Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas

This is my second christmas post on this blog. Which in itself is a big accomplishment considering the unsurmountable obstacles put in my way by the fates, the gods and whoever is trying to sabotage my blog.


Anyway, in my last christmas post I explained that as a rule I only give away comics as christmas presents. Why try and make sense of things I have no experience with like cigars, alcohol or clothing so I never know if I´m giving people top notch quality or just worthless tinnef ? I like to stick to the only field where I´m the Big Poppa Pump.

This year I already had all my christmas shopping done four days before christmas since I have taken up the habit of start looking for christmas presents in September. It´s especially difficult to find presents for my family because you never know what they like. With my sister and her husband it´s mostly because I have completely lost track of what is already in their comic collection. But since they have a different taste in comics I can usually get rid of comics I don´t like very much.


I´m not going to post what exactly I got as christmas presents this year so I don´t spoil it for my brothers - even though the chance of one of them checking out my blog is slim....to say the least. For my older brother it´s not that difficult since he buys almost no comics. If he buys ten comics in one year that was a really good year. So I ususally get some Hellboy stuff for him since he´s not big on following up series.

My younger brother was much more of a problem since he already buys a $%%&?ßload of comics. And not always in the top category. So this time it was very difficult. No it wasn´t. I have to confess that I have known since August what I wanted to get him for christmas : the first trade of IMMORTAL IRON FIST. From all the rave reviews, previews pages and online commentaries this really sounds like a comic my brother should be reading - but isn´t. So I decided to get him the first trade. The only problem was that I couldn´t find it anywhere.


Even my most valued comic store sources came up blank. And since my credit´s too bad to order it online at the moment I was unable to buy a copy. It seems that the first Iron Fist trade is going to become as elusive as the legendary THE SECRET GOSPEL OF MAXWELL LORD trade. It has become the comic equivalent of an urban legend since many have heard of it but no one has seen or read one himself.

So instead I bought him something that I´m not sure if he will like it since it came as a total surprise to me that he bought the first trade of it. I guess you can´t go wrong with a title he´s already collecting. I would have bought the third trade as an add - on but like always money´s too tight to mention.

Anyway, I also wanted to comment on a comic for a change. I always try to put up more positive content on this blog but sometimes I can´t help myself. And though I try to listen more to my own inner voice than fall in line with all the playerhaters online this time I have to agree to the message board consensus. Yes, I´m talking about Ultimates Vol 3 issue 1.

Ultimates Vol 3 or Why this comic is like new coke

Like it isn´t usually my style to spoil things in my comic rants I want to warn my readers that the following may be hazardous to your comic reading fun.


When I first heard the announcement that Joe Madureiras is doing the new Ultimates book I didn´t count on it actually hitting the shelves. There have been a few announcements that BATTLE CHASERS was going to be continued from now on and a few issues later it was always cancelled. Which is the reason why I tend to halt the applause and praise for when I can hold the actual issue in my hands. Especially if the star artist is not known for being very fast. So you can guess my surprise when this week I did not only find a new issue of ALL STAR BATMAN & ROBIN THE BOY WONDER ( or like I like to call it I´M THE GODDAMN BATMAN ) but also the first issue of Ultimates. Will wonders never cease ? Of course that all changed when I actually read the issue.

Now anyone who has read my blog on a regular basis knows that I´m not too keen on digital inking. There have been a few instances in which a comic book has benefitted from going directly from the pencils to coloring. In all the other cases it´s just painful to look at.


Some may say that one of the reasons why I don´t like digital inking is that I´m much too old school in my comic book tastes. And you are right if by old school you mean that I have experienced the best in the field of inking and know to what stellar heights the art on a book can be elevated by a master inker.

I shudder to think what would have happened if the comic book industry had done this decades before and we would never have experienced how much artists like Tom Palmer, Joe Rubinstein, Mark Farmer, Scott Williams or Oclair Albert can add to a book. There would be no comics industry now because it would never have gotten to the quality it has now.

I´m not saying all digital inking is bad but like the new released Conan trades by Dark Horse Ultimates 3 suffers from it. When I first read the issue I thought I was reading the first comic of a small indie company. I don´t want to say that our own first ( and to the moment only ) issue of POWER FREAKS is as good as it but there´s not that much of a gap between the two. It really looks like the first attempt to make a comic. This should be really used as an example how NOT to make comics.


The panel layout is confusing, the storytelling is even worse and the panel borders are almost nonexistent. It´s all just bad. If the lack of good inking doesn´t do enough too distract your eye the coloring is so murky and dark that it´s almost impossible to see anything. In BATTLE CHASERS Joe Madureira was already overrendering the pages but at least there was some phenomenal inking on the book so you were able to see what was going on. And as if that wasn´t enough to prevent you from making out what´s happening the panels are cluttered with text and logos. This page looks confusing enough ( trust me it´s much darker ) but in the printed page it´s splattered with text.


Like I said the storytelling is unclear and you never know if characters are running towards another, away from each other of even in the same building.

As far as the story goes Jeph Loeb is not on his best. Compared to his mindblowing stories in SUPERMAN / BATMAN he´s not firing on all cylinders with Ultimates. Now I have no problem with the Iron Man / Black Widow sextape. It´s not like we haven´t had any of those in the real world before. And ULTIMATES is supposed to be pushing the boundaries. I mean it´s not like there are any underage comic readers out there picking up copies of Ultimates. So in fact it´s high time there was a bit of adult entertainment in the pages of this book. I mean it´s not like we actually see any kind of graphic stuff. And we´re talking about a comic where the Wasp flashed the Hulk without us readers seeing anything. So in that direction it is rather a step forward.


Really, reading the online reviews it almost sounds like the Valkyrie wearing a wet t - shirt was a bad thing. Number one : we need more wet t - shirts in comics. No kidding. And in the issue I have there is no wet t - shirt. I guess I missed that.


What I found a bit creepy and weird was the concept of Wanda and Pietro sharing a bit more than the last name. That came a bit out of the blue.

And when did Hawkeye turn into Grifter ? What´s up with that ? Wasn´t it enough that they turned him into Bullseye in the last story arc ?

As usual Thor has gotten his toy hammer back. I don´t know why Marvel always gives him an itsy bitsy hammer. I know that in the legends it says that the handle of Thor´s hammer was too short.

But a regular warhammer was made that the wearer could lean on it when standing up. So the usual height was a bit under the chin of a normal man. Now if Thor´s hammer was a bit short that would mean that it was probably somewhere up to his chest. Or where his belly is. If you want to give him a really short handle. A warhammer is a two - fisted weapon after all.


But come on Marvel, the hammer you give Thor in your comics doesn´t even get up to his knee. If that would have been the case I´m sure that it would be mentioned in the legends as Thor´s mace and not as his hammer. The one good thing about Ultimate Thor was that he had a biga$$ hammer. Now the only thing to distinguish him from the regular Thor is his beard. And who knows how long that will last.

Now I have heard that the first issue has gone back to a second printing which shows us once again that quality has nothing to do with sales numbers. Supposedly Marvel is trying to improve the color in the second printing but since it´s not probable that I can swap my old issue for a new one.....I´ll just have to wait for the second issue to see if it really makes a difference. A lot of the blame is put on the colorist here but I have to say that a big publisher like Marvel should be able to check the proofs before going to print. But who knows - maybe big companies like Marvel and PANINI are above such trifle things as proofreading.

So far it doesn´t look like the new version of Ultimates will be on top of my reading pile. Ultimates is now the new coke.


With that said and done we will come more positive things in my next post. Finally the DC solicitations are up so we can finally start on this subject. And of course we will get to look of the best of 2007 and what to look forward to in 2008. I know a lot of websites are already busy with it but I like to wait for it till 2007 has actually ended. Because usually the most important things happen in the last few days of the year no matter if it´s Katrina, other natural disasters or finding Saddam Hussein in some dirty hole.

So for now I just wish all my faithful readers ( and all comic readers in general ) a merry christmas, happy hanukkah, feliz navidad and fröhliche Weihnachten. And lots of good comics to read.


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