Archive | June, 2013

Cut to pieces

16 Jun

By Ayo

“L.A. Silence on Cermak”
Sweetmeats, No. 1
By Edie Fake
Originally published: Vacuum Horror, No. 1
Edie Fake: P.O. Box 891231; Chicago, IL 60608

This is a screenprinted minicomic by a cartoonist who knows a thing or two about patternmaking. Edie Fake’s comics are densely packed with tone-setting texture and detail which add a heavy layer of atmosphere to the story’s literal actions.

This comic is enhanced by the gritty texture of the paper, the thick patterning in the panels themselves and the emotionally-detached stamp-lettering. Is it stamped? It looks machine-made in some way or another. These are Edie Fake qualities.

There is sex and gore and body-horror and there are nightmares and witches and transformations upon transformations. The physical destruction of the body seems important to Fake’s work. Transformation involves some level of ruination or at least breaking something that previously existed in the process. It sounds disturbing as a concept but can be read as a sort of liberation.

One last thing: there is only one page of comic on every two-page spread. As readers, we only see one page at a time, further narrowing our view into this world. Interesting stylistic choice.


You’re so vain, you probably think this comic is about you.

16 Jun

By Ayo


“I should have dumped you…”
Tragic Relief, No. 15; 2013
Colleen Frakes

This is a comic consisting of single-panel gags completing the sentence “I should have dumped you…”

The central character is a woman who is depicted being subjected to her current boyfriend being exceptionally sleazy and hostile. From body-policing to infidelity to stealing, this boyfriend does it all. The amazing, adaptable Bad-Boyfriend-Man! The panels within this small comic are not quite “funny” as they are cringe-inducing. I don’t believe that these panels are meant to be funny but rather cathartic. For any person who has absorbed bad treatment from a spouse or significant other in the course of their relationship. I didn’t laugh with this comic but I felt reinforced in my own views about bad relationships: “OMG DTMFA!”

One especially fun aspect to this comic is the packaging. It comes wrapped in a magenta band that acts as both cover and dust jacket. The “meat” of the comic has no internal cover. Inside the cover is a two-panel strip featuring caricatures of some cartoonists who are not named (but I recognize them). Is it okay to take your grievances with ex-partners I to the realm of your artwork? To duke it out with the ghosts of your past relationships in public? The answer is obviously “yes, that is totally okay.”


Saving people by beating up people: the Carol Danvers story

14 Jun

By Ayo

Avengers: the enemy within, No. 1 (Captain Marvel)
Kelly Sue DeConnick, Scott Hepburn, Jordie Bellaire

~what is this~

Captain Marvel/Carol Danvers has a brain lesion that exacerbates whenever she flies. She is essentially in the position of Superman during the “Grounded” storyline except that not-flying isn’t her choice. Watching Captain Marvel struggle against her medical reality and her impulse to simply take to the skies is a wonderful tension.

Personally, I recently began wearing sunglasses because the direct sunlight has started to give me migraine-like symptoms. I know that feeling of suddenly needing some form of tool or technology to do what one used to do effortlessly.

Also, like Captain Marvel’s flying jet-sled, my sunglasses look cool. But I resent them. I just want to walk down the street in the day, not have a piece of breakable equipment on my face, filtering my world. I feel you, Carol Danvers.

The best part of this here comic book (Avengers: The Enemy Within) is that Carol Danvers’ buddies in the Avengers have been eager and happy to lend assistance to her, different from that old Avengers comic that I read in which Steve Rogers/Captain America was like “Carol Danvers, you are not on top of your game, YOU’RE OFF THE AVENGERS!!” Seriously, former Avengers writer Kurt Busiek, you really hung Carol Danvers out to dry that time! Rude.


This comic, DeConnick and Hepburn and Bellaire with “The Enemy Within,” features the things that I love the most about superhero comic books:

1) took a while to read. I didn’t breeze through this in ten minutes, it lasted me for like twenty, which is half of my commute. I enjoy density in comic books.

2) Carol Danvers and Jess Drew (Spider-Woman) have a wonderful rapport and I just want them to be buddies forever. I’m a big fan of buddies and Carol & Jess: Super Friends is totally pressing all my buttons. It was also nice and considerate of Jess Drew not to fly. Like, in solidarity with Carol who medically can’t.

3) the fights were fun to read. A bunch of heavy hitters, hitting heavily. Hepburn’s twisty, bendy-limb style is well suited for kinetic scenes of people knocking each other around, particularly due to the lighthearted banter that accompanies these fights. These aren’t scary superhero fights, they’re funny superhero fights.

3a) dinosaurs!

4) that Carol Danvers is friends with her neighbors in her apartment building (what is with superheroes renting among civilians though) is charming and heartening. In my building, there are only ten apartment units and people still act like they don’t know me, slam the gate or door on me when I’m dragging in my groceries. There’s only two black people in my building, you can’t argue that they don’t recognize me… Okay, getting personal, moving along…

5) Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel has a definitive weakness (again, the flying) and has an irresponsible urge to exacerbate it time and again. As the title suggests, she is her own worst enemy.

5a) I like it when protagonists are the instruments of their own conflicts/downfalls. It is an appealing story dynamic that a person has control of his or her destiny and that their problems are at least partly their own doing (especially if not in a retributive sense).

6) Should have been number one to me, but: this comic was *funny* There was verbal humor, there were sight gags and physical comedy. I almost think that it is irresponsible for a comic about solving problems by hitting things to NOT be funny, at least sometimes. “The Enemy Within,” despite its ominous title and brooding cover (illustrated by Joe Quinones), was a charming and humorous issue to read.

7) I’m on a mission. A holy crusade, in fact. I really like when the characters in a scene are together inside the same panel and continue to coexist in panels as the scene progresses. This is an Eddie Campbell thing but it’s turning into a Darryl Ayo thing. Chris Samnee does it in his comics and I’m seeing a lot of it here with Scott Hepburn. He breaks from the patterns during various moments for fight purposes or to do closeups but mostly this comic hangs close to the principle. Thank you, Scott Hepburn.

All in all: I had a good time.


Who Cares What Wolverine Would Do?

13 Jun

By Ayo

The Hellfire Saga, Part One
Wolverine and the X-Men, no. 31
Nick Bradshaw and Jason Aaron
Marvel Entertainment, June 2013

Unpopular opinion: The Hellfire Club, in all of its iterations, is the best X-Men antagonist. The current Hellfire Club is a fun group of characters because they are jokey, little mean-kid versions of the group that used to be ruthless old men and women. Writer Jason Aaron has established the New Hellfire Club as a series-length antagonizing force against Wolverine’s Jean Grey School. So now Kade Kilgore has his own school. For villains. Where everything is BAD. I found it all very funny.

This issue was filled with physical comedy, sight gags and running jokes. Every inch of the Hellfire Academy is a pot of comics gold. Nick Bradshaw runs wild with these pages. Bradshaw’s style accomplishes many goals simultaneously: the characters are open and appealing; the body language and “acting” is clear; the action is staged in such a way that the comic is both information-rich and graphically easy to read. There are a lot if characters in this story, more than can fit in the magazine’s masthead. Even so, the comic does not feel crowded to me.

The pictures tell the story well–but is the story itself worthwhile? Yeah, kinda!

I like the series concept: taking the X-Men to be an actual school. And I like this storyline’s conceit that the X-Men’s rival would simply set up his own school for evil. It’s an idea that might sound foolish on paper but when you are willing to walk as far as “X-Men,” you might as well walk the rest of the way, into the high-concept deep end. The comic doesn’t take itself seriously, but doesn’t insult itself either. As a writer, Jason Aaron seems to just be having a good old time with bouncing ideas around and I’m pleased to be along for the ride.

Also, nice call, only giving “Wolverine and the X-Men” two pages in this issue. It’s apparent that the real hero of this story is Kid Omega, Quentin Quire. Who needs those grumpy spoilsports?

My only major apprehension is that as a series, Wolverine and the X-Men has rotated artists several times. I am very find of the tone and skill that Nick Bradshaw has infused this issue with and I’d like for him to stay.

One last comment, I very much liked the Hellfire Academy student uniforms. Nice touch, Bradshaw.


5 things that I liked about this X-Men comic book that a lot of people recently read

2 Jun

By Ayo

“Primer” part 1 of 3
X-Men, no. 1
May 2013, Marvel Entertainment
Brian Wood & Olivier Coipel

1. Series wordsmith Brian Wood decided to eschew the embarrassing phonetic accents for “regional” characters such as Rogue. Shugah.

2. The action scene takes place on the Metro North Harlem Line. I took this train to school when I was a kid and I enjoy some real-world regional flavor to my comics. Superhero stories tend to revolve around New York City so let’s bring some of that NYC reality to the page.

3. Coipel’s drawing of Jubilation Lee is completely adorable. She’s got the most emotional range in her expressions and Coipel handles it all well.

4. Coipel’s drawing of the American flag on the “Grand Central Station” page. I like how he used black for the stripes and faded into red for the tips, which show…

5. Yo, on the real, I JUST crushed a NASTY insect with this thing. So. Thanks for being at hand, X-Men # 1.