A Weak Week

My pull-list this week was pretty Mutant-heavy, featuring Namor #2, X-Men Legacy #240, and X-Men vs. Vampires #1 of 2. Also, was Avengers: Prime #3 of 5.

I’d have to say, I was unexpectedly disappointed with X-Men: Legacy, while Namor and XvsV was a pleasant surprise. Of course, reviewing it all would take decades of work (maybe an hour), so I’ll mainly focus today on the bigger titles, Legacy and Avengers.

Legacy240

I’ll tackle this bad-boy first. X-Men: Legacy #240 is part three of a story-arc, entitled Collision and revolves around Rogue, Magneto, Indra, Anole and Loa. But I’ll need to give you some back story first. There have been some weather disturbances in Mumbai, and coincidently, Indras brother has fallen ill. The five go there to check it out, and for Indra to see his brother. Once there, things get a bit nutty. We find out that the weather is caused by the Children of the Vault sapping energy from Earth, while we discover that Indra is now forced to take his brothers place in an arranged marriage, as per their arrogant father. So that’s pretty much where we’ve been at.

Then comes #240, and its continued plot by Mike Carey, with art by Clay Mann. Last issue left us off with a mutant from the Vault named Luz coming to Earth to escape said Vault. Unfortunately for her, she was pursued, and 240 kicks us off with a pitiful battle between Vault members and Rouge and Magneto. Losing, they are taken back with Luz, to the Vault as captives.

Meanwhile, Anole, Loa, and Indra find out the two were kidnapped. They want to go and save them – as any friends would. However, Indra’s arrogant father demands that Indra does not break his promise to get married tomorrow. So Indra one-ups him and says that he will just get married now and be done and over it.

Yeah. . .

So the issue revolves around panels with Magneto and Rogue getting beaten, while Indra gets married while Anole and Loa watch in disgust. Because of the marriage, the book is terribly paced with Rogue being in the process of execution and Indra’s wedding ceremony which his father wants as a full-ceremony. So this issue brings us family, rice, and Rogue being bashed by gravitational forces.

Needless to say, the issue does try and end on a high-note. Indra’s wife-to-be, in the middle of the ceremony, transforms into Luz, who teleported herself into his fiancées body, followed by a “wtf” moment on the final page.

Unfortunately, because of the ridiculous pacing of the comic between battles and a wedding, I felt no sense of dread, nor did I care about the wedding either. This has been one of Legacy’s weakest stories, I believe, since after the Messiah Complex arc (which goes back a long time), and the art from Mann unfortunately does not bring the comic up from its poor writing.

Grade: 5/10

Despite Legacy, this week was definitely a win Avengers: Prime #3.

Avengers: Prime is unfortunately a bi-monthly titled done by Brian Michael Bendis and godly artist Alan Davis. It takes during the end of Siege and follows Thor, Steve Rodgers, and Tony Stark being “accidentally” zipped away to an unknown realm, and separated from each other.

AvengersPrime3

Rodgers ends up meeting some Elven people, Stark gets caught up with Orges and the dragon Fafnir, while Thor discovers that the Enchantress is the reasoning behind the whole thing! Then at the end of issue #2, we discover Hela has been watching the whole thing unfold! It’s a lot to take in, eh?

Luckily for us, this is Bendis’ best work with an Avengers title since the beginning of The Heroic Age. While the parent title and New Avengers are seemingly lacking in proper pacing and characterization, we get it perfectly in Avengers: Prime. Stark – without power to his armor – makes hilarious quips throughout the story which he lacks in the parent title, while Rodgers is the well-rounded hero (as always), making his way through the unknown realm without much trouble. Thor on the other hand gets into a fight with Hela as the Enchantress watches on – surprised that Hela was in the realm.

Near the end, we see Stark saved from Fafnir by Rodgers, and they discover a defeated Thor, unsure where Mjolnir is, but certain that the three are indeed in Hel itself.

Due to wonderful spreads by Davis, including some wonderful spreads of Fafnir and a full-page spread of Hela striking Thor, this comic is consistently strong in both art and direction. It’s truly a shame that the limited-series-bi-monthly title is arguably the best Avengers storyline.

Grade: 9/10

As for Namor and XvsV, Namor’s storyline has thickened with a battle beginning. There is a sense of dread surrounding the Atlantian people, while it is ever-so clear that the enemy has them outnumbers. With XvsV, we get a slew of minor stories from various writers and artists, plus a first-half re-print of Uncanny X-Men #159. The most notable story is done by James Asmus with art by Tom Raney (who seems to be involved in almost everything now), and aptly titled “From Husk til Dawn,” involving Husk versus Vampires as she turns herself into wood.

Any how, check back soon for another fantastic blog from your fantastic blogger. I’m assuming that’s me.

Keep on Space Truckin’.

Do You Have What it Takes?

What makes YOU think you’re a good story writer? Did your friend tell you that? Did a College or University degree say so? Was it your boss giving you a pat on the back for a job well done?
If the answer is “Yes,” continue reading.
If the answer is “No,” still continue reading.

I believe it is safe to say that there are good and bad writers out there. WrItung lyke diS, I would not consider to be good writing. Yet my sentence still made sense. . .

Figuring this stuff out can give you a headache.

Psyderek
But I’m hoping that I can get you through this with the best of my ability.

Although everyone may argue what great story writing is – from Bill Shakespeare to Michael A. Stackpole – the point is that they’re writing. Where one may have spent countless hours deciphering the perfect words for his Iambic Pentameter, Stackpole probably spent only two seconds coming up with the name Ooryl Qrygg.

Yet both are best-selling authors! Sure, one may divulge a bit more into different genres than the other – and you also may have only heard of one of these authors. Regardless of it all, what makes good story writing? What draws an audience to their stories? Well, I’m not going to do book-by-book comparisons between the two, but I’ll definitely send you in a good direction.

1. Characters: Without characters, you pretty much do not have a story. Even if you spend three-hundred pages just describing scenery – your voice, your way of description is the character. Realistically, YOU are the character. That may be a bit to take in, but think about the truth in it.

Your voice through writing is what makes the story speak. You give it character, whether it be drab or hilarious. You, the writer, have control, and you the writer must recognize yourself as a the real protagonist or antagonist. If you want a heroic scene, give it. If you want sadness, produce it. Building characters in the world you create are just expansions off of what your character is. With that knowledge, you can strengthen your writing ten-fold, plus make it personalized to make you stand out as a unique writer. I’m sure of it.

Conclusion: Listen to your judgment!

2. Experience: I do not mean writing experiences either. How can one be a professional writer nowadays when prerequisites for being one is to already have been one? Should I re-post the picture again?

Although this may come as philosophical, it is true that you write what you know. What I mean by that is if I want to write about two people falling in love, I only know love as from my experiences. That means movies, books, cartoons, and yes, in real-life, everything I know about love in some way, shape, or form, comes through. So if one were to write about love, they would write from their experiences. The same can go with any situation – a scene in a restaurant, shopping, going to a concert, being a superhero, playing sports, etc.

Conclusion: Experience life to its fullest!

3. Advice: Definitely have someone look over your work. If they critique it, do not take it personally. After-all, input goes well with my second point – it’s experience! If someone says, “You should have X to Y,” you don’t have to, but damn-well think about how it could happen. What would be the results?

Another thing about critiquing is that people may not understand you. Hey! That’s great! A rose is a rose is a rose, right? People may say your work is incomprehensible, unflattering, or even targeting the wrong audience. Well, maybe they don’t get it? Maybe they never will? Should that stop you? No. Someone will get it. There’s so many outlets now, such as Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, and WordPress (see me now?) where you can find a market which understands you. Take hold of that! Carpe diem! Consider what people are saying!

But despite creativity, poor grammar or blatant poor writing is no excuse for “creativity.” There is a difference between laziness and art. People can see that.

Conclusion: Although it is your story, do not shoo away criticisms or become lazy. It is experience, remember?

4. What do You Have to Lose?: My final point seems a bit ignorant, as everything is really situational. It’s also not really my story to tell. However, the story has influenced me greatly in my drive for writing. It’s a story by Stan Lee.

StanLeeTriumph
In a nutshell, in the early sixties, he was about to leave Atlas Comics (soon-to-be Marvel Comics) due to having no drive left. He’d done comics since the 1940’s, and he was thinking about actually starting a career in what he called a “real” writing job.

The publisher of Atlas, Martin Goodman wanted Stan to create a new superhero team to counter DC’s Justice League of America comics. Stan was exhausted at this point. He spoke with his wife Joanie that night about quitting, but she suggested for him to try doing what he wanted to do – make a story he’d enjoy. She reinforced him with saying he had nothing to lose if he did it. If it took off, that’s great! If it didn’t, then continue writing for another company.

Needless to say, the Fantastic Four was written and the world changed along with it – and Marvel Comics was born.

Although that is quite a tremendous story – and I cannot say for everyone that would work – especially since not all of us would have wives named “Joanie,” they are some grand words to stand by. If you’re worried about rejection for a story pitch? So what? What do you have to lose? Get denied, try again, or move on. It sounds simple in writing, but it is something to take with you.

Conclusion: Never give up because you’ll always get another opportunity.

Final Thoughts
From all this, I cannot expect everyone to just become great writers. The list above is something I personally follow as I feel it is right for me. But if you use your character, use experience, take advice, and go head-on into the game – mix it with your imagination and there will be no stopping you!

If you want, sound off below!

Keep on Space Truckin’!

The Black Widow Wins!

Black Widow #6
I believe it definitely has been an awesome week for comics. One thing is that Black Widow #6 stole the spotlight with a new run by Duane Swierczynski and Manuel Garcia. It’s rare for a mystery story to stand out like how this one did.

For far-too long, Marvel has thrown Black Widow as a partial character. Sure, she’s had her few individual stories, such as Homecoming, or more recently, Deadly Origin – but now with her own monthly series, she’s finally getting the credit she deserves.

This, of course, goes along side of Marvel’s Women of Marvel push for the past year.

Regardless, this new arc is fantastic, and a must-read. Fortunately, you do not need to read the prior five issues to play catch up so new readers are welcome to join right in.

In a nutshell, Black Widow faces two foes – one foe trying to kill the other, and one of which Black Widow must save! To top it all off, Black Widow is being framed and the issue ends with a nail-biting conclusion! It’s just a great introduction to an arc.

Grade: 8/10

Along with this week, I was given a great surprise. Avengers #5 by Brian M. Bendis and John Romita Jr. picked up from – what I have thought to be – a lack-luster start for a major-title.

Avengers #5
However, it was not until this issue did things start coming together. There was an actual story to this book. No more quick cuts and fast-paced panels with mindless action. In Avengers #5, we actually get a story with character development which has been lacking from previous issues. We get a story which incorporates a large part of the Marvel U (a nice bonus). And most importantly: we get our characters back. Iron Man is no longer a rushed, fast-talking, over-zealous person. He’s (relatively) back to normal. Spider-Man and Hawkeye are now separated as two individuals – as Hawkeye steps aside and shows emotion for Mockingbird’s well-being. Thor gets a wonderful scene battling Galactus in probably Romita’s best-drawn-moment since the comic’s inception.

Needless to say, I’m glad the comic was picking up finally. I was going to stick around until the Red Hulk and Illuminati issues were released to pray it got back on course. It seems with Avengers #5, we may actually get a great series of comics ahead of us.

Grade: 7/10

My other two comics from my pull-list this week were Uncanny X-Men #528 by Matt Fraction and Whilce Portacio, and Ed Brubaker’s take on Secret Avengers #5, with new-to-series artists David Aja and Michael Lark.

Both comics were transitional stories with not much action, but developments in characters and their history – mainly Emma Frost and Nick Fury, respectively. I, unfortunately, can’t review every comic in great detail – unless you want me to! Sound off below?

But first, check out some other blogs I’ve stumbled upon – comic related, of course.

Joe Shuster Awards – Comic Awards – involving one-Leonard Kirk.
ComicBookGrrl – A well thought-out blog about the nature of comics.
TechLand – News and goodies about comics.
Weekly Comic Book Review – Weekly. . . comic. . . book. . . reviews.

Oh! And I just scanned this!

Stan Lee and Me!

Until then, keep on Space Truckin’.

“It Will be Mine”

Oh yes. It will be mine.

What the devil am I talking about?

Being a writer. It’s not an easy thing to do. I mean, having a degree is one thing, but for the most part, that is never enough. You have to build your way up.

That’s not a bad thing, though. I mean it is labour-intensive, but that’s part of the fun, right?

No?

Let me start over:
I’ve always loved writing. I’ve enjoyed doing it since I was a wee one watching cartoons. Cartoons were able to express what I wanted to see. Not everyone can afford big-budget movies or TV shows to allow wild imaginations and still execute it properly.

Cartoons could do what real-life could not. Expand.
I grew up with Transformers, X-Men, Exo Squad, Eek the Cat and so on. Needless to say, my imagination was wild.

Then you throw in comics. My first comic was X-Men #36 from 1994. Since then, I’ve kind of grown from there. We were probably traveling to Lindsay, Ontario, and I always liked having something to look at on the car ride up. Turns out this one featured Sabretooth as being a part of the X-Men’s team – so that threw me for a loop.

Sabretooth Dies

I digress. . .
My imagination as a child was booming. Then you throw Star Wars into the mix and suddenly my mind wouldn’t stop. I became the weird kid at school because I was too involved in things too “childish” for others.

My first story was about time-traveling Dinosaurs attacking Earth. Of course, I was in probably grade four at the time. Maybe. Then in my late grade-school years, I remember that I started writing a Star Wars book – entirely unaware that the Expanded Universe was considered Star Wars canon! Boy, was I in for a shock.

Following in grade nine and ten, I was accused of plagiarism in two of my short stories – one a science-fiction, the other a regular fiction – because it was something entirely different than how I was in class – which was being an over-excited-yet-lazy teenager.

It really was not until I was accused of plagiarizing that I figured I could make writing a professional thing.

I then followed up with meeting people on the good old Much Music message boards (R.I.P.) and writing for a Toronto-based webzine for heavy metal music. I got to interview some gnarly musicians and had my work published. Following that, I wrote for my University’s newspaper for the first year – followed by a slump of me trying to figure out what I wanted to do with school. It wasn’t until my final year did I realize I should smarten my act up and actually start putting words to a page.

At my old job, I could stand around for hours without having customers. I began to write on scrap paper when I could behind the counter – and suddenly I had a chapter of something! I couldn’t believe it. On a roll, I ended up buying a small book to write in while in class (as English and Writing lectures became a great inspirational session – studying came last). Then I suddenly started writing a whole different genre from my first story. I had two going!

Throughout my childhood, I’ve always followed the X-Men. I hadn’t always bought their comics, but I knew these characters because I grew up with them. It wasn’t until I purchased a few rare comics in my youth, did I really start wanting to follow them.

After a few years I began a lovely pull-list around the time of Marvel’s Secret Invasion storyline and was hooked since.

It came to me that I loved comics because they were my cartoons. They were what I could use to expand my imagination, yet still tell a story. They were my bread and butter.

Now to only get started on it.
What about motivation?

Now back to the beginning of this blog. It’s labour-intensive.
How am I motivated?
Aside from being able to meet Leonard Kirk (yes, I linked my last blog), and finding a hometown hero so-to-speak, there are Indie comics which have taken off.

I mean, sure you’ve heard of X-Men, Spider-Man, Batman, et al.
But did you know of Kick-Ass, the Watchmen, V for Vendetta, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot, Green Hornet, Akira, The Tick, Transformers, Gi*Joe, and so on were all comics first? (Transformers released their comic the same month the TV series started).
If you answered no to at least one of these, you have to know that they took off because people took interest.

The Tick

Here are some figures of Indie comic book sales up-to-date (July 2010), and tell me that it’s not possible to make this happen.

Sure, it will take a lot of work. Sure, it’ll be labour-intensive. But as I’ve sort of hinted at – my plagiarism, my laziness, whatever you want to call it – it’s not work to me. It’s just me using my imagination.

By the way, over 100 views in less than two days is incredible. Thanks for all the support thus far, folks!

Keep on Space Truckin’.

“Almost therreeee. . .”

Last time I heard someone say that, they blew up over Yavin. . .

I haven’t really drawn in a long time. I completely forgot how elated it made me feel. Until I went to FanExpo in Toronto this year, I was completely unsure on how well being a comic book artist or writer could be. I mean, I’m just a University graduate with a writing degree who can draw mediocre pictures with some elaborate stories. (I’m giving myself that!)

I have recently been motivated to get a drawing board and actually work-out my thoughts and drawings. Heck, even if the drawings are garbage to others, at least I’ve conveyed the message of the comics through some sort of imagery.

Drawing Board

That motivation really didn’t strike me until I met Leonard Kirk for the second time (the first being a convention earlier last year). And only then did I realize how realistic and possible it was to “move up” writing comics.

Although he is a native American, he moved to my hometown when he was six and lived here ever since. How do I know? I chatted it up with him. Needless to say, he grew up in my neighborhood his whole life, and surprisingly, he draws for Marvel!

During the Dark Reign storyline, he did the Dark X-Men series, and now he is currently working on New Mutants, starting on issue #15 here.

The fact that I was just talking to a home-towner, and I greatly appreciated his work – it blew me away! I can say I’ve now pretty much idolized the man.

The other day, I read up on ComicsBeat that New Mutants #15 sold over 35,000 copies! That’s from a local artist! Mr. Kirk also told me about how drawing works within Marvel, and showed me some of his art catalog.

The moral of the story is that no matter what, you’re almost there. You just need to stick to it. And I guess also to not lose your starboard engine and crash into the Death Star.

Back to the drawing board!

Keep on Space Truckin’.

On the First Day. . .

. . . Derek created blogs.

So here we go! The very first blog of the Uncanny Derek – me! Let us hope this doesn’t become an embarrassment for myself though.

One thing for sure is that I think I’ve found a home where I can communicate to others about my general interests – comics.

I actually do not want to make this a “rant” page. However, I know I will end up ranting about something stupid in the end.

Let’s hope this all goes to plan.

Keep on Space Truckin’.