The New Batgirl is So Unlike DC and Why That’s a Good Thing

Posted By on July 10, 2014

Batgirl

Image source: MTV

On the surface, everything about the new Batgirl comic run announced by DC Comics Thursday is nothing like we come to expect from the company.

Sure, new Batgirl writers Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher have a history with DC  from their respective work on Batman Inc. and Wednesday Comics. However, where they plan to take Barbara Gordon and her superhero alter-ego is a complete 180 on how she’s been portrayed in the New 52 reboot written by Gail Simone. With her old life literally gone in flames, Barbara packs up her bags and moves to Burnside, described by Stewart as “the cool, trendy borough of Gotham.” Starting in October with issue 35, Batgirl will drop the its overtly dark tone for a more upbeat atmosphere. Stewart promises the new Batgirl book will be lighthearted and fun; two things severely lacking in the comics DC publishes today.

Batgirl 02

Image source: MTV

Then there’s Batgirl’s newly redesigned costume by Babs Tarr, who will make her comic debut as illustrator for the series. Gone is the movie-inspired and needlessly complicated armor Batgirl has worn since the New 52 began and in is a more practical, fashionable, and simply appealing apparel that beautifully represents the youthful side of Barbara. Rarely has DC hit the nail on the head when it came to redesigning its characters for a new generations, with the Justice League sporting line-covered armor with collars, Starfire wearing less clothing than ever before, and Powergirl initially dressing like a toothpaste before reverting back to her original appearance. However, Tarr’s take on Batgirl’s costume does exactly what a redesign should do: Draw inspiration from the original, while modernizing it for a new era.

It’s surreal how the new Batgirl actually feels fresh and not a retread of DC’s 90s ideology. Everything about Batgirl comes off as something Marvel Comics would do, considering its recent relaunches of She-HulkMs. Marvel, and Ghost Rider. But it’s not. Batgirl is all DC and it bring changes the publisher should have introduced since relaunching its comic book library in 2011. It may have taken three years, but DC has finally caught up with the times for Batgirl. Hopefully Batgirl is only the beginning and more titles will soon start to follow, because this is what the DC universe desperately needs.

Let’s see more of this.

Batgirl 03

Image source: MTV

And less of this.

Batgirl 04

 

Comments

Comic Review: The Amazing World of Gumball #1

Posted By on June 27, 2014

Gumball 01 A

Cover A by Missy Pena.

BOOM! Studios has certainly made a name for itself in the all-age comic book market. Under the KaBOOM! imprint, the publisher has released funny and entertaining comic book adaptations of popular Cartoon Network shows, like Adventure Time and Regular Show. Continuing the trend is The Amazing World of Gumball #1 by writer Frank Gibson and illustrator Tyson Hesse.

As previous creative teams of Cartoon Network comics, the duo behind the Gumball comic have a history working on webcomics, as Gibson writes Tiny Kitten Teeth and Hesse writes and illustrates Boxer Hockey. And just like past Cartoon Network comics by BOOM!, The Amazing World of Gumball #1 is a must-read for fans of the show, or anyone looking for a good laugh.

Gumball 01Currently in its third season, The Amazing World of Gumball by Ben Bocquelet follows the adventure of a young cat named Gumball and his best friend/adoptive brother/pet goldfish Darwin as they live their daily, but surreal, lives in the fictional city of Elmore. The comic assumes you’re already familiar with all the show’s wacky characters, but it doesn’t leave newcomers completely in the dark.

Everything you need to know about Gumball and his friends are represented well in the first issue. Gumball’s dad, Richard, is a lazy bum. His mom, Nicole, has anger issues. And his little sister, Anais, is too smart for her age.

The story for issue one has Gumball and Darwin planning a long lazy day after school, only to get sidetracked when a fellow student gets behind the wheel of a car and deeming it the coolest thing ever. Jealous of the attention the faux student driver got, Gumball vows he too will drive a car and drags Darwin in for the ride. Gibson stays true to the humorous nature of the show, with jokes being set up and delivered at a fast-pace. The comic’s story structure is also faithful to the show, as it conjures up as many crazy scenarios it can get from its premise, without losing focus. A departure from other Cartoon Network comics by BOOM!, Gumball’s stories are self-contained, making it easier to recommend to those unwilling to wait three or four issues for the payoff.

Gumball 02The most unique thing about The Amazing World of Gumball is its visuals being a mixture of different mediums. Traditional animation, flash animation, stop-motion animation, CGI, puppetry, and real life clips are all featured in Gumball through its “anything goes” type of world. As a comic, The Amazing World of Gumball cannot accommodate all these different art styles. However, Hesse finds a suitable and appealing style that somehow blends all these incoherent character designs into one. On top of that, Hesse’s artwork is just so delightfully expressive.

The lack of a guest comic seen in past Cartoon Network comics is disappointing, but doesn’t stop The Amazing World of Gumball from being a complete joy. At $3.99, The Amazing World of Gumball #1 is a recommended purchase. Keep the all-age comics coming, BOOM!

 

 

Comments

Captain America’s “To Do List” Around the World

Posted By on April 7, 2014

The Winter Soldier

Source: Marvel Studios

Over the weekend, Captain America: The Winter Soldier continued Marvel Studios’ dominance at the box office with an estimated three-day gross of $96 million, according to Deadline.  The film’s worldwide performance is even more impressive, as it hovers over $300 million. Speaking of worldwide, one neat aspect of the Captain America sequel is the region-specific things Steve Rogers needs to catch up on that’s written on his to do list, seen in the beginning. Comic Book Movie reported on the UK version of the list, which features the modern TV retelling of Sherlock, the Beatles, and the 1966 World Cup finals. Now, other versions of the list have popped up online. Check them out below.

To Do List Spain

Spain

To Do List Latin America

Latin America

To Do List Korea

Korea

To Do List O4

Italy

To Do List France

France

And here’s the original version of the list.

To Do List US

United States

With a few exceptions, the last five things that remain the same in all versions of the list are Thai Food, Star Wars/Trek, Nirvana, Rocky/Rocky II, and Troubleman by Marvin Gaye.

Curious about seeing Captain America: The Winter Soldier? Read Iain McNally’s review of the film.

 

Comments

John Campbell’s Sad Pictures for Children Kickstarter Drama

Posted By on February 27, 2014

oh god

A strip from Pictures for Sad Children.

John Campbell, the cartoonist behind the webcomic Pictures for Sad Children, has ceased deliveries of the strip’s second hardcover collection to Kickstarter backers and threatened to burn the remaining books to anyone who complains.

On the latest Kickstarter update, Campbell posted a long and mostly incoherent post about how the world views “value.” One paragraph that reads crystal clear from Campbell, however, is the statement regarding undelivered books to backers who supported the Sad Pictures for Children Kickstarter. As stated in the post, 75% of those orders were shipped to backers, but Campbell has no plans to fulfill the rest. No refunds will be offered and anyone who complains about it via email or social media will have their book burned.

I shipped about 75% of kickstarter rewards to backers. I will not be shipping any more. I will not be issuing any refunds. For every message I receive about this book through e-mail, social media or any other means, I will burn another book.      

Accompanying the troubled post, Campbell posted a video of those crowdfunded books being burned in a bin. On top of this, Campbell has deleted the webcomic from their respective sites. Picturesforsadchildren.com, Sadpicturesforchildren.com, and Boohooboo.tumblr.com (Campbell’s tumblr) are nothing but blanks now. Needless to say, backers and close friends of Campbell are displeased with the move. K.C. Green, who was close to Campbell, characterized today’s event as the feeling “you feel when someone dies and there’s no dead body.”

Campbell originally faced scrutiny in 2012 for claiming to have faked depression and capitalizing on it. Judging by Campbell’s latest action, that claim may not have been real.

 

Comments

Comic Review: Regular Show #9

Posted By on February 6, 2014

Regular Show #9

Cover art by Allison Strejlau

Just like the hit Cartoon Network show its based on, BOOM! Studios’s comic adaption of Regular Show is anything but. It’s funny; it’s surreal; it’s beautiful; and similarly to other all-age books published under the KaBOOM! imprint, it’s consistently entertaining. This is thanks to the talent of writer K.C. Green and artist Allison Strejlau. However, for the past four issues, Green has been absent as the comic’s writer. With issue #9, Green makes his return to the comically absurd Regular Show-verse with a story that not only does the series proud, but serves as a welcomed invitation to newcomers.

For those unfamiliar with the cartoon, Regular Show follows the lives of Mordecai and Rigby: two laid-back park workers that constantly find their seamlessly mundane lives turned explicitly crazy by one thing or another. And considering they take orders from a talking gumball machine on a daily basis, that’s saying something. In issue #9, that talking gumball machine, Benson, has ordered his crew to sell any junk lying around the house for the garage sale the park is holding to boost revenue. As usual, Mordecai just wants to get the job done, while Rigby throws a tantrum over the whole matter.

Green’s return to the comic delivers the same silly humors found in the original series, with  dialogue that amuses and stays true to the characters. Just like Leo Johnson said in his review of issue #1, the writing here could easily pass for any Regular Show . . . show. I didn’t need to stretch my imagination when reading Mordecai’s taunts towards Rigby as he throws away his junk; their voices instantly played out in my head.

Regular Show #9 02

Regular Show #9 03Green doesn’t deserve all the credit, however, as Strejlau’s artwork gives the book a style familiar to the series, but unique to its own. It’s more lively, expressive and imaginative than the typical animation seen in Regular Show. Mordecai’s and Rigby’s ridiculous reactions seem above is enough to conjure up a smile on anyone’s face. My favorite illustration from the book is page 18, where Rigby imagines himself as a hero. Strejlau’s panels this sequence creatively and amusingly, with Rigby’s pleased face evoking a bit of Dr. Suess.

Similarly to the Adventure Time comics by KaBOOM!, Regular Show features a short story by a guest artist. For issue #9, Jake Wyatt tells the tale of Rigby steali–I mean–borrowing a magical 20-sided die and selfishly abusing its ability to grant wishes to one-up Mordecai and vice versa. Again, like the main story, this fun little special is true to the show in capturing the competitive relationship between Mordecai and Rigby. It’s also nice sight for the eyse, with its delightfully warm pink color scheme dropping by now and then.

Regular Show #9 04

Regular Show #9 starts off strong with a humorous beginning to what looks like to be a great story arc. Only flaw I have with the issue is that I wanted more, but what I got was enough to satisfy me until the next issue. Highly recommended for fans of the show, current comic readers, or anyone looking for a good all-age book.

Comments

Comic Review: Fracture #1

Posted By on February 1, 2014

Fracture “Another Friday night alone on the couch,” said Jeff as he dozes off from recounting his pathetic life. When awaken, he finds himself in the aftermath of a bank heist as the supervillain Malice, with one cop left alive from the scene ready to fire a bullet in his brain. That’s the beginning of Fracture #1, written by Shawn Gabborin, and art by Chad Cicconi and Dave Dwonch. With an intriguing premise of an ordinary man discovering his secret life as a supervillain and a superhero later on, it’s easy to see why Fracture, published by Action Lab Entertainment, was successfully funded via Kickstarter.  However, based on the first issue, its premise is all it has going for at the moment.

Fracture 02Jeff is an okay character. Considering he described his life as nothing but dull, I expected his regular self to be just that. After the realization of his multiple personalities and experiencing it for the first time, he still comes off as dull. His shock when waking up as Malice or flying off as the superhero Virtue are expected, but remains the standard reaction with no uniqueness injected by the character. Having Jeff’s multiple personalities seep through when dressed as them would have made those scenes more fascinating to read, but as is they’re just generic.

The plot of Fracture #1 suffers from genericism as well, with the folding of events going by as one would expect. However, they do go by sharply without wasting a minute of the reader’s time. The use of the journal, which serves as a way to speed up Jeff’s revelation of his other selfs, is displayed to the readers in the comic’s last few pages. It’s a good idea, as it shed some light on who the other Jeffs are and builds some tension for the next issue. The surprising news near the end of the issue also brings hope of some excitement for the next.

Art-wise, Fracture #1 is serviceable. Sometimes the characters’ heads look a little too big, or the body and facial expressions appear unfitting, but the artwork is otherwise fine. Most amusing page was when Jeff wakes up as Virtue in mid-flight and quickly crashes into a nearby building. On page 22, however, demonstrates some of the problems with the artwork. The way the woman runs away from Virtue looks more like a quick jog, than someone trying to flee for their life. The woman’s facial expression seen in the first panel look off, as does her gesture in the second.

Fracture 03

Designs for Malice and Virtue do evoke the general idea of a comic book villain and hero, but considering the story’s biggest flaw is its vanilla taste, it could have stood out more. The paneling is effective; rarely fancy but crystal clear.

As previously stated, Fracture has great story potential. How can a story about a man unknowingly living as a superhero and villain not?  Sadly, it doesn’t exactly show in its first issue. Considering its three-issue series, Fracture #1 may be enough to entice readers to give it a go and see if it can live up to its hype.

 

Comments

Mimi Yoon Defends Her Controversial Powerpuff Girls Cover

Posted By on January 27, 2014

Powerpuff Girls

Source: IDW Publishing

Artist Mimi Yoon took to Facebook this weekend to address the controversy surrounding her withdrawn variant cover for The Powerpuff Girls #6, which was deemed “too sexy” for its intended younger audience.

The controversy began last week when Dennis Barger Jr., owner of Wonderworld Comics in Detroit, criticized Yoon’s cover for “sexualizing pre-teen girls like perverted writing fan fiction writers on the internet.”

Shortly after Barger’s comments and others spread online, Cartoon Network, who “mandated” the cover with the artist of their choosing, pulled it before its release to retailers. Dirk Wood, IDW’s vice president of marketing, rationalized Cartoon Network’s original intent of the cover, saying they viewed it as a form of female empowerment than sexual exploitation. When contacted by ICv2 about pulling the variant cover, Cartoon Network’s licensing division said “We recognize some fans’ reaction to the cover and, as such, will no longer be releasing it at comic book shops.”

Yoon previously alluded to the controversy regarding her aged depiction of the Powerpuff Girls dressed in latex outfits last Thursday, but made her opinion well known on Friday.

i’ve been keeping quiet because of my respect for the other parties involved, but i feel it’s about time i say something.

DO KNOW THAT I AM DAMM PROUD OF THIS WORK OF MINE.
my objective was to illustrate modern, pop cultured, SASSY (not sexy), and humanized Powerpuff Girls who have just beaten the crime lord and have him on the ground. yes, the girls are wearing latex costumes… SO?!?!?! don’t all superpowered heroes wear latex?

unfortunately, the comic book will never make it to the stores… yes, i’m truely disappointed… because a perverted mind decided to see in this image what his dirty mind has conjured up, and barked loud enough. worse, he brought up kids and used protecting kids and kids’ perspective in his reasoning/excuse. does he think kids are dumber than him?

She continued on Saturday, attacking Barger more directly and linking to photos of him posed with strippers.

i am quite overwhelmed but will try to reply all of the supportive messages as soon as i can. and i will continue to create art embracing the beauty of women and femininity. i find all of the accusations for my Powerpuff Girls image sexualizing minors not only ridiculous but also embarrassing (for the accusers) and disturbing especially since it’s started by a person of such value as seen in the pictures below.
a person argued that i’ve gained popularity from the situation, but I’VE NEVER ASKED FOR ANY OF THIS, ESPECIALLY IN THIS MANNER. and i’m curious to know why are all the arguments about trying to keep the image away from the girls? what about the boys?

by the way, it’s too late now…. the image has spread wider now than it would ever have as a comic book cover in stores.
computer savvy children are seeing it and will see it for a long long time easily too on their computer monitors, even the ones who would never have if this nonsense has not started by that one perverted mind who conjured up the nonsense in his dirty mind. how is he going to stop the kids from seeing the image on the internet now?

Fans of Yoon’s artwork will be happy to hear IDW are already planning another cover for her, as  IDW Editor-in-Chief Chris Ryall tweeted it’s “Going to be a fun one.”

 

Comments

Batman and Superman Arrive on Amazon Instant Video

Posted By on December 1, 2013

Batman Superman

Batman: The Animated Series and Superman: The Animated Series have been added for streaming on Amazon Instant Video.

Arguably two of the best and well-respected superhero cartoons by Warner Bros. Animation, Batman: The Animated Series and Superman: The Animated Series are now available to watch online for Amazon Prime members. Thanks to the creative team of Bruce Timm, Paul Dini, Eric Radomski, and many others, Batman: The Animated Series was praised by critics and fans when it debuted in 1993. Known for its dark atmosphere and “Dark Deco” art style, Batman: The Animated Series is still seen today as the best interpretation of the character, thanks to its dramatic and sometimes tragic storylines. The best example of the latter being the episode Heart of Ice, which reinvented Mr. Freeze from boring crook to a sympathetic, but cold-hearted killer. While overall lighter in tone, Superman: The Animated Series delivered the same entertaining quality as the DC series before it, with the Apokolips…Now! two-parter as among the classics.     

For other animated DC superhero shows, Netflix has Batman Beyond, Justice League, and Justice League Unlimited on their streaming service. All three are connected with Batman: The Animated Series and Superman: The Animated Series, with Justice League Unlimited serving as the final series in the DC Animated Universe.

 

Comments

Artist Alley: Superheroes In Their Ben Cooper Costumes

Posted By on October 30, 2013

With Halloween only a day away, it makes sense to dedicate this installment of Artist Alley to comic art with the trick-or-treat spirit. Although, showing off artwork of costumed heroes doesn’t seem very different from past entries, given the nature of the superhero genre. However, in the case of comic book illustrator Karl Heitmueller Jr and his rendition of DC and Marvel heroes dressed in their poorly made Ben Cooper costumes of themselves, it’s a sight that must be witnessed for its comical beauty.

As Heitmueller explained on his blog, the superhero costumes produced by Ben Cooper Inc. through the 1950s, ‘60s, and ‘70s, came nowhere close to matching the original.

But kids who wanted to pretend they were Batman, Spider-Man, Green Lantern, Captain America, or any other DC or Marvel do-gooder had their bubbles somewhat burst the second they took the cheap mask and costume out of the box. Rather than being miniature versions of the actual supersuits, the Ben Cooper costumes were vague approximations at best, almost always enhanced with the name of the character plastered at least once across the chest, or head (or both!) of the flimsy smock and plastic mask. Even more head-scratching were the costumes for characters like Green Lantern, Aquaman, or Daredevil that—rather than imitate their sartorial preferences—splashed an illustration of the hero across the chest. So, you were Green Lantern wearing a Green Lantern costume that… uh, had a picture of Green Lantern on it. As if the fun-size Snickers doler-outers didn’t know who Hal Jordan was!

Below are Heitmueller’s artwork of Batman, Iron Man, Spider-Man, Superman, and Wonder Woman dressed in their Ben Cooper costumes. Heitmueller’s artwork capture the vintage look of these characters wonderfully, as they pose proudly in their laughable apparel.

Given Spider-Man’s origin story, the luchador design is the only one that comes close to appropriate. The tiny print on Superman’s costume stating only he can fly is hilariously reminiscent of this famous line from The Simpsons. As for Wonder Woman’s costume. . . well, at least she has some pants on.

Have a happy Halloween everybody. Make sure to label the name of your character you’re dressed in on the top of your head, so you don’t forget who you’re trick-or-treating as. Also, make sure to check out this post by Heitmueller for an in-depth look at the costumes made by Ben Cooper Inc.

Comments

Ben Affleck on Batman Casting and Internet Outrage

Posted By on September 17, 2013

After being cast as the new Batman in the forthcoming Batman Vs. Superman movie in late August, Ben Affleck appeared on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon yesterday to address his fans on critics on the situation.

“It’s so awesome, I’m so excited,” Affleck told the soon-to-be host of The Tonight Show. “They called me up and said ‘do you want to do this’, and I’m like, ‘I’m not 25 man are you sure?’. So they said to come down and we’ll show you what we’re doing, and it was incredible.” He later praised Man of Steel director Zack Snyder and emphasized Batman in the Superman sequel wouldn’t be a repeat of Christian Bale’s performance in the “amazing” Batman movies by Christopher Nolan. According to Warner Bros., the Batman in Batman Vs. Superman will be “tired and weary and seasoned.”

Affleck also commented on the flack he’s gotten since he was announced as Bale’s successor, which mirrored the complaints Michael Keaton got when he wore the cape and cowl in the 1998 Tim Burton movie.

I handle sh-t. … I’m very tough. So I saw the announcement and I look on [the internet]. I look on the first comment. It’s like ‘Ben Affleck is going to be Batman.’ The first one just goes, ‘Nooooooooooooooooo!’

 

Comments

J.H. Williams III Leaves Batwoman Over Editorial Decisions

Posted By on September 5, 2013

 Batwoman

Batwoman writer and artist J.H. Williams III will leave the acclaimed title over editorial interference from DC Comics.

In a joint statement made by Williams III and Batwoman co-writer, W. Haden Blackman, last-minute editorial decisions by DC Comics caused the duo’s departure from the supernatural Bat-comic. “From the moment DC asked us to write Batwoman — a dream project for both of us — we were committed to the unofficial tagline ‘No Status Quo,’” Blackman posted on his website. “. . . Unfortunately, in recent months, DC has asked us to alter or completely discard many long-standing storylines in ways that we feel compromise the character and the series.” These rash decisions by DC included: scrapping the origins of Killer Croc; significantly altering the ending to their current story arc; and most devastating for the former Batwoman creative team, prohibiting Kate and Maggie from getting married.

Before accusation of DC being anti-gay marriage got carried away, Williams clarified on Twitter that the publisher’s objection to Kate and Maggie’s marriage wasn’t motivated by their sexual orientation. Instead, similar to Marvel Comic’s decision to break up of Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson, DC opposed Batwoman’s marriage because it interfered with status quo. It certainly isn’t encouraging news for the comic book industry, given its negative stance on superhero marriages, nor is it encouraging for the now brokenhearted DC world the New 52 ushered in from the previous continuity. Worst of all, Williams and Blackman’s departure from Batwoman is just another disappointing example of DC scaring off their creative talents with their editorial mandate.

Batwoman #26 will be Williams and Blackman’s last issue.

 

Comments

Truth in Journalism – Venom Film Does the Character Justice

Posted By on August 5, 2013

Truth In Journalism

Image source: Geek Tyrant

For all the Venom fans disappointed with his rushed appearance in Spider-Man 3, Truth in Journalism is for you.

Written and directed by Joe Lynch (Wrong Turn 2: Dead End), Truth In Journalism stars True Blood‘s Ryan Kwanten as Eddie Brock, Spider-Man’s former journalistic rival and foe. From the production crew documenting Eddie after his publicized Bugle firing, to the post-credit scene featuring another famed Marvel Comics villain. the Venom fan film is heavily inspired by the French mockumentary Man Bites Dog. The 80s soundtrack is a little overbearing in reminding you what time period this is (1988, when Venom made his comic debut), but the slow burning exploration of Eddie’s twisted morality is where Truth in Journalism shines. Viewers get a better look at the monster hiding inside of Eddie (figuratively and literally) in Lynch’s short film, then they got in Sam Raimi’s two-hour camp-a-thon.

In promoting Truth in Journalism, producer Adi Shankar (The Grey, Dredd) was interviewed by Collider about the short’s development and his past success of Dirty Laundry, the viral Punisher fan film. When asked about his Marvel films sharing the same universe, Shankar had this to say.

The idea of a shared universe is a really cool one but it’s a double edged sword.  Dredd, Deadpool, Venom, Ghost Rider, Morbious, Grendel, Spawn, Punisher, and Wolverine exist in another world … at least they do emotionally and thematically.  . . .

Sticking all these characters in a shared universe becomes challenging because now you have to make a good DAREDEVIL movie and worry about how it fits in the context of the other movies in that universe.  I don’t think it’s a coincidence that some of the most iconic comic books are one-shot off continuity books like Dark Knight Returns or event books like FLASHPOINT PARADOX where the story isn’t beholden to the rules and parallel stories of the rest of the universe! Make a good movie first and worry about the source character and the universe later.

What Shankar says is true, as Truth in Journalism doesn’t just clash with his movies, but diverges greatly from the formulated structure Marvel Studios has developed in their flicks since 2008′s Iron Man. Even with Sony holding the Spider-Man movie rights and expressing interest in a solo Venom film, there’s not much expectation it will differentiate with what Hollywood currently produces in tone and style.

Regardless of how safe Hollywood plays superhero movies these days, Truth in Journalism is a testament that there will always be filmmakers looking to chart new territory in the already explored comic book genre.

 

Comments