Tag Archives: Swamp Thing

Therefore I Geek Podcast, Episode 77 Hellblazer Vol. 1

hellblazer_vol_one

In which, Andrew, Dude, and Tracy have their first review threesome–diving into Vertigo’s Hellblazer Volume 1.  Dude especially enjoyed the characterization of John Constantine, and the ambiguous nature of his protagonism.   Tracy liked the flow of the writing–which felt “like a quality pulp novel”–and the lack of origin story.  We spend some time discussing the way the book blends the mystical with elements of mental illness. as well as the political commentary of the book (some more blatant than other).  This is a great horror novel with plenty of depth for multiple readings.

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Geeks You Should Know: Brian K. Vaughan

Like all people, we here at Therefore I Geek have heroes, but because we’re geeks many of those heroes are also geeks. With this in mind, we’re kicking off a new, reoccurring series featuring people in geek culture that we think you should know about, or at least know better and we’ve decided to start with Brian K. Vaughan.

1923505-brian_k_vaughan_imageBrian K. Vaughan got involved in comics as student at NYU in the late 90’s through a program at Marvel called the Stan-hattan Project, which gave students in NYU’s Dramatic Writing department a chance for practical experience.  Vaughan started off with a few fill issues for several series, which included Cable and Wolverine, before moving over to DC where he helped re-launch Swamp Thing. Swamp Thing of course is known as a legacy title through which many of comic’s biggest names—such as Alan Moore, Grant Morrison, and Mark Millar—have come. When this particular Swamp Thing series didn’t last very long, Vaughan made his way back to Marvel for a Cyclops mini-series.

When Marvel decided to launch a new imprint, Vaughan wrote two series, one featuring Mystique and a second called Runaways which starred a new team of heroes who were the children of Marvel’s supervillains.  Following a successful run, Vaughan left Runaways and was succeeded by none other than Joss Whedon.

Prior to the release of Runaways, Vaughan started a creator-owned series at Vertigo called Y: The Last Man. This is hailed as Vaughan’s best work and with good reason.  It is the story of Yorick Brown and his monkey trying to survive in a world in which a mysterious event has left them the only two living males on the planet.  It is a masterpiece of comics, lasting sixty issues before coming to a wonderful conclusion.  Frequently Y: The Last Man is recommended to new comic readers as it exemplifies the art form.

A man and his monkey.

A man and his monkey.

In 2004, around the middle of Y: The Last Man, Vaughan started a second major, creator-owned series:  Ex Machina. Where Y focused on a near future sci-fi story, Ex Machina mixed superheroes and politics, with the main character being a former superhero who has been elected mayor of New York City.  If there was any doubt that Vaughan was a master of comics, Ex Machina removed it by the end of issue one.  Only three years after Sept. 11, Vaughan left us breathless (with what?) and set the tone for the Ex Machina in one page.

This gives me chills every time I see it.

This gives me chills every time I see it.

Writing as good as Vaughan’s doesn’t go unnoticed outside comics for long.  Toward the end of Ex Machina, Vaughan began to write for the TV show Lost.  Many comic fans sadly believed he would never return once he’d seen the bright lights of Hollywood. Thankfully those doubters were wrong, and in 2012 Vaughan made a triumphant return to comics with Saga. The best thing I can say about Saga is that if you aren’t reading it, you should be and if you are, read it again.  It’s that good. While Vaughan has made his comeback to comics, he hasn’t left Hollywood completely as he is also performing writing and executive producer duties for Under the Dome, based on the Stephen King novel of the same name.

If you still have questions, it might be Brian K. Vaughan's fault.

If you still have questions, it might be Brian K. Vaughan’s fault.

Vaughan is a masterful storyteller in both comics and television and has worked on some of the most defining series of the last decade in both mediums. It’s this kind of contribution that makes Brian K. Vaughan a Geek to Know. Stay tuned to see who our next Geek to Know will be.

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Filed under Andrew Hales, Geek Life, Geeks You Should Know

New 52 in Review: Week 2

Welcome to Week Two of the DC New 52 in Review.  This week’s titles were initially released on September 7, 2011.  So far five of the original thirteen titles have been cancelled—four of which died early to make room for the second wave of DC titles.  Two of the most critically well received books in the entire reboot, Animal Man and Swamp Thing were released this week, along with one of my personal favorites Batgirl.

Action Comics Action_Comics_Vol_2_1

Action Comics is a new, ongoing Grant Morrison Superman series.  While I am not a huge fan of the Man of Steel, I did really enjoy All-Star Superman, so was willing to give Morrison plenty of room to play.  To start, Morrison introduced Superman as a young man wearing jeans and boots, but he was unable to keep this up for long.  Soon Kal-el was back to a newly updated costume and cape.  Morrison departed after issue eighteen, and the book has been through a couple of different writers.  Now it has become a late victim of DC editorial interference.

Animal ManAnimal_Man_Vol_2-1_Cover-2

A cult hit character, Animal Man marks the return of Buddy Baker to the DCU after he spent some quality time off at the Vertigo imprint.  Smart writing by Jeff Lemire and art by Travel Foreman helped propel Animal Man to unexpected popularity.  After its long crossover with Swamp Thing, Animal Thing has taken a dark turn (from an already dark plot) while Buddy tries to deal with the death of his son during the Rotworld storyline.

Batgirlbatgirl

Barbara Gordon returns as Batgirl.  I still love this book two years later.  It’s got some great action but manages to avoid getting to serious. Although the return of Babs as Batgirl means the loss of Oracle (which has stirred up more than a few people), it was a great choice.  Very little time was spent dealing with how Gordon recovered from her paralyzing shot from the Joker.  This is also one of the most obvious places where DC continuity is not completely rebooted as Gordon was famously shot in The Killing Joke, which is, of course, part of the old continuity.  Batgirl typically does its own thing, making occasional crossovers with other Bat titles, though the issues rarely have an impact on the overall crossover story.

Batwingbatwing

A carry over character from the end of Grant Morrison’s Batman Incorporated, Batwing was supposed to be the Batman of Africa.  Given a backstory which draws upon several of the most common problems facing Africans today (child soldiers and AIDS), Batwing was later recruited by Bruce Wayne as part of the Batman Inc. initiative.  Batwing fought his share of original, but unimaginative villains through his first few story arcs.  After issue nineteen, however, it was decided to reboot this series again; this time using Luke Fox, son of Lucius Fox, as the new Batwing.

Detective Comicsdetective comics

Although not as well received as Batman, DC’s flagship title (yes, DC stands for Detective Comics) has still been a good run so far.  Starting off with a particularly shocking ending to issue one, where it is revealed that someone has cut the Joker’s face off, this book has been running strong ever since.  While it periodically crosses over with the rest of the Batman titles, Detective Comics—like Batgirl—has tended towards its own plot.

Green Arrowgreen arrow

Green Arrow, although always a popular character and now star of his own CW TV show, has had several problems in recent years.  Archer characters such as Green Arrow and Hawkeye are always difficult to write for; it is hard not to make them look silly in a world populated by beings such as Superman. The rebooted Green Arrow was no different. Many fans complained that the character being written in the New 52 was not the same one they had come to know and love. Starting with issue seventeen, writing duties were taken over by Jeff Lemire and the book has made a pretty successful comeback. While the character is still different, fans were pleased by the re-inclusion of many aspects from his past. This, combined with overall better writing and improved art, have made Green Arrow a book worth checking out.

Hawk and Dove CANCELLEDHawk-and-Dove_1

Hawk and Dove was a hot mess. The series was poorly written and simply uninteresting. Art was done by Rob Liefeld and while it wasn’t bad, it was still in Liefeld’s exaggerated and anatomically incorrect style.  Liefeld’s art may have worked in the 90’s, but by today’s standards it is just not up to par.  This helps illustrate one of the biggest issues with the New 52.  Many of the writers and artists that were recruited for the reboot were big names fifteen or twenty years ago.  Instead of packing their lineup with new and exciting new talent, DC decided that their fans needed a trip back in time.  I don’t think many people were sad were to see this series go after eight issues.

Justice League International CANCELLEDjli

A spin-off of Justice League (in case you had any doubts), Justice League International was filled with lesser characters from the DC universe who were at one point members of the Justice League, but not important enough to stay on the main team. I was a little sad to see this one be cancelled, since I am a fan of several of the characters, but I also understand the decision.  An attempted shake-up after the first round of cancellations failed to make the impact that DC had hoped, and it, too, found itself on the chopping block just four issues later, at issue twelve.

Men of War CANCELLEDmen of war

DC’s attempt at the small but consistent market for war comics was Men of War. Previous volumes of Men of War had featured many now-famous writers and artists, but this was not the case for the New 52.  Centered on Sgt. Rock, who is the grandson of the famous DC character of the same name, Men of War failed to live up to its potential and the very high bar set by other war comics and was cancelled at issue eight, to make room for the second wave.

O.M.A.C. CANCELLED omac1

O.M.A.C is based on a classic Jack Kirby character. Much in the same way that Kirby’s original series was cancelled after only eight issues, so was the latest iteration of O.M.A.C..  The title character was moved into Justice League International until that title was cancelled as well at issue twelve.  Although the book was well received, it lacked a popular following.  It’s always a shame to see a Jack Kirby creation fail to gain traction with a modern audience.

Static Shock CANCELLEDstatic shock

Static is one of those lesser characters that somehow managed to get a book in the New 52.  I’m not surprised that Static Shock and several other books like it did not survive.  As much as geeks may love comics, if they don’t have a following, they don’t sell.  Rumor has it that Static will make some appearances in Teen Titans, likely based on his association with S.T.A.R. Labs.

StormwatchStormwatch

One of the original Wildstorm titles (providing the “storm” in Wildstorm) Stormwatch has made its transition to the DCU.  A team consisting of mostly returning characters, plus Martian Manhunter, is tasked with fending off the most significant of alien threats that are coming after Earth.  While the series is still going on, writer Jim Starlin, famous for many of Marvel’s cosmic comics, took over at issue nineteen and completely rebooted the series with a new team.

Swamp Thingswamp thing

Being a legacy book, Swamp Thing has a lot to live up to.  Although the book has wandered around a bit, it has definitely lived up to its potential.  The first eighteen issues dealt with The Rot and a crossover with Animal Man that, although very good, took a bit too long to wrap up.  Scott Snyder’s writing on Swamp Thing is more of the same excellence fans have come to expect, though still not quite as good as his parallel run on Batman.  Swamp Thing is one of the standout titles from the New 52.

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