Comic Fodder

Drunken Dave Reviews: Beyond, Ultimate Spiderman, Wolverine Origins and more

I was so unexcited about this week's comics that I didn't even go to the store until Thursday. The Mets game was on Wednesday, and the list of stuff coming out didn’t send me running to the store. So I waited till Thursday, got home, and started reading my books.

Hot damn, I was wrong, because this was a great week!

Book of the Week:

Beyond! #2 (Marvel, By McDuffie & Kollins):

This series’ debut flew under the radar for a lot of people, but not to a JLU/ Scott Kolins nut like myself. After the first issue's shocker of an ending, I had to come back for more. I'm not disappointed. Moving past the shock of issue one's ending, the motley assemblage of Marvel oddballs (What's left of Spider-man, Avengers stalwarts Wasp and Hank Pym, the thugged out BKV creation the Hood, former West Coast Avenger Firebird, Spider-man villain Venom, Inhumans Queen Medusa, newcomer Gravity, and 14th illegitimate son of the original Kraven) have to deal with the repercussions. Now the cast find themselves on a strange planet where the only ally they have is a somewhat familiar man named Michael. McDuffie's capable pen bring us characters who all act distinctively from one another, but always remain true to their nature. Mad props for doing the un thinkable: making Hank Pym cool. Seriously, things are done with Pym particles that are damn cool in this comic, reminding us what a fun place the Marvel U can be. The character's interactions, and more notably, conflicts always ring true and are to be savored. Kolins is at his hyper kinetic best, rendering all the fun elements in vivid detail. His pencils lead to an awesome Medusa, who has never seemed so dangerous. This is what mini series should be. I hope this is just the beginning of McDuffie's return to comics.

Most Improved Book of the Week:

Wolverine Origins #5 (Marvel, by Daniel Way & Steve Dillon):

I've heard the complaints, and agreed with many of them. Despite the glacial pace things heat up in this issue, big time. The issue starts with one of the best fights I've seen in years, as a Berserker as hell Wolverine goes into a frenzy against Captain America, Cyclops, and New X-Man, Hellion (I'm not sure why they brought a kid to take out Wolverine either), with White Queen trying to reason with our favorite hairy Canadian. Steve Dillon doesn't disappoint, as the fight rivets. After that, the pieces start to fall into place, as a few revelations are brought to light, and damn they are some doozies. Way promised that he did his homework, and I now believe him. The reveals all fall neatly into what we already know about Wolverine's convoluted past. After the slow burn of the last four issues (combined with too long Origins & Endings arc in the main title) this issue's payoff is very successful. Oh and you gotta love the Quesada-Alphonse Mucha inspired cover. Gorgeous.

Co Book of the Week:

Ultimate Spider-Man Annual #2 (Marvel, by Bendis & Brooks):

First of all, Brooks' art has improved greatly since last year's annual. His first annual, while good, his art wasn't quite there, this year it's evident this kid is going to be a superstar.

The big improvements are in his faces, which aren't as wrinkly as they used to, and his backgrounds, which now look like classic Marvel NYC. The story is one that Bendis does best. The plot runs around with enough twists and turns to make Elmore Leonard smile, the dialouge sizzles, and the street level action scenes are top notch. The Kingpin is back, and with him we are introduced to potential usurper, the Kangeroo (I'm not kidding). Rounding out the fun is the Punisher, Daredevil and the crazier-than-a-dishwasher-full-of-sock-puppets, Moon Knight. Spider-man finds himself out of his depth, as dirty cops and mob bosses toy with him, vigilante’s diss him, and sociopaths try to explode him. This issue is fun, and totally takes advantage of the longer annual format. Spoiler Warning: Captain DeWolf gets more in common with her 616 counterpart.

Ultimate X-Men #73 (Marvel, by Kirkman & Raney):

Good issue, the mystery of the Magician heats up as all is definitely not as it seems. Might have to convert to trades on this title.

Also bought and liked:

Civil War Frontline #5
(Marvel, by Jenkins and Bachs):

Where Urich and Flloyd get into trouble, Speedball gets put away into a higher security institution, and Spider-man marches with the IRA or something in the backup.

Annihilation #1 (Marvel, by Giffen & Divito):

Didn't get the lead in minis, still found this issue easy to follow and enjoy. The Nova here is the one I grew up with in the New Warriors.

52 Watch! Week 14:

The Question and Montoya get arrested in Khandaq, Dr.Morrow escapes, Dr.Magnus has success and Steel is sad. Metamorpho gets his origin told by Waid and Eric Powell, the go-to guy for freaks.

Please pardon the egotism, braggadocio and chutzpah involved, as well as this unorthodox method of contacting you, but I feel that this is important. My name is Bertram Gibbs, I am a writer, and I am pleased to inform you that my novel, ‘Formally Known As . . . ‘, has been published by Publish America, of Frederick, Maryland.

With the sudden rush/rash of comic book-related films out and coming out (Superman Returns, Ghost Rider, X-Men III, Hellboy II, Watchmen, and Spider-Man III, to name a few), the genre has been deeply inserted into our pop culture; more than it has ever been, and has been deemed entertaining, profitable, and with a cry for more. Of course, with every film there is a book adaptation written by comic book and sci-fi writers. I think the time is right to introduce a completely original super-hero, but first in novel form. This is not to say I am the sole owner of this concept, but I feel that my story and the way it is presented is very different than most. You could say this is a film adaptation of a film that has yet to be made.

This is not a dark moody tale, like Unbreakable, a Greek tragedy, as shown in The Hulk, a spoof on social mores, like in My Super Ex-Girlfriend, nor is it rife with comic history like Superman, Batman, X-Men, Spider-Man, the Hulk, et al, where each world resides in its own reality. This story takes place in our present reality and focuses on an eccentric individual (spelled New Yorker) who is granted special abilities. While everyone around him expects him to be a super-hero, he rejects the idea feeling his life is turning into a ‘comic book’. The history of comic books and their characters are only used as a reference point.

It is a ‘comic-book’ tale, an action/adventure story, a comedy, a ‘buddy-movie’, and is highly visual, containing the broad, dry, sarcastic, comedic, sometimes over-the-top humor displayed in the recent film, kiss kiss bang bang. Regarding its visual nature, I will say ‘Formally Known As . . . ‘ was rejected by a publisher because ‘the novel read more like a screenplay’. This could be a very good thing in the area of fiction.

When was the last time you’ve read a book that plays like a film, where each action and situation plays like a video in the mind’s eye? Readers and non-readers are film oriented and are captivated by visuals. “Formally Known As . . . ‘ does just this; juxtapose the visuals with the dialog and introspection of the characters, similar to watching a film. Or a comic book panel.

This is a character driven piece and focuses on a rarely used individual; the Middle Class African-American. One who does not wear his color on his sleeve, has no understanding of the hip-hop genre, and would, by today’s standards and stereotypes, would be the butt of jokes as shown in The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, among other TV shows and films. This is not saying that the Middle Class Black is not shown in either books or films, but – as far as I’ve seen – there is usually some dark brooding conflict involved, and hardly ever in a comedic sense, except to show his/her awkwardness around the more street-savvy character. The lead character in ‘Formally Known As . . . ‘ has a heightened sense of right and wrong, enhanced by his sarcastic and slightly jaded perspective of life, yet has a oddball coolness all his own. Al Hendrickson, our hero, is a very different type of character. A very different type of hero.

In short, this is not about a Black man who becomes a super-hero; this is about a man who becomes a super-hero, who happens to be Black. The story is basically color blind.

Two of the more interesting points in ‘Formally Known As . . . ‘ is first the relationship between two individuals who are the best of friends, who – as friends do – insult, play gags and drive each other crazy. The reader watches how the changes that occur in Al Hendrickson’s life force both men to adapt to situations beyond their control and enhance the bond between them.

The other aspect is the hero’s mother, who is kidnapped by the villain of the piece, a Black Ops agent who was a comic book fan as a child, but worshipped the bad guys. Versus the kindly older woman, who does nothing but patiently waits for her son to come to the rescue, the hero’s mother is as verbally dangerous as her son. She uses that tried and true method of attack all mothers have used since the first caveman forgot to call on a birthday; she nags. Incessantly. And to the point of driving the agent into a near apoplectic fit.

I thought you should know that my novel is now available (with a world-wide release on September 25, 2006), and thought you may be interested in giving it a look.

If you are interested, please contact:

Darcy Smittenaar
Public Relations Department


Bertram Gibbs
99 Woodlawn Street
Lynn, MA 01904
(w) 781-388-8369
(h) 781-593-5045

-- Posted by: Bertram Gibbs at August 14, 2006 6:04 PM