thehefner: (Batman: I Am The Night)
Considering how universally-praised Grant Morrison's Batman comics are by all comics blogs and press, it feels incredibly refreshing to read Georgethecat's frustrated response to yet another Morrison fan's condescending attitude:

Like, I honestly don’t give a fuck about how much Grant Morrison knows about the Batverse. What I care about is a good story and a story that has a point. And I’m really not sure I saw one with this nor did it do anything, but raise more questions and plot holes. And what is the point of the book? Like what is Grant’s overall arching theme? And why did he do all this introduction and development of Kathy Kane to only drop it?

And who are these characters, the Orto Netz? Where did he come from? And I swear, if anyone reblogs this and says, “Oh he’s from Batman issue #217” I will actually hit something. Because fuck, I do NOT want crib notes to read my Goddamn comics. This is EXACTLY one of the biggest problems with comics right now. They desperately need new readers and need to draw in new people and reading almost any Bat-story by Morrison is going to confuse the fuck out of them, then they are going to ask questions and be told they should read some obscure fucking story that they don’t have access to and then they’re going to feel like it’s not worth their time because the club is too exclusive and they don’t know enough to join in on the Great Morrison circle jerk.

The bolded parts are mine, but the whole thing is just... god, when can they make an app that allows you to hug comments? I need that in general, but especially now. Granted, I haven't been reading Batman Inc., but George's comments apply to ALL of the other Batman work he's done so far.

I really wouldn't mind them so much if it weren't for the elitist snobbery of the fans, who love the way that Morrison makes them FEEL smart. That right there is about the smartest thing about Morrison's writing, which is generally rich with clever ideas and devoid of anything that makes for a good story.
thehefner: (Default)
My pal [ profile] surrealname likes to cite Silver Age Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen as everything that's bad and wrong with comics. You know, the comics where Jimmy Olsen became anything from, oh, say, a giant freckled turtle monster, a wolfman, a Bizarro, a helium-bloated alien mule boy, a poor man's Elongated Man, not to mention the holy trilogy of filming a gorilla, becoming a gorilla, and marrying a gorilla (with the help of witch-doctor Superman). For Dave, it's the equivalent of disdain that many self-serious, old-school fans have for Adam West's Batman show: it's why superhero comics have and will never be taken seriously.

Needless to say, I love this crap. Maybe it's because I've grown up in the post-Miller era where comic fans and creators are terrified to be fun, because they're so desperate to be taken seriously. The Dark Knight's success has as much to do with this backwards mentality among fans as it does with actual quality. That's why I love the TV show, Batman: The Brave and the Bold, because it joyfully embraces all that's great and ridiculous in comics in an earnest way that's somehow reverently irreverent. When they recently did a whole episode of tributes to Silver Age Superman crackiness, I was in heaven. Do I want all my comics to be ridiculous crack? Hell no, I love a well-told, mature, serious superhero story, so long as it actually is all three of those things. But I also long to see comics embrace their history rather than run away from it, simply because that stuff is pure COMICS in ways that no superhero movies could be. It's fun as hell, and at its best, it emphasizes the "awe" aspect of "awesome," a badly-abused word in this day and age of Scott Pilgrim.

So theoretically, I should be in love with the current Jimmy Olsen comics coming out by Nick Spencer. After all, tons of fans and even comic bloggers adore this new take on Jimmy, which giddily incorporates all of his Silver Age silliness into a modern context. But as I read the universally-adored first few parts, something seemed amiss, starting with Jimmy's interaction with his ex-girlfriend, Chloe Sullivan (yes, Chloe from Smallville, making her comics debut). This Jimmy isn't the lovable dork who constantly gets caught up in trouble. He's an oh-so-cool slacker who lives in a world of wonders with smug bemusement rather than awe, fielding girl troubles due to his own douchebaggery and being the Nice Guy (TM) who clashes with a richer, more handsome, more overtly-jerkwadish rival.

In short... Jimmy Olsen is now Scott Pilgrim.

Pass me that Haterade, Dave. It's the perfect storm of meh-feh-BLAH.
thehefner: (Simpsons: ...Comic Books?)
Via becoming a new favorite geek site--this handy database lets you see which DC and Marvel comics were released the month you were born, with cover images. Here are the most notable (to me) issues that were released on my birth-year and month, March 1983:

The first appearance of Killer Croc, back when he was meant to be an A-list threat!

An issue from J.M. DeMatteis' great and unloved Captain America run! I think this is the issue where Cap goes to save the beloved "roommate" of his childhood best friend, Arnie Roth. And yes, "roommate" is in quotes. That's as explicit as it gets, but it's fairly clear--and made even more clear as the book progresses--that Arnie's gay. Was this the first instance of a gay character in comics? I mean, not counting Jim Shooter's oh-my-god-what-were-you-thinking story where the Hulk was nearly raped in a YMCA?

If ever there was a single Marvel issue that deserved to be hailed as a classic, it's this one. Coming right off the heels of Frank Miller's revitalizing run, Alan Brennert (writer for the 80's Twilight Zone, as well as a handful of excellent, excellent, EXCELLENT DC Comics in the 80's) crafted this wonderful tribute to Miller's work that captured all of the humanity and none of the crassness. In some ways, it feels like thematic foreshadowing to Miller and Mazzucchelli's Batman: Year One and Daredevil: Born Again, in that it's a superhero noir mystery grounded by a down-to-earth supporting character. And it's all in a story where Ben Urich wants to buy a house. Note the blue fedora and coat Ben Urich is wearing in the story. Compare that with the cover, and see if it doesn't catch the "spirit" of another great comics character.

Best X-Men story ever? I'd say yes, but aside from this book, I've never really cared about the X-Men at all. This definitely earned that exception. It's the nameless cop character. That's the part that really stays with me.

Oh god. Oh GOD. It's this issue. I don't know what's crackier about this issue: the fact that it features Superman and Batman crying over alien tentacle sex (NOT EVEN KIDDING), or all the canon slashiness (scans courtest of dcwomenkickingass):

Truly, it was an omen of something great to come (hurr). Namely, me. I don't know how that works, exactly. I'm just not sure how else to end this post.

Oh, wait, I know! Now it's your turn! What comics came out on the month YOU were born?
thehefner: (Green Lantern: Bling Bling!)
Henchgirl and I are working on a side project involving Kyle Rayner, which will result in that character's equivalent of the Hal Jordan head injury project. Unfortunately, this means tracking down as many Kyle issues of Green Lantern we can find. Every dollar I spend makes fifteen-year-old John Hefner scream in agony.

I honestly keep trying to actually read these issues, but I can't get three pages into any story without wanting to find some way to graft a throat onto the comics so that I may strangle them. Yeah, that was awkwardly phrased, but Kyle GL comics from this era infuriate me beyond all sense of actual wit. Even when good stuff actually happens, I'm too blinded by my deep-seated nostalgic rage. Can one have nostalgic rage? Because I think that's what this is.

In other cosmic comic news, I finally read The Life and Death of Captain Marvel, which felt like the equivalent of suffering through three seasons of an incredibly tedious show, only to find that the series finale is one of the greatest things you've ever seen on TV.

I love Starlin's later work with Thanos, but good lord was I ever bored by the original Thanos storyline. Maybe that just served to make the already-great Death of Captain Marvel all the more powerful. I was doing that thing where you make little "oh" sounds out loud every few pages, which got rather embarrassing with Henchgirl in the room.

Amazing to think that this kind of story is still incredibly rare in comics today. Actually, do we ever see superheroes dying slow deaths, deteriorating and coming to terms with their mortality while they make peace with those around them? The only other instance I can recall is Silver Surfer: Requiem, and say what you want about JMS, but that story was stunningly moving for much the same reasons.

I'm tempted to say that The Death of Captain Marvel might well be the greatest treatment of death in all of superhero comics. Any disagreements on this count, f-list?
thehefner: (Me: White Background)
Back when I was a teenager and I first started working at the comic shop, I knew a customer named Brad. It was only years later than I realized he was the same Brad Meltzer whose name I saw in the metro, adorned on huge ads for bestselling legal thrillers.

What I did know was that he was college friends (roommates? I don't recall) with Judd Winick, a comic writer who might still be more well-known as the guy from The Read World, the season with Puck. Brad once told me that Judd had a trick for whenever he wanted a private moment away from the every-prying eyes of the cameras, there to film virtually every aspect of their lives.

According to Brad, Judd would just start talking about comics. After a minute or so, the red light on the camera would shut off. Because even in The Real World, no one cared.

I laughed, just as it makes me laugh now. But the laugh is one of weary recognition for the invisible passion of comics fandom.
thehefner: (Watchmen: Ozy's I DID IT twitter)
Most awesome comics news of the week, and possibly the month: DC Comics to bring back letters columns!

I used to have a love-hate relationship with letters columns, the hate mainly forming during the Kyle Rayner era of Green Lantern, where editor Kevin Dooley pretty much seemed to use the letters page as a propaganda piece for all things pro-Kyle and anti-Hal. In a day and age where all major comics news sites and blogs seem to be little more than glorified P.R. and wankery for the comic companies (actual criticism? FUCK THAT! We want exclusive previews and interviews! GEOFF JOHNS IS AWESOME AND CAN DO NO WRONG! ANY DISAGREEMENT WILL BE FLAMED/BANNED/IGNORED/MOCKED), it's amazing to read the letters in comics from twenty years ago and find how many editors often published balanced responses.

It's a great time capsule for comics fandom, putting stories in a historical perspective. More than that, it's just plain fun. Sometimes, more fun than the actual comics themselves. It's also great fun to track down all the future "celebrities" (comic writers, artists, bloggers, editors to be) in the old letters pages, back when they were just fans. I'm now making a note of every one I find, possibly to make it a recurring feature.

While anybody can have their opinions published online (a great and terrible thing unto itself), there's something different about knowing that opinion is actually being read by the editors and sometimes times the writers themselves! Jeph Loeb actually remembered me as "John from Cabin John" from my lengthy letter to The Long Halloween, and while I've become very critical of both Loeb and that story in years since, I'm still fond of that thrill: the sheer excitement and accomplishment at seeing my letter actually PUBLISHED in a COMIC BOOK. I tell you, I was the happiest kid in seventh grade.

You bet your ass that Henchgirl and I are gonna write letters. Snail mail, even! What about you, the five people who still read DC Comics on my f-list? Will you be taking advantage of this?
thehefner: (Scott and Barda are US SO SCHMOOPY)
How do I even begin summing up this situation? It's hard to say where it started, because as with all stories in real life, every beginning is just a collision of other stories already in progress.

The recent fandom kerfuffle with Amazing Spider-Man writer Dan Slott telling a fan to "Go fuck yourself" (and controversial fandom figure [ profile] box_in_the_box being one of the very fucking few people NOT praising Slott for doing so) has taken a weird turn today, with Slott himself picking a fight on Henchgirl's LJ. This, of course, resulted in an explosion with "Box and Friends" joining in, and Slott only digging himself in deeper.

Thing is, she was ALREADY feeling stressed from the fact that two of her posts (Boom! Yummy) have started getting widespread internet attention, and she's concerned about any fallout that may result from those who disagree with verbal pitchforks. On top of that all, she's still pregnant. So yeah, she's a bit exhausted.

Over in Box's own LJ entry about the situation, I left a comment which received replies from Henchgirl (in the other room on her own laptop), Box (our good friend who sees himself as the Flynn to our Yori and Tron), and [ profile] punishermax, a guy who has turned comics criticism into high satire sketch comedy. What follows is a dialogue version of our comments:


ME: I'm just standing by ready to supply tea and hot chocolate as needed. That's the extent of my involvement here.

HENCHGIRL: You are a wide man, John Hefner. (Pause) O.O! Wise! WISE! I MEANT WISE!

BOX: No, you meant "wide" as in "the girth of his manhood," RIGHT? See, you COULD have talked your way out of this and flattered him in the process, but noooooo ... :)

HENCHGIRL: I don't think even THAT would have flown. The Boy is increasingly sensitive about his looming fate to Shackroyd (Shatner/Ackroyd) out.

BOX: Boo hoo. I went from looking like Mike Myers on SNL to looking like Jack Black. He'll survive. :)

HENCHGIRL: ...don't tell this to the girl who had a raging crush on Mike Myers for two years as a teenager.

ME: That's it. When we get back, I'm doing Wii Fit every day. Stupid sympathetic pregnancy weight gain.

HENCHGIRL: Sweetie, you're not fat. ... Now, blowjob or Monopoly?

ME: ... First the latter, then the former as consolation after you kick my ass and humiliate me as usual.

BOX: The correct answer is always "blowjob." :)

HENCHGIRL: Wrong! [The Boy's] answer is always the correct answer. Because I'm so much more enthusiastically apologetic after crushing someone's spirits thoroughly.

PUNISHERMAX: I feel like I just watched a sitcom.

~Eighties soft rock guitar riff as we oom in on a home~

"Honey I meant WISE! Not wide!"

"Sure! And when you said you had a headache, you really meant my ASS made you ache!"

~laugh track~

"Honey, how about some monopoly! Then we can see if I can go on Baltic Avenue..."

~Audience woooooooooos~

~door suddnly bursts open and box comes in~

~crowd explodes in applause~

"Did someone mention something involving sex?"

"Box, you live 20 miles away! How did you even know!?"

"Well you know me...when it comes to sex...~he turns and winks at the camera~ this box...knows about boxes!"

~crowd explodes in applause and cheers~

Show me that smile again
Oh, show me that smile
Don't waste another minute on your cryin'
We're nowhere near the end
We're nowhere near
The best is ready to begin
All in a cloudy daze
I look into your eyes and see them shining out
Holding you close this way
Holding you this way
Is like having summer everyday
Ooh, ooh
As long as we got each other
We got the world spinnin' right in our hands
Baby, you and me
We gotta be


Henchgirl hasn't seen that part yet, as she's still in the middle of a well-deserved nap. But I dare say she'll agree that punishermax isn't too far off. Only I feel like [ profile] surrealname might be Box's main competition for being the Larry Dallas of our lives.

I'm not sure where I was going with this. But I'm here, and it's still going. If only we had a camera crew.
thehefner: (Doc Ock)
Favorite comic-related read of the week: JM DeMatteis on Kraven's Last Hunt, the way stories take on lives of their own, the vital role Mary Jane plays in Spider-Man's life*, how it almost became a Batman story with Hugo Strange**, and the influence of Dostoevsky on Kraven himself.

An extra bonus was seeing just how openly JMD interacts with the people who comment on his blog. Every other comic writer I've seen online is very selective about what they respond to, and even then, they keep their responses very curt and limited. JMD is warm, effusive, and you get the sense that he just loves talking with his fans. Henchgirl said that it's how I'd interact with my fans, and I think she's right. Maybe when I finally write about JMD's Two-Face: Crime and Punishment for [ profile] about_faces, I'll ask him a couple questions about the story and see what happens.

I got up the nerve to write to him, and soon we had a back and forth about Dostoevsky, our mutual loves of The Brothers Karamazov and The Idiot***, and how I couldn't get past the first quarter of Crime and Punishment.

I've now been personally ordered by JM DeMatteis to finally finish reading Crime and Punishment and then let him know what I think.

Henchgirl thought my subsequent fan-giddiness and mincing Homer-Simpson-style effete excitement was adorable.

Welp. Looks like I'm gonna have to put off my plans to finally catch up with Roger Zelazny's Chronicles of Amber to finally catch up with the other big Dostoevsky book I keep avoiding. Actually, before going back to Amber, I tried to read War and Peace--translated by the same people who made me fall in love with Dostoevsky--but I just can't bloody get into it.

So back to Roskolnikov it is, on the personal orders of he who might just be my all-time favorite comic writer! Not a bad incentive!

*After reading more and more Spider-Man from the 70's to the early 90's, I am convinced that Peter needs MJ as his life partner to make Peter-centric stories work. She's a wonderful character in her own right, and without her, Peter is just an annoying bucket of angst, guilt, and neuroses. I do enough of that in my own life, thank you very much.

**I was just thinking the other day about what it would take to write an ultimate Hugo story, but then I realized that the story I was coming up with was essentially just ripping off Kraven's Last Hunt, so I found that tidbit both amusing and frustrating that we didn't see such a story. But instead, we got Doug Moench's "Prey," which is one of the greatest Batman stories ever (and stupidly out of print! WTF?!), so that's not a bad trade-off.

***I fell so in love with The Idiot that I spent summer of 2002 writing my own stage adaptation, which I'd planned to submit for performance with the Rude Mechanicals. I wonder how well that script holds up. Would I want to modernize the dialogue? Stay true to the original text? Rework the ending? Did I do anything to actually justify it being adapted to stage in the first place? Because I loathe pointless, unjustified adaptations of works from one medium to another.

If you have nothing new to say with it, why do it at all? So I have to worry about what, if anything, the twenty-year-old me of 2002 had to say.
thehefner: (Hulk Have Axe)
Via "If Superheroes Were Hipsters"

The Spider-Man one in particular is my favorite, just because it actually works for the character himself.

GEEK NITPICK AHEAD: Hulk never say "am" like that. Hulk not Bizarro, and Hulk offended that you think so.
thehefner: (Simpsons: ...Comic Books?)
The AV Club on "ASTRO CITY vs. PLANETARY: Superhero Reconstruction vs. Deconstruction." If nothing else, it reminds me that I need to read all of PLANETARY in one chunk now that it's done, and that I need to actually read ASTRO CITY period. I've read parts in the past, but it never grabbed me, aside from a couple of the stories on scans_daily ("The Nearness of You": one of the all-time greats? Probably, yes). It's time to give that series the attention it deserves, as it's ostensibly a joyful, mature celebration of everything I love about superhero comics.

In similar news, Four critics for the Comics Alliance do a round-table review of WEDNESDAY COMICS, part 1 and part 2. It was done in time for the huge* hardcover collection, but it's clear that they were revewing from their experiences reading the series as it came out, rather than giving them a fresh reread all in one sitting now. I think you have to do that to completely judge that series, which is why I've still held off from posting my own thoughts. I disagree with about half of the CA panel, sometimes violently, but they still make interesting points.

For now, I will say that I was somewhat disappointed by much of WEDNESDAY COMICS, considering how excited I was by it and how hard I pushed it here. But it being a mixed bag was inevitable, and the fact that such bold experiment even existed was reason enough to support it. All that said, I did love a few of those stories, particularly THE FLASH, which not only might be the greatest Barry Allen story of all time (one person on CA rightly calls it ALL-STAR FLASH), but it's the one that best utilized the format's strengths all while paying homage to the newspaper comic art form in general. It was a marvelous achievement that deserves its own series.

Justin Zyduck on explores what makes the Mark Hamill Joker superior to the Joker of Grant Morrison and Heath Ledger. It reminds me of what [ profile] surrealname said about what makes the B:TAS Joker great: "He has human appetites."

Finally, a random image that never fails to amuse me:

*Fact: the WEDNESDAY COMICS hardcover is perfectly sized for hugging. Just try it when you find a copy. You'll see.
thehefner: (Venture Bros: Marvel Comics)
Reading through the Bat-Box, I'd forgotten that I had a letter published in BATMAN #590, the third part of the Matches Malone story by some unknown guest writer guy named Brian K. Vaughan. The letter was sent via AOL (dial-up memories!), and was about how I totally thought Harvey Dent was behind the shooting of Commissioner Gordon in OFFICER DOWN. I was eighteen years old.

That wasn't my first published letter, though. The first was in BATMAN: THE LONG HALLOWEEN #4, the New Year's Eve issue. It was the only letter to take up an entire column and a half in length (I was a long-winded bastard even then), and went on about how I totally thought Harvey Dent was the killer because of all the obvious red herring clues. Jeph Loeb himself responded to my litany of Two-Face "clues" by responding, "John Hefner from Cabin John? Hmmmm..." I was thirteen years old.

Of course, I was adorably wrong on both counts, and I look over these and other such published letters with a mixture of embarrassment and pride. Yeah, I was wrong, but I was interestingly wrong enough to be printed in the back of comics! I can say, with pride, that my writing has been published by DC Comics on at least four occasions!

And by Dark Horse on one, in an issue of BUFFY, which I hope never, ever sees the light of day ever never no.

I look forward to the day when I'm famous enough for these letters to be discovered by fans as collector's items and/or blackmail material. Now if you'll excuse me, I must track down and burn all copies of SCARE TACTICS #7.

What about you guys? Did any of you ever get your letters published in comics? Either way, don't you miss letter columns? They could be a source of rah-rah propaganda thanks to the selective choices of editors, but they gave voice to readers and fans in ways that internet message boards just can't today.
thehefner: (Two-Face: O RLY YA RLY)
In the first Two-Face Tuesday post since Fresno three weeks ago, I've posted what I consider to be the definitive Harvey Dent story, my gold standard for everything related to this character up at [ profile] about_faces.

I strongly resisted the urge to just post the whole damn thing here too. Besides being my favorite Two-Face comic, it's just plain one of my favorite comics period, Batman or otherwise. If you haven't read it, I urge you to check it out.

As a side note, I'm really pleased with the edit I did for the scanning. I cut out an entire subplot (which is honestly the weakest part of the whole story), and the result is even leaner and tighter than the actual issue.

In other (more general) comic news, Comics Alliance has a fascinating interview with Greg Rucka. Normally I hate interviews because they're all full of pabalum and bullshit, especially in an industry where everyone is so afraid to speak their minds or discuss comics critically in any way but to boost sales. Rucka's is a breath of fresh air on a number of front, from how he talks about Wonder Woman...

Diana – there are people who hate her. I mean, they just hate the concept of a Wonder Woman. They really do. You've seen – I don't even want to call it "fan-based art" – but I'm sure everybody's seen the various images out there. That speaks to something going on. Somebody is real scared of her. He's really afraid of her. And I don't know why. I don't understand where that comes from. So there's that. And people want to simplify her, so they go, she's Superman with tits. Well, no. She's not. It's a completely different background...

... to the ever-present problem of dwindling readership in comics and what should be done about it:

I'd put comics back in the spinner racks and 7-Elevens and grocery stores and Walmart. That's what's killing us. I was talking to Dan DiDio today -- the best-selling Marvel or DC book today is going to sell a quarter of a million. That's nothing, guys. That's nothing. If a TV show has a quarter of a million people watching it, it would not make it through the second episode. It might not even make it through it's first broadcast. I'm serious. I'm not joking.

Look at manga -- it has millions of readers. Europeans comics, in the millions. What the hell is going on in this country with our comics that we can't break out?

I'd sorta fallen out of love with Rucka's with stuff like OMAC PROJECT, but this interview--coupled with his recent work--has reminded me just how much of a loss it is that he's leaving DC for the foreseeable future. And not just because I want my Renee Montoya and Two-Face reunion/rematch, damn it!
thehefner: (Simpsons: ...Comic Books?)

In Fresno, a mere block away from where I was performing, Henchgirl and I discovered a comic shop called Wonderland Comics. At first, we thought it was closed, as from the outside it looked rundown and shut up for the day (if not permanently).

But the door opened to reveal the person Henchgirl would later refer to as "The Gnome Man": a squat, large-bellied man with haggard gray hair and a great bushy beard (to be said aloud in your best Jim Broadbent voice). If he had legs--or indeed anything below the waist--we never saw them. The only actual movement he made upon our entrance was to lower his copy of THE COMICS JOURNAL and look over his glasses at us with mild interest that turned into mild disdain when we confessed, "No, we're just here to browse."

Then we saw the shop itself.

My God... it's full of... )

Question, comic fans: what do you consider to be the perfect comic shop? What do you look for in a store? Do you prioritize new issues? Graphic novels and trades? Back issues? What about non-comic merchandise, like toys, cards, and/or games? Does such a store exist for you, or has nothing yet lived up to your ideal?
thehefner: (Venture Bros: Marvel Comics)
One reason I'm so poor after this trip is because Henchgirl and I tracked down a comic shop in pretty much every major city we went through, scouring through bargain and back issues for several things.

We have two personal crusades: mine is to find every single issue of the BATMAN ANIMATED SERIES comics, and hers is to get a complete run of the 90's CATWOMAN. But I found many more in the meantime. I'm gonna have to write multiple entries to showcase my acquisitions.

At a magnificent comic/used-book shop in Oklahoma City--it was called Second Chance Books, and really, how could a Two-Face fan like me resist?--they had a whole section dedicated to comic-themed novels. Very, very cool. But two stood out. One was this:

Henchgirl almost bought it, but held off to instead get more CATWOMAN back issues. Has anyone read this? Is it any good? It doesn't look that good, but hey, you never know where the gems turn up!

Me, I came away with this:

Okay, first of all, Richard Wenk? I'm wondering if that's the very same Richard Wenk who directed VAMP, the 80's-tastic original Vampire Strip Club movie starring Grace Jones, Gedde Watanabe, Dedee Pfeiffer, and Billy Drago? I don't know how many other Richard Wenks there are Wenking around.

But more importantly, this is a "Choose Your Own Adventure" Batman book! Did I mention how I'd love to write a "Choose Your Own Adventure" Two-Face story? It'd come with its own coin and everything.

I know, right? MUST NOT JEOPARDIZE EVERYTHING I'M WORKING ON RIGHT NOW TO WRITE THIS INSTEAD. When oh when will DC hire me so I can do this shit for actual money?!
thehefner: (Batman: I Am The Night)
Every so often, I feel like I need to do a list weighing the things I love and hate about modern superhero comics, to figure out if it's really worth the emotional and/or financial investment anymore. I'm still very much in the pro camp, but damn, it's like every week, something else comes out to anger the blood.

Like, take this past week's BATMAN for example (and all of BATMAN from the past year, actually, including Winick's run), with a dash of Grant Morrison ranting... )
thehefner: (Harley and Ivy have funny hats)
While I'll almost certainly never write for DC Comics in the long term (I just don't have the stomach to deal with those kinds of inter-company politics and BS), working on this Harvey Dent novel has really whet my appetite for what I would do if they ever offered me a chance to play in their mighty cosmic sandbox.

In no particular order... )

The final five to come sooner or later. Quite possibly later. Or not at all. Life is eventful like that right now, as I pack up for the long drive to Cali-for-ni-aye.
thehefner: (Two-Face: Judgement)
For those who've been enjoying my Two-Face Tuesday posts, the newest one is up now at [ profile] about_faces. My very second entry. :)

Eventually, I'm gonna 'port over my previous TFT posts over there (the extended editions that have appeared here rather than my edited ones at scans_daily), just for posterity. I've also been doing tons of scanning for the next five or six weeks' worth of entries, since I'm gonna be on the road with Henchgirl from this Friday until the end of March. Entries in progress include selections from A LONELY PLACE OF DYING*, PRODIGAL, Morrison's ARKHAM ASYLUM, and more Ty Templeton goodness from the BTAS comics.

I'm gonna make it a point to still get those posted even while on the road. Yes, I really am that dedicated. This ongoing project has really been fun and fascinating for me, forcing me to really think about stories that I used to just dismiss. Today's installment is no different. I used to consider it one of my least favorite Harvey stories, but now... well, I can appreciate it for the potential it had, which is a lot more than I can say for many stories.

So yeah, if you dig my geeky Two-Face ramblings, be sure to friend (or at least lurk) [ profile] about_faces. Bit by bit, the pieces fit, the Soviet Machine advances my geeky ambitions start coming together.

*Including the very first Batman comic I ever read, which had Harvey and Batman right there, front and center
thehefner: (Batman: Riddler)
"Riddle me this! What's Harvey Dent's favorite day of the year?"

The answer behind the cut )

This does nothing to help my worries in yesterday's post about the only two things I seem to post about anymore. But seriously, I am the luckiest damn geekboy ever.
thehefner: (Two-Face: ... FOREVER!!!)
NIGHTWING: THE GREAT LEAP is beloved story by pretty much everyone. And I can understand why, if you're a Nightwing fan. Me, I like Grayson all right, but obviously, my focus on THE GREAT LEAP was Two-Face and only Two-Face. And appropriately enough, I am very torn on how Tomasi used Harvey in this story.

This was Harvey's first major appearance since he was so clumsily rescarred and recrazied in FACE THE FACE, which was itself his first major in-canon appearance since HUSH four years earlier (I sure as hell ignore the beautifully-drawn crapfest that was BATMAN: JEKYLL AND HYDE). His appearance in NIGHTWING served as a tie-in to THE DARK KNIGHT, and aspects of the Aaron Eckhart Two-Face are used throughout THE GREAT LEAP.

And for the most part, it's a pretty excellent take on Two-Face. At several points, it's one of the most refreshing and exciting depictions of Harvey Dent. So why would I have any problem with THE GREAT LEAP, if it's a generally-solid tale?

To answer the question, I present my edit of this story, focusing almost entirely on Harvey's arc, with pretty much all of the Nightwing stuff cut out. The original story as presented is Nightwing vs. Harvey "Crazypants" Dent. But that's not how I read the story. To me, it was "Harvey Dent vs. Harvey Dent (with Nightwing and a Rachel Dawes substitute in the mix.)"

Ultimately, it's a matter of perspective.

That's really the question, isn't it? What do YOU see? )

Honestly, if I'd call bullshit on anything, it'd be the retconned inclusion of Carol into Harvey's past, and the emotional affair they had. Hell no. Vow or not, I reject the thought that Harvey loved anyone more than Gilda, his sole lifeline relationship to humanity.

So for me, I see no more fitting note to end on than a reminder of that love, which I (relevantly enough!) commissioned from Rags Morales at New York Comic Con last February:

Now that's the only person who can break up the one-man OTP that is Harvey Dent.
thehefner: (Batman: Rogues)
Few things bug me quite like missed opportunities. Stories that could have been brilliant, but due to a flaw or two, are rendered merely mediocre.

Ever read a story you wish you could rewrite? A story with awesome potential that's undone by fatal flaws? I have a couple. GANGS OF NEW YORK, for example, should have been purely about the struggle between Bill (Daniel Day-Lewis) and Priest (Liam Neeson), who was far more interesting in five minutes than DiCaprio and Diaz were the whole film.

But have you ever read a story that could have been vastly improved if they used a different character?

Here's what I mean. Take Matt Wagner's BATMAN: FACES for example:

In this story, a strangely theatrical and purple-prosed Two-Face kills off plastic surgeons, gets together a gang of circus freaks, and steals a blimp to take them all to a private island where disfigured people can have their own utopia.

Yeah. Doesn't really sound like the sort of thing Harvey would pull, does it? But imagine if Wagner used this guy instead:

Holy hell, not only would that have fit so much better, but it could have given poor Ozzie Cobblepot a much-needed awesome story! Because the Penguin is one of the most iconic Batman villains, and yet nobody seems to know what to do with him! Name me a brilliant Penguin story. It's hard, isn't it? That's not because he's a bad character by any stretch, as many fools mistakenly think.

The problem is, no one seems to write him consistently. Too many make him an ugly thug, a crass, nasty little wannabe Kingpin, when at best, the Penguin should be a master manipulator, a grandly theatrical criminal, capable of incredible cruelty but never losing his impeccable dapperness. But underneath it all is a deeply insecure little man who still burns with rage at the "slings and arrows of outrageous youth," one who would dearly love to strike back at the "beauty merchants" (as Two-Face called the in FACES) and create a place of peace for people like him.

Because Harvey's insecurity and vanity doesn't run nearly so deep as the Penguin's. And what a tragedy it would be for poor Ozzie, to say those climactic last lines to one of the disfigured men: "You cannot have a normal life! You're a freak! A freak!!!"

And how cutting it would be for him to simply hear, "But I am not a monster."

See? Would've been brilliant. But no, instead you have a story that wastes both Two-Face in a misused role and deprives the Penguin from an unusually fine story. Sigh.

September 2012

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