but Skeletor sends Beast-Man (singular) and a monsterized Man-E-Faces (who was briefly introduced earlier in this third issue) against the hero. Eventually He-Man, Teela, and Zoar get the sword away from Skeletor, and then the Goddess appears to say "actually I wasn't in any danger, but your friends are all caught in booby traps." The End.
What an absolutely bizarre miniseries. It feels like it was initially intended to be four issues and cut down to three, but that change had to be made before the first issue—with its "Mini-Series 1 of 3" banner—went to the printers. The promotional push makes it seem like DC was intending to do a lot more than three comics and a handful of mini-comics. Editor Dave Manak speculated that there might have been an issue with contract negotiations, but I'd be really interested if there's a clearer answer. Every aspect of the DC Masters of the Universe license feels abnormally cut off, right down to the end of this story.
Whatever the reasons were, this would be the last full-sized Masters of the Universe comic from DC for almost 30 years. Next time we'll pick up with the Marvel/Star Comics.