One Piece MMF: Day One Links

November 29, 2010

ABCBTom upped the game with five parts of “a paper on One Piece for the Graphic Engagement seminar on the politics of comics at Purdue University.” Here they are, with more to come:

  • Why One Piece?
  • What is shounen?
  • The Shounen Formula
  • One Piece‘s Formula
  • East Blue Arc
  • Sean (A Case Suitable for Treatment) Gaffney looked at the stories within the stories, the mini-arcs Oda sometimes creates in the chapter title pages:

  • MMF: One Piece
  • Sam (A Life in Panels) Kusek takes a fusion approach, crossing the streams of Viz and DC:

  • One Piece MMF: Introduction Piece, so you know what I’m up to…
  • In Brightest Day, In Blackest Night (Luffy D. Monkey’s Green Lantern)
  • Rob (Panel Patter) McMonigal learns a universal truth: “If I hadn’t been sold on the series by then, clown pirates hooked me.”

  • One Piece Volume 1
  • And last but not least, Khursten (Otaku Champloo) Santos takes a lovely look at the hurdles and rewards of getting into a 50+ volume series:

  • #10 One Piece by Eiichiro Oda

  • Another nostalgia experiment

    October 28, 2010

    I fell into a nostalgia pit trap this week after seeing the write-up of the online leader ballot for DC’s Legion of Super-Heroes. That was always a fun element of the franchise back in the day, and I generally enjoyed the issues written by Paul Levitz, so it seemed like a reasonable enough excuse to give the new series a chance. After learning that the shop had sold out of the Beasts of Burden/Hellboy One-Shot , I grabbed a copy of Legion of Super-Heroes #6.

    First of all, this series could really use a “Previously” page. Levitz is pretty scrupulous about inserting little tags introducing his main characters on first appearance, but there seems to be a fair amount going on that might be helpful to know. This issue is one of those “between big events” chapters that allow the cast to go off and do lots of little things that show what might be considered everyday life for a team of super-heroes in the future. Most of this involves them talking about or to a new character I don’t recognize.

    He’s called “Earth Man,” and he apparently just recently switched to the Legion’s side after being a big, anti-alien xenophobe. And, again, he’s called “Earth Man.” Get it? Yeah. Oh, and he’s apparently started a sexual relationship with Shadow Lass, an alien, so he can’t be all that xenophobic, right? (Maybe he’s like one of those homophobic closet cases, scoring with aliens on the down low and making a big deal about hating them in public. I can’t believe I just typed that.) His power is to borrow the powers of other people, and most of them are aliens, which means he wouldn’t have any powers at all if he drove all the aliens off of his planet, but nobody ever accused bigots of being geniuses or writers of being coherent satirists.

    Anyway, Earth Man is grumpy, square-jawed and uninteresting, U.S. Agent 2.0 (or whichever iteration we’re up to at this point), and having a lot of characters focused on him isn’t particularly entertaining or promising. It suggests that future issues will spend a lot of time interested in the evolution of Tea Party satire guy, and that’s not something I’m keen to pay for.

    The back-up story has some extremely specific references to events or issues from Levitz’s first run. Cosmic Boy (who seems to be the current leader) visits the academy where they teach young heroes to possibly be Legionnaires at some point in the future. This is an opportunity for Cosmic Boy to be mopey about how hard and dangerous it is to be a Legionnaire, especially to be their leader, which isn’t a tonal element that ever worked in the past in this franchise and seems kind of 1990s to me. The worst bits of this sequence, aside from some confusing cutaways to unrelated plot points that involve women napping with their dead boyfriend’s clothing, are some really bad character designs for the trainees, both aesthetic and conceptual. By the end of the story, Cosmic Boy decides to step down as leader, which is sure to be a great confidence boost for the cadets, and the election begins.

    I suppose I should comment on the art, though I’m not sure if any of these people draw the series regularly. Francis Portela draws the main story, and the pages have an interestingly light line, but there are an awful lot of weirdly heightened facial expressions. It also must have been an interesting meeting when the creative team sat down and decided to focus on costumes that combined all of the worst elements of everything the cast had worn previously. Shrinking Violet and Lightning Lass appear in a total of two panels, and my eyes still hurt, but that might owe more to the really unfortunate juxtaposition of colors.

    Phil Jiminez and Scott Koblish do better with the back-up piece. Nobody looks like they’re mugging in a school play, but I have to bring up the character designs again, because they’re really bad. Gravity Kid is very “leather bar… of the future!” which I don’t object to at all personally but doesn’t really translate very well in this context. Dragonwing , with her transparent kimono, padded thigh-highs, and magenta dreadlocks, is the definition of a hot mess. Duplicate Girl sort of embodies the previously discussed costume issue – her look is a very awkward attempt to update the kind of thing she wore previously and ends up looking like PTA Lady.

    It all makes you wonder if it went through any editing process. Things don’t really hang together at all. Bits seem like they’re chipped off the good raw material the Legion concept offers, but a lot of stuff seems random and sloppy. I’d suspect it would be most interesting to people who might be curious as to where it would fit into the team’s awfully muddled publishing history. I’m that guy, and it’s still not that interesting

    Last straws

    April 27, 2010

    Over at Robot 6, Sean T. Collins asks an interesting question:

    “[W]e’ve probably all permanently dropped a comic, a character, or a creator we once got something out of. My question for you is, What was it, and what did it?”

    Here are the two last straws for me with Marvel and DC.

    In fairness, I didn’t expect much from the re-launch of the Avengers brand, since I had no affection for the “Disassembled” arc that paved the way for it. But this was when morbid curiosity held more sway in my purchasing decisions, so in spite of a team roster that looked like a Marvel house ad from 1982 and a writer who had drastically fallen out of my favor, I gave it a look. The comic itself was tolerable up until the point that two of the hold-over characters (Iron Man and Captain America) talked in a Mamet-in-spandex way about how awesome the previous 15 pages had been. It’s one thing to drastically remake a franchise into a blandly wide-screen, marquee-friendly property, but the self-congratulatory tone was just too much.

    Do I even need to explain myself with this one? Following a needlessly brutal first issue in which an amiable, B-list supporting character is murdered, we get some needlessly brutal back story on how that character was raped. Beyond the baseline grossness of the actual events depicted, there was the very real sense that this thing and its tone and its study-hall gravitas was going to be the company’s tent pole for years to come, so I got while the getting was good.

    More manga remakes

    August 20, 2009

    I picked up X-Men: Misfits (Del Rey) yesterday, and it’s… got its ups and downs, but I still like the idea of stripped-down manga variations on super-hero properties, so I started thinking about DC characters who’d suit that kind of treatment. Many are still holding vigil for Tintin Pantoja’s Wonder Woman remake, so I’ll skip over that one, and from everything I’ve heard, Amethyst: Princess of Gemworld was practically manga to begin with, but here are a few others:

    Martian Manhunter: The shape-shifting sole survivor of the Martian race comes to Earth and sets himself up as a private investigator. I’m picturing a seinen take on J’onn, with tonally varied mysteries that explore the human condition.

    Oracle: A woman with a disability establishes herself as an information broker and creates an anonymous, online identity to help people. My mental image of the series is admittedly kind of similar to the Martian Manhunter take – episodic storytelling featuring a range of guest characters interacting with the protagonist. I don’t think it would need to be entirely crime-driven, if at all. It could be kind of issue-of-the-week, to be honest.

    Green Lantern: The whole bring-out-your-dead concept of Blackest Night sounds kind of gross to me, and some of the Care Bear Rainbow Lanterns sound really ridiculous, but the core idea works. An Earth person suddenly finds him- or herself enlisted in an intergalactic police force with a really cool piece of jewelry. As I think of it, giving the ring to a woman might be even more appropriate, what with the rich history of special accessories empowering spunky magic girls. But then I think of Arisia, and I become wary.

    Legion of Super-Heroes: Super-powered, futuristic teens form a club to fight crime and protect people from disaster. It writes itself.

    Blue Devil: I never read the series during its original run, but it’s a neat idea. A stuntman gets caught in a super-suit, right? Showbiz comedy, hero-with-a-problem drama, shake, pour over ice.

    Zatanna: A beautiful young stage magician must conceal the fact that she’s an actual sorceress. I’m picturing Bewitched blended with backstage antics from series like Skip*Beat!

    I miss the giant purse

    August 12, 2009


    Erica Friedman graciously invited me to provide a guest review for Okazu, so I set out to find the highest-profile comic-book lesbian I could. And Batwoman is New York Times high-profile comic-book lesbian.

    Birthday book: Zatanna’s Search

    July 9, 2009

    The Comics Reporter notes that today is the 83rd birthday of Murphy Anderson, one of the great Silver Age illustrators and inkers whose work I associate most closely with DC. My favorite comics drawn by Anderson, or at least the ones that jump immediately to mind, are The Brave and the Bold 61 and 62, which featured a team-up between Earth 2 stalwarts Starman and Black Canary (or “Black Canary I,” I guess). I remember reading them at a friend’s house; he was much more of a DC guy than I was, but I vaguely knew and liked Black Canary and had enjoyed the JLA-JSA team-ups that I’d read.

    Unfortunately, I can’t seem to find any indication that these comics have ever been collected anywhere. I do remember a reference to them in James Robinson’s Starman comic, where the author revealed that the heroes were teaming up in the chicka-bamp sense as well as in the crime-fighting sense. Anyway, they Brave and Bold issues were wonderfully drawn and featured an unlikely but successful pairing of B-list heroes, so I was naturally inclined to like them.

    zatannaqNever fear, though. DC has collected at least one example of Anderson drawing a second-tier, fishnet-wearing heroine in its JLA: Zatanna’s Search trade paperback. (For bonus points, the collection also includes comics drawn by Gil Kane, Carmine Infantino and other luminaries.) The story is fairly simple: Zatanna’s father, Zatara, is missing. In the process of looking for him, she guest-stars in a bunch of other heroes’ comics, and they help her.

    I should note that my first encounter with Zatanna was during the ponytail-and-elf-shoes period when she joined the Justice League, and it was many years before I actually encountered the fishnet-wearing version of the character. Maybe it was the elf boots, but I really didn’t care for Zatanna during her early JLA days. Had I been reading DC comics when these stories originally appeared, I might have been more enthusiastic about her admission to the League, if only to hope that she’d return to her original costume.

    Anderson’s work has also been collected in a number of those too-rich-for-my-blood DC Archives books and probably in some of the cheaper, black-and-white Showcase Presents… paperbacks.

    Upcoming 3/11/2009

    March 10, 2009

    A quick look at this week’s ComicList:

    I really, really need to do a big catch-up-on-CMX Amazon order at some point in the near future. This week sees the arrival of the seventh volume of Tomomi Yamashita’s Apothecarius Argentum. I really enjoyed the early volumes of this series, created by a manga-ka who trained as a pharmacist, which almost automatically makes it awesome, and the actual content (an interesting story and attractive art) cements the perception.

    Even more generously, CMX delivers the eighth volume of Kaoru Mori’s Emma, featuring more short stories about supporting characters. I adored Mrs. Stowner, so I’m especially eager for that chapter. And honestly, even if the book only contained the handful of pages of author notes, it would still be worth $9.99.

    It seems to be a pretty good week for those of a nostalgic bent. Even I might not be able to resist the fourth volume of Showcase Presents: Justice League of America, as it collects the introductions of Black Canary and Red Tornado, and they were always two of my favorite members. (And writing their names together, it sounds like some super-tense checkers match on ESPN 13, or something.) I don’t think I actually ever read the stories that featured them joining, but as with the Avengers, I always preferred the cast members who didn’t have anywhere else to appear, allowing the writers to go all soapy with them. I do vaguely remember that DC used to let readers vote on who joined the team next, though even as a child I suspected that they ignored the actual tallies if editorial fiat demanded it. I mean, what else can explain the exclusion of Captain Comet?

    Kind of a lean week, really, but Mori makes up for it.

    Upcoming 2/25/2009

    February 24, 2009

    Tumbling tumbleweeds and the howl of a lonesome coyote, to be honest.

    CMX does have the seventh volume of Yoshito Usui’s Crayon Shin-chan, and DC rolls out the second volume of its Starman Omnibus. I really enjoyed the vast majority of James Robinson’s Starman stories. I already own them in pamphlets or trade paperbacks, though, so I don’t need to cough up $50.

    I also have a question for people who follow this sort of thing. Is the number of variant covers Marvel is offering normal for a given week, or is this just some kind of perfect storm? It seems like there are an awful lot of them. And how long have they been offering variant covers on their hardcover collections? I thought we were in a recession. What do retailers actually do when faced with this kind of deluge?

    The power of Steves

    January 26, 2009

    I missed last week’s Five for Friday at The Comics Reporter, but it’s a fun question, so I thought I’d just post my response here. I’m going mostly from memory, so feel free to correct me if I’ve mixed anything up.

    Defenders # 39: All of Steve Gerber’s stories from this run of comics are great, but I have a special fondness for this one. I think it was called “Mayhem in a Women’s Prison” or something similar. Valkyrie had been locked up for destruction of property, and part of the enchantment that created her meant that she couldn’t fight women. (The Enchantress didn’t want to get pounded by her own minion, I think.) So instead of being just plain aggressive, Val had to be passive-aggressive with her thuggish sister inmates. I also remember that it took her team-mates forever to realize Val was missing, which I found funny. I think they heard about the riot on the radio.

    Avengers #149: Patsy Walker, barely settled into her new role as Hellcat, rescues the Avengers from an evil corporation and kicks her surly ex-husband’s ass in the process. I swear I remember her bellowing something like “You’re not the man I married, Buzz Baxter. You’re not even the man I divorced!” For bonus points, there was George Perez art and Moondragon messing with Thor’s head. Steve Englehart wrote great Avengers stories.

    Justice League of America #150: I think this was the end of Englehart’s run on the series, and he had been doing lots of unusual stuff for the title. I remember that he’d added more subplots and character development than previous writers had, and he focused on the members who didn’t have their own books, which I always liked. Anyway, the Privateer, a former Manhunter who had apparently reformed, is revealed to be a scheming criminal mastermind. Better still, insecure Red Tornado is revealed to have been right all along.

    Legion of Super-Heroes #294: It always made me crazy when writers of team books had huge casts to work with and focused on three or four of them, so I appreciated the bustling, crowded quality of this era in the comic. I also loved how they managed to turn what was probably fan perversity – electing Dream Girl as leader – into a character subplot that really worked. This is the conclusion of the “Great Darkness Saga,” which was a fun story and probably the only time I’ve ever been remotely interested in Darkseid.

    Fantastic Four #244: I was never a big fan of the Fantastic Four, but I really liked John Byrne at the time, and Johnny Storm getting his heart broken was always, always funny. In this case, his identically powered girlfriend decided she’d rather participate in planetary genocide with Galactus than stay on Earth with Johnny. Awesome.

    Friday conundrum

    June 27, 2008

    Here’s a thinker. This piece by Tom Spurgeon on DC’s refusal to allow a Batman story by Paul Pope to be included in the next Best American Comics anthology from Hougton Mifflin has two competing effects. On the one hand, it makes me want to read Pope’s Batman: Year 100. On the other hand, it makes me not want to give any money to DC because… well, because that’s really dumb. I mean, people were complaining about how narrow the focus of last year’s Best American Comics anthology was, and here’s a gift-wrapped opportunity to partially reverse that while showing that DC can produce interesting, innovative stuff, even with one of its cornerstone trademarked properties, and they not only decline, they take forever to do so. Oh, work-for-hire… you’re not having a good week, are you?

    So can anyone recommend some Paul Pope books that won’t involve giving any money to DC?