GEEK OUT! SPEECH BUBBLE – OPENING NIGHT

From BigO circa 1993, lyrics from Gum, illustrations by Eric Khoo.
From BigO circa 1993, lyrics from Gum, illustrations by Eric Khoo.

Organised jointly by cartoonist Sonny Liew and writer-historian CT Lim in conjunction with the National Library, Speech Bubble is a exhibition showcase of the marginalised art form popularly known as comic books. The opening night event was held last night at the National Library, Basement 1 Central Public Library and I was fortunate to get invited!

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GEEK OUT! REMEMBER THE WHOLE STEVE ROGERS HYDRA AGENT BROUHAHA? IT WAS ALL JUST A GIMMICK!

Hail Hydra 001

“But I certainly believe it’s not a gimmick. It’s a story that we spent a long time on, that’s compelling and captures the zeitgeist of the world. It will make readers wonder how the heck we’ll get out of this.” These are the words of Marvel executive editor Tom Brevoort when asked if making Steve Rogers/Captain America a Hydra double-agent was a “gimmick”.

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GRAHIC NOVEL REVIEW: PATIENCE (BY DANIEL CLOWES)

Patience

Synopsis
Our protagonist is Jack Barlow – a bit of a loser character. Jack’s pregnant wife – Patience – is murdered in 2016 and that event traumatises him for life. Thirteen years later, he comes across a time travel device which provides him with the opportunity to prevent Patience’s murder. Naturally, things don’t quite pan out as planned.

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GEEK OUT! GREEN LANTERN – RENEGADE

Hal Jordan

The latest DC crossover event Convergence gave the company the excuse to reboot its characters yet again. For some reason, Marvel and DC are convinced that comic book readers constantly want something new in lieu of memorable stories.

The Silver Age Green Lantern (a.k.a. Hal Jordan) gets his latest makeover with the Renegade storyline: Hal gets a new look as he goes rogue from the Green Lantern Corps and along the way, Jordan steals a Green Lantern prototype gauntlet and power pack from the armoury.

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GEEK OUT! AIRBOY – FEAR & SELF-LOATHING IN PATRIOTIC WWII CARTOON

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It seldom gets as meta as it did in the 4-part Airboy series recently published by Image Comics, written by Jame Robinson and illustrated by Greg Hinkle.

002

Basically, Robinson and Hinkle are hired by Image Comics to reboot WWII hero Airboy for the millennial generation. Instead, the mini-series is about Robinson and Hinkle meeting Airboy (!) being transported into WWII and actually participating in an Airboy mission.

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GEEK OUT! ALL-NEW WOLVERINE #1

Female Wolverine

To be honest, I rather balked at yet another superhero being ‘reinvented’. Already, Marvel has given us a female Thor and so it seemed cliched to now come up with a distaff Wolverine. As you know Logan is dead – though the Old Man Logan version turned up in a X-Men comic recently – and so his clone X23 (Laura Kinney) takes up his mantle, in his original yellow and blue costume. 

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GEEK OUT! JUSTICE LEAGUE: THE DARKSEID WAR – SUPERMAN #1 & FLASH #1

Darkseid War God of Steel

Well you know when it comes to big superhero comics crossover, it’s easy to be cynical & look at them as nothing more than cash-grabs i.e. a gimmick to lure completist fans to buy every comic ‘associated’ with the main event storyline.

Well, strictly speaking, the issues focusing on Batman, Superman and the Flash do not occur within the current continuity of the regular titles so, one might argue that these one-shots do not qualify as cynical cash-grabs but a genuine attempt to explore the implications of Darkseid’s death.

Maybe.

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GEEK OUT! JUSTICE LEAGUE: DARKSEID WAR – A LITTLE TWIST TO KEEP THINGS INTERESTING

Darkseid - Justice League 44

Probably aware that comic fans might just be getting tired of publishers using the death of superheroes to create the facade of something new happening in their titles, DC have decided to kill off its most iconic villain, Darkseid (see above)!

Bat-God

This event occurred in the currently ongoing Darkseid War within the pages of Justice League. With the demise of this dark god, DC have elevated five characters to divine status viz. The Flash – God of Death, Superman – God of Strength, Batman – God of Knowledge (see above), Shazam – God of Gods and Lex Luthor – God of Apokolips! Of course, everything returns to normal by the end of this arc but curiously to see how it all pans out.

Darkseid War - Lex

What was perhaps jarring was that Act One of Darkseid War had quite brilliant artwork by Jason Fabok but Act Two features less impressive work from Francis Manupal. Although that last full page seemed just fine (see above). Well, of course, the narrative could have done with less characters – it’s so hard to keep up as usual with superhero plots (convoluted for its own sake) but all things considered a good run thus far.

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GEEK OUT! ALL-NEW ALL-DIFFERENT MARVEL? HO-HUM

ANAD_Marvel_teaser

While the success of the Marvel Studios movies has had an impact on Hollywood, it has also changed the face of Marvel comic books. Where once the X-Men held sway as Marvel Comics’ main draw, now it’s the Avengers. Look at the teaser for the post-Secret Wars All-New All-Different Marvel and you will hard pressed to find a single X-Man or Fantastic Four member. Why? Because Fox owns the movie rights to those characters and from a business perspective, why would Marvel promote these characters? See how screwed up it all is now?

Amazing Spider-Man #1

As Spider-Man is back in the Marvel fold – in the sense that Marvel is collaborating with Sony on the character – the Spider-verse is high up on Marvel’s priorities. Except that Peter Parker/Spider-Man has morphed into Tony Stark/Iron Man. What a revolting development! Also, there are titles for Spider-Gwen, Spider-Woman & the Ultimate Spider-Man, all in the same universe! Confused yet? Don’t worry, you will be.

Invincible Iron Man #1

Speaking of Stark, the Invincible Iron Man #1 at least reads like a proper title compared to the anthology nature of Amazing Spider-Man #1. The most interesting moment in this reboot comes in the form of a date with an Indian (female) scientist where the latter recounts that she has invented a cure for the mutant gene with no negative side effects. And there you go, with one stroke of the pen, Fox will have no more mutant characters to make movies about! Will Marvel do this?

Avengers #0

Avengers #0 crams an introduction to all the various A-teams (remember when it used to be X-teams?) in the new Marvel Universe. I must admit that I did not understand a single storyline and was bemused by the fact that the Squadron Supreme – which began as a Marvel parody of the Justice League – is now a fully fledged title within the Marvel Universe. How lame can you get?

So yeah, don’t expect me to re-visit this rebooted new Marvel anytime soon – except perhaps to explore how badly Marvel has messed up the X-Men and Fantastic Four. 

REMEMBERING THE KING OF COMICS – JACK KIRBY!

Jack-Kirby

Comic book legend Jack Kirby would have been 98 on 28th August 2015. He passed away in 1994 at the age of 76 and at that time, his work was not recognised by the company that had benefited most from his creativity viz. Marvel Comics. It’s certainly fair to say that Jack Kirby (and not Stan Lee) is the father of the Marvel Universe. Even without getting into the arguments about who created what, there’s no denying that Kirby is the originator of the visuals that proved so popular initially with comic book fans, and ultimately moviegoers worldwide. So let’s take a look at what Kirby had done in the 60s/70s, that now form the foundation of the billion dollar Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise. Long live the King!

Kirby FF

Kirby Cap

Kirby X-Men

Kirby Iron Man

Kirby Ant-Man

Kirby Hulk

Kirby Thor

Kirby black_panther_v1_02_01

Kirby Inhumans

GEEK OUT! THIS ELRIC ADAPTATION CUTS CLOSE TO THE BONE

Elric Vol. 2

Calling this second volume of adaptations of Michael Moorcock’s classic Elric series Stormbringer is a mite confusing, when in fact this graphic novel actually concludes the plotline of Elric of Melniboné. That minor complaint aside, Elric Vol. 2 definitely maintains the cutting edge intensity and emotional depth that made Vol. 1 so satisfying as a modern take of the saga of the doomed albino emperor.

In summary, Elric moves heaven, earth and hell in a desperate attempt to rescue his lover Cymoril from the evil clutches of her brother, the traitorous Yyrkoon. Along the way, Elric receives the ‘gift’ of the soul-drinking black blade, Stormbringer and discovers that getting what he wants can come at a tremendous cost, especially when one is dealing with demons. This time round, writer Julien Blondel is joined by Jean-Luc Cano and the duo do an excellent job in conveying the other-worldliness of the Melnibonean characters.

Forty years old this story might be but the relevance of Moorcock’s disturbing commentary on decadent power remains potent.