The story of San Francisco’s BatKid saving the day (thanks to the Make a Wish Foundation) is truly heartwarming. It should come as no surprise that superheroes mean a lot to me and it’s amazing to see how many people responded to one kid’s wish to be a hero for a day.The photos are truly enough to bring a tear to this nerd’s eye.
The story of BatKid reminded me of a recent story from Mark Waid’s Daredevil. Foggy Nelson (Daredevil’s best friend) is diagnosed with cancer, sending both himself and Daredevil on an emotional rollercoaster. While in the hospital, Foggy hears that Iron Man is coming to visit some of the sick kids in the hospital and he decides to say hello to Tony. Upon his arrival, he finds out that the kids are making a comic book for Tony in which the avengers kick the shit out of cancer. His reaction is one of shock but it’s the reaction of the kids that make this scene so poignant. Our hearts tell us that our heroes give us power and strength; though our brain may acknowledge that these characters are fictional, the mind is powerless to interfere with the power of hope.

Here are links to the sites for the Make a Wish Foundation if you want to support other amazing initiatives like this one.
Make a Wish Canada
Make a Wish SF and Greater Bay Area

(page from Daredevil 26 by Mark Waid and Chris Samnee. Goddamn, Samnee kills this page.)

The story of San Francisco’s BatKid saving the day (thanks to the Make a Wish Foundation) is truly heartwarming. It should come as no surprise that superheroes mean a lot to me and it’s amazing to see how many people responded to one kid’s wish to be a hero for a day.The photos are truly enough to bring a tear to this nerd’s eye.

The story of BatKid reminded me of a recent story from Mark Waid’s Daredevil. Foggy Nelson (Daredevil’s best friend) is diagnosed with cancer, sending both himself and Daredevil on an emotional rollercoaster. While in the hospital, Foggy hears that Iron Man is coming to visit some of the sick kids in the hospital and he decides to say hello to Tony. Upon his arrival, he finds out that the kids are making a comic book for Tony in which the avengers kick the shit out of cancer. His reaction is one of shock but it’s the reaction of the kids that make this scene so poignant. Our hearts tell us that our heroes give us power and strength; though our brain may acknowledge that these characters are fictional, the mind is powerless to interfere with the power of hope.

Here are links to the sites for the Make a Wish Foundation if you want to support other amazing initiatives like this one.

Make a Wish Canada

Make a Wish SF and Greater Bay Area

(page from Daredevil 26 by Mark Waid and Chris Samnee. Goddamn, Samnee kills this page.)

vicmalhotra:

A Kamandi sketch from my signing earlier today. This was my last sketch of the day so I was able to make it more complete.
Spent some time colouring the picture I took of it.
Happy Birthday Jack Kirby! 
-vic

vicmalhotra:

A Kamandi sketch from my signing earlier today. This was my last sketch of the day so I was able to make it more complete.

Spent some time colouring the picture I took of it.

Happy Birthday Jack Kirby!

-vic

Today marks the kickoff of pride week in the city of Edmonton. My LCS, Wizard’s Comics and Collectibles has given an open endorsement of Edmonton’s LGBTQ community and it inspired me to write up a quick #YEGPride reading list.
The Superheroic
Batwoman: Elegy
Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams took on the task of writing the definitive first story for Kate Kate, the new Batwoman. Rucka deftly tells the tale of a former cadet who chooses to leave the army in order to stay true to herself, painfully giving up one life in order to be honest in another. The story is gorgeously illustrated by Williams who blends fluid action, breathtaking visuals, and balances numerous styles (including a Mazzucchelli Year One homage) to tell a pull the reader deep into Batwoman’s world.
Batwoman: Elegy positioned Kate Kane as one of the most prominent lesbians in mainstream comics while telling an engrossing Bat-family story.

Gotham Central: Half a Life
Greg Rucka, Ed Brubaker, and Michael Lark expanded the scope of the Bat-universe with Gotham Central, extending the cast surrounding the main Bat-family and exploring new perspectives on superheroes. Rucka uses the street-level perspective on Gotham to explore the life of detective Renee Montoya, positioning her as one of the most capable cops in the Gotham City Police Department. In the Half a Life arc (issues 6-10), Montoya is outed as a lesbian and the reactions to her outing represent a powerful moment for both the character and the GCPD as a unit. 
Gotham Central explores new aspects of the Bat-universe while telling deeply personal and impressively affecting tales of the GCPD, including another of the DC Universe’s most prominent lesbian characters.

Young Avengers by Gillen and McKelvie
Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie recently launched a new Young Avengers title which is packed with insane action, slick style, teenage angst, and boys kissing. Wiccan and Hulkling, Marvel’s most celebrated gay couple, take center stage in the first arc of the story and it becomes readily apparent that they will do whatever it takes to make each other happy, even if that involves accidentally summoning parasitic aliens from other dimensions. Gillen balances wit, insight, and humour to tell an entertaining but insightful story which is gorgeously illustrated by McKelvie who pushes the boundaries of structure, style, and even fashion in the comic. 
Young Avengers has only been around for a few issues but it features two of Marvel’s biggest gay characters and has demonstrated expert prowess by the creative team on the book.

Runaways
Superstar writer Brian K. Vaughan launched Runaways in 2003 which remains one of my favourite runs on comics ever. Vaughan tells the story of a group of teenagers who are the children of an illuminati-esque group of parents called the Pride. When the teens find out about their parents’ dark secret, they choose to work together to undo the damage caused by the shady organization. The whole cast of Runaways in phenomenal as each character begins to learn about themselves in ways that teenagers tend to do. In the run, Vaughan introduces Karoline Dean who discovers that she is an alien while also realizing that she is a lesbian. These two features may have isolated her if it were not for the acceptance of the Runaways crew and their chance encounter with a shapeshifting Skrull named Xavin. Xav can change into any form (s)he sees fit and, after (s)he and Karoline fall for each other, chooses a female form in order to further woo Karoline. Adrian Alphona co-created the team and his art is both kinetic and energetic while also demonstrating great expressions and a softness to each character.
Runaways is an accessible and endlessly entertaining book about teens discovering themselves and forging their own path. Vaughan capably tackles the notions of gender and sexuality while also crafting a fast-paced and engrossing superhero tale.

It’s time for me to head down to the parade so I’m going to have to make a part 2 of this post that looks at some titles from outside of the big two. Remember, fellow nerds, if there’s anyone who should be accepting of differences it’s us. Love what (or who) you love unequivocally.
(Photo from Batwoman: Elegy by Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III which originally ran in Detective 854-860)

Today marks the kickoff of pride week in the city of Edmonton. My LCS, Wizard’s Comics and Collectibles has given an open endorsement of Edmonton’s LGBTQ community and it inspired me to write up a quick #YEGPride reading list.

The Superheroic

Batwoman: Elegy

Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams took on the task of writing the definitive first story for Kate Kate, the new Batwoman. Rucka deftly tells the tale of a former cadet who chooses to leave the army in order to stay true to herself, painfully giving up one life in order to be honest in another. The story is gorgeously illustrated by Williams who blends fluid action, breathtaking visuals, and balances numerous styles (including a Mazzucchelli Year One homage) to tell a pull the reader deep into Batwoman’s world.

Batwoman: Elegy positioned Kate Kane as one of the most prominent lesbians in mainstream comics while telling an engrossing Bat-family story.

Gotham Central: Half a Life

Greg Rucka, Ed Brubaker, and Michael Lark expanded the scope of the Bat-universe with Gotham Central, extending the cast surrounding the main Bat-family and exploring new perspectives on superheroes. Rucka uses the street-level perspective on Gotham to explore the life of detective Renee Montoya, positioning her as one of the most capable cops in the Gotham City Police Department. In the Half a Life arc (issues 6-10), Montoya is outed as a lesbian and the reactions to her outing represent a powerful moment for both the character and the GCPD as a unit.

Gotham Central explores new aspects of the Bat-universe while telling deeply personal and impressively affecting tales of the GCPD, including another of the DC Universe’s most prominent lesbian characters.

Young Avengers by Gillen and McKelvie

Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie recently launched a new Young Avengers title which is packed with insane action, slick style, teenage angst, and boys kissing. Wiccan and Hulkling, Marvel’s most celebrated gay couple, take center stage in the first arc of the story and it becomes readily apparent that they will do whatever it takes to make each other happy, even if that involves accidentally summoning parasitic aliens from other dimensions. Gillen balances wit, insight, and humour to tell an entertaining but insightful story which is gorgeously illustrated by McKelvie who pushes the boundaries of structure, style, and even fashion in the comic.

Young Avengers has only been around for a few issues but it features two of Marvel’s biggest gay characters and has demonstrated expert prowess by the creative team on the book.

Runaways

Superstar writer Brian K. Vaughan launched Runaways in 2003 which remains one of my favourite runs on comics ever. Vaughan tells the story of a group of teenagers who are the children of an illuminati-esque group of parents called the Pride. When the teens find out about their parents’ dark secret, they choose to work together to undo the damage caused by the shady organization. The whole cast of Runaways in phenomenal as each character begins to learn about themselves in ways that teenagers tend to do. In the run, Vaughan introduces Karoline Dean who discovers that she is an alien while also realizing that she is a lesbian. These two features may have isolated her if it were not for the acceptance of the Runaways crew and their chance encounter with a shapeshifting Skrull named Xavin. Xav can change into any form (s)he sees fit and, after (s)he and Karoline fall for each other, chooses a female form in order to further woo Karoline. Adrian Alphona co-created the team and his art is both kinetic and energetic while also demonstrating great expressions and a softness to each character.

Runaways is an accessible and endlessly entertaining book about teens discovering themselves and forging their own path. Vaughan capably tackles the notions of gender and sexuality while also crafting a fast-paced and engrossing superhero tale.

It’s time for me to head down to the parade so I’m going to have to make a part 2 of this post that looks at some titles from outside of the big two. Remember, fellow nerds, if there’s anyone who should be accepting of differences it’s us. Love what (or who) you love unequivocally.


(Photo from Batwoman: Elegy by Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III which originally ran in Detective 854-860)

Webcomics confuse me.
As you can probably tell, I’m primarily a “traditional” comics reader. I like to see how panels flow and how storytellers can use pages for pacing. This isn’t to say that I think that traditional comics have any categorical advantage or greater artistic merit over webcomics, only that, for me, I’m fluent in the language of traditional comics and while the aesthetic similarities of webcomics and traditional comics may be apparent, I believed that they are very different creations.

When my friend Sebastian asked me to do a review of his webcomic, The Aversion Bureau, you’ll understand why I was happy to help but also a little bit bewildered. I could heartily appreciate the art and humour in The Aversion Bureau but I didn’t really know how strip transition equated to page turns and how the sequential storytelling of webcomics differed from that of traditional comics. I loved the comic yet I didn’t feel as if I was adequately prepared or properly versed enough to review it. Though I made lofty promises of a fully-written review, time constraints and some nervousness resulted in me giving a brief few words orally rather than delivering what I had said I would.

On New Years Eve 2012, Seb announced that he would no longer be updating the strip. After releasing a comic 5 days per week for 79 consecutive weeks, the artist had grown understandably tired and needed a much needed rest. I missed my window to provide creative feedback and, despite him creating brilliant work for a year and a half, I wasn’t able to pull a measly review together. I’m still no more qualified to write a thorough review, but I can (hopefully) fulfill my promise to write something for him so here it is…

The Aversion Bureau: A Retrospective

5 days per week. 79 weeks. 397 weekday strips. 36 Sunday pieces. Wow.

Just by looking at the numbers you can tell that the Aversion Bureau was a labour of love for my friend Sebastien Ringuette. He poured every ounce of creative energy and free time into it, producing a comic that is original as it is hilarious and as engrossing as it is random. I could write at length about the joys of reading it and comment on my favorite moments, but I won’t because of my aforementioned lack of qualifications and because that would, of course, spoil the fun and adventure of reading it.

The Aversion Bureau was a project that was driven by love and dedication. The fact that Seb didn’t miss an update in over a year and a half is a testament to the willpower and commitment that he had in creating the comic. Honestly, I think that’s pretty incredible. I don’t think I could keep up that pace doing anything: eating well, working out, writing blog posts. Heck, even masturbating with that kind of regularity would probably be exhausting. Seb’s ability to create a wonderful comic with that kind of regularity is admirable in every way and exemplifies a singular focus and a level of dedication that is inspiring at numerous levels.

The creative energy exemplified by the Aversion Bureau can be told by more than just the sheer amount created and the regularity of its release. The tale of the Aversion Bureau, in fact, spans more than just the strips produced and the story told within them; it tells the story of the evolution of a creator and the growth of a fan. The creator, of course, is Sebastien and the fan is, somewhat selfishly, me.

As stated earlier, webcomics aren’t my area of expertise and I was ambivalent toward writing a full review of the Aversion Bureau. It wasn’t because I didn’t enjoy the material; I just wasn’t well-versed enough in the medium to provide meaningful feedback. I realize now, however, what I should have known all along: my enjoyment of the content is all that matters. As a reader of the comic, I could not be more entertained and as a friend of the creator, I could not be more proud.

The thing about traditional comics that I enjoy the most is the ability for creators to create a vision that is clearly communicated to the reader. Comics are creative alchemy: between words, pictures, and panels; between writers, artists, inkers, letters and colorists; and between building a history, revising that history, and developing a future to further build upon. Traditional comics are at once collaborative but also direct. After all, a very small creative team communicates their story to you directly. The best comics are ones in which creators leave clear imprints with a strong narrative direction that captures the voice of the creators in a way that only that specific creative team could do. Unlike film and TV, comics are rarely limited by budget or warped by executive mandate: comics are limited only by imagination.

If that direct line from the creator to the reader is what makes comics so special then webcomics embody this notion more clearly than perhaps any other medium. Webcomics present the opportunity for a singular creative vision where the barrier between the reader and creator is as thin as the screen you read from. As both a reader of The Aversion Bureau and a friend of its creator, I could so clearly hear different aspects of Seb’s personality and his life (and embellishments thereof) within both the characterization and the adventures of The Aversion Bureau’s cast. Sebastien delivers an experience that only he could produce as his creativity and mad sense of humour manifest in the comic; the Aversion Bureau is the imagination of Seb in its purest form, transfused and translated into comic form.


Upon reading the Aversion Bureau, you will find that the pace of the story picks up quickly and delivers consistently. The comic wins the attention of the reader and rewards them by pulling them into a whirlwind of world-building, adventure, and comedy. Each strip advances the story while delivering hilarious lines and gags along the way. Once you become more comfortable with the main characters and the Bureau itself, you can feel the creativity expand and the ridiculousness step up a level. From ongoing arcs to quick gags, every strip delivers a funny and satisfying part of a surprisingly thorough whole. Each strip feeds into a wider narrative yet Seb don’t hesitate to move sideways into moments of self-contained hilarity. This non-uniformity in both storytelling and humour allows for a creative freedom that ensures the very best of Seb’s idea are transmitted to an audience which cannot help but be completely engaged. In each arc, Seb balances humour with adventure while adding a personal touch and a dash of sentimentality (as evidenced by the strips in this post). Over the course of nearly 400 strips, Seb builds a world in which jokes flourish and are infused with a neverending stream of wit, hilarity, and absurdness.

The story itself isn’t the only thing that picks up and delivers consistently, of course. Seb’s evolution as a creator charts a similar arc, rising quickly and impressing at every level. From the evolving quality of art to the selective use of colour and even to the introduction of Sunday pieces, you can feel Seb growing as a creator and the confidence and quality of his work building every day. Each new strip and arc pushes the overall quality of the Aversion Bureau to new heights. Upon re-reading the story from the beginning, it truly dawned on me how much Seb had accomplished in creation and his artistic skill. It occurs to me now that it seems only natural that he would be choose to leave the strip behind, not because his passion for it has diminished but rather because making the comic has driven his creative development and has vaulted him to new levels as he seeks to develop himself as a more holistic artist and even more accomplished creator. The Aversion Bureau imbued a sense of confidence in him that not only improved his stills but also continue to push him to create new things and move into new and exciting directions. Our passions drive us and creativity is the intangible substance that fuels our most earnest desires. Above all things, the Aversion Bureau is a manifestation of unrelenting passion driven by unbridled creativity.


I know Seb has some big plans for the future and it’s a privilege to not only read his wonderful creation but also express a few thoughts about it.
Seb will be representing the Aversion Bureau at the Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo from April 26th-28th at booth 1024. He’s a wonderful guy and an enthusiastic creator so please come by for some laughs, some comics, and maybe even a hug.
And to Seb (whom I know will be reading this) thanks for the joy, the friendship, and the inspiration.

Webcomics confuse me.

As you can probably tell, I’m primarily a “traditional” comics reader. I like to see how panels flow and how storytellers can use pages for pacing. This isn’t to say that I think that traditional comics have any categorical advantage or greater artistic merit over webcomics, only that, for me, I’m fluent in the language of traditional comics and while the aesthetic similarities of webcomics and traditional comics may be apparent, I believed that they are very different creations.

When my friend Sebastian asked me to do a review of his webcomic, The Aversion Bureau, you’ll understand why I was happy to help but also a little bit bewildered. I could heartily appreciate the art and humour in The Aversion Bureau but I didn’t really know how strip transition equated to page turns and how the sequential storytelling of webcomics differed from that of traditional comics. I loved the comic yet I didn’t feel as if I was adequately prepared or properly versed enough to review it. Though I made lofty promises of a fully-written review, time constraints and some nervousness resulted in me giving a brief few words orally rather than delivering what I had said I would.

On New Years Eve 2012, Seb announced that he would no longer be updating the strip. After releasing a comic 5 days per week for 79 consecutive weeks, the artist had grown understandably tired and needed a much needed rest. I missed my window to provide creative feedback and, despite him creating brilliant work for a year and a half, I wasn’t able to pull a measly review together. I’m still no more qualified to write a thorough review, but I can (hopefully) fulfill my promise to write something for him so here it is…

The Aversion Bureau: A Retrospective

5 days per week. 79 weeks. 397 weekday strips. 36 Sunday pieces. Wow.

Just by looking at the numbers you can tell that the Aversion Bureau was a labour of love for my friend Sebastien Ringuette. He poured every ounce of creative energy and free time into it, producing a comic that is original as it is hilarious and as engrossing as it is random. I could write at length about the joys of reading it and comment on my favorite moments, but I won’t because of my aforementioned lack of qualifications and because that would, of course, spoil the fun and adventure of reading it.

The Aversion Bureau was a project that was driven by love and dedication. The fact that Seb didn’t miss an update in over a year and a half is a testament to the willpower and commitment that he had in creating the comic. Honestly, I think that’s pretty incredible. I don’t think I could keep up that pace doing anything: eating well, working out, writing blog posts. Heck, even masturbating with that kind of regularity would probably be exhausting. Seb’s ability to create a wonderful comic with that kind of regularity is admirable in every way and exemplifies a singular focus and a level of dedication that is inspiring at numerous levels.

The creative energy exemplified by the Aversion Bureau can be told by more than just the sheer amount created and the regularity of its release. The tale of the Aversion Bureau, in fact, spans more than just the strips produced and the story told within them; it tells the story of the evolution of a creator and the growth of a fan. The creator, of course, is Sebastien and the fan is, somewhat selfishly, me.

As stated earlier, webcomics aren’t my area of expertise and I was ambivalent toward writing a full review of the Aversion Bureau. It wasn’t because I didn’t enjoy the material; I just wasn’t well-versed enough in the medium to provide meaningful feedback. I realize now, however, what I should have known all along: my enjoyment of the content is all that matters. As a reader of the comic, I could not be more entertained and as a friend of the creator, I could not be more proud.

The thing about traditional comics that I enjoy the most is the ability for creators to create a vision that is clearly communicated to the reader. Comics are creative alchemy: between words, pictures, and panels; between writers, artists, inkers, letters and colorists; and between building a history, revising that history, and developing a future to further build upon. Traditional comics are at once collaborative but also direct. After all, a very small creative team communicates their story to you directly. The best comics are ones in which creators leave clear imprints with a strong narrative direction that captures the voice of the creators in a way that only that specific creative team could do. Unlike film and TV, comics are rarely limited by budget or warped by executive mandate: comics are limited only by imagination.

If that direct line from the creator to the reader is what makes comics so special then webcomics embody this notion more clearly than perhaps any other medium. Webcomics present the opportunity for a singular creative vision where the barrier between the reader and creator is as thin as the screen you read from. As both a reader of The Aversion Bureau and a friend of its creator, I could so clearly hear different aspects of Seb’s personality and his life (and embellishments thereof) within both the characterization and the adventures of The Aversion Bureau’s cast. Sebastien delivers an experience that only he could produce as his creativity and mad sense of humour manifest in the comic; the Aversion Bureau is the imagination of Seb in its purest form, transfused and translated into comic form.

We all scream for eye beams

Upon reading the Aversion Bureau, you will find that the pace of the story picks up quickly and delivers consistently. The comic wins the attention of the reader and rewards them by pulling them into a whirlwind of world-building, adventure, and comedy. Each strip advances the story while delivering hilarious lines and gags along the way. Once you become more comfortable with the main characters and the Bureau itself, you can feel the creativity expand and the ridiculousness step up a level. From ongoing arcs to quick gags, every strip delivers a funny and satisfying part of a surprisingly thorough whole. Each strip feeds into a wider narrative yet Seb don’t hesitate to move sideways into moments of self-contained hilarity. This non-uniformity in both storytelling and humour allows for a creative freedom that ensures the very best of Seb’s idea are transmitted to an audience which cannot help but be completely engaged. In each arc, Seb balances humour with adventure while adding a personal touch and a dash of sentimentality (as evidenced by the strips in this post). Over the course of nearly 400 strips, Seb builds a world in which jokes flourish and are infused with a neverending stream of wit, hilarity, and absurdness.

The story itself isn’t the only thing that picks up and delivers consistently, of course. Seb’s evolution as a creator charts a similar arc, rising quickly and impressing at every level. From the evolving quality of art to the selective use of colour and even to the introduction of Sunday pieces, you can feel Seb growing as a creator and the confidence and quality of his work building every day. Each new strip and arc pushes the overall quality of the Aversion Bureau to new heights. Upon re-reading the story from the beginning, it truly dawned on me how much Seb had accomplished in creation and his artistic skill. It occurs to me now that it seems only natural that he would be choose to leave the strip behind, not because his passion for it has diminished but rather because making the comic has driven his creative development and has vaulted him to new levels as he seeks to develop himself as a more holistic artist and even more accomplished creator. The Aversion Bureau imbued a sense of confidence in him that not only improved his stills but also continue to push him to create new things and move into new and exciting directions. Our passions drive us and creativity is the intangible substance that fuels our most earnest desires. Above all things, the Aversion Bureau is a manifestation of unrelenting passion driven by unbridled creativity.

Closure

I know Seb has some big plans for the future and it’s a privilege to not only read his wonderful creation but also express a few thoughts about it.

Seb will be representing the Aversion Bureau at the Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo from April 26th-28th at booth 1024. He’s a wonderful guy and an enthusiastic creator so please come by for some laughs, some comics, and maybe even a hug.

And to Seb (whom I know will be reading this) thanks for the joy, the friendship, and the inspiration.

What’s happening here?! Well, Finn and Jake have been hit by a spell that forces them to speak ONLY in symbols. What time is it? Ad+ vent+ (urn-n)+e Time!
I have an equal amount of love for both the Adventure Time show and the comic but it’s amazing visual gags like this that not only reiterate the quality of the comic but really make it stand on its own. The comic continuously pulls things off that would be impossible in the cartoon while maintaining the same outrageous humor.
(From Adventure Time 15 by Ryan North, Shelli Paroline, and Brandon Lamb)

What’s happening here?! Well, Finn and Jake have been hit by a spell that forces them to speak ONLY in symbols. What time is it? Ad+ vent+ (urn-n)+e Time!

I have an equal amount of love for both the Adventure Time show and the comic but it’s amazing visual gags like this that not only reiterate the quality of the comic but really make it stand on its own. The comic continuously pulls things off that would be impossible in the cartoon while maintaining the same outrageous humor.

(From Adventure Time 15 by Ryan North, Shelli Paroline, and Brandon Lamb)

That Jack Kirby guy can really draw. Also, this is some of Stan Lee’s finest writing.
(Tales of Suspense 85 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby)

That Jack Kirby guy can really draw. Also, this is some of Stan Lee’s finest writing.


(Tales of Suspense 85 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby)

Action Comics Fantasy Creators List

With Grant Morrison’s run on Action Comics wrapping up and his replacement, Andy Diggle, stepping down after just a few issues (one?), Tony Daniel will become the writer and artist on the title. From the outside, the DC offices look like a mess. They may have a master-plan that they’re executing (or just biding time until the Superman movie and the Snyder/Lee Superman: Unchained come out) but right now things look pretty chaotic.

I don’t want to dwell on the current state of DC but instead reflect on the stories I wish were coming out. I’m going to take this moment of upheaval to create an Action Comics fantasy roster and outline the kind of stories that I would like to see. I’d encourage you to do the same because Superman is a character that people can fall in love with for a multitude of reasons.

I’m going to be focusing on writers that aren’t currently working on major superhero works in order to give a fresh spin on Action Comics.

 

First Pick

What I want

The essentials: Superman as a hero, a paragon of social justice, and a beacon of hope.

Why I want it

I really enjoyed Morrison’s run on Action Comics. While it was a little bit inconsistent and had its rather absurd moments, I felt that the run had some truly superb moments and explored different aspects of the Superman mythos in an intriguing way. With that said, as the definitive first story of the new-52 Superman, I feel like it left a lot to be desired. In Morrisonian fashion, the writer plunged into the deep history of the character yet only spent minimal amounts of time examining the core of Superman’s character. Morrison played with the thematic notion of Superman as a groundbreaking and inspirational hero but only teased aspects of his character that would allow new readers to fall in love with him.

Ideal writer:

Jen Van Meter

Jen Van Meter is a tremendous writer who excels at writing character-driven stories infused with humour and wit while adding shades of social justice and societal examination. She is best known for her series at OniPress Hopless Savages but it is her work at DC, namely Black Lightning: Year One and Batman: the Golden Streets of Gotham, that make me believe that she would write a great Superman book.

Van Meter is one of my favourite writers because she delivers characters so earnestly. In Hopeless Savages, Van Meter examines the dynamics of a family and slowly sheds lights on the perspectives of numerous individuals. By giving an earnest and passionate portrayal of each character, Van Meter is able to examine the differences between individuals and the sympathies and frustrations that we encounter while also being able to subtly examine the composition of individuality. She examines drug use, sexuality, bullying, and counterculture without ever drifting away from characters which comprise the core of the story.

In her takes on Black Lightning and Batman, Van Meter examines how a hero serves as an embodiment of the highest ideals of a given community, even when corruption runs rampant and the bleakest outlooks are a reality. Van Meter delicately balances the notions of the superheroic and the symbolic to craft tales that are truly about inspiring justice.

Black Lightning: Year One taps into the humanity of its titular character while acknowledging that the battles between good and evil extend far beyond one man. Evil has a way of permeating culture and embedding itself deep in the psyche of individuals and communities. Black Lightning: Year One shows the story of how the passion, drive, and relentlessness of one hero can serve as a rallying point for an entire community to believe in itself.

Superman should be an embodiment of hope: a character that not only punches evil but dispels it from the minds of the people he inspires. If we learned anything from the Orson Scott Card debacle, it’s that people want Superman to tap into the best parts of humanity while fighting off the worst parts of it and we want a writer who can tap into those ideals. Van Meter has demonstrated before that she can write a strong character-driven story that illustrates how a hero can serve as a figure that people can believe in and rally behind.

Ideal artists: Becky Cloonan, Phil Noto, Marcos Martin

image

(from Black Lightning: Year One #2)

Second Pick

What I want

High-flying Action and/or Space Adventure

Why I want it

There is a distinct lack of fun across the board at DC. While the new 52 launch contained OMAC and Frankenstein, there are very few comics in the DC line that intentionally distance themselves from the tight-fisted, gritty brand that DC is trying to promote. What better way to introduce a little bit of fun to the line than putting the action back in Action Comics?

Ideal writer:

Jim Zub

I was really excited for Skullkickers scribe Jim Zubkavich to take over Birds of Prey. Sadly, that did not come to fruition but I really believe that Jim Zubkavich is a writer that can adeptly balance action, adventure, humour and deceptively compelling storylines. A high-flying Superman tale with wacky adventures but also a little bit of world building would do wonders for not only promoting some fun in the DC comics line but also providing a jumping-on point for readers of any age or experience.

Zubkavich’s Skullkickers is one of my favourite creator owned books coming out. It’s a swashbuckling adventure story that adds humour and a touch of camp to a rich fantasy world. While the story is infinitely entertaining, beneath the outlandish jokes and over-the-top action lies a surprisingly dark underbelly. A rich world is being built over the course of numerous other adventures and, while the jokes and action may be the most entertaining aspect of Skullkickers, it is the world building that keeps it at the top of my read pile every month. The ability to tell satisfying and entertaining stories while building a rich world would serve Superman well, especially if a little bit of humour and levity was injected into the title.

Another Zub-penned book, Makeshift Miracle, tells the story of the young Colby Reynolds whose life is dramatically changed when a girl comes crashing into his life… literally. In Stardust-esque fashion, the young boy finds out that a girl has plunged from the sky and into his world. In Makeshift Miracle we see a boy juggling his own anxieties and fears with these same feelings mirrored by this new stranger. If we consider Superman, we can ask: what is more heroic that attempting to manage your own anxieties while trying to fulfil the expectations of others? Zubkavich’s ability to balance the desires of others with the duty imposed on heroes would provide an added layer that would deeply enrich a Superman story.

In addition to being an immensely gifted writer, Jim  is also incredibly passionate about writing comics. He is a vocal supporter of other creators and genuinely loves the work he does. This kind of enthusiasm is infectious and I truly believe that if he channelled this passion into the Man of Steel he could thoroughly bewitch the audience.

Ideal artists: Ramon Perez, Edwin Huang

Third Pick

What I want

A focus on the extended cast (specifically Lois and Jimmy)

Why I want it

I’ve heard a few people complain that they don’t know whether Superman or Action Comics is providing the definitive new-52 Superman story. Again, Morrison’s run has been a cool piece of storytelling but has failed as the cornerstone book of the new 52 Superman. In order to clear this confusion up, I would love to see Action Comics focus more heavily on the extended cast of the Superman family namely Lois, Jimmy, and Lex.

Ideal writer

This one is tricky, especially since I’m trying to avoid writers who already have projects at Marvel or DC. Paul Cornell wrote a great Lex story, Gail Simone would write a great Lois and Jimmy, and I’d like to see what Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray could come up with. Since I can’t really choose, I’ll cheat a little bit and go with…

Matt Kindt

(Yes, I know he’s contributing to Justice League of America right now but I’m choosing him anyways.)

Matt Kindt has been a favorite creator of mine every since first reading his graphic novel Super Spy. Kindt is exceptional at telling jam-packed smaller stories that intertwine to make an exquisite whole. Super Spy demonstrates that he can examine numerous facets of characters and delve deep into the psyche of the people that inhabit his worlds. His attention to detail and ability to craft unique spins on stories makes me think he could do a great job penning Lois or Lex.

Kindt’s work on another graphic novel, Revolver and the (sadly) cancelled Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. also proves that he is comfortable delving into the weird side of stories, exploring new worlds and topsy-turvy settings to deliver compelling adventures to the reader. This would fit a Jimmy Olsen story exceptionally, and I believe Kindt’s unique skillset could make for a balanced, thorough, and incredibly entertaining take the rest of the Superman family.

Fourth Pick

What I want

A truly all-ages Superman story that is light on continuity

Why I want it

The sole reason that I want this book is because I because I want Superman to be available to readers of any age.

Ideal writer

Art and Franco.

I’ve written before about how much I love these guys. They would be able to write a great Superman… wait… they already did this? Oh, it’s called Superman Family Adventures! Neato! Oh… what do you mean it’s cancelled?

Damn.

In all seriousness, I really love(d) Superman Family Adventures but it was still skewed toward a very young audience, despite the treats that older readers could latch on to. I would love to see Action Comics appeal to older teens while also being able to satisfy older readers. For that, I’m going to choose…

Faith Erin Hicks

I was pretty late getting into the works of Faith Erin Hicks. I read Friends With Boys just a few months ago and immediately fell in love with Hick’s ability to tell entertaining stories while tapping deep into the emotions of each of her creations. Hicks is able to contrast the mundane with the fantastic in a way that feels completely organic and would lend itself well to telling accessible and entertaining Superman stories.

Her webcomic The Adventures of Superhero Girl was recently released in hardcover by Darkhorse and I devoured it. Hicks once again demonstrates the ability to make the mundane entertaining and the superheroic accessible to any reader. The tales of Superhero Girl show that Hicks is well-versed in superhero comics and, when chanelled into Superman, Hicks would be able to showcase how Superman is the prototypical hero while infusing him with a strong emotional core and examining his character from numerous angles.

Wrap Up

Well anyways, that wraps up my Action Comics dream-list. I know it was a little unorthodox, but it was a fun exercise in thinking about what I want to see from not only Superman but from DC writ large. Once again, I encourage you to come up with your own list because Superman is a character that can be showcased in so many different ways.

Oh my goodness I can’t wait for this. Tiger Lawyer puts all other tigers to shame.

… Except Hobbes. Hobbes is always number 1.

Oh my goodness I can’t wait for this. Tiger Lawyer puts all other tigers to shame.

… Except Hobbes. Hobbes is always number 1.

(Source: rferrier)

iamdavidbrothers:

I want you to keep this two-page story by Matt Wayne, John Paul Leon, Noelle Giddings, and Dave Sharpe in mind this month. I want you to think of this every time someone — anyone, myself included — invokes Dwayne McDuffie’s name.

I want you to think about what they have to gain when they say the man’s name.

(Source: iamdavidbrothers, via brianwood)

Nerds are awesome.

Last November Matt Fraction announced that he was going to write an issue of Hawkeye that put Hawkguy in the middle of Hurricane Sandy and Fraction would be donating his royalties from the issue to charity. Over one undoubtedly frantic (American) Thanksgiving weekend, Fraction wrote one of the most touching, topical, and inspiring stories to ever grace the pages comics.

Now that’s pretty damn cool. An amazing writer crafting an awesome story and giving his money to charity. What could possibly top that?

Lots, apparently.

The book came out last Wednesday and I was thrilled to be going to my LCS to pick it up. The series had been wonderful so far and the fact that some of my money would be going to charity made me even more thrilled to pick it up. After a long day of work, I boarded the bus and was off to the store. Apparently I should have brought a tissue or two with me.

On my way to the store I was scrolling through Twitter expecting to see the usual: cute animals, a few links, and a handful of clever quips. Instead I found out that fellow Marvel writer Kelly Sue DeConnick was orchestrating additional donations to the Red Cross, Fraction was raising a bunch of cash during a store signing (which ended up totalling over $700) and that the store manager of my LCS, Wizard’s Comics, was donating $1 of his own damn money for every issue sold to charity as well. There’s nothing that lifts you up after a long day at work like finding out that wonderful people are doing wonderful things.

Thank you to Matt Fraction, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Brandon, and everyone who has donated to the Red Cross online.

Nerds are awesome.

This is what we can do when our heroes inspire us.

____________________________

More:

Buy Hawkeye on ComiXology here or ask your LCS to order a copy for you!

The staggering response that DeConnick has inspired is amazing and can be found by searching the #Hawkguy tag on Tumblr.

If you’re from ‘Merrica then donate using the instructions DeConnick posted.

If you’re Canadian and want to donate to the Red Cross then go to redcross.ca. You can even donate directly to Sandy relief! Don’t forget to donate on behalf of HAWKGUY.

____________________________

Now, I wasn’t going to talk about the comic itself but after buying 6 copies (5 physical and 1 digital) and hearing amazing feedback from everyone I gave the extra issues to, I guess I kind of have to.

The most amazing thing about Hawkeye is that it’s a book about a dude, his friends, and his city. Not an Avenger, not an elite archer, and not a superhero. Just one guy, his dog, a girl who shares his mantle, and a city he loves. This is Clint Barton on his days off and it takes no stretch of the imagination to realize that this story is meant to evoke the spirit that we can all be Hawkguys. The thing that compels him to help a friend in the middle of a hurricane isn’t his bow, his trick arrows, or the purple spandex: it’s the notion that you help people when they need it and you’re only a real superhero when the hero takes precedence over the super.

The book is divided into two parts with the first half placing the spotlight on Clint. Clint lends a hand to his neighbour Grills and drives him up to Rockaway to help out the neighbour’s dad. We find out that Grills and his father don’t have a very warm relationship but when a storm’s coming, you have to protect your roots. It doesn’t take long for Sandy to start wreaking hell on Grills’ childhood home and Clint dives in without a moment’s hesitation.

The most incredible thing about the first half of the comic is that it’s not only a great story about the nature of heroism but that it’s also a reflection on friendship, family and community. Honestly, I don’t think it would’ve take a storm for Clint to pitch in and help Grills. Clint sees no difference between preparing for a Hurricane and helping to move a couch; you help your friends, neighbours, and family when they need it. No exceptions.

The second story is a mirror of sorts. It follows the young Hawkeye, Kate Bishop, on her journey to Jersey for a wedding. When the Hurricane hits, she converts a hotel into a makeshift emergency shelter, ruins her dress, and takes off on a quest for medicine. I won’t spoil what happens, but she has a slightly different experience than Clint as she’s the one who requires rescue. Kate’s story is one of undying resolve in the face of unfathomable chaos. It’s about pulling together because, above all things, we’re surprisingly resilient and virtually unstoppable when just we push on. It’s about rescuing our heroes when they’re busy helping others.

Taken as a whole, Hawkeye #7 is an incredible comic and the amazing response surrounding it has been truly inspiring. Matt Fraction, Clint Barton, and Kate Bishop have shown us that taking risks and doing what’s right isn’t something we ought to do, it’s something that we must do. I urge you to buy this book and donate to the Red Cross if you’re able to. While you’re at it, send a tweet to @mattfraction, @kellysue, or Brandon from @wizardscomics and thank them for being awesome.