Review: Secret Avengers #23

I haven’t done one of these in a long time! Time has flown by!

In Secret Avengers, as seen by the cover – Venom joins the team. Oh, and by the way, Venom is now Peter Parker’s old high school colleague Flash Thompson. I’ll admit, I haven’t been catching up with my Spider-Man lore at all. When I saw Flash Thompson for the first time in years, I couldn’t believe he was missing his legs. He lost them due to fighting in the Iraq War. I had no idea Marvel went down that route at all. Kudos to them.

Secret Avengers

Secret Avengers #23
Rick Remender (writer), Gabriel Hardman (pencils, inks), Bettie Breitweiser (colours), Chris Eliopoulos (letters), Arthur Adams & Peter Stiegerwald (cover). $3.99

The last time I can recall reading a story with so much intensity due to dialogue was Fred Van Lente’s Taskmaster mini-series. Writer Rick Remender does such an incredible job at giving everyone important moments and nails every voice along the way. I’ve always been iffy with Hawkeye because I find writers never know what to do with him. He’s either too much of a jerk or a complete goof. Remender nails the character and even gives subtle hints to why the character is that way. The same goes for Ant-Man. I was wondering why Warren Ellis just forgot about the character during his brief stint in the series. Turns out Remender had something special planned with his characterization.

The story moves on a very strong pace. Nothing is filler and everything is useful. Reading through the book, I felt as if Remender overdid himself with the story – there is just that much happening all of the time in the book. The conversations that need to be had are said. This is a solid story.

Art by Gabriel Hardman is also exceptional. The wonderful noir feeling throughout the whole issue is completely tasteful to the changing scenery. From the view of the Lighthouse in space, to a hospital scene, to another world and a gritty city – the transitions are flawless in his storytelling capabilities.

But what I must point out is how incredible Bettie Breitweiser’s colouring job is. Hands-down, the colours are the best thing about the story. Images truly come alive with Breitweiser’s great work on tones and highlights. Looking at the light pollution from the city gives so much more life to the buildings, while the transitions onto the final few pages carries the same energy to the climactic cliffhanger. Facial features are accented beautifully, and nothing is ever overdone. Dean White has a run for his money with Breitweiser on the prowl.

Criticizing the story however, I find that Remender is trying to buff his team up with as much “awesome” as possible. Last issue Captain Britan joined, while in this issue, both Jim Hammond (The Human Torch) and Venom have jumped on-board. While I do not mind the great variety of the series, I found that the previous writers: Ellis, Spencer, and Brubaker, couldn’t incorporate everyone into the story because it was stretching itself on the cast. Remender was able to give mostly everyone a voice, but the larger cast will certainly leave some heroes out of place.

While currently Remender is keeping a fine job with the cast on Uncanny X-Force (and passing characters off to Jason Aaron), I’d just hope Remender can keep doing stories like #23 – fully encapsulating and balanced enough for everyone to have a say.

Grade: 8.5/10

Keep on Space Truckin’!

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Power Girl And Her New Costume

I didn’t see this one coming.

After years and years of Power Girl’s infamous “boob window” being open for all, DC has finally decided close the draft.

Let’s see the new costume, shall we?

Power Girl

No, wait. Sorry. That was the old costume.

Here’s the new one:

Power Girl

Can you even recognize her in this new drawing? Done by the legendary George Perez, it’s definitely a shocker!

What’s even more mind-boggling is how DC is doing such a drastic overhaul to one character while Catwoman still gets the short end of the stick.

This is definitely a lot more tasteful than most comics out there. Psylocke in X-Men still runs around with her ninja thong on, while Starfire is putting DC in hot water. But Power Girl, DC’s stereotypical and clichéd “big breasted hero” is actually getting toned down. It’s not only incredible to hear, but it’s a major step in the right direction in terms of finally making comics more – what’s the word? Oh yeah! Appropriate!

Now I will admit, Power Girl’s “window” defined the character as a sex object to the point where she even would admit to the ridiculousness of her clothing in the comics. It gave her sass – that’s for sure.

Power Girl

But it’s become some what of a joke within comics. The impracticality of the character and her physique – she wasn’t considered so much sexy, as she was more of a joke for the writers and artists to play along with.

And everyone seem to be okay with this?

I think the even bigger joke is, however, the amount of people arguing against the costume. While I won’t reveal who said what, allow me to post some comments against this overhaul with Power Girl’s costume that I’ve read:

“Wow this new costume sucks, as does most of the new DC costumes for the female characters at least, in an effort to pander to feminists they have basically butchered the classic looks of a lot of characters that had been the way they were for decades.”

“I can feel my Inner Feminist crying for what I’m gonna say, but I like PG classic look, it’s you know [. . .] Power Girl looks like a character who likes to be sexy for the hell of it. [This new] one… is not an example.
But at least the new costume is kinda boring and I can just hate it for that. And Heck, this might mean that DC is finally paying attention to criticisms! (I can Dream)”

“She needs the window. That’s one of her signature characteristics, like Superman’s s-shield.

“Hate. I loved her boob window and all the jokes that came with it.”

“P.G.’s too P.C. for me now.”

And yes, some of those comments are from women too. Regardless of their opinions, my opinion says Power Girl’s old costume was objectifying.

Now, I’ll also go to say that there are a ton of people out there who are for the closing of the window, but simply hate the costume. So be it. Personally, I don’t care for the costume either. For example, it took me a few minutes to realize there was a “P” around her neck.

But that really wasn’t the problem to begin with, was it?

Here’s to a small step forward!

NaNoWriMo – Take Two!

How’s February 19th through to March 19th sound?

Good!

No, no, I’m not planning on doing another 50,000 words in that time. While I did accomplish a lot last month, I definitely want to take it a bit easier. As I get busier with my real-life job, I won’t have as much time to dedicate to this story as much as I want to. Instead, I’m aiming for around 20-25k words. If anything, this will be considered a half-ass attempt at NaNoWriMo.

I needed to take a bit of a break from the story because it is both physically and mentally taxing. I definitely didn’t want to jump into that exhaustive mindset again. I was thinking about another thirty-day challenge involving another project, but I really think I should focus on one for now.

I’ll also try to keep up on the site for more comic stuff. I won’t be posting daily updates like before, that’s for sure.

As for the story, I ended my last challenge with 54,126 words. Let’s aim to make it 70,000 or die trying!

Say Cheese

Keep on Space Truckin’!

The Case Against Gary Friedrich

In case you haven’t heard, let’s get you up to speed:

Back in the 1970’s, writers and artists at Marvel were a “Work for Hire,” meaning they were paid as they were hired for the work they do. They had to sign contracts giving up their rights as creator and what-not – essentially allowing Marvel to generate all the proceeds over whatever characters are created via these WfH folks. This was done with Gary Friedrich in 1978.

Later in the 80’s, when Jim Shooter took over Marvel, he made sure all creators, writers and artists got their fair share when it came to royalties. Unfortunately, this was before Friedrich signed his contract.

Ghost Rider

In 2007, that Nic Cage “Ghost Rider” film popped up. It (somehow) made millions and Marvel collected big time. Friedrich sued Marvel claiming the character he created was exploited (as I’m sure the 1978 contract didn’t mention “major motion picture”) at the time. On December 28th, 2011, Friedrich lost his case against Marvel and that was to be the end of it. Alas.

Marvel counter-sued Friedrich over legal fees as well as unauthorized Ghost Rider material such as cards, postcards, shirts, and the kicker: sketches at conventions.

Marvel is demanding $17,000 in lost wages from Friedrich over his unlicensed use of their character. While I can understand that, let’s quote Jim Shooter here:

Gary Friedrich sued Marvel over rights to Ghost Rider. Gary lost. Marvel sued Gary for unauthorized exploitation of their trademarked Ghost Rider property. Gary lost. He is obliged to pay Marvel $17,000.

(Shooter also goes on to explain another great deal of legalities with the case that is quite interesting, so check that out too!)

Currently the internet is in an uproar of disgust towards Marvel (who remember is owned by Disney) for what they’re doing to Friedrich. Friedrich went on his Facebook to state:

Since the various news agencies and websites have reported the ruling against me on my claims against Marvel in the Ghost Rider lawsuit, and the assessment of a $17,000 judgment against me and my company instead, I have read an amazing amount of comments in my support on the internet, and have received many messages of support directly. Although the reports of my employment situation and financial difficulties as well as problems with my health are unfortunately true, I want to let everyone in the comic book world, especially my supporters and fans of the Ghost Rider character which I invented, created, and wrote, that I am going to appeal the Court’s ruling and continue to fight this as long as I am able and that your support of me means more than you will ever know. I have heard your voices. I thank you with alll my heart, and I appreciate your thoughts and best wishes as I soldier on.

Feel free to keep in touch with me via e-mail: fgroovygary@aol.com.

Thanks again and God bless you.

Gary Friedrich

Over at writer Steve Niles’ site, you can donate directly to Friedrich to help him out financially through a PayPal account set up for him.

But like I said – that kicker – no more sketches at conventions. While it’s not in place yet, it’s terrifying to know that at any time, these creators can be buckled down and told that they owe their parent companies money. Conventions have always been another way for a creator to get additional wages to their already-low pay. To take that away from them is down-right mean.

However, on the legal side of things, it’s considered right.

So is Marvel in the right? Is this going to be the new status quo for conventions now – the fear of creators getting sued for making extra cash on the side? If so, then what about fan art and things like Tumblr? I can only imagine it being a real-life SOPA for comic creators.

It’s About Time!

It’s definitely been over a month since I last talked about comics on this site which is about – hey! Comics!

What have I been enjoying?

Legion Of Monsters was an excellent four-part mini series that was killed in sales. It was so disheartening to see such a good book falter in sales the way it did. Dennis Hopeless and Juan Doe rocked the entire story. It was funny, sad, action-packed, and most of all – it worked. When this comes out as a TPB, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND you get it. It really was too good to pass-up. The best part is that you do not require any past knowledge of the characters to pick it up.

As of this week, Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, and the Lopez duo brought upon New Mutants #37:

This story stole my heart as being simply adorable. Not to mention it was great for Amara to finally get some page-time. In a nutshell, many issues back, Amara made a deal with Mephisto to go on a date with him in order to save her friends. In NM #37, the devil’s come to claim his due. The results are magnificent. Please pick this up. It’s well worth your $2.99.

Old News & New News

As I’m sure you’ve all heard, DC is planning the prequel to The Watchmen. My take on this is that I don’t really care. While I am definitely interested in what DC is going to do, I definitely am shocked that they are going to be tampering with such a classic story.

I don’t know how well they’ll sort it all out – or even if it will do that well in sales. The catch is this: Comics are still a dying medium. DC, in two years, have pumped the world up with excitement over comics. Their reboot with the New 52 put sales of comics from all publishers up. Interest in comics are back. Even at my LCS, I’ve seen that it’s been busier. This is incredible. With DC rebooting an already popular franchise, surely this can only mean more sales not just for them – but the reinvigoration of comics in general.

Keep it up DC! You’re helping the medium tremendously.

The other big comic news was just dropped today: Tony Moore is suing Robert Kirkman over The Walking Dead.

For those who do not know, Tony Moore drew the first six issues of the series and did quite a few covers until issue 24. Apparently when Moore left The Walking Dead contracts were signed for him to get finances for movies and what-not. However, this didn’t include television shows. In a nutshell, he wants his due.

The clincher to the whole story is that Moore and Kirkman have been best friends since they were children. It’s heartbreaking to see something like this happen. I guess we’ll have to wait and see how the results pan-out.

Until next time, keep on Space Truckin’!

NaNoWriMo – FINISHED!!!

It’s all done! I am thoroughly impressed with myself, that’s for sure.

But it’s late and I want to go to bed.

Words before: 53,116

Words today: 1,010

FINAL WORD COUNT: 54,126

As for my picture, it’s the album I’ve listened to every day since starting from day six of my NaNoWriMo challenge.

I bring you: Green Carnation – The Acoustic Verses

Keep on Space Truckin’!

NaNoWriMo – Day Twenty-Nine

One more day to go!

I can’t believe how far I’ve gotten.

Although I’m excited to continue with this challenge, I’m dying to get a real day off from it. I work on a computer for most of the day in my real-life job, so when I get home to write, my wrists are just killing me.

Regardless, this has been an incredible journey thus far.

Words before: 51,526

Words today: 1,590

Total word count: 53,116

The image of inspiration was pretty helpful for a scene I was creating. To be honest, this is a picture of mine I took a while ago in regards to how my old bedroom floor would look like at the end of most Wednesdays. (They don’t anymore. And I don’t even own that phone now!)

Keep on Space Truckin’!