Archives for posts with tag: 68
Spoiler alert: Slade Wilson shoots his eye out!

Spoiler alert: Slade Wilson shoots his eye out!

Welcome to second installment of the World’s Second Greatest Detetective’s 2014 Comic Book Gift Guide! In the first installment, I offered suggestions to those shopping for fans of the television programs The Flash, Gotham, and Smallville, the video games in the Batman: Arkham-verse and Injustice, and the film Man of Steel as well as some suggestions for a person’s individual fancies regarding Superman. While I enjoyed writing that list and believe it could come in handy for a handful of holiday shoppers, I felt quite embarrassed when I got towards the end (blogger’s exhaustion as it were) when I realized I had compiled a list almost exclusively contained heterosexual white males. This is 2014 and while heterosexual white dudes still dominate comics in both content and the industry, there are plenty of interesting characters and talented creators who have overcome the default settings that always inhibited Western media. I’ve included a mere fraction on this list.

COMICS FOR A LESBIAN WHO LIKES BATMAN AND HAS AN ELEGANT TASTE IN DESIGN: Batwoman has consistently been one of the most beautiful books in the past decade. Like Batwoman’s costume, the book’s art has experimented heavily with black, gray, and red to create a superhero book that looks more like a haunted luxury hotel than a comic book. You have two options really: before the New 52 or in the New 52.

BEFORE NEW 52: Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III’s run on Detective Comics has been collected in Batwoman: Elegy. This book stands well by itself and costs less than $20, but if you really want to impress…

NEW 52: I’d recommend the first 4 volumes of Batwoman. J.H. Williams III sticks around and is joined by W. Haden Blackman. Their departure from the series was a small controversy and the story told in these volumes came to an underwhelming conclusion in the first issue contained in the fifth volume, but don’t let that discourage you.

COMICS FOR A LESBIAN WHO ALSO LIKES BATMAN BUT PREFERS CRIME NOIR: I suggest you take a look at Batwoman and if you think the person on your list would like it more if there were less skulls, you need not worry. Renee Montoya, one of Batwoman‘s ‘Eskimo sisters’ and a supporting character on television’s Gotham, is another prominent bad-ass lesbian in the DC universe. Her appearances in the New 52 have largely been limited to the background of the various Bat-titles, but prior to the New 52, Renee Montoya was kind of a star. I recommend Batman: War Games, any of the Gotham Central collections, and The Question: Five Books of Blood. Having made those recommendations, I should admit that I believe 52 is the best Renee Montoya story ever told, but I do not recommend you purchase 52 for a novice DC Comics reader. Much like I wouldn’t suggest Crisis on Infinite Earths for a fan of The Flash television program, 52 requires a good bit of background knowledge to fully appreciate.

COMICS FOR COWGIRLS: Without thinking too deeply on it, I’m going to declare Pretty Deadly as the best current title featuring a female main character, strong female cast, and predominantly female creative team. While I haven’t read everything out there, I feel pretty confident in my assertion because few artists provide layouts that can compare to Emma Rios’s pages and her style works so well with the story Kelly Sue Deconnick has written.

There’s only one collection of Pretty Deadly available, so if you really want spoil the cowgirl in your life, I recommend your pick up all the volumes of The Sixth Gun, a slightly brighter tale than Pretty Deadly with a significantly less creepy art style. The Sixth Gun is also appropriate for a wider age range than Pretty Deadly.

COMICS FOR READERS WHO WANT HISPANIC CHARACTERS AND ARE CAPABLE OF SHRUGGING OFF PATRONIZING STEREOTYPES: In the New 52, there are two characters that I consider guilty pleasures- actually that’s true, a lot of them that are guilty pleasures that require a suspension of  some of my values in the hope of developing a sophisticated world-view beyond good and evil- whether my affection for scantily clad superheroines, ultra-violence, or a bit of racism, something about reading comics makes me lower my ethical guard and it is in this state that I fell in love with the lovable gay Mexican undocumented immigrant Bunker of Teen Titans and to a lesser extent the Detroit-born Latin cheeseball Vibe, appearing in various titles including a his own short-lived title series. I’d recommend the collection of the Vibe series, titled Justice League of America’s Vibe: Breach, to people who like the fashion in Joel Silberg’s cinematic masterpiece Breakin’. There’s plenty in Vibe that worthy of being subjected to the harshest of structuralist, post-colonialist, deconstructionist, etc. critiques- have a friend writing a thesis on representation of Hispanic Americans? This is the book!

However, I find Bunker much more enjoyable than Vibe. Heavily defined by his sexuality, ethnicity, and geographical origins, Bunker comes across as a bright-eyed bundle of sunshine optimism. Everything in the US is awesome! Everything about being a superhero is awesome! Teen Titan Friendship is awesome! I’ve written before about the Othering of the Bunker character and in that post, I focused primarily on Bunker’s portrayal as an immigrant more than as a Mexican gay man and I still believe it is the most heavily contributing factor to his characterization.

COMICS FOR FANS ON THE CONSTANTINE TELEVISION SHOW: If the person on your list likes Constantine, I suggest you go the source material and start at the beginning of the Hellblazer titles. Most of the volumes are priced at $19.99 and can be found cheaper in the rainforest. Each collected volume is about 300 pages, so a single volume is a pretty hefty gift. If the person on your list likes Constantine but wishes John Constantine ran into Superman and Swamp Thing on a regular basis, I’d push you towards the New 52 Dark titles like Justice League Dark (soon to be a major motion picture…maybe), Constantine, The Trinity War, or perhaps the Forever Evil: Blight collection (but that only really works if you also pick up Justice League Vol. 5, Justice League of America Vol. 2, and the Forever Evil main collection…well, maybe not…)

COMICS FOR FANS OF THE WALKING DEAD SHOW WHO EITHER ALREADY READ THE WALKING DEAD OR FIGURE THEY’VE SEEN THE SHOW AND DON’T REALLY WANT TO GET WRAPPED UP IN THE COMIC: There are so many zombie comics out there now and many of them are pretty good. Want a funny zombie book? Try Last Resort. Want a zombie story set in wartime Afghanistan? Try Graveyard of Empires. Prefer the Vietnam War? Try ’68. Is the zombie enthusiast on your list like to be one step ahead of  the crowd (a good move during the zombie apocalypse)? I’d recommend the collection of the digital comic iZombie or the animal zombie tale The Other Dead as both will coming to the small screen some time soon. Still, my top recommendation for zombie books is Revival. It’s a small town tale that does it’s best to reconcile the humanity of their reanimated loved ones with the terrifying implications of the dead coming back to life.

Blogger’s exhaustion has hit again. I should return to present the 2014 Comic Book Gift Guide pt. 3. If you have a comic fan that you’re having trouble shopping for, feel free to send me a description of their interests to waynexiaolong@gmail.com or leave some info in the comments below. Feel free to do so after the holiday season has passed- I’m happy to consult on gifts for any occasion. If one of your celebrity friends had their nude photos leaked by hackers, you might not want to give them a copy of The Killing Joke.

Ten Best Comics of 2012 2013

Like US military intervention in Syria,  Dragon Con looms in the very near future. Feeling less informed on Syria than comics, I present what I hope will be an annual tradition for Wayne Xiaolong. I present my list of the best comics of the year. These are comics that I read between last year’s Dragon Con and this year’s Dragon Con, so rather than mark the year from New Years to New Years, we’ll be marking the year from Labor Day to Labor Day.

THE BEST COMICS OF THE YEAR (in no particular order, but the first one is the best one)

Saga

In my opinion, Saga is by far the best comic book of the year, if not the best comic book ever. Saga continues to amaze not only with each issue, but with each page and in every panel. The dialogue will make you think, laugh, and smile. This book compelled to read most of Brian Vaughn’s back catalog and I highly recommend you read  Y: The Last Man in its entirety and also check out Pride of Baghdad. He’s also producing “Under The Dome,” which is starting out interestingly enough. Fiona Staples’s art is amazing and I am drawing much inspiration from her style on some of my own projects.

Pinocchio Vampire Slayer

This is a fun book put together by two creators slated to appear at Dragon Con, Van Jensen and Dusty Higgins. It was announced at Comic Con that all of the volumes of Pinocchio Vampire Slayer will be collected in an omnibus edition, which is probably the way to read it because the individual volumes are quick reads that leave you wanting more.

Batman

The whole Bat-family of books has been a joy to read since the launching of the New 52 despite the death of my favorite Robin of all-time, which happened in Batman Inc. not Batman. Batman has carried the weight of the two major crossovers in the Bat-family of books, “The Night of Owls” and “The Death of the Family.” Both have been really creepy. Greg Capullo’s art compliments Scott Synder’s twisted imagination to create an almost fatty macabre noir. Really great stuff. Seriously though, all the Bat-books are worth reading- Batgirl, Batman and Robin, Nightwing, Birds of Prey, Red Hood and the Outlaws, Detective Comics, etc.

68

68 is a zombie book that takes place mostly in Vietnam during the late 1960s. Rich in historical reference and detail, overflowing with sophisticated humor, and filled with consistently creative art (which is often difficult for a war comic), 68 continues find value in an idea that lesser creators would turned into a dull gimmick.

Revival

Like 68, Revival is a book about the dead coming back to life, however the walking dead in Revival retain a lot more motor function.

tenbest20122013

The Flash

The Flash puts the science back in science fiction. The art in The Flash is arguably the best in the New 52.

Batwoman

Remember when I said the art in The Flash is arguably the best in the New 51? Batwoman is the reason for the argument.

Strange Attractors

Nearly all the books on this list use the comic book medium in new, exciting ways specific to the medium. Perhaps most so in The Flash and Strange Attractors. Strange Attractors actually makes me want Charles Soule and Francis Manipaul to team up- the whirring lines in both books almost create a new dimension in the format, elements of movement that challenge the medium but also echo Silver Age Flash as well as the Family Circus. This book is a great gift for anyone from or who lives in New York City. There are a lot of great lines in this book.

The Manhattan Projects

This book is crazy and crazy in a well-researched and incredibly creative way. Hickman’s writing is absolutely top notch and nearly overshadows Patarra’s incredibly innovative art and approach to story telling as well as the book’s sleak overall design.

Lost Cat

More greatness from Jason.

No Place Like Home

I love this creepy spin on the Wizard of Oz and can’t wait to learn what’s really going on.

Hopeless Maine

Tim Burton should direct this comic book. If you like Coraline or similarly creepy stories with assertive young girls facing physically impossible odds, you’ll appreciate this spooky story of orphans and friendship.

Anyway, that’s the list. I better get to bed as I’ll be volunteering all day tomorrow for Dragon Con- figured I’d get as much of my volunteering out of the way on Thursday, so I can enjoy the actual Con. I’m looking forward especially to “Gender, Race, and Identities in Comics” on Friday; the parade, post-parade brunch, Amanda Connor, Darwyn Cooke, Neal Adams, and some Bootie mash ups on Saturday; Jimmy Palmiotti on Sunday (and of course, my own panel “Comics Through a Socio-Political Lens”); and being able to still stand as I do my last volunteering on Monday.

It’s going to great weekend, Atlanta. Maybe it’ll even be a great year.

 

 

faceoff

In honor of Wayne Xiao Long now appearing on the social media platform known as Facebook, Wayne Xiao Long is presenting the first Wayne Xiao Long Faceoff. Employing the ancient customs of facing off and offing face, Wayne Xiao Long Faceoffs will pit brother against brother, thesis against antithesis, children against their parents, and, as always, Batman against Bruce Lee. Here in the first Wayne Xiao Long Faceoff, similarly themed graphic novels will duke it out in the arena of Wayne Xiao Long’s personal preferences and refined tastes.

WAR ZOMBIES

’68 vs Graveyard of Empires

If you haven’t read this books, I recommend them both, but who has time to read every war zombie graphic novel? Both stories tell of a zombie outbreak witnessed by American military overseas. From the titles of the texts, you should be able to tell which military action that refer to (1968 was the year of the Tet Offensive and consequential change in thinking about Vietnam while Graveyard of Empires is a nickname for Afghanistan.) ’68 finds the zombies beyond the battlefield, eating brains on the domestic front as well, while Graveyard of Empires features a contained and coordinated zombie infestation that spans the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the U.S. occupation following 9/11. If you’re really short on time, go for Mark Sable and Paul Azaceta’s Graveyard of Empires because it’s a mini-series. While Graveyard of Empires is a great read, ’68 wins this faceoff. Both stories benefit from a lot of research and great art, but Mark Kidwell did more research and the team of Nat Jones and Jay Fotos created better art. One of the main characters in ’68 is an American-Chinese soldier named Yam; he’s fed up with the racist U.S. military, the distrusting local population, and, of course, the zombies- all in all, a very sympathetic character. As much as I like Yam, I’m disappointed with what little attention Kidwell paid to the Chinese language and to the way Chinese people speak pidgin English as he has given Yam’s mom a distinctly Japanese mispronunciation of English. Of course, if you know me or follow this blog, you know I can be a little nit-picky about how China is represented in comics.

WINNER: ’68 by Mark Kidwell, Nat Jones, and Jay Fotos

VAMPIRES OF A DISTINCT NATIONAL CHARACTER

American Vampire vs The New Deadwardians

A faceoff between Scott Snyder and Rafael Albuquerque’s American Vampire and Dan Abnett and I.N.J. Culbard’s The New Deadwardians is not exactly fair. American Vampire is a much longer ongoing work while The New Deadwardians is not. Still The New Deadwardians holds its own as a unique and valuable contribution to vampire literature and as a worthwhile criticism of Edwardian Britain. Both books feature vampires and use vampire mythology to reveal their respective nation’s essences, but they differ in many crucial ways. In The New Deadwardians, the reality of vampires is public knowledge while it remains underground (barely) in the American Vampire series. The New Deadwardians covers a much short time period than American Vampire, which stretches nearly a century from the end of the U.S. Civil War to the tumultuous times that followed the Second World War. Both works are political in nature, but follow something Margaret Thatcher said once about how European politics being compelled by history and American politics being driven by philosophy. The plot of American Vampire, like the American vampires themselves, is driven by the needs of individualism while the plot of The New Deadwardians and the European vampires of American Vampire are much more interested in social control and power than the ideals of freedom or personal justice. Having said that, the suffragettes are my favorite part of The New Deadwardians. If you have the time and resources, I highly recommend reading them both. I also highly recommend sharing comics- my copy of The New Deadwardians is on loan to a Dracula expert at Georgia Tech and I am grateful to my wife’s tallest co-worker for lending me all the American Vampire books, which is a hefty set that all public libraries should carry. Yay, sharing! The final results of this faceoff may be biased by my own totally awesome American-ness, so you should probably just read both titles (and write to DC telling them to put Dan Abnett back on Resurrection Man). Book 4 of American  Vampire is the weakest of the series, but still better than most stuff being published.

WINNER: American Vampire by Scott Snyder and Rafael Albuquerque, with others

REIMAGINED CHILDREN’S STORIES

Peter Panzerfaust vs No Place Like Home

Two of the coolest books being published right now are Kurt Wiebe and Tyler Jenkins’s Peter Panzerfaust and Angelo Tirotto and Richard Jordan’s No Place Like Home, which draw inspiration from J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan and L. Frank Baum’s The Wizard of Oz. Peter Panzerfaust places a charismatic Peter Panzerfaust in World War II France with several lost boys. The book captures the magical excitement and child-like wonder of being an orphan in wartime as Wiebe adeptly pulls your heartstrings and stirs your imagination. Familiar characters like Tinkerbell and the Darlings slowly creep in the fill out this Peter Pan Fan Fiction. If Wiebe and Jenkins can keep up this energy, this comic could be made into a movie that my mom would absolutely love. On the other hand, No Place Like Home could be made into a movie that my mom would absolutely hate. No Place Like Home is a little trashy, much more so than Peter Panzerfaust, but that makes sense- one is a horror comic intended for adults and one is playful historical fiction meant for a wider audience. This difference makes this faceoff a little more difficult, so I’ll return to a myth a friend of mine shared with me back in Dalian:

“Hundreds and hundreds of years ago, a prince was too be married and needed simply to choose his bride. Three candidates were chosen for him and set a challenge before each of them as he directed them to one of many rooms in his palace-

‘Here is one hundred American dollars. You challenge is to fill this room.’

Each candidate left with their challenge and the money the prince had bestowed upon them. While the candidates fetched their materials, the prince and the other members of his court played FIFA Soccer 12.

The first candidate to return brought several bags of gold and put them in the room. The items covered less than one third of the floor.

The second candidate to return brought several Mylar balloons, filling nearly three quarters of the rooms volume.

The third candidate brought a candle, which she placed in the center of the room and lit, filling the room with light.

Who did the prince choose to be his bride? The one with the biggest boobs, of course.”

Using the wisdom from this ancient tale, the winner of this faceoff has been determined.

WINNER: No Place Like Home by Angelo Tirotto and Richard Jordan

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