Earlier this week, I exchanged a few emails with Matt Gordon and Marty Whitmore, the writer and artist of The Apprentice’s Folly. Matt has been writing for about 5 years, and Marty has been an artist for the better part of twenty years. Both were kind enough to answer a few questions for me. . . .
Matt Gordon Q&A
How long have you been writing, and what other projects have you written besides Apprentices Folly?
I have been writing off-and-on since the end of high school, back in the summer of ’08. I spent most of my high school deeply ingrained in theater, but decided not to pursue it in college. Writing helped fill that creative void. I’ve written several other projects, one of which is currently being drawn by the lovely and talented Jessi Jordan. She’s a supremely awesome up-and-coming artist, and I just happened to befriend her early enough in what I’m sure will be a stalwart career to trick her into thinking collaborating on a comic together was a good idea. I’m hesitant to divulge too much too early, but the first issue will be a twenty-two page, fully colored story you can expect later this summer.
What inspired you to write Apprentices Folly? Any plans to revisit it the characters or setting in the story?
Originally, Apprentice’s Folly was a simple short story I wrote for a friend’s birthday. In that form, the story was more about Jacsun’s entrancement and subsequent entrapment by the Demon’s supernatural beauty than the cautionary tale of adolescent pride you can read today. The change in theme mostly came about out of necessity, since the short story left so much physical description to the reader’s imagination–something that’s inherently hard to capture in a short-form visual medium. For the comic I was instead inspired to make it more about Jacsun than the demon, and wanted to take the common trope of, “Teenagers leaping before he looks.” And place it in a more fantasy setting.
I don’t have any plans at the moment to revisit this world or it’s characters, but I do think the door was left open wide enough that more stories in this setting could definitely be told. I imagine Jacsun’s gristly fate was used fairly often to scare other apprentices away from the idea of practicing magick on their own.
Who are some of your favorite writers, and how have they influenced you?
Oh man. That’s an absolutely huge question, but I’ll attempt to narrow it down. I greatly admire Patrick Rothfuss’ worldbuiding, Neal Stephenson’s attention to detail and commitment to research, Joss Whedon’s characterizations, and Niel Gaiman’s…pithiness seems like too derogatory a term for some reason. His ability to use only the barest minimum of words to communicate the absolute maximum of ideas. I attempt to channel these guys when writing as much as possible, but short of resorting to voodoo dolls and ouija boards I’m not sure if it ever shows through in any of my actual work.
Do you read comics regularly? What are you reading, or what would you recommend?
Okay. Another huge question. I’m a voracious comics reader, especially since its the medium I’m most avidly pursuing professionally. Right now in print I would recommend Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples’ Saga for its fantastic worldbuilding and design, Brandon Gram and Simon Roy’s Prophet for a truly stunning story, and finally Mark Waid’s Daredevil and Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye. Both of those last two are everything modern cape comics should be. Period.
In the world of webcomics, I can’t give a strong enough recommendation for my friend Victoria Eliott’s Balderdash and Zack Morrison’s Paranatural. Both are absolutely mindbogglingly good, with stylized art bursting from every panel. And if digital comics are your thing, definitely check out D.J. Kirkbride and Adam P. Knave’s Amelia Cole. Or anything from monkeybrain comics, really. They’re killing it over there.
How long did it take to complete Apprentices Folly from concept to physical book?
The first email to Marty about collaborating on a book together was sent September fourteenth of last year. We had our book for sale at Austin Comic-Con that October 26th. Considering all the fantastic artwork he did, it still amazes me we managed to finish so quickly. I vividly remember staying up till dawn two days before the Con, downloading the last finished page before taking it to print the next day.
You can find out more about Matt and his work at his website.
Marty Whitmore Q&A
Who or what has influenced your art and style? I get a video game kinda vibe, but was wondering if you’d like to elaborate a bit.
As far as consuming media goes, I’m pretty omnivorous – comics, webcomics, animation, pinup illustration, video games… I pick up little bits and pieces of everything I like. Kinda like the Borg.
Any artists you’re a huge fan of, comics, design, or otherwise?
I really love Trudy Cooper’s work (Oglaf, Platinum Grit), and Serge Birault is one of my favorite pinup artists. Tatsuya Ishida (Sinfest) is a genius when it comes to line economy, style, and expression.
How do you create your art? Paper and pencil, software, tablet, or a combo of all that stuff?
I do all my pencils and inks practically, in a big drawing pad. Then I scan it, clean it up, and add color digitally in Photoshop. I sometimes use Illustrator for bits and pieces, too – it comes in handy!
How long have you been drawing?
…since I could hold a crayon, really. I’ve been a full-time self-employed illustrator for about six years now, and I’m loving it.
You can check out more of Marty’s work at ideaschema.net.
Thanks guys for your valuable time, and make sure you check out the review of The Apprentice’s Folly!
The Apprentice’s Folly is a work of short comic fiction written by Matt Gordon with art by Marty Whitmore. It is a classic cautionary tale of pride and ambition gone horribly awry.
Jacsun is our protagonist, and is a teenaged apprentice of magick. He is considered at most an average practitioner of the arts by his master and his peers, and it is this alleged mediocrity that leads him down the most dark path that will ultimately seal his fate. To prove his worth (admittedly to everyone else, but also to himself), he decides to summon and master a demon. I mean, who wouldn’t be impressed by such a feat of magick prowess? Instant respect could only follow.
Unfortunately for Jacsun, that’s not how it goes down. He successfully summons a demon, but his adolescent mind is no match for the cunning of the devil. It takes the form of a beautiful woman (did I mention she’s naked? Cause she is. I mean, she’s just been summoned from hell or wherever, where she was eating a heart of some sort. Besides, everyone knows demons don’t wear clothes), and Jacsun is enthrall by its beauty. He fails to contain the demon in time as she continues to seduce him, and in the end he loses his life to the fruits of his ambition.
Gordon spins this yarn with the greatest of ease, and the panels really come to life when combined with Whitmore’s pencils. Like any good story, you’re pulled along, panel by panel to the inevitable conclusion. There’s building suspense as Jacsun prepares to put his magick to the test. After successfully summoning the demon, the reader is right there inside Jacsun’s head as his pride gets the better of him and he entertains thoughts of fame and power when he should be ensuring the demon isn’t free to destroy him, as he is overcome by the demon’s beauty and cunning, and finally in his final moments when his fate becomes clear. As the reader, you experience a host of emotions through Jacsun: fear of the unknown, pride, confusion, and finally the dread and fear of accepting ones fate, all over the course of six pages.
And over the course of those six pages you’ll find Whitmore’s fantastic artwork. Whitmore’s characters are cartoony yet detailed, and easy on the eyes. No line is wasted, and the result is clean, sleek pages of art. His attention to detail in the backgrounds of panels (candles, doors, smoke) adds an additional dimension to the pages. Plus, he also draws a smoking hot naked demon chick that you’ve gotta see to believe. The artwork is black lines with splashes of red (eyes, blood, demon word balloons) and is printed upon a parchment colored stock, which gives the book a remarkable style and feel. The brownish yellow of the page works better with Whitmore’s lines and the colors than simple white pages would have, and goes hand in hand with the fantasy genre here.
All in all, “The Apprentice’s Folly” is a fine work of comic art, totally self produced from concept to completion by Matt Gordon and Marty Whitmore. You should check it out. And for more with the creators, check out some q&a with the creators here.
Thursday I exchanged a few emails with Kim Scoulios, creator of Nancy Nebula and other fine works of art that you can find at her website, theksgallery.com. I asked a few questions and she provided me a few answers. . . .
What inspired you to create “Nancy Nebula”?
When I was a teenager I would look out into the sky and imagine the aliens could hear me and I would ask them to take me away with them. I was more cynical at that time, and I honestly thought the aliens might understand me more than humans. When I became older, I found it was easier to make fun of my dark humored habits – then began sketching the idea.
How did you do the artwork? What tools or software did you use?
The drawings are made with graphite and ink on paper. The layout was arranged in Comic Life.
How long did it take you to complete “Nancy Nebula”?
I thought of the idea 15 years ago. The comic book alone took one year. Nancy was this character that would show up repeatedly in my sketchbook. I have been thinking about alien related stories since childhood.
Do you have any upcoming projects?
My art will be on the next DWLB (Donny Who Loved Bowling) album. I am also working on the next Nancy Nebula comic books and projects.
How long have you been making comics?
I have been designing comic characters since I could hold a pen. Nancy Nebula is my first comic book. Before that, I illustrated a cover and 12 black and white illustrations in the sci-fi novel Doris Daring: Star Captain of the Spaceways with Chris Wichtendahl.
Are there any writers, artists, etc. that you’re especially a fan of and that inspire you?
There are so many…Nell Brinkley, Garth Williams, Edward Gory, H.R. Giger, Joann Sfar, and Alphonse Mucha. All of these artists have displayed such a unique style with intricate line-work.
Thanks for your time Kim! Make sure you check out the review of Nancy Nebula, and look for more Q&A with more comics creators in future posts!
Nancy Nebula is a book about a young woman named Nancy. She finds herself in dead end job, enduring a rather mundane existence handling customer accounts at Digital Fossils, an android manufacturing corporation. Like most of us who have been fed up with what seems to pass for life these days (boring jobs, bad relationships, the grind), she goes home every day and dreams of something more. One night, those dreams come true, and she finds herself working for The Greys, alien beings who seek to breed themselves with humans to save their dying race.
The creation of Kim Scoulios, Nancy Nebula is a great story of desperately wanting something more and of what happens when you actually get it. Nancy is troubled by the questions that have mystified the human race for millennia: why are we here, what does it mean, the big existential questions that we’ve all pondered at some point in our lives. And as Nancy’s story progresses, you get the feeling she’s going to find those answers sooner or later, for better or worse. Nancy makes a great protagonist, guiding the reader through her mundane day to day, her dreams of the stars and of other planes of existence, and finally her experiences with The Greys and their leader, Aza.
Scoulios art is cartoony and delicate, pairs effectively with the story being told, and draws you into Nancy’s world without really trying to. The lines and shades are very easy on the eyes, the focus of individual panels is never in question, and there’s just enough detail to really flesh out the scenes. The dreamscapes, the existential atmospheres and landscapes throughout the book are rendered in great detail, beautifully contrasting shades of black and gray and white that you can get lost in studying. I mean, check out the cover up there and you’ll see what I mean. The panels tell the story and allow it to flow, so much so that you could follow the narrative without needing to read the words (a defining characteristic of good comic craft).
But you should read the words! There’s a helluva story being told here, as Nancy goes from essentially working for one corporation that deals in androids to another that deals in humans to be experimented upon (but she likes this job, and if you’re going to work a job, to totally buy in to the corporate line, it helps if you really enjoy it). The irony is not lost to her, however, and she reconciles here actions by only recruiting humans that she feels deserve to be the subject of alien experiments (starting with her struggling musician ex-boyfriend, who totally deserves to be probed and prodded by alien beings). But it’s her questions that really keep her in the employee of The Greys, and as she spends more time with Aza, she begins to get hints that those answers exist, and if she sticks around, her questions will be answered. The promise of knowledge is a powerful motivator, but it can also cause you to miss things, to be blinded to some realities that should be obvious to you, and Nancy comes to this realization at the end of this first issue. She is left to question her trust in her new employers, and to ponder the decision that brought her to that moment. It’s a great ending for this first issue of Nancy Nebula, leaving you with a few burning questions as every serialized story should.
All in all, Nancy Nebula is highly recommended. It’s obviously a labor of love from Kim Scoulios, entirely self published in that great artistic tradition. Check out her other work and learn a bit more about Kim at her website. There you’ll find her blog, galleries of her work, and make sure you order yourself a copy of Nancy Nebula while you’re there.
The whole concept of my comic book reviews in this space will be changing in the coming months. Instead of reviewing “Big 2″ books (those reviews are a dime a dozen!), I’m gonna focus more on indie books. This includes things my friends Old Man and Bitter Girl bring me back from cons, indie books that I come across on comixology, and other stuff that I just happen to pick up along the way. I’d like to try and introduce you to some new stuff, and hopefully you’ll go check some of it out and help support comic artists that are creating their art on their terms.
So, with that being said, check back every so often for some new reviews. I’m going to try to put myself on somewhat of a regular schedule (I promised OM & BG!), though I’m not sure what that might be yet. Maybe once a month, maybe twice a week, we’ll see. I’ll let you know when I know! I’m also going to include some Q&A with the creators of the books when I can, so that way you can learn a little more about the people that make these works of art and what makes them tick.
But look for the first review of this new era later this week. I can at least guarantee that much! I’ve got quite a stack of books to work through as you can see!
As I sit here and welcome 2013 by watching what is shaping up to be an awesomely exciting football contest between Georgia and Nebraska, I find myself thinking about the good comics I read this past year. Well, I think about the bad ones too, but not as much. I’ve been thinking about what to talk about here since I promised Bitter Girl I would find time to do this over my break, and this being the last real day of that break, procrastination seems to have paid off. So, without further ado, my favorite series this year. . .
Honorable Mention :: Avengers vs. X-Men
I had to at least mention this book, cause it was everything my Marvel fanboy heart could have wanted in a mega Avengers vs. X-Men kinda crossover. I remember that Marvel tackled this same subject matter years back, though in a much less world-shaking manner. And lets face it, you put Bendis in charge, things are gonna get shaken up. This was the groundwork for the Marvel NOW initiative, which has been pretty enjoyable thus far, and given us lots of cool books (and some not so cool, but you’ll have that), and also served to wrap up loose ends that had been dangling around since House of M, which seems like it was 10 years ago. So, it did everything that something like Avengers vs. X-Men should do: lots of fun to read, shakes things up, and plus Scott killed Xavier. Tell me you saw that coming.
If I hadn’t picked up Revival just a few days ago, then AvX would be in this spot. This new book from Image has been very fresh and unlike anything I’ve read this year, and that’s important to me. I like to read stuff that makes me sit up and say “Holy Shit!”, and the first issue of Revival had a few of those moments (such as an old lady pulling her teeth out with a pair of pliers). The idea here is that this is a zombie book, but it has a crazy twist in that they aren’t zombies, they’re just like they used to be, like you remember them, except that they’re probably inherently evil, and you just don’t know it until it’s too late. The book reminds me of a TV show in the way it is written, lots of different stories and characters to keep track of, and they all find ways to interact cuz it’s told in a small town. I’ve enjoyed it because it surprises me, and that’s what I read comics for.
Speaking of surprises, here’s Happy, brought to you by Grant Morrison. A washed up ex-cop who sees a cartoon unicorn hallucination and sets out to save the daughter he never knew he had from sadistic kiddie porn mobsters. What else do I need to say?
Now admittedly, I’ve always been a Batman fanboy at heart. He’s the only character that DC has that I really give two shits about. Year One, Dark Knight Returns, No Man’s Land, there’s all these great stories that you can tell with Batman cuz he’s such a fucked-up character to begin with. I could never really get into what Morrison did with Batman during his run, but the New 52 brought a new creative team of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo (it’s so cool to see this guy drawing a monthly book again!). I read issue one, it was cool, but then I laid off for a while. But along comes the Death of the Family story, and here comes the Joker, and it’s great. It’s a Joker heavily influenced by Heath Ledger’s version, but taken to a whole other level, mostly cuz his face is gone and he wears what used to be his face as a mask. So, yeah, he’s that crazy. Plus, he’s out to kill the family, and he’s crazy smart, and the feeling of dread and tension in this book month after month just makes it so much fun to read. Every month, you’re asking yourself “What’s this crazy villain gonna do next?”, and then you read about it, and it blows your mind, cause your mind doesn’t work that way.
Dude. This book is just fantastic. Brian K. Vaughn’s space opera with a dash of Romeo and Juliet and some breathtaking art that Fiona Staples does on her computer consistently blows me away. You could spend days looking at these pages, and weeks trying to decide what might happen next (you should just stop that and just enjoy it. . . ). It’s really unlike nothing you’ve ever seen/read/experienced before, and Staples is a big part of creating this awesome experience every month. I can’t say enough about her art. It’s ridiculous. It’s gonna be a helluva ride, and it’s something I plan to be a part of for the duration.
Damnit, I’m in love with this book. I look forward to it every single month, and in the end, that’s what comics is about. It used to be the trip to the comic shop, on a weekly basis, but there was that one book that you looked forward to more than the others, that made that trip worth it, and this is that book. Except I download it now. Matt Fraction and David Aja tell street level comics stories, with humor and intrigue and suspense. Billed as ”what Hawkeye does when he’s not being an Avenger”, it usually involves getting into some sort of trouble with gangsters that want the apartment building he lives in, or with helping some damsel in distress, but also trying to set up his home theater system, and above all making things right. And Kate Bishop is always along for the ride, usually bailing his ass out of some sort of peril, helping out whether Hawkeye wants her to or not (so far, it’s a good thing she does). But most of all, here’s a hero that is relatable, that is just a normal dude who happens to be an excellent marksman and has an Avengers membership card. He’s got problems like you and I have. It’s the superhero book for people who hate superhero books, and that’s what makes it good my favorite book of 2012.
So, there you have it. My best of 2012. 2013 looks like it’s shaping up to be a pretty exciting year for comics. The two big comic book films of the last year have turned more people onto comics than ever, and the creators have stepped up their game in turn. Here are some things I’m keeping in mind as the calendar rolls over to 2013. . .
- Superior Spider-Man, which is going to be interesting to say the least . . .
- I keep finding more and more Image Comics in my queue month after month . . .
- I need to give Mark Waid’s Daredevil run a solid chance to impress me . . .
- I also need to check out the new Captain Marvel book. Heard lots of good things . . .
- Neil Gaiman is doing Sandman again . . .
- I really want Uncanny Avengers to be good . . .
- Bendis and Chris Bachalo are doing Uncanny X-Men . . .
- Scott Snyder and Jim Lee are doing a Superman book? Go ahead and sign me up . . .
It looks like 2013 is going to be a good year!
Goddamn! That’s about what I thought when I finished this collected edition of “The Bulletproof Coffin” that I purchased on Comixology yesterday. It’s Thanksgiving, I knew I’d get bored at some point, so I stocked up. I read lots of good comics this week, but this is the one that I absolutely have to tell you about. I’m a little late to the party (it came out in 2010), but still.
Do you like comics? Then you’re gonna love this. It’s just a crazy story about Steve Newman, a guy who cleans the home of the recently deceased and disposes of all their crap. He’s also a huge comic book nerd, and our story begins when he finds a treasure trove of old Golden Nugget comic books while cleaning a house. Only thing is, Golden Nugget was bought out by Big 2 publishing years ago, and these comics he’s found shouldn’t even exist. . . but they do. Then Steve finds the costume of the hero Coffin Fly, discovers a hatch to the hero’s “Bulletproof Coffin” tank in the ceiling of his attic, finds himself stalked by the mysterious Shadow Men, and meets up with the rest of the Golden Nugget heroes and learns that only he can save the world from it’s certain fate of being a zombie-ridden graveyard planet by finding The Creators (that’s Hine and Kane, btw) in the real world and convincing them to change the future before it’s too late! It’s completely and totally awesome, with twists and turns and story within a story and comics within comics and all sorts of other awesomeness (there’s even those adds from old comics, like a pocket size Hollywood Babe Magnet, a pet monkey, and a “How to start your own UFO Cult” guide, all available for $9.95 + postage and handling).
This twisted tale is written by David Hine, who’s name was vaguely familiar to me, and drawn by Shaky Kane (aka Michael Coulthard). Kane’s art is a thing of psychedelic beauty, and reminds me of Mike Allred, Frank Quitely and Silver Age artists in the vein of Jack Kirby. It’s throwback style, and it fits this book really well. The art is not so much realistic but still detailed and beautiful. It’s not hard to look at, it works so well with the story being told and fits so well, and dude is talented to handle so many styles of art in the same story. The story moves from Steve’s narrative to a look at these classic comic books, which are presented as stories within the story, completely taking over for five or so pages at a time, and the art changes to match this Silver Age kind of look and feel. Not to mention the aforementioned classic ads that are just as much part of the reading experience, or the cutouts figures and dioramas that you used to find in classic kinds of books.
The whole story itself immerses you in comics as art and totally sucks you in and makes for an awesome reading experience. I honestly can’t remember the last time I read something like this in comic book form. It’s an homage to the old school of comics, while at the same time telling a somewhat convoluted but scary and frighteningly original story. Sure, the ending is depressing as hell, but you kinda get the feeling that it’ll end this way as you work your way towards the climax. I really can’t describe this book, other than tell you that it’s a great, fun read and you should do yourself a favor and check it out. It gets my highest possible recommendation.
I’ve always kinda liked Dr. Strange, but never really checked out his monthly books or took the time to get to know the character more, and I think that’s one of the reasons I’m really digging this New Avengers End Times a lot more than the more superhero oriented, fantastical counterpart of the story found in The Avengers. Strange really starts to take the lead with this issue, and it’s a pretty fun read.
The whole point is that someone or something is going around possessing people, and then taking out magicians all over the world. Dr. Strange being Sorcerer Supreme and all, this kinda concerns him. So while he tries to get to the bottom of things by interrogating Victoria Hand on the Astral Plane (Victoria was recently possessed by our antagonist, who remains a mystery for now), the rest of the New Avengers deal with SHIELD agent Maria Hill and the FBI. Then people die, and the whole issue kinda takes a turn into clusterfuck territory from there. Not in a bad way, but in a kick ass “who can you trust? what’s going on?” kinda way. When you’ve got a bad guy that can possess pretty much anyone he wants, it makes for high tension, what’s gonna happen next stuff, and it makes for a great lead in to the next issue (the New Avengers are under house arrest, Dr. Strange is under normal arrest, and Brother Voodoo (that’s the antagonist) is obviously possessing someone else, but we don’t know who).
Bendis’s writing is again top-notch, as Luke Cage is tired of this shit, Spidey cracks jokes, and Maria Hill is at her take-no-bullshit best. But I really like how he handles Dr. Strange here, using the character’s fear of Brother Voodoo and a series of grisly murders to really drive home the point that this guy is bad news. And of course, Strange is gonna take it upon himself to take care of this business. He kinda has to, since he’s the only Avenger not trapped in the mansion.
Carlos Pacheco handles the art here, and it’s serviceable as always. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Pacheco do bad work, and he draws some great panels in this issue. He handles group panels like a pro (dudes done a lot of team books over the years), and his panels of Strange on the Astral Plane are detailed and just cool looking, with molecules and floors made out of flowers and stuff. The storytelling is great, and the panels flow well with the plot Bendis is working with. This art style is a departure from the art from the previous issue, which was more rough and noir-ish, and I dunno if that’s by design or what, but this is a beautifully drawn and inked book, which always helps (there are three inkers at work here, but you’d never know that by looking at the pages).
All around a great read. Advances the story, a pleasure to look at, and the ever-present cliffhanger to bring you back next time. I would recommend it to most comics fans.
Did you catch the season premiere of “The Walking Dead” last weekend? I did, and I’m really looking forward to this season. The cast have moved into the prison, met some of the prisoners, and the Governor is coming, and if you’ve been reading the book, you know what that means. I think this season shows some promise, and I think the showrunners understand we don’t wanna watch some people look for a little zombie girl for 13 episodes. I mean, I understand the second season was all about getting to really know the characters since they only had six episodes in the first season, but come on. All this time, and no one once thinks to check the barn? What the hell!
But anyway, all that stuff happens way back when, 80 some odd issues ago, and the point here in #103 is that Rick has a plan for dealing with Negan and his Saviors, the newest threat to Rick and the gang’s wellbeing, but he’s keeping it a secret. Well, he has to tell Andrea (that he has a plan, not the plan), or else she’s gonna move out and stuff, but other than that, it’s a total secret! He doesn’t even tell Carl, and Carl isn’t happy to see his dad basically roll over to these douchebags and let them have half their stuff. This issue seems to start a new story arc (the “Something to Fear” covers are a thing of the past), and as always, Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard and Cliff Rathburn are on point in the story and presentation. But see that cover? None of that shit happens. Maybe it’s a metaphor, I dunno, but I’ll go on record once again saying I kinda despise the “bait” cover (you know, when you think what happens on the cover is gonna happen inside, and then it totally doesn’t).
Like most issues of “The Walking Dead”, this one moves pretty slow. I mean, sure, the story is advanced, but it’s very meticulous and determined, as is always the case. We get to see more of Negan and his Saviors, and just in case you had forgotten, Negan is a total dick. He talks a lotta shit for most of the issue, and is just begging to be taken down a notch. His followers as basically just as bad as he is. They take whatever they want from the camp, all of the mattresses, most of the good meds, like the morphine and the hard core painkillers. Negan even makes Rick hold “Lucille”, his barbed-wire wrapped baseball bat that he used to bash in Glenn’s head back in issue 100. Is that a dick move or what?
The issue ends with more Negan shit talk, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the first panel of the next issue is Rick beating the living shit outta him. If he doesn’t, he’ll have shown a lot more restraint than he ever has in the past. And I think that’s the point of this issue. If you didn’t wanna see Negan get his ass kicked before (I mean, he killed Glenn, so chances are you totally do), you certainly do now, and you’re looking forward to it. And you also get to see just what Rick and the gang are gonna be up against here. The Saviors are a large group of bad dudes, and you come to understand why Rick has to take the “play along until” route in order to have a chance against them. Lastly, I like the fact that this book has become less about zombies and more about how the people that are left interact with each other. You might feel like Kirkman has already covered this territory with the Governor and such, but you could kinda relate to the Governor and sympathize with him (his daughter was a zombie that he kept chained in the kitchen, for god’s sake. He probably wasn’t all there in the head by the time Rick and them met him). But there doesn’t seem to be a reason for Negan to be the way he is; he’s just a bad dude, and he has lots of bad friends. I look forward to the next issue, just as I always have, recommend this issue as a good place to jump on and enjoy the series if you’re just getting turned on to it.
You know, I was going to talk about “Uncanny Avengers” in this space today, but then I got to thinking, why not talk about the book that I really enjoyed the most this week, and that book was none other than “Batman” #13, the beginning of the “Death of the Family” arc and the triumphant return of the Joker!
Now, first things first, I haven’t been following this New 52 Batman, and don’t know too much about the previous 12 issues. I know there is this Court of Owls or something that Batman has been dealing with, I know that for some reason someone cut off Joker’s face (right, like he wasn’t creepy enough to begin with), and that the whole Batman family or incorporated or whatever they’re calling themselves are all accounted for (Damian is still Robin, Barbara Gordon is Batgirl again, etc).
This is essentially a classic Joker story. He arrives in a “Forget Me Not” floral delivery van and immediately proceeds to kill a bunch of cops and steal his face back while Jim Gordon is helpless to stop him. He then starts toying with Batman and Gordon like he always has, making use of Joker toxin and murdering people on broadcast television, just classic Joker stuff. This is more in line with Heath Ledger’s Joker from the “The Dark Knight”, just a sadistic killer with a twisted sense of humor and a well thought out game plan for terrorizing Gotham and the Batman family.
Joker’s plan is to take out the Batman family one by one. Harley Quinn delivers this message to Batman as he is trapped in a vat that is slowly filling with acid, and she also lets Batman know that this Joker if different, he’s not the Mr. J that she knows and loves, and she’s afraid of him. As our issue ends, it appears as though Alfred is going to be first on Joker’s list. . .
All in all, a really good issue to introduce this arc. I’m not quite sure if I’m going to read all of the tie-ins or just the issues of Batman that are involved, but I’m interested and kinda hooked on the story at this point. Scott Snyder does a great job of pacing and building to the conclusion, and writes a sick, twisted Joker that is right on in character. As always, Greg Capullo’s pencils are just fun to look at. He draws an awesome Batman, and throws some really cool panels at you (the last page panel comes to mind, as does Joker’s arrival at the GCPD). The storytelling here is really well done on Capullo’s part, even though it seems like sometimes he’s having to try and squeeze too many panels on one page, it somehow works and works really well. Jonathan Glapion’s inks are great too, lots of blacks and dark colors, because this is Batman and it’s supposed to be that way. There’s a short backup story also written by Snyder, and drawn by Jock, which expands on why Harley Quinn is no longer a Mr. J fan, and it’s just as good as the rest of the book.
I’m on board with this “Death of the Family” storyline (an obvious play on the old “Death in the Family” arc which saw the death of Jason Todd, who then came back as the Red Hood, and of course way back in the day, the original Joker was originally known as the Red Hood, but I digress. . . ). I think it’ll be a fun read, and I’ve always been a casual Batman fan, so I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of hell the Joker is going to put Batman through.