Not for me

14 Oct

by Darryl Ayo

by Mark Millar and Greg Capullo
Millar and Capullo got together and came up with an idea that I, Darryl Ayo, could never like. This is a comic about death with horrifying conversations about The End and man that stuff just tires me out. I just lose my strength with stories about the grinding inevitably of mortality. Not for me. 

Anyway, the long and short of Millar+Capullo’s Reborn is that when people die, they come back to life on the battlefield of a high fantasy world in the renewed primes of their lives. The main character has a gorgeous outfit. But god. Reading a 94-year-old character speak in exhausted fear of normal death just makes me feel sad and I lose my motivation to have anything to do with it.

Also: Greg Capullo is still a great artist but he was so much more effective in the early 90s when he was drawing X-Force and Spawn. I though it was his inkers but I have started to think that even Capullo’s compositions haven’t been as solid as his work back then. I dunno.



Becky Cloonan and Steve Dillon
Punisher sucks.

The worst thing is that the police were just about to solve the case when this vigilante jerk comes in and kills the bad guys. There was no need for the punisher. Sheesh.



The Sheriff of Babylon 

Tom King and Mitch Gerads 

A gritty crime story set in Baghdad, Iraq during the American occupation. The art is great but people getting shot in the head is brutal. 

Jesus Christ, this is depressing and relentless. It’s well done, the best comic of this set of reviewed objects. But it doesn’t feel good at all.

I’m Still #1

6 Oct

by Darryl Ayo

I recently read Peter Milligan and Chris Bachalo’s series Shade the Changing Man (issues one through fifty) and I feel in 2016 as I felt in 1996 that this was a definitive American comic book of the 1990s. Turning right around, I’m looking at the new sequel series, Shade the Changing Girl, and I wonder what sort of punch the idea can deliver. Though Girl is a sequel, I would like to try and think of it for its own merits if at all possible. If the narrative draws heavily from the classic series, this may not be possible. But if Girl merely uses Man as a springboard then I will push aside comparisons to the older series. 

The first issue of Shade the Changing Girl tells me most of what I need to know. But it is difficult to determine how much would resonate or make sense to a person who didn’t just marathon through the 1990s Shade series. This new issue feels accessible but I could never be the judge of that. Zarcone (who I am a fan of) makes this comic work visually. Her sense of composition and her sharply observed human anatomy keep this comic book grounded in reality. Which is very important when a story deals with unreality, manifested dreams and visual distortion. And on that note, the colors: Shade the Changing Girl‘s bright, vibrant colors (Fitzpatrick) immediately draw a firm line of difference between this Shade and the classic Shade

Shade the Changing Girl, #1

“running off to the great blue”

Cecil Castellucci

Marley Zarcone

Kelly Fitzpatrick

Saida Temofonte
For some unknown reason, Marvel Entertainment did not prepare a Jessica Jones comic book to go along with their Jessica Jones television show. This was a huge mistake. Now, an entire year later, Marvel released Jessica Jones #1. This is actually more embarrassing than DC’s failure to have a Supergirl comic prepared to go along with that television show. At least there had been recent Supergirl series published. No, Marvel’s complete refusal to anticipate the need for a crossover product is straight up negligence. Ignorance. It’s as though Marvel the publisher bet against Marvel Studios. No way this will catch on, I imagine them thinking. They lost that gamble and now they’re caught with their pants down, having bet against women characters. So a year goes by and we have a new Jessica Jones comic made by the original Jessica Jones creative team. Incidentally, the new comic book is no good.
This comic only exists because of the renewed interest in the Jessica Jones character which is due to the television program. However, Jessica Jones the comic book character is significantly different than her Netflix counterpart. That difference is not accounted for in this comic book. There isn’t much effort given toward bridging that gap. Further confusion is the problem where Jessica Drew, the original template for Jessica Jones, appears in this comic and resembles the television Jessica Jones on a cosmetic level. Further still, the big twist of issue number one is apparent from the very first conflict with Misty Knight because what else were people supposed to infer besides that something happened to Jessica and Luke’s baby? I assumed that it wasn’t a twist as much as a reference to whatever may have been happening in Avengers comics prior to this. Other than that, it’s a fairly standard comic from Bendis and a workmanlike visual execution from Gaydos. 

This is a detective comic but I feel that it begins with so many questions that I don’t feel that I have a firm enough grounding in this character’s status quo to be intrigued; I was just along for the ride.
Jessica Jones, #1

Brian Michael Bendis

Michael Gaydos

Matt Hollingsworth 

Cory Petit


Never double-ship

22 Dec
by Darryl Ayo
No good can come from double-shipping. It is a wasteful, destructive practice that benefits nobody. It is especially detrimental to the people who devised the practice and think that it will enwealthen them.

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Ayo to Marvel Studios Executives

22 Dec
by Darryl Ayo
Let’s face it: everything that Marvel Studios could want to say in the form of the superhero live action film has been said. And in the cases of The Avengers and The Winter Soldier, they have said their peace well. So as they move onward, we have to ask not how much further Marvel Studios can go in their present direction and probe deeper: how soon until Marvel Studios changes directions entirely and embraces musicals?
Yes, musicals!
And why not? Musicals are a perfect outlet for superhero stories. Without any alterations to either styling, these are two forms that operate with the interplay between visual spectacle and textual density. Superhero fights or battles are much less about the realistic mechanics of combat and much closer to the carefully-orchestrated exhibition of choreographed dance. And the dialogue of superhero stories is often shaped by the form of comics; limits of what characters can say are formed by the physical confines of space in a panel and on a page; much like lyrics of a musical are shaped by the rhythm and rhyme scheme of a song.
When you think about it, it just makes sense.
Then there’s the special effects.
I don’t know how you feel but I feel pretty bored by the dominance of CGI special effects. What about a mixture? What about special effects that capture the human-scale wonder of stage effects. There’s much more to depicting the supernatural and paranormal than simply editing in some glowing lights. And lower-tech solutions can have a much more immediate tone and sensibility, even on film.
And finally, think about the things that Marvel Studios is up to. Think about their forthcoming film properties. Imagine Doctor Strange’s mystical powers informed by clever lighting and sequences of veils and ribbons. Imagine a Guardians of the Galaxy reprisal that illustrates the themes of friendship and harmony with literal harmonies. This isn’t as farfetched an idea as it might seem.
And then, the next phase:
Marvel on Ice!

Evil twins

26 Apr

By Ayo

No spoilers as I haven’t seen the movie yet… so there’s quicksilver and the scarlet witch. Both mutants and written as magneto’s children for decades. Also avengers characters for decades. Marvel attempted to essentially create a backdoor and steal their characters back from fox (all mutants are fox property in multimedia).

Fox was within their rights to object to this, from my pedestrian understanding. And fox likely saw the battle for quicksilver for what it was: a transparent ploy to destabilize their claim to the x-men characters as a whole. Citing source material is an insidious argument because those characters had been intermingled for decades but the actual licensing agreement has always been fairly straightforward (from an outsider’s standpoint)


Changing quicksilver and scarlet witch’s evil father from magneto to strucker is probably the most insulting detail switch because strucker already had his own boy-girl twin children with superpowers. It’s actually kind of maddening. But the obvious difference is that in the source material, the strucker twins are evil and quicksilver and scarlet witch become avengers. 

Fox also had access to a super-speed mutant who has a bad attitude who incidentally also has a twin sister. There was no reason why quicksilver and the scarlet witch needed to be the battleground over which fox and marvel should go to war. No reason besides that marvel desperately wanted to reclaim what they once sold off, no matter what. Marvel logic probably works like: if they could sneak quicksilver back, they might be able to hammer out some sort of deal for the popular Hugh Jackman/Wolverine combo. That was perhaps their long-shot hope. 

Grim and gritty and maturity

23 Dec

By Ayo

This past weekend, some friends of mine got together and watched that Cartoon Network miniseries Over the Garden Wall. Talk about DARK. But the darkness and outright horror of the miniseries is not to prove how “edgy” somebody is. It’s there to explore very important concepts such as fear, misplaced emotion, naïveté, danger and regret. Ideas that I believe that children are constantly learning and yet many adults aspire to “shield” children from in the media. It scares me because the sanitized, squeaky-clean desires of many adults do not match up to the psychological complexity of young people’s minds.

Adults keep lying to each other about what children *should/shouldn’t* be exposed to, I think. I have read that this is something of an English-speaking cultural tendency.

And don’t get me wrong, I was a total scardy-cat as a little kid! But that doesn’t mean that it’s categorically wrong to challenge children.

That said, still not a fan of what most people call “dark and gritty,” I believe that things like Frank Miller, Mark Millar and other similar stuff reflect a very incomplete conception of the world. At this stage in life, we tend to become aware of complexity for the first time in our awareness and become skeptical of much of what we have learned as children. The aforementioned whitewashing and sanitation of reality by adults leads adolescents who are perceiving complexity for the first time to mistrust everything because they feel lied to for their entire lives to date. This is why I believe that teens love sad endings. That and hormones. But the mistrust of authority stems, in my estimation, from having previously trusted authority only to learn that there was a realer reality underneath the sunny surface that well-meaning guardians presented.

The big problem is that PG-13/learning-stops-at-18-years-old mindset that we have in our culture. In this, we make the twin sins (“Twin Sins”) of promoting the idea that education in all senses of the term is optional after a certain age; meanwhile, we also tailor our mainstream cultural output to target that narrow and ultimately transitionary age group as the ideal age and maturity for “that which is mainstream.”

We are culturally suspended in a mid-step. Arrested development as the societal ideal of maturity.

The problem with Miller, Millar, Zack Snyder, Quentin Tarantino and all the rest isn’t that their work is “adolescent.” It is and it should be. The problem is that societally, we don’t allow culture to graduate onward to higher levels of maturity.

How to tell black stories without making them “Black Stories,” and other stories

9 Dec

By Ayo

Marginalized people, as subjects and as audiences to art and cultural products, are under multiple pressures: erasure of our very existence from popular imagination, whitewashing of history and whitewashing of our oppression, backgrounding (placing marginalized people in non-active, almost decorative roles as figures in the background).

Number one: stories about anthropomorphic animals are at best a stopgap when it comes to representing differing racial groups and at worst they are an actual impediment to imparting compassion and empathy for other humans to the readers.

I do not necessarily oppose stories about animals. I support these stories as a form of resistance against the cultural juggernaut which is white supremacy, manifested in art as euro-primacy. What I absolutely do not support is the practice on relying exclusively on animal-characters as a method of avoidance. I roundly reject the idea that animals must be presented as characters for the benefit of a society that refuses to see people of color as viable subjects worthy of interest.

Number two: nonfiction is a trap. A particularly insidious thing that happens in the trends surrounding storytelling about people of color and other marginalized people is that the stories most often featuring marginalized people tend to be historical narratives, or the related genre, fiction centered around the specific oppression faced by the marginalized community in question.

These stories are important. They are vitally important. Biographies, histories, historical fiction, culturally-specific folklore, fiction derived from specific oppressions that marginalized people face: all of these are important stories to tell. We can never afford to lose track of history and lived experience. The trouble is that for marginalized people, these are not presented as some of the stories, but rather the only stories relevant to marginalized communities and peoples. An association begins to build where people start to link nonwhite characters and nonwhite people with suffering and struggle alone. Focusing on fact and history alone denies people their humanity in the eyes of a society. Instead, people become reduced to moral lessons, teachable moments and in the process, people lose perception that marginalized peoples exist as fully-dimensional human beings.

Number three: backgrounding. This tendency must be rejected on an individual story basis and condemned on a systemic basis. We cannot continue to condone the practice of simply placing some brown people into non-essential roles and claiming that a work depicts a diverse reality. That is not reality. People do not exist exclusively in support of white people nor do people exist exclusively to stand behind white people.

Number four: stories happen to everyone. White people are not the only people who have adventures.

~Ayo, out~

So I got to thinking about them X-Men…

3 Jun

…and to me, if you ask me personally, if X-Men is a metaphor for racism, I tell you always “no.” Is the X-Men a metaphor for homophobia and I insist “no.”

If X-Men is analogous to ANYthing in reality, it is a metaphor for the entitlement to private gun ownership.


comic books vs picture books

4 Feb

by Ayo

Picture book illustration uses a lot of the same elements as cartooning (both forms are Sequential Art) but it sure doesn’t feel like comics when you look at it and read it.

The visual continuity from image to image is tighter in the comics mode of storytelling, keeping the reader immersed in the world of the story while picture book illustration, even the most densely-detailed sort, keeps the reader at arm’s distance, each illustration acting as a visual anchor while the reader imagines the full scope of the scenario.

The two forms represent different aspects to imagination. Picture books encourage readers to visualize scenes based on the anchor points that have been provided. Comics encourage readers to explicitly empathize with the specific details as they unfold.

Interesting differences.

How can there be God without Death?

11 Nov

By Darryl Ayo

Edna II
by Sophie Goldstein

The cover of Edna II shimmers. It has a thin reflective overlay which creates a glimmering haze over the landscape that encompasses The Bubble and The World Outside Of The Bubble. This effect, along with the fact that there is a bubble for characters to live in implies that the world as we know it has been destroyed by environmental pollution.
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