If like us, you consider yourself a true fan of the Alan Moore/Dave Gibbons masterpiece Watchmen, then you will be revulsed by Doomsday Clock, the purported Watchmen sequel.
Monstress writer/co-creator Marjorie Liu had been given an hour by the Singapore Writers Festival to deliver a so-called Masterclass for Writing in Comics.
If you are familiar with the underground genre known as “autographical comics” and its lauded authors viz. Robert Crumb, Harvey Pekar, Art Spiegelman, Joe Matt, Chester Brown et al, then simply put, Troy Chin’s Resident Tourist is the Singaporean version.
Marvel Unlimited is Marvel Comics’ member subscription service that gives members unlimited access to over 20,000 issues of Marvel’s classic and newer titles, delivered digitally through a desktop web browser and the mobile app.
300+ paged book on Green Arrow? You have got to hand it to writer Richard Gray and publisher Sequart Organization for investing the time and effort into this unlikely character study.
There is only ONE reason to pick up Jupiter’s Legacy Vol. 2 – the gorgeous art of Frank Quitely!
The best way to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of the ‘King of Comics’ the late great Jack Kirby is to simply appreciate his work.
2016 is almost done with. And what have we learnt from modern pop culture? That rock ’n’ roll is dead? That nostalgia & fan service in movies trumps originality? That real life is slowly but surely upstaging science fiction for sheer bizarreness?
The eighth part of cartoonist Troy Chin’s autobiographical work finds our protagonist still trying to make sense of life in Singapore.
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!
“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”.
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.
Real life is scary.
By now, the two major comic book companies viz. Marvel and DC are virtually indistinguishable. Secret Wars = Convergence. Same story, same consequences. Endless reboots.
At the launch of the seventh edition of Troy Chin’s The Resident Tourist held at Books Kinokuniya, the author himself mentioned to me that my reviews of his books are ‘biased’. Meaning that my glowing assessments of his work are somehow less than objective due to the fact that I appreciated their intrinsic value as art.
Why does this exist? Well, a couple of reasons.
— Sequels are profitable.
— Trilogies are in vogue
— A cash in on Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (where the version of Batman is inspired by The Dark Knight Returns)
Oh, you wanted artistic reasons.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)!
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.
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.
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?
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.
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 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.
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!
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.