Archive for the ‘IDW’ Category

TMNT Entity, as a blog of note

Saturday, June 1st, 2013

In my ongoing pedantry I’ve been stuck on the idea (since I learned of it, probably from Elliot S. Maggin’s Superman novel Miracle Monday, I think) that the word “fan” meant “fanatic”, which meant there was a distinct difference between “I like this” and “I am a fan”.

So while I’ve certainly watched most of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle cartoon shows, and a high percentage of the episodes I can definitely tell you that I am not a fan, as I never watched all of them.  I really really like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  It’s a great concept and it sprung from a comic book back in the early 1980s and from there it because three live action films from New Line, a cartoon from Fred Wolf Films that was both UHF syndicated and aired on CBS in later seasons simultaneously, a FOX children’s cartoon show made with non-union voice actors whose primary jobs were dubbing Japanese anime released in this country, a FOX Kids live-action television series made by the producers of the Power Rangers, a syndicated daily newspaper comic strip, a comic book series from Archie Comics spinning off of the 1980s cartoon series, an anime, a comic book series from IDW, a CGI-animated film, a straight-to-television animated film, prose novels for children, a Nickelodeon-owned CGI-animated cartoon series, a ton of action figure sets, each released for a different children’s cartoon series,  and that does not include all of the licensed merchandise like lunch boxes, mugs, t-shirts, tooth brushes, underpants, etc. Knowing that sounds like obsession.  Sadly remembering that information off the top of my head is how my brain works.  It collects and retains knowledge of useless stuff I learned decades ago with amazing retention of detail.  I think it’s a learning disorder because I’ve been meeting people lately and I swear that despite the familiarity they show I don’t even remember their faces (it’s probably less rude to be honest and ask how we last met rather than lie to them even convincingly).

Now because I like TMNT, a lot, but am not an actual honest to goodness fan, I only read TMNT Entity on occasion.  Mark Pellegrini is a fan, as in fanatic, and I will not fault him for it.  (And why should I fault him for it?  I’m a fan of Spider-Man and Batman, and certain eras of Star Wars and Transformers).  The man seems to have taste and his knowledge of the subject seems immense.  He is also extremely well-read in terms of the given material, as well as enough other things that we don’t have to worry about him not knowing if something is based off of something else.

I’m holding back a little, in part because there’s something else of his I want to praise later and give that more time.

As it is while Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as a franchise is certainly well-known among cable-watching children today, and adults who were children in the eighties and nineties, with a viewing audience that sadly dwarfs the reading audiences of major comic book series, it is all still based on an series of comic books that were published by Mirage Comics. They were created by Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman, at first as a spoof of Frank Miller’s Daredevil and then as an action adventure series with a side of comedy.  The average intended output was six issues a year and whose average actual output was four issues a year.  I’m fairly certain that as it was an independent comic book with that distinct flavor it sold less than Superman and X-Men and perhaps the people that were readers of only the Big Two back in the early eighties did not know it existed.  Or maybe they did.  I was born in 1981, what do I remember?

From the Mirage Comic was licensed a cartoon series and spun from that cartoon series was a comic book series published by Archie Comics, licensed from Mirage, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures.  So an independent comic with an erratic output beget a daily cartoon show beget a monthly comic book.  I’m fairly certain that the audiences for the two comics were such that it was not an actual competitive product, any more than the Super Friends comic was a competitor of the Justice League of America.

The Mirage Universe version of the Turtles made many many canonical appearances not simply in their own regular comic book (of which there were three volumes, or four depending on who you ask), but in various anthologies and Micro-Series one-shots, as well as numerous back-up stories.  In fact whenever Mirage published a reprinting of one of their issues they made certain that new material was included, usually back-up stories which fit into the overall continuity.

This makes recognizing/establishing a continuity of these characters a formidable task at best.  But the writer of TMNT Entity did it, right here.  Now as fascinating as I find the whole story, both of how the comic was made, how the company worked, and the events of the characters themselves, I still am not a fan of the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series, or any of the franchise as a whole.

But I liked it a lot.  I watched every episode I could as a kid. I thought the action figures were cool.  And so the TMNT burnt into my brain.

IDW Transformers stuck in a post-war loop continuity

Thursday, March 28th, 2013

From Enders Non-Spoiler Written Review of RID #15:

I’m a big proponent of having “The War” in my G1 Comics. Personally I think the Cybertronian civil war is at it’s most exciting when it’s more like World War 2 and less like the Middle East “Peace Process”. Seems to me that we’ve been drowned in stories of the beginning of the war, which just keeps moving back,and after the war, which keeps ending over and over, but never seem to really see “THE WAR” which is ostensibly what the Transformers is about.

The biggest difference between TFs and people is really ageless durability. So when you get down to it, what the Transformers fiction is fundamentally about is Endless War.

I can totally understand not wanting to have perpetual Prime/Megs filled oil field raids, but that can be accomplished with out killing/disabling them, or in IDW’s case giving them a series of groan inducing Midlife Crises. You just don’t have them feature in the story when you don’t need them. Ta Da!

As for story, I’d think pan-galactic millenia of war would provide rather nicely. Enough D-Voids and Mythic Relics. Fail to take a hill, get bogged down in the trenches, clear a bunker.

“Ender, didn’t you just give this a good review?” Well, yeah. The writing and art are excellent, the story’s working, it’s well made art. It’s fun to read. I’m not gonna fault it for not being “what I’d ideally like to see”. I’ve said since the beginning of this Barber/Roberts Era, that the tragedy here is how these great writers, who clearly get The Transformers, are bogged down in this lack luster continuity. The G1 Comic franchise is still digging it’s way out of the hole Costa dug it into.

I wish they’d rebooted and let Roberts and Barber rebuild G1 from the ground up. The comics are great right now, thanks to great staff, but this continuity is an untenable mess.

I should also clarify that I don’t think there is NO place for non-action based TF comics, I’m all for some political intrigue. I’ve always wanted to see what happened leading up to and to some extent during the 300 years between G1 and Beast Wars. It seemed clear that the Autobots had come out on top, but clearly there was some complex political situation still. They seemed to have some kind of race-wide scale down. I thought it was interesting to think that by reducing their energy consumption, they had abrogated millions of years of conflict. I suspect one could tell a contemporaneously analogous story there.

I’ve always felt the G1 Cartoon was the most direct ancestor of Beast Wars. I kind of imagined the beginning of the end of that war was Cyclonus, Soundwave, and Razorclaw* meeting Prime, and co. on some asteroid, tossing Galvatron’s head to them and saying “So… We need to talk.”
(*Predacons, see?)

I agree. This is also the exact problem with George Lucas’ STAR WARS Prequel Trilogy.

I more or less completely agree with this sentiment. The details may differ.

Your fictional robots are not humans but should have human qualities

Sunday, December 23rd, 2012

From a February 2007 interview with James Roberts by TransFans.co.uk:

There is a danger of making a Transformer too human; ultimately, they are alien life-forms, and robotic ones at that. But the TF mythos endures because of the characters, and that wouldn’t have happened unless fans could – at some level – identify with those characters. From day one we’ve heard about the ‘heroic’ Autobots and the ‘evil’ Decepticons – the two sides are defined by very human qualities. I also think that any society, even one comprised of shape-shifting mechanoids, is shaped by politics, race relations, economics, ethics, questions of identity and so on. Transformers society is no different, and that was something I tried to get across in Eugenesis. Notwithstanding the above, you have to try to constantly remind readers that these characters aren’t human. As a rule of thumb, if you can swap all the Transformers in your story for humans and still tell the same story, it’s not working. The non-human aspects of these characters – their long, potentially endless life-spans, their concept of pain, their attitude towards non-mechanical life, the way they can modify their bodies, their ambiguous origins… it’s all endlessly fascinating.

James Roberts currently writes Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye for IDW Comics. A long time ago he wrote and self-published a fanfiction prose novel called Eugenisis.  The work was good enough and appreciated enough that eventually he writes for the property professionally.

“New” Star Trek series blasts off in September

Monday, June 20th, 2011

IDW is going to head up the continuing adventures of the “alternate universe” crew of the Enterprise, spinning off from the 2009 movie.

The best part is that they will be filling in the gaps left unexplored by future movies as they retell some of the classic Star Trek stories in a more modern fashion, starting with “Where No Man Has Gone Before.”

25 years later, Larry Hama’s life makes sense

Friday, August 7th, 2009

Larry Hama’s name is synonymous with G.I. Joe. He is known throughout comic fandom as the guy who wrote the bios for the action figures, as the guy who took what could have been a rather silly and short-lived toy line and brought it to life with deep characterization during his very long run on the G.I. Joe comic book.

For 25 years, people have been throwing out the line “And knowing is half the battle!” whenever they were talking to Larry. Until this week, he never knew this was a line from the G.I. Joe cartoon show (or rather, the PSAs at the end of the cartoon show). Larry had never seen the cartoon.

Just imagine what it must be like to have heard this phrase for almost half your life and never realized people were trying to make a joke for your benefit. Larry must have thought this was just some popular aphorism! Now, after ages of wondering, he finally knows why.

And knowing is half the battle!

The Life and Times of Savior 28

Sunday, March 1st, 2009

Following up on a conversation we had with J.M. DeMatteis at the New York Comic Con last weekend, Comic Related got a look at the first issue of IDW’s upcoming miniseries The Life and Times of Savior 28, by DeMatteis and artist Mike Cavallaro.

It’s brilliant.

The story is one that DeMatteis says he has had banging around in his head for nearly a quarter of a century, since his days writing Captain America for Marvel Comics. It’s an epic that begins with the revelation that its protagonist—the government-sponsored superhero-turned-political crusader known as Savior 28—has been assassinated. It’s told from the point-of-view of his onetime sidekick, who maintains an awed respect for Savior 28 even in spite of the pair having gone their separate ways, years ago.

DeMatteis promises a story that will span decades, and delivers right away; the tale begins when Savior 28 (an obvious Captain America analog) is “created” during World War II and runs at least through the events of September 11, 2001, before Savior 28’s assassination.

Cavallaro’s art evokes the Silver Age masters in a way that still retains a modern feeling of movement and flow—often absent in non-Kirby layouts of that era. The result is a kind of self-consciously timeless look, not unlike shooting a Western in washed-out color

The final, massive moment at the end of the issue is like a starting gun for what’s to come in the rest of the miniseries. It’s a game-changing revelation, and one that makes me feel like, were it done in Captain America twenty years ago, the face of Marvel Comics might have been permanently changed by its presence in the same way that many DC books were forced to grow up by the success of Watchmen.

Preview of Chuck’s G.I. Joe #1

Monday, January 12th, 2009

Yet another comic that looks so good I wish I still lived near a comic store.

Does anyone care about G.I. Joe?

Thursday, December 4th, 2008

I’ve been debating where to go next with Monitor Duty. I love this blog, but ever since Jimmy Jams closed here in Rochester, MN, I have been without a comic book shop.

And sadly, I have yet to even miss getting new comic books. I bought a huge pile of old trades from conventions and from Scott Beatty, and I’ve been working my way through them ever so slowly. Given the choice between paying $3+ for Final Crisis tie-ins or reading a “Showcase Presents: Adam Strange”… well, is there any comparison?

My Metal Men Showcase is an absolute joy. I think about all the trouble I went through hunting down errant Metal Men comics one by one all throughout the 1980s and 1990s, paying through the nose for them, and now the whole series can be read in a few fat volumes.

Meanwhile, for roughly the same price of those two Showcase volumes at a convention I bought the recent “Metal Men” #s 1-8 and it was atrocious. Poor storytelling, confusing art, and a plotline that involved flashing backward and forward between two time periods of the Metal Men without any way to really tell the difference. There’s even one issue that ends with the Manhunter android removing his mask to reveal a full splash page close-up of the man inside it…and to this day I’ve no idea who it was supposed to be. At no point did anyone say, “Gasp! No, it can’t be… [name]!” It’s just assumed that you can tell from the artwork, and the art was not up to the job.

I LOVE the Metal Men. Even the most sexist, repetitive, nonsensical stories are more straight-forward entertaining than the recent mini-series. That said, I think the Metal Men could absolutely rock if you just did a Metal Men formula like in the old days but with a more modern sensibility. Instead, there’s always some need to get overly-intellectual and ironic when doing the Metal Men…or Adam Strange, or any number of characters that the snobs think are hokey if done straight. Can’t just have a rocket-guy saving his girlfriend on another planet from weird alien menaces, so how about if the zeta beam is all a plot by her father to find a fertile male? Can’t just have an inventor who doesn’t know how to respond to a robot that behaves too much like an attractive and flirtatious woman, so how about if he’s got mental problems, or she’s his brother’s wife and they’re both trapped in metal forms, or they’re all aspects of his own personality and Mercury’s queenie personality means that Magnus is possibly gay? (I’m not making that up…that was in the recent series.)

I gave up on pitching to DC. My lifelong dream was to write some comics for DC, but I’ve given up on that dream and the weird thing is that I don’t even see it as a failure! I just realized that DC doesn’t make the kind of comic books I’d want to do. I’d rather write little stories than 176-page epics. I doubt my stories would have enough sex, swearing and gore to satisfy the readers who like DC’s current product. I suspect that the only way I could do the Metal Men I’d want to do is if the art was really cartoony and it was released as a Johnny DC title for kids!

Not that I’d be writing kids books, but the only difference between the Justice League comics I was reading in 1982 and the Justice League Unlimited comics of today is that the latter looks like more like Richie Rich. Seriously, you could take a 1980s JLA comic script, send it to Gordon Purcell and tell him to draw it in cartoon style, and suddenly its a kids book! This summer I bought a JLU comic where Batman, Elongated Man and Detective Chimp are trying to solve a problem with Gorilla City… and it was a really good read. If instead of going cartoony they’d given it to George Perez, it could have passed for a fine old issue of JLoA.

Then I pick up this Teen Titans East special that Scott Beatty sold me for a quarter… and I’m stunned how much sex is in it. Hawk is showering (full shot of her nude body, except for the conveniently placed hair) after a one-night stand with a guy she doesn’t know, Power Boy is getting recovering after having sex with a freaky girl who was willing to wear a Supergirl costume while they did it… oh, and it turns out that once the team forms Hawk and Power Boy recognize each other. Jeez, I remember being scandalized when longtime boyfriend/girlfriend Nightwing and Starfire were shown in bed.

The last few years of comic collecting, it’s just Green Lanterns being pelted with hundreds of eyeballs from their dead family members (suddenly one girlfriend in a fridge isn’t traumatic enough, I guess), Psycho Pirate having his magic mask pushed through his skull (with more flying eyeballs), Clark Kent attending Green Arrow’s stripper-filled bachelor party, Bizarro(!) murdering a World War II hero and Kathy Sutton asking Red Tornado why he doesn’t watch porn up on the Justice League satellite. Oh, and one of my favorite characters getting raped and killed.

These aren’t really what I want to read comics for, and ever since Jimmy Jams closed I have enjoyed having an extra $40+ to spend on other things each month.

So…where does that leave my comic book blog? I love the title, but these days the last thing I want to do is read about what’s going on in comics, so there isn’t much “monitoring” going on.

Well…what about G.I. Joe? We’ve got a new comic book line starting up, and a new movie. I seem to recall starting a 3-part Joe saga (back in the days when the “U.N. organization based in Brussels” controversy was raging) that ended up only covering the toys, and then my life got complicated around the same time that I didn’t want to think aobut the movie anymore.

I want to keep this blog a going concern, so what does everyone want to read? Should I finish the Joe article? Post more funny videos and trailers? Do more game reviews? Movie reviews? Rant about old comics from my collection? I need your input!

Cobb voted Third best comic of 2006 by Scoop!

Saturday, December 9th, 2006

You may have noticed that I prominently featured the trade paperback version of “Cobb: Off The Leash” in several places in our aStore. Writer Beau Smith is a chum, of course, but my hyping this book is mainly due to my wanting to read more. I want a series, I want at least another mini, and I wish this book had gotten many more readers than it did. I hope that you’ll all buy one. (Secondarily, I hope you’ll use our aStore link to buy it. Hey, I’m upfront about it!) The book version is $12 and it will be born on Christmas Day.

Still hesitant? Maybe these two opinions will sway you:

First, Scoop’s Top 10 Comics of 2006 has Cobb as the #3 book of the year, tied with Dynamite’s excellent “Lone Ranger” #1.

3. [Tie] Cobb: Off The Leash
IDW Publishing; $3.99
In a career marked thus far by diverse characters from a variety of publishers, ranging from The Black Terror at Eclipse Comics to Guy Gardner at DC, Beau Smith has established himself as a writer with a distinct take on things. Whether he’s been working on someone else’s characters, such as Wildcat, or his own, like Wynonna Earp, his characters have had a certain rough-and-tumble directness to them, a straight forward honesty akin to John Wayne’s Rooster Cogburn in True Grit. That said, even Smith’s diehard fans might not find themselves ready for Cobb #1. Matched with the fluid linework of artist Eduardo Barreto, Smith has poured himself and his sensibilities into this new series and the results are outstanding, a real page turner of a read. This first issue introduces Cobb and his world and sets up what is no doubt going to be a seriously fun story.

As if that’s not enough, Cobb was reviewed by Tom McLean on Variety’s “Bags and Boards” blog. Though he pooh-poohed the straightforward plot, he got a lot of feedback disagreeing with him…INCUDING MARTIAL ARTS MOVIE STAR CYNTHIA ROTHROCK! How cool is that?

If someone from Variety thought my work was OK and Cynthia Rothrock loved it, I’d be in heaven.

(Note to self: Remember to tell everyone about seeing Cynthia at WizardWorld. In fact, instead of doing that later, just recopy it from Chuck’s messageboard in the extended entry.)
(Note back to self: OK. I don’t know why you are taking the time to write this out.)

(more…)

Meh. I suppose it’s manly.

Friday, January 27th, 2006

Beau Smith has been having a “Manly Cover Competition” with Chuck Dixon where each week they offer a comic from their collection and compare which one is mas macho. Chuck has a pic of Tarzan with a machine gun, then Beau fires back with a WWII superhero and his sidekick mowing down an entire platoon of Japanese soldiers with machine guns before rolling over them with a steamroller. Of course, there’s never a winner. Each guy disses the other’s offering and brags about their own…which is, of course, manly.

(OK, the steamroller cover wins. Steamroller always wins.)

I hear there’s an archive of these covers on the way, but for now all you can do is join in the fun by checking the Busted Knuckles column and the Dixonverse message board.

Beau tends to favor the “fighting and loving” covers where wholesale slaughter is going on whilst a leggy blonde is fixing her hair.

Anyway, Beau has a new book coming out soon with artist Eduardo Barreto called “Cobb: Off the Leash.” (Note: this is the only permissable way to use “coming out” in a sentence that includes Beau Smith.) Today, he posted the cover and I’m going to evaluate whether it qualifies as manly. The story concerns an ex-Secret Service agent and the Russian mafia.

Let’s see:
Smoking bullets: check!
Smoking guns, two of ’em, in the man’s hands: check!
Big bruiser wielding a knife: check!
Mustache: check!
Commie: check!
Naked chick: chick! I mean, check!
Badge: check!
Bullet holes: check!
Babe with a bat: check!
Speeding car: check!
Steely-eyed bad guy in a suit: check!
Holsters: check!
Boots: check!

I dunno. It could use a steamroller. Maybe that’s for issue 2.

I thought about hosting the image here, but nah…go give it a look at full size!

Plus, here’s an interview Beau did with Sequential Tart.

Chuck Dixon’s Transformers Story Is “More Than Meets The Eye”

Tuesday, January 17th, 2006

Newsarama has posted a couple images from Chuck Dixon and Ted McKeever’s upcoming Transformers Evolutions story (think IDW’s version of Elseworlds). It looks like it’ll be set either in the Wild West or be a John Henry-type story.

Beau knows marketing

Monday, June 27th, 2005

Ah, the wisdom of offering free handouts on the World Wide Web:

Beau Smith’s Guerilla Marketing 101

As part of his grassroots promotion efforts for his upcoming trade paperback from IDW Publishing, The Complete Wynonna Earp, Smith offered to send a postage paid, signed, Wynonna Earp black & white print at no cost to anyone in the world that emailed him with a request. Scoop readers were among those online to whom the offer was extended.

“I thought I’d get requests for maybe 100 at best,” the writer and former IDW marketing chief told Scoop.

The final count came in at 1,754.

Aside from underestimating the count by 1600%, Beau’s a marketing genius.