KC’s Life in Comics

KC has written a very lengthy piece on how he got started in comics, featuring a bicycle and a monkey. (No, really!) It’s his latest column at Westfield Comics. But first, some comic reviews.

Reviews by KC Carlson

SENSATIONAL SPIDER-MAN #41 (Marvel Comics) — Annnnnd we begin with a big ol’ SPOILER WARNING. All I’m gonna say here is that we finally get a BIG idea of what exactly is going on here, and that’s it’s significant. And you should check it out! For the rest of this review, scroll down a couple of pages to the end of this column (but NOT all the way down to the bottom of the page –That’s TOO FAR!) See you there!

In the meantime, let’s talk about another Spidey Book…

ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #116 (Marvel Comics) — And now, here I have to write a DISCLAIMER: Stuart Immonen and I are pals, and have been for many, many years, ever since we worked together on Legion of Super-Heroes and Adventures of Superman for DC Comics. So take however many grains of salt you want, but for my money Stuart Immonen is the most underrated artist in comics. There is no reason whatsoever that he should not be among the biggest superstars in this industry. And some of those guys should be worshipping at his feet.

I mean, have you looked at this series? Have you looked at Nextwave? Have you looked at Superman: Secret Identity? Have you looked at ShockRockets? And therein may lie some of the problem: Stuart either likes to take on some of the quirkiest projects in the field, or he has the rotten bad luck of signing on to a potential major work, and the publisher declines to promote it properly. Either way, he hasn’t gotten the major exposure that an iconic character can give an artist. Until now.

Since beginning his run on Ultimate Spider-Man, Stuart has been putting the shine on Brian Michael Bendis’ freewheeling scripts, which, in turn, has given Stuart a major chance to shine! I’m especially impressed at the repeating motif of a couple of pages of teenie-weenie panels, which explodes out into a bangtasic double page spread (see pages 3-6 of this issue), where the book actually seems to rock in your hands. Stuart doesn’t skimp on the details in his extra-large panels — the fantastically elaborate Time Square scenes — and he’s putting his “camera” through the paces with one unique angle shot after another.

A lot of credit should also go to Stuart’s long-time inker, Wade Von Grawbadger, who is the most underrated inker in comics. These two have been honing their buddy-act into one of the most seamless penciler/inker collaborations in recent years. I’m less familiar with the work of colorist Justin Ponsor, but the fine “hueage” shown here meshes well with what the pencil-and-ink boys are trying to accomplish.

And while Bendis’ chirpy dialogue drives me crazy on other projects, it is the absolute perfect “voice” for this book, starring the most wiseacre, frightened and out-of-control teenage kids in comics. And the ease at which Bendis can switch from a goofy scene with Peter feeding his SHIELD “minders” junk food in their silly van to one of the most chilling dialogues between Peter and Norman Osborn ever (Great expressions, Stu!), gives me whiplash from spinning my head around too fast.

After over 100 issues, most comic series are breathing in fumes, but these guys are spitting out rocket fuel!

TEEN TITANS GO! #49 (DC Comics) — The perfect way to end a really bad day!

The dedication that creators J. Torres, Todd Nauck and Lary Stucker put into this title warms my heart. Far more than just another kids super-hero book, Teen Titans Go! represents something truly special — a comic specifically aimed at young kids that open-minded adults can enjoy just as much. How refreshing is it to read a story where super-powered kids resolve a conflict by just talking it out? And further — actually invite a character with villainous tendencies to join their ranks as a sign of confidence in a person obviously in need of friends! Yes, it sounds like the usual moralistic stuff, but the care in which these creators take with the characters and stories is remarkable and humbling.

And they have been rewarded with a fanatic following that rose up to dispute DC’s rumored cancellation — and succeeded in getting the book a stay of execution. There is a huge fan following for these characters, who are still saddened that the animated series has shut down production. In fact, at RC, sales of TTG! double the amount of a large number of other DC/Vertigo/Wildstorm titles. That’s a lotta love to just throw away, DC!

As much as I’m looking forward to the new Tiny Titans book from Johnny DC (out in February!), there is no reason that the two titles can’t co-exist. As shown in this issue, it’s obvious that the two sets of characters are perfectly capable of working out their differences! Titans Together!

DC NATION PAGE #89: WEEK OF NOVEMBER 29 (DC Comics) — Okay, just to be clear, this is the text page of current DC information, usually written by Dan Didio, that appears on the last page of most of the DC Universe titles this week. Why am I bringing this up? Well, for the first time, DC is publishing its “definitive” list of the known DC Universes, but “known” is the key word here as only 26 of the 52 stated-to-exist-Universes (from the end of 52: The Comic Book) are listed. So, now we know half.

The interesting thing about this is that 11 of these Universes are being mentioned for this first time here — and that 1O of them are said to be making their DC Universe debuts (post-52) in COUNTDOWN: ARENA #1, scheduled to ship next week. Most of these Universes are based on the worlds first encountered in many of DC’s classic Elseworlds stories, including Batman: Darkest Knight, Thrillkiller, Justice Riders, Amazonia and New Frontier, as well as incorporating some of DC’s classic “Imaginary” stories from a previous generation, such as the world of the Super-Sons.

Although DC’s solicitation copy for the series indicated that many of these worlds were to be incorporated into the storyline, we were unaware of the significant amount of “first appearances” scheduled for this first issue. Pre-order for this series were very light at the store and because of that, we did not significantly over-order. Based on this new information, and in an effort to avoid an instant sell-out next Wednesday, if you are now interested in getting a copy of COUNTDOWN: ARENA #1, it is important that you contact the store, either by phone or email, as soon as possible to help us judge how significant a reorder (if any) we need to make.

SENSATIONAL SPIDER-MAN #41 (Marvel Comics) — DO NOT READ THIS UNLESS YOU WANT TO FIND OUT IMPORTANT PLOT DETAILS! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!

Okay, so the one person who can actually save Aunt May has stepped up and put himself forward — and he’s big, red and ugly (No, not the new Hulk… please keep up!). It’s Mephisto and he’s actually got the juice to back up his claim of rescuing someone from the dead. But the price he wants for the rescue is high — and it’s not somebody’s life or soul — he wants Peter and Mary Jane’s marriage!

What?

It’s no wonder why Joe Quesada had to do this very special story. It’s pushing the same anti-marriage agenda he’s been discussing ever since he became EIC of Marvel.

I’ve got to admit that it is kind of historical (assuming that it takes place at all — but it seems like a safe bet after reading the Free Comic Book Day issue). In a world where people return from the dead almost on a daily basis, why not be able to undo long-term romantic entanglements — and even sacred vows — at the drop of a hat.

If your creators can’t find enough “conflict” in the depiction of a successful long-term relationship, might I suggest that changing decades of continuity is wasteful and unnecessary? Perhaps it would be easier to find more talented creators?

I really am looking forward to the upcoming issues done by new creative teams. I’d like to be able to enjoy reading Spider-Man again, but it is really difficult traveling the journey to get there. And I’m not sure if I’m going to like the reasons why it is being done. Doesn’t Marvel already publish the adventures of a younger, unmarried Spider-Man? (see above) Why do another one? But I’m willing to give the new guys a shot…

What I do know is that is sad to see this Very Important Story being ruined by artist Joe Quesada having to rush through these last two issues (as well as forcing his talented inker, Danny Miki, to rush even more). If there were a “real world” One More Day, it should be Joe having to decide between being an artist and being the EIC. He’s very talented at both jobs, but it’s becoming obvious that he cannot do both things simultaneously well. Choose, Joe… Which one would you pick?…

SHORT TAKES — The back-up feature in Superman Annual #13 is a wonderful little story called “The Best Day” where the only thing that happens is that the extended “Superman Family” goes on a picnic in an exotic location. And it may be the best Superman story of the year. I’m thinking that the story only exists because of the delay in finishing up the “Camelot Falls” storyline (also in this issue), and having to move it into this “emergency” Annual. If so, it’s a great way to say “Thanks for waiting!” … There’s something really disconcerting about seeing a World Map with a giant underwater land mass labeled “Deviant Lemuria,” courtesy of the Marvel Atlas. Also, did you know that there is not only a “Monster Island,” but a “Monster Master’s Island”? We should give thanks that, in this universe, we have hotels where pets can stay in the same rooms as their masters!… Naughty DC! You put Bat-Mite on the cover of Gotham Underground #2, but he’s nowhere to be found in the issue itself! Boo! And also, I hope the touted appearances of some of the Bat-females in this miniseries end up being more substantial than the 1-panel appearance of Oracle, Huntress and the Question. But there’s good stuff here too, as a possible “relative” of Matches Malone shows up, as well as the surprise re-appearance by a much-loved character. But I can’t tell you who it is because that would spoil it!… Yay! I got my wish for a longer Colleen Coover art job in X-Men: First Class #6. It’s not the whole issue, but 6 pages ain’t nothin’!… One of the hoariest clichés in comics is “you can’t tell the players without a scorecard.” But it’s never been truer than in Teen Titans #53 and the introduction of the “Titans Army.” Thank goodness there’s a scorecard on pages 4-5. Sheesh!… It looks like one of the main characters of Countdown is counted down for good in #22, while over in Death of the New Gods #3, a god returns from the dead! (Didn’t they read the title of this mag?)

Similar Posts: Coming Up: Marvel Comics Due May 2010 § Free Comics in Sunday Papers § Unexpected DC/Marvel Crossover § A DC Title I’ll Like: Superman Family Adventures § DC Launches “Family-Friendly” Blog With More Attention Than They Pay to Kids’ Comics


4 Responses to “KC’s Life in Comics”

  1. Pitzer Says:

    I LOVED KC’s history of comics. Those were some wild times.

  2. Ed Sizemore Says:

    KC,

    Johnny DC titles still have a subscription service available. I just ordered Scooby-Doo for my nephew. I will let you know what shape they come in.

    I used to have subcriptions to Arion, Lord of Atlantis and Swamp Thing in the late 80′s. At that time, they shipped the comics flat in a brown paper sleeve. Suprisingly, my comics arrived in very good condition. Maybe, a small bend in the corner at worst.

    I remember going to 7-11 and the pharmacies to scope out new comics. I got a subscription because those spinner racks tore up comics without mercy or remorse. Good times, good times.

    By the way, you need to get a hold a good artist and turn your earlier history as a comic reader into a comic. Man, I would love to see the monkey story illustrated.

    Awesome, column. Brought back a lot of memories.

  3. badMike Says:

    I don’t go as far back as KC does, but that was a great article. I also remember having to ride my bike to different 7-11s and various drugstores to make sure I never missed any issues — and of course I still did all the time. This was in the ’80s. And then…

    I answered a Westfield ad in a Marvel comic and started using their subscription service, which really saved me and introduced me to indie comics.

    I also remember the awesome Westfield newsletter that KC edited, which introduced me to comics fandom and self-publishing.

    Those really were the days, man.

  4. James Schee Says:

    Those were neat stories by KC! I thought it neat that though decades apart he and I shared similiar feelings on first discovering a comic shop.

    That feeling of “wow…” was just amazing back then, since it had been years since the local grocery store I had been buying comics at had stopped getting them.

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