Savage Henry Lee's super-rad ultra-hip madcastic blogging editorial bruahaha of funk!
1/8/2008 1:50:28 PM permalink
The other night at the comic shop, I had "somebody's assistant", buying up Nightwing graphic novels. Their interest? Apparently, an unnamed director is being offered a chance to put together a movie about the character, so the assistant was buying up trades so they could see just what the character was all about.
That's an interesting idea. A Nightwing movie. Could it happen? Should it? Well, here's my take on it.
The big problem with Nightwing, is that he's not much of a character on his own; he's interesting because he's part of a larger story. He's not just "Dick Grayson", he's Robin, all grown up. He's a part of the Bat-mythology.
Catwoman, for good or for ill, makes a bit more sense. She can exist on her own, with her own adventures. Even the Joker or Two-Face, I can see doing little stand-alone stories about. Dick Grayson isn't really like that though. Dick is famous for one reason, and that's his relationship with Batman.
I guess you could probably try to sneak some Batman into a Nightwing movie. It's all owned by AOL/Time/Warner, so it's not like you'd have to pay extra. At the same time, what kind of Batman would you have? An older man in his 40s? If we estimate that Bruce was maybe about 27 when Robin came onto the scene, and Dick's how old? Maybe 12 when he became Robin, and about 18 when he became Nightwing? So maybe Bruce would only be about 33, depending on how old you depict Nightwing as being. If Nightwing is played by an actor who's well into his 20s, you'd have to age your Bruce accordingly.
It reminds me of an issue I had with the Spider-man movies as well. Spider-man does not live in "Spider-man Land". He lives in the Marvel Universe. The way the world sees Spider-man is affected by the fact that the world also has The X-Men, The FF, The Hulk, and Dr. Strange in it. Spider-man is not The Only Hero in the city. He's the least loved & trusted hero in the city.
Nightwing is the same sort of guy. As Robin, he's a reflection of Batman, and as Robin gets older, he becomes a reflection of the whole DCU. Nightwing is a name of a Kryptonian hero for one thing, forever cementing the connection between Dick & Superman. As well, Dick's transformation from Robin to Nightwing is connected to his placement within the Teen Titians. Can you just ignore all that history, and do a stand-alone story where Nightwing is an acrobatic vigilante in a fancy suit? Even the suit comes from The Bat/Superman mythology. Doing a solo story for Dick feels a bit like trying to give Jimmy Olsen his own movie. No disrespect to Dick, but he's a sidekick who outgrows his role, and learns to escape the shadow of his father-figure, The Bat. That's what makes him interesting and unique. He's a way for us, the aging reader, to experience DC continuity. We grow older, like Dick, and we start our own stories, but we remain forever connected to where we came from. If you sever that connection...
A stand-alone Dick Grayson movie could be cool. I see it as being like the Dwight story in Sin City. Handsome bad-ass jumping beating up baddies around the city. But there's so many questions that would need to be asked... Is Dick rich? Is he the adopted son of Bruce Wayne? Would Gotham city be mentioned, or would it all take place in Bloodhaven?
There's a lot of questions that need to be asked, especially if we want to avoid seeing another Catwoman. Still, it's an interesting idea, with some real potential. I guess we'll just have to wait and see, and speculate like mad until then.
Savage henry lee
Doesn't need a cape to kick-ass.
Tales Of The City Streets
1/6/2008 12:45:59 PM permalink
Bring on da comix!
Ultimate Human #1
By Ellis & Nord.
I'm really torn on Ultimate Human. On one hand, it's OK. It's not terrible, but it's also not terribly exciting. It's a Hulk & Ironman comic, though we only get a few pages of Hulk, and no sightings of Ironman. Lots of Tony Stark & Bruce Banner talking about the future of science. On the other hand, wow. Is this really the same Warren Ellis from Transmetropolitan, Global Frequency, & Planetary? Jeeze, judging from his interviews, I thought Ellis was meant to be an Internet Jesus, here to save comics from boredom & superheroes. Instead, I find him here, unenthusiastically playing super-science smash-up with Stan Lee's old toys.
I don't think Ellis cares about this stuff very much. The characters talk like he stripped the text out of a comic he actually wanted to write, & then just stuck "tony" & "bruce" in it. Tony is specifically irritating, being a classic example of the Ellis' "Hard-Drinking Scientist-Philosopher" character. I'm really, really sick of that character. Ellis puts him in every goddamn book he writes. It's not funny, it's not engaging, it's sloppy & lazy. But hey, what do you expect? "It's just Ultimate Hulk VS Ironman," right? For that, it's OK. The art's kinda nice in some bits, & a bit rushed in others. In the context of Ellis' career however, this book is pretty sad. It's like he's writing fanfic for characters he's not a fan of, for an audience he doesn't understand or like.
By Vaughn, Rolston, Bond, & some other really talented people.
The Escapists is not a book for everybody. It's well written, well drawn, nicely layered and possessed of a moral sophistication rarely seen in funny books. The Escapists is one of those comics about comics; how they're made, why they are the way they are, and what they might be instead. It's an intelligently thought out analysis, wrapped within a entertaining story. I have to mention as well, that the book has Matt Hollingsworth as one of their notably talented colourists. I think that guy is pretty damn amazing, & it's nice to see his work on a project of this caliber.
If you're looking for some smashy-smashy or a "big breasts on parade" sort of book, this won't really scratch that itch for you. If you're looking for a different kind of story with some damn fine art, then this book is definitely worth a look.
The Mighty Avengers #6
Written by Bendis, art by Cho.
The Mighty Avengers is a comic about beautiful people who fight robots. The robots are led by a beautiful robot girl. The story is fairly shallow, though confusing, & the characters all have remarkably little character yet still manage to be fairly unlikeable. The comic is somewhat reminiscent of the movie Starship Troopers, which was also full of pretty people who were devoid of personality, fighting improbable special effects and waiting for an ex machina to save the day by the story's end. Breasts heave and muscles flex and inhuman foes are exploded in great numbers. Is it entertaining? Maybe, if just for the art. But then, the art is in some respects so good, that it draws even more attention to how bland and pointless the story is, and the characters are. Is this really the best example of the Marvel universe mythology that Bendis and Cho have to offer? Really? They're proud of this? Well, at least the book isn't constantly late. Oh, wait...
Batman #655 to 672
By Grant Morrison & Various
I'm positive that Morrison can tell a better story than this. Or at least, after reading most of his earlier comics, I expect him to be able to tell a better story than this.
Grant Morrison brought me back to superhero comics. I'd given up on the last of my mainstream books, Deadpool, when I first started reading Preacher. Preacher led to Sandman, Watchmen, Transmet & the Invisibles, & the Invisibles led me back to The New X-Men when Morrison took on that title. I wouldn't have gone back all that willingly otherwise. Morrison usually makes the trips back to mainstream hero-books worth it, and his Batman tends to be a lot more fun than most other people's.
His current run however, is not living up to those expectations, or any expectations at all really. It seems to just be a bunch of crap that happens. The dialog is reminiscent of Morrison, but in the worst ways - it always feels like he's giving us the opening and closing lines of conversations, but never the conversations themselves. The action becomes pretty standard pretty quick, due in part to some art that's hard to not call lackluster. I guess it's OK, but it sure ain't anything new. I almost regret buying the "Batman & Son" hardcover; nothing against the idea of giving The Bat a child - I love the story, just not the way it was told. And the art. Really not loving the art.
There's a lot of great moments in Morrison's Batman run. There's some great ideas, themes, and a few bits of excellent dialog. Sadly though, those great moments are little islands, lost in a sea of bat-mediocrity.
1/4/2008 2:17:19 PM permalink
I was gonna post some more comic reviews, but before that, I figure I should lay out my some of my philosophy on the matter, just so you know where I'm coming from. Maybe I'll get around to posting the actual comic reviews themselves later tonight. Oh, and it's new comic day today, so there'll be new stuff to review by tonight as well. Fresh reviews. But first, these thoughts.
I try not to think about continuity when I read comics. There's enough fanboys out there, especially all the slack-jawed spoon-fed zombies they've got working for Wizard Magazine.
When I approach a comic, especially for a review, I ask myself, "If this was the first comic of this sort that I ever read, what would I think?" I'm not judging these books as a long-time reader. I'm saying, "Here I am. Savage Henry Lee. I love the movies of Tarantino & novelists like William Gibson & Vonnegut. I enjoy intelligent, well-crafted art & literature, as well as fun nonsense like Invader Zim & Clone High. Is there a comic out there for me?"
I implied it with OMD - I don't care about continuity, & I don't care about Spider-man. I care about "Is this piece of entertainment worth 3 bucks?" Could I give this to my friends to read? Even my intelligent, well-read friends? My mother? My girlfriend? Can a non-Spider-fan enjoy this Spider-man book? I don't care if "classic fans" will love it or hate it. Is this, on it's own, separate from everything that's come before & after it, any good?
I find that with most comics put out by Marvel & DC these days, you have to bring the love. They will not provide it for you. They won't make you care about these characters and stories, they just assume that you already love this stuff, or you wouldn't be looking at it. And that mentality, I think, sells the industry really short, and really limits the potential audience for these books. It makes it so a best-seller is a 100,000 copies, instead of a few million. It's also why projects like Dark Horse's Buffy comic, and Marvel's Stephen King adaptions, are so much more popular than classic superhero books. We sell dozens of copies of "popular superhero books." We sell hundreds of copies of Buffy & Dark Tower. Johnny the Homicidal Maniac was like that too; the 7 issues of JtHM have practically outsold the best-selling Spider-man issues a dozen times over. Might be something to consider.
I know y'all love, lets say, Spider-man. But the truth of the matter is, that there are only so many people who are interested in reading Spider-man comics, and it's not actually a very big number. If we want comics to build a bigger audience, if we want this medium to survive and thrive, we might need to stop making superhero comics for everybody, and just start focusing on telling stories for everybody. And that means we'll have to diversify the number and types of creators we have out there. It can't just be 30 books by Bendis, 30 by Mark Millar, and then a couple of girls and black guys writing Birds of Prey and Black Panther. We need different people from different cultural backgrounds telling different kinds of stories, or this medium is going to stagnate and die. The way things are going these days, do you think comics can compete with movies, video games, & the net? They can't. These companies are losing money, and will just continue to lose more, unless we can find away to make the medium appeal to a few more people, rather than just the paltry audience of die-hard geeks we've got coming into the store currently.
Speaking of which, I gotta get down to the store and start farming out the crap to all the industrious little nerds braving the weather for new comic book day. Do me a favor and don't buy any total crap today, OK? Like Chuck D says, don't get caught looking for the same thing.
Savage henry lee
Don't believe the hype.
, Tales Of The City Streets
1/3/2008 9:19:11 PM permalink
(Note: Just a review.)
Written & Drawn by Felipe Smith. An original comic series published as 3 digests.
MBQ is a great comic experience. It's about a lot of things. Basically, it's about comics & strippers & dreams & thugs & parties & slimeballs & artistic integrity & compromise & grand theft & flipping burgers & porn & being bad ass. It's also full of sex & violence, though I guess the list kind of implied that. It's all there. People getting it on, people getting off, & people getting offed. Martial arts battles. High speed gunplay. Big dogs. Blood on the knuckles. Police brutality. Dudes getting their faces stomped into the floor.
MBQ is a blast. It's one of the funnest, most angry comics I've read. It's a little loose, and definitely becomes more of a story as each volume progresses, but especially for an artist's first published work, it's really impressive. I've been reading comics a while, and this is one of the very best & most entertaining comics I've read. It's not for everybody, sure, but it is something I think every so-called "comic fan" should read, whether they like it or not.
MBQ first showed up in the manga section of the comic store I work at, because it's published by Tokyopop. It reads left to right though (North American style), and was created by an American of Jamaican-Argentine descent, so it's hardly a "Japanese Comic," as we tend to think of manga as being. MBQ has more in common with Vertigo's "Kill Your Boyfriend" or "100 Bullets", than it does with Naruto.
Comparing the text to scriptwriting and the illustrations to cinematography, Felipe Smith is reminiscent of guys like Robert Rodriguez & Quentin Tarantino. He's stylized, but realistic. There's jarring cuts & mad, impossible action sequences, sexy dames & musclebound hoods. There's also some staggeringly insightful comic book commentary - thoughts about the industry, and the very nature of how comics are perceived.
MBQ is one of my favorite comic stories, and one of the most original things to have been published in years. It's funny & sexy & full of great ass-kicking, something a lot comics strive for, & most fall short of. MBQ is why I'm reading & writing comics. It's something very original, & a lot of love & hard work went into it. It's a story full of what feel like real people, living real lives, in a real entertaining graphic novel.
Ask for this book by name. If your local guy says he can't get it, he's either lying, or Diamond Distributors is screwing him around. Any comic store in North America should be able to order all 3 volumes of MBQ for you, and have them in-store within a few weeks. And they should say "thank you" and wipe the damn doritos off their fingers before they put in a bag for you.
I think maybe I should have a scale for books I review, so I'm going to give MBQ my highest rating yet - 10 Luke Cages!
Yes, that's how great MBQ is! It's as great as 10 Luke Cages! Unlike Spider-man's One More Day, which I will give a retrospect-rating of: 4 Youngbloods
. Yes. Because OMD was as bad as 4 issues of Youngblood, all at once. 2 for the writing, and 2 for the art.
Here's a line from MBQ I really liked...
"Comics, like any other art form, should be a reflection of the artist himself, if there's any hope for originality."
I wish there were a few more creators in North American comics who felt that way.
Savage henry lee
Merchant of mystery!
, Tales Of The City Streets
1/3/2008 12:20:40 AM permalink
Word on the e-street has it that Marvel & EA are working on a 3D fighter. There's a few minutes of footage up that I've been able to find, and that's about it. I saw this footage some 3 months ago, and I went out and bought an XBOX360 the next week. And the game isn't out for like, another 8 months? I don't even know. I just saw that footage, & went out and bought the system that I'd need to play it.
I loved Ultimate Alliance. I played it through on the PS2, & I enjoyed playing the game for itself, but I thought it was best when played with the codes in, cranking all the powers up to 100%. That made the characters feel like the actual Marvel characters, blowing up robots with a few blasts & taking out legions of minions without really breaking a sweat. And it had Luke Cage in it! Luke Cage! I don't know where Iron Fist was, but still - Luke Cage! They also had my favorite version of Storm - leather-vixen mohawk Strom. That's a fine looking character. Wish she'd been in a movie or something.
Every few days I troll the net, looking for any new info on this unnamed Marvel fighting game, but there's nothing out there. No trailers, no list of characters... just that bit of footage. But I'm still excited! 3D superhero punch-ups! Meta-powered inner-city brawls! Bring it on!
Here's a few characters, and I'm sure y'all can add a few of your own, that I would really, really love to see in the up-coming game.
Luke Cage & Iron Fist. Damn it! They have to be there! They have to be! They're bad-asses!
Cyclops. A bad-ass Cyclops. Him an' his optics should be on par with Cap an' his shield. Except, of course, Cyclops' "shield" is a giant, face-mounted laser cannon that knocks down mountains.
Xorn. Remember Xorn? He was bad-ass. All the powers of Magneto, plus he's a cool iron skull with blue light effects.
Electro. I used to think he was cool.
Mr. Sensitive. From X-Statix. Also cool.
Dr. Strange. Make him all cool and psychedelic (like when you get drunk in Saints Row).
Ant Man. Could be cool.
Fin Fang Foom! Fin Fang Foom!
Speedball. Don't judge me, trust me. Speedball. It'd be hard to get his powers right, but it'd be awesome.
Here's a few guys I hope to not see.
Daredevil. What's the point? Unless when you play him, you play in a weird, black&white version of the game or something. That'd be cool. But no. No Daredevil. He's a waste of a choice.
Bullseye. Because he's just a tool, OK?
Sentry. Because fXck the Sentry, that's my motto.
Penance. Because fXck him too.
Ronin. Get real.
The Fantastic 4. Let 'em ruin their own damn game.
Hawkeye. An archer? What is this, 1950? Get some superpowers, doorknob.
Well, that's 2 Marvel-themed posts in a row, so I think my next review or whatever will branch out a bit, maybe explore some other sectors of the bookshelf. I don't actually even (pay to) read any Marvel comics any more; that was part of the greatness of Ultimate Alliance! It was more entertaining and more in the spirit of the Marvel comics I loved, than I what I see in Marvel comics today. It was clever, full of action, and the characters were dead-on. I even re-bought it for the 360, though I screwed up and got the Standard instead of the Gold edition, so no Venom for me... And Moon Knight? Jesus, who invited him along? Blade, OK. Blade's cool. He's had a few movies and that TV show, and lots of cartoon appearances. But Moon Knight? Come on. You might as well put in Darkhawk while you're at it.
Savage henry lee.
"Yo, my name is Fin Fang Foom, an' y'all is about to get Fin Fang FXXked up, y'hear me?"
Video Gamery News & Reviews
1/1/2008 3:52:35 PM permalink
**SPOILER ALERT - The following post deals with the details contained within Amazing Spider-man #545 and its ramifications on Marvel continuity! SPOILER ALERT**
One More Day (OMD) is a nice way to burn long time Spider-man fans. Ironically, the story is designed so that the more emotionally invested you are in the character and his story, the more ripped off you'll feel. Hard-core fans will get the most frustrated, while newcomers will be simply confused.
This is a bad comic. It's not just a bad comic in that it fails to tell an entertaining story - it's also really, really ugly. It's an unpleasant reading experience.
The art is by Joe Quesada, Marvel's current Editor In Chief, and it looks like nothing so much as a lazy attempt to emulate Frank Miller. Figures are blocky & faces are full of unnecessary lines, a look which might work when you're drawing characters like Sin City's Marv, but here it just makes everything ugly and motionless.
OMD clearly didn't have a lot of work put into it. Most of the book is draped in black backdrops, and the book is also full of pages wherein the same panel is shown shown several times, with slight colouring alterations to make it seem as though something is happening. At the end of the book we're even introduced to 2 new girl characters, one of whom is meant to be the sexy bimbo, with the other as the mousy nice girl. Both girls are drawn as hot blonds with identical bodies and faces; you can tell the mousy nice one because she wears glasses. That's the kind of inventive character creation we have at work in OMD.
The book is almost entirely talking heads with no real action, which is a great touch for a "landmark Spider-man story." There's nobody to punch, no walls to crawl; nothing to do but cry and hug, as huge clouds of boring, contrived dialogue float by, painstakingly explaining the story through blocks of exposition.
Speaking of which, how about the story itself? Original author, J. Michael Straczynski, had at one point requested that his name be taken off the book, due to his negative feelings about the direction JoeQ was forcing the series to go in. That JoeQ would be telling JMS how to tell a story seems somewhat odd. Though perhaps a competent editor, JoeQ is certainly not a proven storyteller to the degree which JMS is. Love him or hate him, you have to admit that JMS has been a professional writer for a very long time, with more than a few successful series under his belt. JoeQ on the other hand, created Ash & a Wolverine knock-off with boobs. To clear this up, let me paraphrase The Comic Shop Guy.
You see this? This is Babylon 5. It was created by JMS. It is worth something.
This? This is Painkiller Jane. It was created by nobody. It is worth nothing.
Something that's very difficult to deal with in OMD is how Peter's decisions basically comes down to choosing his aunt over his wife. His ancient old aunt, who probably just wants to pass on and be with her husband who died all those years ago. And his super-model wife, who's known him and supported him throughout all of his adult life. Does that seem a little weird? It's especially weird since he blames himself for the death of Uncle Ben - it's highly oedipal material. And I'm not really into that. Seriously. I know it might seem like I'm just kidding around, but... Peter would rather sleep in the room next to his elderly aunt, than in the same bed with his sexy, loving wife? That calls for therapy.
And the Hero makes a deal with the devil! What kind of a hero would do something like that? How thankful would Aunt May be to know that Peter totally compromised his beliefs by trading his love for her life? Also, May's a Christian, right? Wouldn't she be against deals with devil? Meanwhile, where was Reed Richards or Dr. Strange or any of the other Deus Ex Machina characters Marvel employs to keep the Status Quo static? No one else in all of Marvel would offer to help? The Silver Surfer didn't hear what Mephisto was doing, and offer to kick his ass and lend May the power cosmic? Like Civil War before it, OMD runs contrary to all previous stated continuity, wherein the characters come to one another's aid and protect the innocent.
Peter's decision to sacrifice his relationship with his wife for the life of his aunt seems very symbolic of a problem facing mainstream comics, where new continuity is always being sacrificed for the sake of "the way things were". As such, we get no progress, no original or meaningful stories. We just run in a loop, like old cartoon characters running down the same hallway and past the same bushes, over and over again. Reset. Play again. Reset.
Speaking of continuity, OMD left me with a few questions. Now, I know that's what Marvel wanted, but I don't feel like these are good questions. These are "this really isn't fun to read" questions, like... How old is Peter now? Is he 5 years younger? 10? Is everybody else he knows younger? The Black Cat? Jameson? Tony Stark & Bruce Banner? Is it 2008? Harry's alive and has a drinking problem? And there's a girl who looks exactly like Gwen Stacy hanging around? Mephisto can just "erase" time and events? Wouldn't Dr. Strange notice and be really pissed off? Did Venom happen? Carnage? The Spider-Clones? Wasn't a key element of the original clone story Peter's newfound love for MJ? Did that just not happen? Did Civil War happen? Is Cap still dead? Did anything over the past 15 years happen? If everything has been reset, what was the point of "The Other" and the return of the black costume, and every single thing that happened in JMS' run? Was it all just cheap, meaningless sensationalism, meant to generate some publicity and distract from lackluster storytelling?
And then there was this last bit... At the end of the story, Peter's riding his bike, and he's singing. He's not swinging on his webs, which we haven't seen all issue, but he's singing. And you could fill those word balloons with anything. Any song in the world. You could daydream & surf youtube, and you could pick something really cool that would really connect the readers to the character, and subtly hint at the direction of the future of the book. And what do we get? Simon & Garfunkel's "Feeling Groovy". A tired old folk song that gets played on adult contemporary radio channels. I even like some S&G, but... Feeling Groovy? That's Peter Parker? He's some guy riding a bike, singing Feeling Groovy to the city? I'm supposed to want to hang out with this guy, or even worse, empathize with him? He's supposed to be somebody I can connect to? Feeling Groovy? Yeah, I guess because that's the kind of music a young guy living in New York would be into. It couldn't be like, the Beastie Boys, or RUN-DMC, or even The Ramones. It'd be... Feeling Groovy.
That bit was the straw that broke this camel's back. Rewriting continuity? Sacrificing the integrity of the characters and all the other storylines? Terrible art and painful writing? The maniacal laughing of the Devil? The lack of action? These things all make OMD pretty terrible. But those 2 panels of Peter, singing "Feeling Groovy" as he bikes down the street, that was the point where your time in the torture chair is all but over, and then at the last moment, they shoot you in the gut and leave you to die. Sure I couldn't deal with the rest of it, but that last bit? That last bit was what really killed me.
I'm really not interested in spending money to support this franchise. I feel burned and cheated. I feel like burying my back issues, and reading some manga.
Savage henry lee.
Does whatever a spider can.
, Spider Rant
12/31/2007 12:18:05 PM permalink
We have a whole lot of superstars at comics2film tonight, but I want you all to know one thing: This is My Blog.
I am savage henry lee. Maybe you've seen me around here. Maybe you have no idea who I am. I'm a comic writer & a comic shop employee. I live on Canada's sunny west coast, where it's always spring break.
My comic is The Young Offenders. It's a black & white series featuring young people using strange abilities and harsh language to survive in a ghettoized neighborhood. You can find it at
It was great of Rob to give me this space to editorialize, and I appreciate the S'naught for throwing the invite my way. I hope I can pay you guys back by not pissing people off, or at least I hope it's the right bastards who get what they've got coming to them. My plans are to run some reviews, to generate some ideas and back&forths, and to even do a remix or two, where I'll take some previously existing storylines, and explore some other options that could've been considered. I'm going to shy away from "rants", just because that term is getting used pretty thoroughly by so many of us pop culture pseudo-journalists. Though I will be ranting about Spider-man, just 'cause I seriously can't stop myself; I got some real childish rage wrapped up in those webs. Oh, & Luke Cage. I love Classic Cage, and hope to designate at least a few posts to the man. Sweet mother-fXckin' Christmas indeed.
So lets make with the conversation. Lets do the comments, and the cold, cruel critiques. Lets coolly kick the crap from the so-called confirmed consensus content. We'll kindle some conflict and see if creativity can come of it. Lets talk about comics, & movies, & video games, and all that good shXt. You & me, and the rest of the net.
Yes! Savage Henry Lee!
Now more than ever before!
Tales Of The City Streets
, The Young Offenders