Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Signals from the Void

June 19th will see my second publication. A short story that I wrote called A Smile Like Many Voices will be published in SIGNALS FROM THE VOID, a charity anthology by Rainstorm Press. The anthology will be edited by Lyle Perez-Tinics of Undead in the Head fame.

Here's some info on the book:

"A charity anthology to help support The SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligences) Institute
Edited and Compiled by Lyle Perez-Tinics
We want stories that are out of this world creative. SETI searches
for radio signals in hopes that they will stumble upon a signal from
intelligent beings. Here's your chance to write a story telling the
world what you think will happen if we make contact."

...and a purdy cover:

Creepy, huh?

Thanks to everyone, Buffyverse fans or otherwise, who picked up Angel: Yearbook. I'd super, super appreciate it if you bought a copy of SIGNALS FROM THE VOID and read my story. If you liked my comic book work, I'd love to see what you think about my first love: prose. You can pre-order the anthology here.

The story might not have Spike or Angel, but it does have a whole lot of weirdness, a kitty, and a girl that makes Drusilla look normal. Hope you dig it.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Writing My Hero

Picture this.

I'm in the fifth grade. My friend David Ayllon is over my house, and he pulls out this VHS tape with a label that reads "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." He tells me how great it is and that I'd love it. Truth be told, I didn't want to watch. It wasn't Goosebumps, so it wasn't for me. I don't know what followed my refusal to watch, whether it be a rock/paper/scissors match or an all out brawl, but David won over TV rights and he played my first ever Buffy episode.

"The Witch."

I liked it, despite it's non-Goosebumpsness and the fact that I probably didn't get half of the jokes. I thought Buffy and Cordelia were super pretty (I was a fifth grade romantic) and the horror angle spoke to the R. L. Stine fan in me. I sought out the show and started watching it weekly. I followed the adventures of Buffy, Cordy, Willow, Xander, Giles, and a certain vampire with a soul named Angel.

I remember the first two season finales. I remember worrying that the show wouldn't come back. I remember my devastation when I found out that I had to start taking karate on Tuesday nights and would have to miss out on Buffy. Fucking karate.

Time passed.

When I got to college and started having money of my own, I eventually remembered how much I liked Buffy. And I was working on a sequence of vampire novels of my own (The Continuity, which is a story that takes up roughly 75% of my brain), so I counted watching Buffy as research. Sure. Right.

book on shelves next to some familiar folks

Anyway, I watched the DVDs and instantly fell back in love, but this time it wasn't because of the pretty girls and the creepy monsters. The writing was amazing, the dialogue was the best I'd ever heard on television, and the characters were so human... even when they weren't human. I picked up the Angel DVDs when I finished the third season of Buffy so I could watch their stories unfold simultaneously. I was afraid that Angel, like many spin-offs, wouldn't be able to live up to the crazy high bar that Buffy set, but I shouldn't have counted the ol' broodster out. If there's one thing that guy does, it's the impossible. Angel was just as good as Buffy--better in some ways, as well. It was a different show with a different cast and different themes. I loved it the way that people are supposed to love other people. I knew these people. The characters were my friends and I watched their stories when I was feeling down. Which was a lot around that time, as my grandmother was in the process of dying when I first watched the Angel DVDs. She watched the first season and a half with me, though I'm not sure how much she understood at that point. I remember she called Angel a "fink" when he splashed the actress with blood in the Season One episode "Eternity." I miss her.

I love Buffy with every bit of me, and I do think that it's the best television series of all time, but by the fifth season of Angel, I knew that these were the characters that had my heart. Scott Tipton described it best in his recent (and excellent) retrospect of his work on Angel: "Angel's dedication, Gunn's bullheaded courage, Wesley's longing, Fred's innocence, Illyria's confidence, Spike's heart."* I saw myself in all of these parts of these characters. The thing about Angel was that Joss Whedon and the other wonderful writers were never afraid to dig into these characters and show how they can be as awful and evil as they could be beautiful and heroic. It was a dark, twisted, complex show that made me strive to be a better writer.

Fast forward a bit. I could go on and on, but I don't want to bore you.

Around the time Brian Lynch was chosen to officially continue Angel's story in his After the Fall arc, I decided that I was very, very envious of this man. I didn't know it before I read his first issue, but I realized that I wanted to write these characters more than anyone else. When I watched the DVDs, the show was done. The writers weren't talking about Angel anymore, for the most part. But Brian? Brian was on the forums like any fan, talking, geeking out, being a human being. A super nice one, at that, but the point is, I realized that, as inconceivable as it was, it was my number one dream to pen an Angel comic.

Of course, it was impossible. And I didn't mind that. Brian Lynch was doing a better job than I could've done, and just talking with him online made my experience as a fan twice as powerful. The show meant a lot to me, but Brian's accessibility, kindness, and friendship elevated my Angel love to new heights.

Angel: Yearbook cover art by David Messina with colors by ScarletGothica

When After the Fall was coming to an end, an Angel artist named Stephen Mooney posted a blog entry about wanting to draw a Wesley/Illyria miniseries set in the fifth season of the show. Brian was busy, and he needed a writer. That was all I needed. I threw on a couple of Angel episodes for background noise and started writing a proposal and a first issue for a miniseries called Angel: Whosoever You Be. I'll post the document for that sometime next week, because I'm actually really proud of it. To this day, it's one of my favorite things that I've written. Thankfully, and surprisingly, Mooney responded to me the next day. I remember what he said, verbatim: "Alright Pat! I'm not going to lie to you... I like it. I'll get back with proper thoughts once I've finished today's page." Long story short, Mooney was great about it. It just turned out that Angel was IDW's top selling book, and it was too big of a first step for a completely unheard of writer to jump onto that book. The whole situation astonished me, because I didn't even know Mooney but the dude took the time to read my story, give me notes, compliment me, and reach out to the higher ups about doing the book. I was beyond humbled.

Mooney drew this for me at NYCC.

I kept reading Angel as different writers took the reigns. I reviewed most of the books on my site and kept fostering my relationships with the writers and the artists. I began to talk to Scott Tipton every day, who I added because I was a fan of his work. We quickly became friends, because it turns out he's not just a talented writer... he's an awesome dude. Franco Urru, whose art I outright loved from After the Fall, graciously designed me a tattoo for no charge. I began to love the people behind Angel as much as I loved the characters.

My Franco Urru tattoo design

And then, it was announced that Dark Horse was going to be taking the Angel license, effective late 2011. Hm. Now, try to understand my first thought. It was presumptuous, selfish, and... well, mostly those two, but still. My first thought was "Fuck. Now I'll never write the book."

As it happens, though, I found salvation at NYCC. I spent most of that convention at the IDW booth, chatting with the people I'd been fostering relationships with. Brian couldn't make it out, but I talked with Chris Ryall, Scott Tipton, Mooney, and David Messina. And then I met three people I'd never met before: David Tischman, Mariah Huehner, and Dan Roth.

Angel: Yearbook cover art by Jenny Frison

I had scheduled an interview with Tisch and Mariah, but so did Buffyfest, and honestly they're way bigger in the fandom than my Buffyverse Comic Reviews site ever was. They got first dibs. Which is good, because as I was waiting around, Dan Roth of Buffyfest fame told me he was pitching stories for IDW's last book, Angel: Yearbook, a collection of short stories by all the folks who worked on Angel in the past.

"Whoa," I said, almost instantly salivating. "Think Mariah would let me pitch?"

Well, after my interview, I found out the answer to that. Yep. Mariah was happy to hear that I wanted to submit stories, but I didn't let myself get excited. I mean, putting myself in her shoes, I imagine it would be awkward to give a flat out "no" to a guy who you just spent half an hour with geeking out about Angel in an interview. But luckily for me, she was serious. I pitched her an Angel: Yearbook story about Gunn and Illyria, which she eventually decided was too similar in tone to Brian Lynch's piece. Which, hey, I take that as a compliment. Brian's my favorite writer, so if I even came close to that tone...
This is my original Angel: Yearbook proposal. It's a full script, because I figured it would be better to show the whole idea as it was so smart. I should've done it the traditional way from the jump, because when I started listing little ideas for possible stories, the brain juices got all... well, juicy. I still like this story, though, and I hope you do too. (I way way way prefer my final YB story, though.)

Anyway, I pitched more stories, she picked one, and things were a go. I asked if Stephen Mooney could do the art for my piece, because that seemed right. I can't see it any other way. Mooney's art is brilliant, and I always dreamed of working with the dude since he posted that blog entry. Mooney agreed and he turned out what I believe are the best two pages he's done... and I'm biased, yes, but also just look at these pages, aren't they perfect? The dude is a master of his craft.

So there it is. I was able to add to the legacy of one of the most iconic characters in all of genre fiction. I even squeezed a Spike line in there, because who doesn't want to write for Spike? I played in the Whedon sandbox, even if it was only for a few moments. It was a dream come true, made only better by the fact that I worked with Stephen Mooney on the story. And our tale, Angel: My Only Friend, appears next to stories by Brian Lynch, Scott Tipton, Chris Ryall, Franco Urru, Peter David, David Messina, Elena Casagrande, Dan Roth, and Jeff Mariotte... some of which I'm friends with, and all of which I'm fans of.

Angel: Yearbook cover art by Nick Runge

And something else cool? Fans are talking about my story the same way I talked about the comics when they came out. One of my favorite comments was posted by Mossome on Whedonesque: "Your story was so fun. The voices we're spot on (which is sometimes lacking in comic books). I love Angel's snarky remarks to the demon he killed. And the reference to the City of Angel's pun. Well done. : )"

Is it weird that I'm a bit (read as: very) moved by that?

So here's the cheesy end: I had a big, ridiculous, impossible-to-achieve dream. I wanted to write for Angel, a story and a character that changed my life. And hell, I don't know why I ever doubted it. Angel is all about looking the impossible in the eye and saying, "Hey, you see how the odds are overwhelmingly stacked against me? Well, so do I, but I don't care, because I'm going to try anyway. And I'm going to fucking win." Only, well, not fucking, because, you know... censors and s#*t.

So I guess I have to think of a new so-big-it's-impossible-to-achieve dream. Hm. Yeah. Yeah, I like that.

I kinda want to write Supergirl. Time to go to work.


A panel from Angel: My Only Friend

PS: Thank you thank you thank you to everyone at IDW, particularly Chris Ryall and Mariah Huehner. I was about to list a whole bunch of reasons why I'm thanking, but I reckon you know.

Also, these are some pretty cool links.

*Scott Tipton gives a retrospect on his Angel work. It's moving, funny in parts, and... well, kind of just like the Angel books he helmed. Clicky.

This gives me a happy. Buffyfest interviewed me and Dan Roth. Click here for that. It was a blast.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


That is all.

More thoughts on that and my incredible happiness later on.

Please tell me what you think of the book. It's quite honestly a dream come true for me.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Angel: Yearbook in stores tomorrow!

ANGEL: YEARBOOK hits comic shops tomorrow. It's the last ever Angel comic from IDW Publishing and it's my first writing credit in the comic book world. I'm incredibly proud of the story I contributed and can't wait for you guys to read it. Stephen Mooney provided art for the story, and it's his best work yet... which, if you know the guy's work, you know that's saying a lot.

The book has three covers. One from Nick Runge, one from David Messina, and an incentive from Jenny Frison.

Besides featuring a story by yours truly, it also features great stories by these folks:
Brian Lynch & Franco Urru
Scott Tipton & Elena Casagrade
Chris Ryall, Franco Urru, & David Messina
Jeff Mariotte & David Messina
Dan Roth (Buffyfest's Bitsy) & Stephen Mooney
Peter David & Stephen Mooney
and more!

You can see an exclusive preview of the comic at Buffyfest, featuring pages from Jeff, Peter David, and Brian.

If you can't make it out to the comic shop, you can order the book here at TFAW.

I'm super excited for this, and I think you guys are really, really going to dig it. I hate that IDW has to say goodbye to Angel, but what a way to go out.

Friday, May 20, 2011

IDW's Angel - Reading Order

In five days, my first comic book hits the stands. It's called ANGEL: YEARBOOK, and it's a collection of stories based on Joss Whedon's classic television series Angel. The book includes stories and art by all of the creators who have worked on IDW Publishing's Angel title through the years, including Brian Lynch, Peter David, Scott Tipton, Stephen Mooney, David Messina, Franco Urru, and--among others--me. I'm doing a countdown to the release of the book on my other blog, Buffyverse Comic Reviews, but I figured I'd do something here as well.

IDW has put out such a wealth of Angel comics in the past five years that some fans have mentioned now knowing where to start. Here's a suggested reading order of everything published since Joss Whedon and Brian Lynch started telling the official, post-television series Angel story.

Angel: Barbary Coast
NOTE: This takes place before Angel the Series

Spike: Asylum
NOTE: This takes place during the fifth season of Angel

Spike: Shadow Puppets
NOTE: This takes place during the fifth season of Angel

Angel: After the Fall Volume 1
NOTE: This takes place after the final episode of Angel

Angel: After the Fall Volume 2 - First Night

Spike: After the Fall
NOTE: This takes place before Angel: After the Fall but should be
read as a flashback, as it spins off of the events of Spike's flashback in
Angel: After the Fall Volume Two

Angel: After the Fall Volume 3

Angel: After the Fall Volume 4

Angel Volume 5: Aftermath

Angel Volume 6: Last Angel in Hell
NOTE: The events of this book take place before, during, and after
Angel: After the Fall. The individual stories will make the timing clear.

Angel: Only Human

Angel: The John Byrne Collection
NOTE: This is a collection of all of John Byrne's Angel stories, three of which take place
before Angel the Series and one of which ("Music of the Spheres") takes place
after Angel: Only Human.

Angel Volume 1: Immortality for Dummies

Spike: The Devil You Know

Angel Volume 2: The Crown Prince Syndrome

Illyria: Haunted
NOTE: This series begins at the same time as Angel: The Wolf, the Ram, and the Heart
and Spike Volumes 1 - 2.

Angel Volume 3: The Wolf, the Ram, and the Heart

Spike Volume One: Alone Together Now

Spike Volume Two: As of Yet Untitled

Angel: Yearbook
NOTE: The stories in this volume are very diverse; some take place
before Angel, some take place during the television series, and some
take place during the events of the on-going comic book.

Before Brian Lynch and Joss Whedon set things off with Angel: After the Fall, IDW Publishing was already telling great ANGEL stories. The following list is a pre-After the Fall collection of Angel and Spike series.

Angel Volume One: The Curse
Angel Volume Two: Old Friends
Angel Volume Three: Spotlight
Angel Volume Four: Auld Lang Syne
Spike - a collection of three one-shots by Scott Tipton and Peter David
Spike vs Dracula
Angel: Masks

Scott Tipton, writer of Illyria: Haunted and Angel: Auld Lang Syne, also adapted three Angel episodes into awesome comic books. Those are:
Angel: Smile Time (the hardback includes Smile Time 1-3, Spike: Shadow Puppets 1-4, and a story from Masks)
Angel: Not Fade Away (the TPB includes NFA 1-3 and the script for the televised episode)
Angel: Hole in the World (the TPB includes Hole in the World 1-5 and another short Fred/Wesley-centric comic by Scott Tipton)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

CBW #2: The Rocketeer, Superman 707 - 711, Supergirl 64, Richie Rich #1, Jimmy Olsen one shot

Comic Book Wednesday

Issue #2

Rocketeer Adventures #1

Okay, so I’m totally going to avoid the whole “this book is a blast” pun. Because that would be cheesy.

IDW’s ROCKETEER ADVENTURES #1 is a collection of short stories and pin-ups by some of the industry’s most talented creators. The stories are cut to the chase fun. There’s no build up, no repercussions that we get to see. Just 100% the juicy center of the stories. The first story serves to introduce Cliff Secord (the Rocketeer) and Betty, the girl he spends his life saving and loving. John Cassaday wrote and drew this story, and it’s clear that his talent has just gotten more potent since his series defining ASTONISHING X-MEN run. While the story is a clever start to the book, things just keep getting better. Mike and Laura Allred, the husband/wife art team behind iZOMBIE, helmed the next story, “Home Again,” which features the most dynamic art in the book. The final story by Kurt Busiek with art by Michael Kaluta serves to humanize Betty, showing how she copes with waiting for Cliff to return while he’s off fighting the war.

Overall, fans of the Rocketeer and classic comic books in general will want to pick this up. It’s a good read from the always awesome IDW.

Superman #707 - 711

J. Michael Straczynski, besides having a name that I wouldn’t even try to pronounce, is a pretty famous dude. He’s written countless excellent comics, created and wrote an astonishing (seriously—look at the numbers… what other showrunner does this?) amount of Babylon 5. Outside of Joss Whedon and J. J. Abrams, he’s the reigning king of geekery. However, his story arc on SUPERMAN has been reviled by many fans and review sites, with said critics citing how out of character SUPERMAN is acting. I can’t say if this was JMS’s intention all along, but writer Chris Roberson, one of my favorite comic book writers, took over writing duties with SUPERMAN #707 (halfway through JMS’s controversial “Grounded” arc) and made Superman’s OOC behavior a central part of the story arc. I haven’t read the pre-Roberson grounded stuff so I definitely won’t make a personal judgment on that story, but the character arc that JMS’s plotting and Roberson’s scripting sets up is immensely intriguing.

The best part about the Roberson (pictured above) run is how fun it is. I devoured 707 – 711 over the weekend, and now I can’t wait to see what Roberson’s Supes is up to next. The issues have been mostly one-off adventures that show Superman teaming up with fellow heroes who help push him in the right direction. Superman, who has been depressed since the New Krypton incident, begins to realize that his emotional state has affected who he is as a hero and a person. However, that doesn’t stop the book from being an explosion of fun. So far, Roberson’s run has brought us a Clark/Bruce flashback (and no, Clark/Bruce does not imply that it’s also a slashback), a race between Supes and Flash, a Wonder Woman cameo that confused the bajeezus out of me until I read up on Wonder Woman’s current story in her on-going, a fight with Livewire, and—best of all—an appearance by the Superman Squad, which is by far the highlight of his arc so far. The Squad showed Superman that his actions on Earth influenced countless individuals of many difference species to wear the S and rise to the challenge—to fight for truth, justice, and the American way.

I’ve loved all the stories so far, and I can’t wait to see how Roberson concludes this series. Each issue hints at a larger story (there’s a mysterious woman that keeps following Superman), and it seems as if all the threads of this twelve part “Grounded” story arc are about to be woven together into a big time climax. If the final three issues are anything like the rest of Roberson’s run, they will be as packed with character exploration as they are with action.

And man just look at those covers. This arc has seen the talents of John Cassaday, Dave Johnson, and Jo Chen, who is one of my personal favorites. For the past few months, SUPERMAN has been an absolute must read.

Richie Rich #1

APE Entertainment’s RICHIE RICH gets off to a good start with their first issue. It’s a collection of stories that serve to (re)introduce Rich Rescue, the supporting characters, and the tone of the book—which is full on adventure. The highlights of the book are Bill Williams’ (ANGEL, SPIKE, SIDECHICKS) “The Boon Under the Bay,” a technology heavy story about the hunt for some good old fashioned pirate treasure, and the final page-long story which features KeenBean trying to talk about his fancy new ship while Reggie hilariously keeps comparing it to a hot dog. The art is top notch, and made me think back to some of the best Saturday morning cartoons.

Supergirl #64

James Peaty’s “Good Looking Corpse” arc comes to a satisfying end in this issue. The villainous Alex (he sounds so much less intimidating when you can’t see him) gets defeated in classic DC fashion—heroes outsmart the villain, villain gets knocked out, villain goes off to be rehabilitated, and heroes reflect. It’s a classic model, but it’s done so well here. The plot itself ties together nicely, and the way that Supergirl and Miss Martian take Alex down is great; it’s a smart idea, but I wouldn’t expect less from this team. The meat of the issue is the conversation between Supergirl and Lois at the end, where Lois brings up the elephant that constantly lives in every room Supergirl enters: “So, still feel like you’re not in his league?”

Former writer Sterling Gates made a hero and a confident girl out of the once lost Kara Zor-El, and James Peaty’s arc respects that. In fact, his arc is sort of all about that. His Supergirl is sure of herself, but not cocky. She says, “Kal-El is in a league of his own, Lois. But if anything should ever happen to him… I’ll be ready and waiting to step up to the majors.” Satisfied, Lois invites Supergirl out to celebrate, but the Maid of Might has already zeroed in on some other folks in need of her help. As she flies off, Lois looks after her and says the line that made me go from really liking to loving this arc…

“And so it goes.”

Can’t really beat a Slaughterhouse Five reference, especially when it works as well as this one. Writer James Peaty and artist Bernard Chang did a great job with this book, so I hope that next month’s team of Kelly Sue DeConnick (OSBORN: EVIL INCARCERATED) and ChrisCross (SPIKE, SUPERMAN/BATMAN) can keep this book a must-read!

Jimmy Olsen’s Big Week one-shot

This comic has gotten crazy hype, and that’s because it’s crazy good. Not only is this the most satisfying book I’ve picked up all year, it’s one of the funniest and most heart-warming stories in the DCU I’ve ever read.

In this gorgeously drawn book, writer Nick Spencer and artist R. B. Silva take us on an adventure through space, alternate futures (of sorts), and Jimmy’s wild personal life after Superman left Metropolis. At its core, it’s a story about a dude trying to win his girlfriend back, but it’s also about aliens who want to party on Earth after seeing Jersey Shore, a plot to take over the world with a video game, Jimmy’s tenure as Co-Superman, and so much more excellence than I can contain in one tiny review.

In two words, read this. Every page has more hilarity and heart than any other book on the stands. Nick Spencer is a certified writerly genius. I can’t wait to read everything he has ever written. I’ll end with a quote from the book.

Jimmy Olsen on Lexicorp’s Sebastien Mallory: “He hates me, I hate him. Yeah, it has a nice symmetry—the guy who hangs out with Superman not getting on with the guy who sucks up to Luthor all day—but trust me, it’s 100 percent genuine. He is the Biff to my Marty, the Leno to my Conan, the parents to my just don’t understand.”

Do you need any more than that?

NEXT WEEK: My first comic book hits the stands next week, so I'm gonna be super self-indulgent and interrupt regularly scheduled program for a blog entry devoted to the book in question, IDW's ANGEL: YEARBOOK.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

First Semester as a Professor

I was always scared of getting in front of my classmates to give a presentation. I know that public speaking is a pretty big fear of most Americans, so I'm not alone. While the fear never crippled me, I think it definitely affected the quality of my presentations. What I had in my head was often better than what actually came out. So clearly, I'm qualified to teach college classes where pretty much all I do is stand in front of a group of students, talking my oversized head off.

Getting the job teaching two classes at Five Towns College (Screenwriting and Script Writing) was pretty big for me. I'd never taught before except for a few guest spots I did in creative classes, but I knew the opportunity was too big to pass up. I was getting hired because of my experience in the writing field, and that was enough for me. Talk about writing, get money. Can't beat that.

It took a while for me to get into the swing of things, to be honest, but I guess that's true of anything. I met a lot of students who I feel I was able to positively influence, and it's pretty amazing that almost all of their final scripts were better than their first efforts. That makes me pretty proud. I can't say that I knew exactly what I was doing throughout, because I guess I approached teaching like I did my early writing--I was still trying to find my voice. And I guess, even with the semester ending today, I still kind of am. But I think that's okay. I was able to connect to some really great writers, fostering potential and, in some cases, intense talent. I've learned what works, what doesn't work, and what makes me crazy. Best of all, I've learned what to avoid in order to keep my sanity the next time I do this (which, sidebar, is this summer). At the end of the day, I'm happy about that.

I'm happy that I drew from the teachers that I loved in college.

I'm happy that there might be one or two students that will remember me the same way I remember the teachers that helped me along on the writerly path.

I'm happy that I tried to help everyone, even if some students didn't follow through. It happens.

I'm happy that I got a few laughs, because teaching a creative class is the closest thing you can get to stand-up comedy.

I'm happy that the wonderful girl I'm dating was able to calm me down when my stress levels went Genosha.

I'm happy that the semester is very, very over.

But most of all? I'm happy that one of my students drew this storyboard of me yelling at another student about grammar.

A goal for me is that, even with juggling two jobs again this summer, I will set aside the proper time for writing. I have to keep writing to keep sane, and if I don't set aside the time to do it, I sort of just start binge writing when I can, which I've found has a negative affect on my sanity and personal life. But I'm okay now. Not that I wasn't before, I was just overwhelmed. Now, though, I think I have something of a game plan.

Weird entry. But that's my first semester in a very cliche nutshell.

NEXT TIME: Comic Book Wednesday, covering SUPERMAN #707-711, SUPERGIRL #64, RICHIE RICH #1, and TINY TITANS.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

CBW #1: Supergirl Review

I've been entertaining the idea of doing a weekly comic book review on this site, especially with my Buffyverse Comics site closing down next month. It's been hard finding the time, what with managing two jobs, my freelance writing, and the whole "having a life" thing... so I figure, since I'm the busiest I've ever been, now is totally the time to add more to the load.

And so...

Issue #1
Supergirl #60 - #63 Review

To kick things off, let's talk about the Maid of Might. The Daughter of Krypton. That blonde flying girl whose skirt is waaaaaay too short for anyone's good. A skirt that short just makes for awkward conversation. "Hey, how are you?" "Not bad, yoOH MY GOD ARE YOU EVEN WEARING PANTS? THAT'S LIKE A SKIRT SHAPED BELT?"

But I kid. To me, Supergirl is the character that got me back into superhero comics. I'm currently on the way to becoming an all out DC nut because of these books. Jeph Loeb gave her a great reintroduction with the second arc of the Superman/Batman book way back, Sterling Gates made the series a must read, and now James Peaty is currently doing pretty cool things with the character. Let's take a look at the latest arc, James Peaty's "Good Looking Corpse."

#60 - the iconic cover

SUPERGIRL #60 is brilliant. Even if the issue had been horrible--which, let's just say it wasn't, for those who like to skim (also, hey, stop skimming!)--the cover is iconic. Supergirl, with the pink S behind her, stares out at the audience with a slight smile; after Gates' character defining run, Supergirl is in a good place. She's confident in herself, which just demonstrates how far she's come from the mess of a girl that arrived on Earth in Superman/Batman. The smile and calm look in her eyes on the cover of January's Supergirl #60 perfectly and subtly shows that Supergirl has finally earned the S; the symbol that she has constantly struggled to live up to. That's the art of Amy Reeder for you. Now, I'm just waiting for DC to throw her on interiors. She would absolutely kill this book--in the good way, not the "Hey, let's cancel this book now" kind of way.

Writer Nick Spencer was supposed to do this arc, and he's credited as a co-writer in the first part... but #61 and on are all James Peaty. Of the storyline, four out of five issues have been released, and the plot is pretty promising. There's a new (well... eh; you'll see) villain in the mix that causes trouble for Supergirl, Damian Wayne, and Blue Beetle. While they're dealing with that mess, which keeps getting crazier with each issue, Lois Lane has her own problems. It's a fun romp for the most part, and the action is great thanks to artist Bernard Chang... but the thing that makes these issues special isn't the Big Bad or the intricately woven sub-plots, or the outright inspiring confidence of Kara Zor-El. It's the human element, which the books (particularly #60) outright ace.


The moment that sold this creative team for me was in the first part of the arc. Supergirl flies to the rescue of a teenage boy falling off of a building, only to learn that he purposely threw himself off, knowing she would save him--just to get her phone number. It's a moment that, upon first read, scores a laugh, but when I went back to reread these books for the review, it felt a lot darker. It ties into an idea that the arc seems to be pushing; civilian obsession with superheroes puts lives in danger. The "evil genius" (I put it in quotes, because the ceaselessly awesome Terra once pointed out that any genius would see that evil for the sake of evil is just counterproductive) of the arc is an app-builder for smart phones, and uses said app to track videos that people take of Supergirl on their phones.

#62 - Unused Cover

All in all, I'm looking forward to the way that James Peaty end the arc... but as fun as the plot is, I'm more impressed with the thematic significance of the story. Sterling Gates is the Supergirl writer (though, I plan to take the title from him--gently--when I write the title... AND THEN RULE THE WORLD MWAHAHAH... ahem), but Peaty is doing a damn fine job with this series. This just shows that not all changes in creative teams are signs of the world ending; Supergirl is still an excellent book. Just in a very different way.

NEXT WEEK: Supergirl #64, Superman #707 - #711, The Mighty Thor #1, Richie Rich #1