Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Comics Out 28 February 2007

Comics Out Today that I bought:

Geoff Johns, Richard Donner, and Adam Kubert on Action Comics 846. I like Zod, but this book is only pretty good. It strikes me mostly as a response to the new Superman film, a kind of "This is the movie I would have done if you had ditched that Bryan Singer clown." I may keep up with it, but I have not decided.

Bryan K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona's Runaways 24. The run by the book's creators ends here. All my mixed feeling about the book are prompted by this issue -- it is nice, and the stories are pretty good, and the art is often great, but the dialogue and exposition are often clunky and it also has a random quality that bothers me. There is a twist here about a main character -- I won't spoil it -- but the surprise is just sort of out of nowhere: it is not what you expect because it is not what you expect if that makes sense, and that is all there is to it.

I was thinking this week how I am getting too many mediocre books and I need to clean house -- I get these books because there are not enough good comics. Also people have been making me feel bad about Chris Claremont. So I found the solution to both with one thing: I bought the DVD-rom of 40 years worth of X-Men comics for 40 bucks. Now I will go back and read Claremont again in color and think about how he relates to Morrison, and what a genius he used to be, instead of buying books I don't like that much.

In comics news: Whedon will only do 6 -- yes 6 -- issue of Runaways. So there you have it. Sad, but the guy has stuff to do and I am sure the 6 will be perfect.

Also in comics news: Neil Adams announced at the comic con that he going to do an eight part project with Frank Miller called Batman: Odyssey. Check out the weirdness. Miller owns Batman. Morrison makes fun of Miller and says he wants his Batman to get away from Miller's psycho and back to the Neil Adams love god days. You know Morrison is freaking out about Miller because his Batman run starts with a cop who dresses as Batman and kills: as Mitch (I think it was) pointed out this character is from the comics, the two issues before Batman: Year One came out; it is like Morrison is wishing he could have taken over before Miller did his thing. Morrison wants Neil Adams style; Miller responds by getting the actual Neil Adams. And people tell me this anxiety of influence thing is just a nutty theory.

One more thing: I don't have much to say about the con, but what I do have to say I said to comic geek speak. Go to the site (link on the right) and listen to episode 229 (28 February 2007): my bit is 8 minutes long, involves me talking about strip clubs and ranting about Planet Hulk, and starts at the 27:30 mark. Library Boy (Demon Etrigan) had this to say about me on the CGS forum:
I'm only as far as the Geoff Klock interview at the moment, but I just need to
say that I agree with the man 100% about the event book glut, and that it's also
driving me to the fringes of the Big 2 publishing lines just so I can get good
stories that don't tie into this crap. Where do I get my "Geoff Klock was right"
or "Geoff Klock is my master now" t-shirt?


Geoff Klock said...


Stephen said...

"Whedon will only do 6 -- yes 6 -- issue of Runaways. So there you have it. Sad, but the guy has stuff to do and I am sure the 6 will be perfect."

Damn, I was sort of hoping he'd do a longer run. Ah well, I'll pick that one up at least (in the trade, natch.)

sara d. reiss said...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!! (geoff)


ZC said...

So, you gettin' anything else aside from Action Comics and Runaways?

I haven't gotten all my books this week yet, so I don't really have anything to comment on (as I haven't read much).

brad said...

Geoff Klock is MY leader!


brad said...

btw - your anxiety of influence theory is not insane. Especially when it comes to Morrison. He literally writes himself as a subway pirate in Manhattan Guardian battling the subway-pirate version of Alan Moore. Maybe the reason Morrison is so free and brilliant on Superman is because there is no real stand-out writer of that character. I mean, Moore wrote some good Superman, but I don't think Moore when I think Superman like I think Miller when I think Batman. Can't wait for the Neil Adams book.

Jason Powell said...

"Also people have been making me feel bad about Chris Claremont. So I found the solution to both with one thing: I bought the DVD-rom of 40 years worth of X-Men comics for 40 bucks. Now I will go back and read Claremont again in color and think about how he relates to Morrison, and what a genius he used to be..."

Oh, that is fantastic. I can't wait to see some blog postings on the subject, if you are so moved.

By the way, since you mentioned both Claremont and Neal Adams (I think it's "Neal," not "Neil"... yes?), I am going to jump the gun on your Friday call to self-promote, and mention that I have been talking a bit on my blog lately about Neal Adams and other creators associated with the original '60s (i.e., pre-Claremont) X-Men. I figure I'd post a link.

Please, Geoff, and anybody else, do visit and comment if you are so inclined. Eventually I still plan to copy you, Geoff, and do an issue-by-issue look at Claremont's run. Which, yes, will take me a million years, but ... well, what the heck? I can't fail until I try.

Roger said...

hmmm...I agree, mostly, in much the same way that I agree, mostly, with Harold Bloom's discussion of this phenomenon in poetry and novels. I wonder how much of the anxiety of influence has to do with print? Meaning: did oral poets (i.e. Homer, Virgil) feel the same anxiety? Or was the whole structure of oral poetry such that the idea of authorship was entirely different?

oh, and his Batman take aside (which I think has potential), I HATE Frank Miller. I think he is a bully. I loved DKR and Year One as a kid. The turning point, for me, was that dreadful Spawn/Batman crossover he wrote with Todd McFarlane in the 90s. I think Miller's take on Batman might work only as a bookend to his adventures...maybe. I mean, as a first year story, of course Batman is going to be gritty. He has to establish his persona as a "dark avenger" and he's going to screw up alot. As an older man, he has to do much the same thing--he's going to screw up because his body is older and he has to reestablish himself. So, in both these stories, Miller's take was realistic. In the Batman/Spawn crossover his asshole personality doesn't make sense (in much the same way as it doesn't make sense in All-Star) because he is more established. He has a reputation and doesn't need to act all "dark" all the time.

But I like what Morrison has suggested about Batman (as an urban samurai character fighting wierd oddities). The problem is that I haven't seen enough of that characterization to understand where he is going yet. Morrison hasn't taken much time to establish Batman as this other figure to allow me to see if I like it or not.

Geoff Klock said...

ZC: not this week

Jason Powell: I am going to make you my copyeditor, since you always catch me spelling the names of important people wrong. :)

Roger: Bloom suggests that they did, but does not get into it.

Mitch said...


I too am stoked for Adams/Miller Batman.

Also, in May I think-- Matt Fraction is writing a Sensational Spider-Man Annual with Salvador LaRocca providing the artwork. I didn't want you to miss it.

Jason Powell said...

Geoff, I'm a copy-editor in real life. I guess it bleeds over. But hey, anything I can do to help out! :)

Matt Brady said...

Geoff, I'm not sure what you mean about twist in Runaways. I didn't really notice anything like that, but I've been reading the series since the beginning. Were you talking about the last page? If so, I think that was just sort of an epilogue rather than a major revelation. Oh, and I disagree about the dialogue/exposition, but I know not everyone likes Brian K. Vaughan's writing. I happen to really dig it.

I hadn't heard the news about Whedon's short Runaways run. Huh. I hope it will be good, and I wonder who they'll get to write it next. I hope it's somebody good, and not J.M Straczynski or Jeph Loeb or somebody like that. Bendis might be okay, but I haven't been liking much of his stuff for a while now. Oh! You know who would be great? Matt Fraction! They should get him to do it!

I'm not exactly stoked about the Miller/Adams news, but I do think it's funny that Morrison contrasted the two of them and now they're working together. I might read it when it comes out.

Jason, I'll definitely check out your X-Men stuff, but I don't think I can comment on Livejournal, so if I have any comments I'll leave them here (probably in the most recent Free Form Comments thread).

Other comics this week: I'll probably get around to talking about them on my blog, but Dr. Strange: The Oath (also by Brian K. Vaughan) wrapped up very nicely. Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane was quite good, as always. Eternals wrapped up in much the same fashion as Gaiman's previous Marvel miniseries, 1602; that is, it just kind of ended unsatisfyingly. Jack of Fables was hilarious, with an excellent final page. And there was this Ashley Wood book from IDW that I liked a lot. Hopefully I'll be able to blog about it soon.

Geoff Klock said...

Mitch: the week that comes out, remind me to get it on the comics out post that day.

Matt: I was talking about the last page. It just strikes me as random. I could have been someone else, it just wasn't.

Let me give you an example of clunky dialogue and exposition. The first lines of the issue:

Xavin (a close up isolated in a panel): "I'm afraid this is where our journey draws to a close."

Karolina (wide shot of everyone at the donut shop): "You're sure Honey? The trail Old Lace was leaving ends here?"

What's wrong with this should be clear. Vaughan wants Xavin's line to have a double meaning: 1. this is the last issue in his run, and so the journey of the creative team is drawing to a close. 2. it is also supposed to be a normal line in the story, something normal one character says to another as part of following the trail they are on. But the line ONLY works for point 1. It is effective on that level. But people do not talk like this -- Karolina recaps what they have been doing for NO REASON OTHER THAN TO JUSTIFY THE LINE. Her responce is exposition -- it lets the audience know what is going on. But exposition should be natural -- when we get exposition it should just seem like talk, not like exposition. No one summarizes their life like this.

To give you a great example of great exposition look at the opening of Serenity (Whedon is a MASTER here): something has broken off of the ship and it is shaking. Mal gets on and says into the intercom, and says in the calm voice of airplane pilots "This is your captain speaking, we may experience some slight turbulance, and then explode." We hear it as a deadpan joke, and a good one. We don't notice its status as exposition: Joss Whedon just told everyone watching the movie who did not see Firefly that this guy is the captain of the ship, and important piece of information hard to establish since a chunk of the audience already knows how he is, while another section will be lost without it. Seamless, graceful, funny.

Geoff Klock said...

Blogger needs a comment edit function:

for "and important" read "an important"

for "knows how he is" read "knows who he is"

Mitch said...

Oh and happy b-day, Geoff.

As far as comics this week, I've just now gotten around to them. Of note on my list this week are two of my least favorite writers (and two of Geoff's it seems): Geoff Johns and Brian K. Vaugh. Feel free to start grumbling at me, but I just can't stand these guys. A lot of it has nothing to do with their talent.. they are both pretty cabable. Mostly I'm tired of being told (like Matt on Studio 60) that they are great, even brilliant, writers. For instance, the over reaction on the internet and among my comic friends and on podcasts to John's first issue of Justice Society of America disgusted me so much that I can't bring myself to go near it. Hype sucks.

That said, both Action Comics and Doctor Strange: The Oath represent these guys doing their best work. Kubert's artwork in AC issue of Action really bothered me in some places, but the scripting, pacing and ending by Johns and Donner where very well executed. DS:TO is just a joy to read because of Markos' art. Also Geoff, Vaughn has employed an inventive way to incorperate the "previously" exposition blurb into the world of the story (like a letter on a desk or something) in every issue. It's funny and energetic and not bogged down by seriousness. I highly reccomend this to you Geoff. The trade will be out very soon.

Okay, that's all for me.

Matt Brady said...

Good points, Geoff, although, to tell the truth, I didn't even notice the "goodbye readers" aspect of that line of Xavin's. I feel dumb. I can forgive stuff like this, but possibly because I'm a fan of both Runaways and Vaughan; I chalk up Xavin's line to "he's an alien, so he sounds 'off' sometimes". And expositional dialogue doesn't usually bother me (I've read and enjoyed a lot of Stan Lee comics), but maybe it should.

As for the Serenity line, one could argue that it's also kind of awkward; coming onto the intercom and announcing "This is your captain speaking" is a parlance of 20th century commercial aviation. I doubt the phrase would survive that far into the future. But it definitely is a good bit of exposition cloaked in humor.

By the way, I'm not trying to be argumentative here. In fact, it's a good discussion that's helping me look more critically at works that I'm predisposed to like. Thanks for the mental exercise, Geoff!

Matt Brady said...

Oh, and I should have said this earlier, but happy birthday, Geoff!