Archive for dc comics

thrift store finds: superman/doomsday: hunter/prey

Posted in thrift store finds with tags , , , , , , , on March 19, 2011 by Christopher Pearce

(Thrift Store Finds is a mostly-weekly “column” of sorts where I discuss some of the cool books I’ve happened upon in my neighborhood St. Vincent DePaul store. Please don’t mistake me for an expert on any of the books I am writing about… I’m just a fan of a bargain.)

I started collecting and reading superhero comic book in 1992.

In 1993, DC Comics orchestrated one of the biggest event stories ever done in superhero comics when they introduced The Death of Superman to readers. A comic story line that did exactly what it set out to do, The Death of Superman was not only a huge seller amongst regular comic book readers, it was the rarest of beasts: a comic book that crossed over into the general population. I don’t know if it was a slow news day or whether people were actually emotionally invested in the idea of Superman shuffling off this mortal coil, but folks went absolutely batshit crazy over these comics. The major news outlets reported Superman’s death at the hands of the brawling monster Doomsday as though it was hard news, and people responded in kind. Folks who had never before darkened the door of a comic book shop bought multiple copies and stashed them away.

Readership was at an all time high in ’93… but eventually, things died down. To the surprise of absolutely no one, Superman returned to comics about a year later in a grand resurrection that involved four different people claiming they were Big Blue and many, many crossovers and tie-in comic books.

I read The Death of Superman in ’93, but I remember marveling more at the amount of tie-ins and special die-cut, poly-bagged enhanced covers than enjoying the story… which, by the way, left one huge plot point completely unanswered for readers. Superman is killed by a rampaging Hulk-like monster called Doomsday… but Doomsday is left trapped on an asteroid, alive and well by the time Superman came back to the land of the living, sporting a brand new mullet hairstyle.

All that’s the long way around saying “Hey, look what I found at the thrift store this week! The defacto sequel to The Death of Superman, Superman/Doomsday: Hunter/Prey!”

I should mention that one doesn’t often see modern comic trades in the paperback stacks. Every once and awhile, I’ll come across a trade… but for the most part, this was a rare find.

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odds & ends

Posted in odds and ends with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 4, 2011 by Christopher Pearce

A snow day and a two hour delay. An entire day in school given up so the students could have conferences with their guidance counselors about schedules for the 2011-2012 school year. Yes, you could say this week was a bit of a waste, school-wise.
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For anyone who is interested in dishy entertainment drama, Bill Carter’s The War for Late Night is a really gripping read. I was a fan of Carter’s first look at the world of late night, The Late Shift. Acting as a sequel to that book, The War for Late Night focuses on the tumultuous goings-on between Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien of last year.

It’s an interesting read for many reasons, but I especially enjoyed the perspective that Carter gives from folks who didn’t have a true stake in the Conan/Leno battle. Saturday Night Live executive producer Lorne Michaels’ perspective is welcome and interesting, given some of the battles he previously fought over SNL… and Jerry Seinfeld makes some very interesting points about the very nature of late night toward the end of the book.

As a (and it makes me a little sad even now, as I type this) ex-New Yorker, my allegiance will forever be toward David Letterman… however I’ve been a fan of Conan’s since high school. I can distinctly remember sitting on the school bus with my friend John and wondering why all the newspapers were giving O’Brien a hard time- we thought he was hilarious. I’ve never been a Leno fan, but I understand his appeal to the masses, I suppose.

Anyhow: good book. Check it out.

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One of the things I most enjoy about about superhero comics has been pretty much lost in the last twenty years, and that is their ability to take a goofy or, let’s not bury the lead here, a stupid idea, and play that idea out with complete and total seriousness. The genre already demands so much suspension of disbelief… piling crazy idea on top of crazy idea is just more of the same.

I don’t know that anyone’s going to mention DC Comics’ rerelease of the rerelease of 1978’s Superman vs. Muhammad Ali in the same breath as Marvel Comics’ recent Punisher run titled Franken-Castle, but together they embody what I like best in my superhero comics- unapologetically dumb stories that take flimsy premises and see them all the way to their conclusions.

In particular, I want to heap praise on the Franken-Castle trade as it’s a real spit in the eye to anyone who was already a fan of Marvel’s oh-so serious gun toting “hero”. In this collection of issues, The Punisher, a Charles Bronson-esque street vigilante,  is fashioned by processes too strange to summarize in one sentence, into Frankenstein’s monster. Dubbed Frankencastle (The Punisher’s real name is Frank Castle, natch) he fights against and with other monsters like Dracula, Werewolf by Night, and Man-Thing.

It is a gloriously stupid idea… and completely fun. It’s the kind of fun that comics do best- taking big concept ideas and folding them into already-existing characters to get some new weird amalgam. It’s not high-minded comic art… it’s a Frankenstein guy beating up robots. Writer Rick Remender should be commended for pulling this off with a straight face, and the artwork is a mixed bag of genius with the lion’s share of work being done by Tony Moore. I don’t find a lot of modern superhero comics get me very excited in the past ten years, but this one was so head-scratchingly weird that I completely dug every issue.

Similarly, 1978’s Superman vs. Muhammad Ali was recently re-released in an oversized hardcover, replicating the experience of the original oversized presentation. For fans of superhero artwork, the huge reproductions of Neal Adams artwork is spot-on. I have NO idea what crazy confluence of events birthed such a weird paring, but its’ utter strangeness sort of beautiful.

Christmas Comics Cavalcade: Christmas with the Super-Heroes Special #2

Posted in christmas comics, comics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 18, 2010 by Christopher Pearce

Alright, here it is. This is the whole reason I wanted to take the month of December to write about Christmas comics. Ladies and gentlemen

Christmas with the Super-Heroes Special #2, published in 1988 by DC Comics.

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2010-2011 school year: day thirty

Posted in comics with tags , , , , , , , , on November 9, 2010 by Christopher Pearce

I really, really, really enjoyed drawing today’s comic. Fact.

ALSO A FACT: Newbery Award winning author Neil Gaiman tweeted about one of my DonorsChoose projects last night, causing it to be INSTANTLY funded!

I am ridiculously excited; I’ve been a fan of Neil’s since I was reading The Sandman in high school and for him to take a moment out of his day to give my classroom a hand is amazing. Thank you so much Mr. Gaiman!

Ironically, I have a comic coming up on Thursday where one of my students extolls the greatness that is Gaiman’s American Gods… so it’s weird how that worked out!

odds and ends

Posted in commentary with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 24, 2010 by Christopher Pearce

I mentioned the Cincinnati Comics Expo last week. I went and had a very good time… but here’s one of the highlights:

I bought an original Archie newspaper comic strip!

Most of the people reading this will not be as excited as I was to pick up something silly like this. I’ll never be able to frame it. It’s not going to be worth a lot of money. It doesn’t feature Betty OR Veronica, for Pete’s sake! Despite all that, I was still very excited to drop $30 bucks to own a comic strip that appeared in newspapers across the country. Ever since I was old enough to read, I’ve been obsessed with newspaper comic strips and I’ve always wanted to own one. Now I can cross that off my Bucket List.

I will tell you, I picked this particular strip out of a large pile for three reasons:

1. It features Jughead.

2. It takes place at Riverdale High; as a teacher, I thought it would be fun to have this hanging in my classroom somewhere.

3. For three summers during high school and college, I worked in my hometown’s elementary school doing exactly what Archie and Jughead are doing here.

$30 dollars well spent.

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I don’t watch a whole lot of TV, but I watch enough to be excited for the new fall season to officially begin this past week. Ellen and I have put our Netflix Watch Instantly feature to good use this past summer, but I am getting very tired of flippin’ on the boob tube and having to wade through awful stuff like Minute to Win It and reruns of CSI ad nauseum.

On show I’m tentatively excited to see return is NBC’s The Office. It’s been receiving a lot of buzz surrounding the announcement that Steve Carrell will not be returning as office manager Michael Scott after this season.

Certainly the show is coming off a season that was, to be generous, a mixed bag… and as The Office marches into its seventh season, the characters have become far more broad and less realistic. These are facts. It should also be said that those things happen to EVERY situation comedy that stays on the air longer than 100 episodes. Characters and situations just can’t have the same kind of impact they had originally when you see them week in, week out. You’re too familiar with them… and syndication certainly doesn’t help matters.

I also think some of the “The Office has jumped the shark” sentiments are tied up with the emotional attachment that fans have to the show’s second and third season, specifically the “Jim and Pam” romance arc that is, to the writers’ credit, pretty settled now. I always admired how they resisted putting up unnatural roadblocks to the Jim and Pam romance once they were firmly together in S.4.

Anyhow, I’m curious how the show’s going to step up to the plate and approach losing Carrell. I certainly think it’s a good sign that they’ve hired Amy Ryan back to play Holly Flax for the last couple of episodes as I think that will help to bring Michael’s story to a close in fine style.

Here’s something I’m genuinely curious about: I’m wondering if this is the season that the producers are going to engineer some kind of guest appearance by/cross over with Ricky Gervais’ David Brent character. You’ll find no bigger fan of the original British version of The Office than me, and Gervais’ originated the boorsh boss in Brent. This is something that has occasionally teased in interviews, but never seriously considered… at least to my knowledge.

I’m not necessarily saying I think bringing Gervais’ Brent into the fold is a good idea… but it’s something that people have always asked for. Gervais remains not only an executive producer but also a tremendous booster of the US Office, going to far as to write an episode of the series in its third season, so the connection’s there. With Carrell leaving, this would be the only time that David Brent and Michael Scott could breathe the same air. It could potentially be a very silly and uninteresting bit of fan-service, but I’m kind of hoping they pull the trigger on it. I could do without seeing the rest of the cast of the UK Office again, their stories always seemed pretty well finished to me, but Brent was always little larger than life, at least in his own mind. I could see him wandering across the pond for some reason or another.

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I’m currently reading Peter and Max: A Fables Novel by Bill Willingham, illustrations by Steve Leialoha.  This has been on my “to read” pile for awhile, a prose novel based in the world of DC Comics/Vertigo’s long-running Fables. The conceit of Fables is that fairy tale characters are real and live in our world after being pushed out of their mythical Homelands by an evil Adversary. They work to fit into modern society as well as try to retake their fairy tale kingdoms.

Peter and Max is seemingly a footnote to the longer narrative of the comic, dealing with the character of Peter Piper (who also, it seems, takes on the roles of other famous “Peters” from fairy tale and nursery rhyme history) and his adventures. The novel works as an primer for the Fables world without being overly confusing for new readers and Willingham has long had a flair for looking at treasured characters from myth and legend with a fresh perspective.

not teaching comics: sketchbook page

Posted in sketchbook with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 30, 2010 by Christopher Pearce

I haven’t been getting any actual comics done this week, but I did do a bunch of doodling in my sketchbook. Here’s a page.

I was just going through my current stack of comics and drawing some of the characters in them. I’m a big fan of The Muppet Show Comic Book that BOOM Studios has been putting out, especially when Roger Langridge is doing the art. I’m also really digging DC Comics’ Jonah Hex book… it’s the only “straight” superhero book I’m buying regularly right now, and I guess it’s not even a superhero book, really. I picked up Image Comics’ Invincible last week on a whim, but I usually stick to reading that in trades.

The Return of the Jedi speeder-bike is just something I felt like drawing. Elliot’s been playing with a lot of my old Star Wars figurines this month.

Hey! Don’t forget! Tomorrow is Free Comic Book Day! If you go to your local comic book store, they should have tons of free comics for you to buy! Elliot and I are going to our LCBS, Up Up and Away Comics, tomorrow… bright and early. If you’ve never been, it’s a lot of fun and worth checking out.