Friday, September 30, 2011

Charting the DCnU: A Graph of the 27 Titles Reviewed by FIG

Working on a few charts for a DCnU: Month One retrospective.  Here's a preview.  I guess it is also a preview of my DCnU Week 5, uh, spoiler alert.  Feel free to click for a closer look.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

FIGcast - Episode 36 - "Sometimes the Costumes Stay On"

From the title we can infer that most of the time the costumes come off.

FIGcast - Episode 36 - "Sometimes the Costumes Stay On"

  • (00:55) Prayer vigil for Darren
  • (02:15) Trey takes over Fort Gwinn's crappy fantasy football team
  • (06:05) Keith declares that Chicago should be burned to the ground
  • (06:45) Keith starts his big boy job
  • (09:10) Shaunie boy is finishing thesis, read Wanted, getting married
  • (13:35) Tripp is forced to watch football
  • (20:01) Shaun and Keith like Mimic
  • (28:05) "Southern Fried Michael Bay"
  • (37:10) We are all racist for The Help being knocked out of the top 5
  • (37:50) Fall TV shows!
  • (40:30) Keith talks about James Caviezel's lips a lot
  • (53:50) Trey hates on the Sixers from Terra Nova
  • (73:50) We guess What Darren Would Read!
Don't forget, you can email us at, you can follow us on Twitter with @theFIGcast, or you can look for us on Facebook or the iTunes Store.

Monday, September 26, 2011

DCnU Week 4 Mini-reviews:

Batman #1 – Easily one of the best issues of the DCnU so far. Snyder has a knack for writing Batman and created the absolutely most elegant method for introducing the Bat-family possible. Capullo's art is perfect for Batman—except that character's faces are a bit cartoony and Dick Grayson seems a bit young to have passed as the Dark Knight over the last year. Simultaneously gives new readers a starting point and sets up a mystery that will intrigue established readers.

Birds of Prey #1 – A bit of a mess, but saved by Jesus Saiz' art. Like Justice League, this is a team book that features only two members of the final roster. There's a couple of things going on that feel like they should be connected but never really add up. Black Canary is wanted for murder, and the new Birds of Prey are a covert ops-style superhero squad. Yet, those seem to mutually exclusive. They keep getting tossed around by characters, but no one ever really connects the two threads. They are not covert because Dinah needs to hide underground, but rather because that is what the Birds of Prey team are apparently supposed to be. Regardless, a fun first issue—Canary kicking ninja butt, Starling being a fictional-hottie, and Saiz's cleanly drawn lines really helped.

DCU Presents #1 – An anthology series, this time starring DC's favorite ghost—Deadman. A little wordy, but a pretty interesting issue. Takes time to establish Boston Brand's origin story and set up a greater mystery. I'm kind of on the fence about this one. I like Deadman as a character and the art is fine, but the issue was kind of uninteresting. Also, I'm not saying superheroes cannot change their moods, but I prefer the joking, gruff Brand to the kind of mopey version of DCU Presents #1.

Green Lantern Corp #1 – A solid first issue that establishes John Stewart and Guy Gardener for new readers while setting the stage for a confrontation with an interesting mystery villain. I get the feeling that since John is one of the DCU's most high profile African-American heroes, the company feels that he needs to be at the forefront of the book. That's fine with me. Honestly, when I read John Stewart I hear the great Phil Lamarr's version of the character in my head. One of the things I loved about the pre-relaunch Green Lantern Corp series was that it was filled with awesome extraterrestrial Corpsmen. Thankfully, it looks like while Guy and John will carry the book, there will be appearances made by fan-favorites like Kilowog and Isamot. I miss Gleason's art on the series, but Fernando Pasarin does a solid job and fluctuates from solid to awesome.

Supergirl #1 – This was perhaps the biggest surprise of all the books I have read. There are plenty of books that are better, but I expected them to be good. I had low expectations for Supergirl and I was completely surprised. It was a fun issue with good art and a character reboot that distinguishes her from the rest of the Super Family. It unfolds that the story a bit slowly, but its obvious that Green and Johnson had a specific place they wanted to end the first issue. Supergirl #1 is just a solid superhero-centric book.

Wonder Woman #1 – Between Chaing's art and Azzarello's script, Wonder Woman is easily one of the best books, if not the top book, of the New 52. Diana, a character that writers seem to struggle to get a handle on, is portrayed as a strong but feminine character. Azzarello takes advantage of the character's mythological origins to inform her world. A violent book that never verges on gratuitous, Wonder Woman repackages Diana in a way that is true to her origins as a compassionate ambassador of peace and a fearless warrior.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

FIGcast - Episode 35 - "There Is No Pudding"

Help us Bill Cosby, you're our only hope.

FIGcast - Episode 35 - "There Is No Pudding"

  • (02:54) Darren had an Emmy soiree and is going to Baltimore next week
  • (09:57) Trey played Madden NFL 12 for Wii and failed to stick to his comic list
  • (17:57) Keith is an official member of IO9 and had his ACT score posted on the Internet without his consent (turns out Tripp and Darren did too)
  • (28:05) Tripp got the Star Wars blu-rays, and his geekness was stifled by football season
  • (29:11) Blu-Rays (Bridesmaids, Dumbo 70th Anniversary Edition, Breakfast at Tiffany's 50th Anniversary Edition)
  • (32:35) Coming Attractions (Moneyball, Killer Elite, Dolphin Tale, Abduction)
  • (38:25) Box Office Results (The Lion King: 3D wins! The Help is in the top 5 for the 6th week in a row)
  • (44:22) Tripp gives us a brief run down of notable Emmy wins for genre TV and some comments on the new shows
  • (53:10) "What Would Darren Read" continues with more compelling voiceovers by Trey-- will Darren pick conservatively or will he throw caution to the wind?
  • (76:22) Trey's take on the DCnU week 4 (including some spoilers).

Don't forget, you can email us at, you can follow us on Twitter with @theFIGcast, or you can look for us on Facebook or the iTunes Store.

Monday, September 19, 2011

DCnU Week 3 Mini-reviews:

Batman and Robin #1– Tomasi “gets” Bruce and Damian. In a relaunch that is about distinguishing characters and their place in the universe for new readers, B&R leaves little ambiguity about how different the two Waynes are. Gleason is on fire—he proves again that he is one of the best superhero artists at DC. This book is one of the ones long time readers should suggest to newbies, in my opinion.

Batwoman #1– So we knew Batwoman would be gorgeous (the comic book, not the character—Ms. Kane is well drawn but fictional...stop looking at me like that!). Issue #1 proves that the character is in capable hands with Williams and Blackman. Interestingly, Batwoman more than any other book feels like it takes place pre-Relaunch. This makes sense considering its been in the works since before the relaunch was even announced, but its still an interesting feeling.

Demon Knights #1– Another week, another Cornell book. Its definitely a more successful issue than last week's Stormwatch. A book filled with interesting characters that have not been used very much. Jason Blood, Shining Knight, Vandal Savage, and Etrigan are personal favorites. Perhaps unintentionally evokes Morrison's Seven Soldiers of Victory (which is a good thing in my book). The art was great. I especially liked how expressive Madam Xanadu's eyes were. (The reason Demon Knights is lower than Stormwatch on the interest-meter is because I wasn't interested in it in the weeks before it came out. So, really, 75% is up...from 0.)

Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #1- There is a ton going on in this issue—not only is Frankenstein being introduced to readers so but are S.H.A.D.E., Father Time, the Creature Commandos, and even Ray Palmer. The issue works, and I am intrigued but the Creature Commandos are not as cool at first blush as I expected them to be. Father Time's new body is pretty funny. The narrative and storytelling gel into a much more intriguing point toward the end of the issue. Though I miss Mahnke's version of Frankenstein, the art is a medium. Almost somewhere between Lemire's own art and Mahnke's...though I might just been imagining that.

Green Lantern #1– Meet the new Green Lantern, same as the old Green Lantern. Love him or hate him, Geoff Johns consistently comes up with solid stories filled with clever ideas. Sinestro's position in the GL Corp is intriguing and the actions he is forced to take are fascinating. Mahnke's art continues to be solid, but I'm so used to seeing his work take place in space that when he draws Hal is on earth it looks kind of weird. The Green Lantern movie may have been a bit of a flop, but I think I can see its influence on the way Geoff is writing Hal.

Superboy #1– Much more solid than I expected. A first issue filled with entirely passable writing. Yet, about halfway through something happens that is much more interesting than anything else going on in the book. Sadly, this fascinating moment is barely touched on before moving on. I cannot help but feel that other writers would have chosen to give more attention to it. I really like Silva's art, and it seems like a good fit for a teenaged hero's book.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

FIGcast - Episode 34 - "BFFs With Amazon"


FIGcast - Episode 34 - "BFFs With Amazon"


Don't forget, you can email us at, you can follow us on Twitter with @theFIGcast, or you can look for us on Facebook or the iTunes Store.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

DCnU Week 2 Mini-reviews:

Action Comics:  Classic Morrison beginning to a story. A few interesting revamped details--Jimmy Olsen and Clark Kent are the same age, Lois Lane and Clark work at rival papers. Lex Luthor's appearance was pitch perfect and his strategy for capturing Superman was clever.  Superman has been written so stoic in recent years, it is nice to see a feisty and young take on the character.

Animal Man:  A well pitched first issue.  I especially liked The Believer pastiche on the first page.  It looks like the book will be an interesting mixture of family drama and horror.  It is a compelling story takes advantage of underutilized characters like his Buddy Baker's children, Maxine and Cliff, and his wife, Ellen.  Foreman's art has a rough-hewn quality to it that is perfect for the atmosphere that Lemire is creating.

Batgirl:  Simone crafted the first issue very carefully. She has an obvious love for the character coupled with a reverence for the Oracle years.  Killing Joke plays a much bigger part in the story that I expected.  The (mysterious) Mirror is a very Simone-esque villain--silly but she makes it work.  A solid issue that wont convert all of the most strident doubters, but took significant strides.

Green Arrow:  The new status quo is...interesting is too strong of a''s something.  Green Arrow's been de-aged (no real shock there, I guess.) Krul is definitely trying to build a supporting cast, which is nice since DC has systematically drained the characters surrounding Ollie out of continuity over the last couple of years.  It's too bad that the new supporting cast is essentially a Lucius Fox ripoff and an Oracle knock-off. Perhaps this was the point, but the villains were some of the dumbest I've since the '90s were in full swing.  The idea that Oliver Queen's company is going to be DC-equivalent of Apple is already annoying--Qphone just doesn't roll off the tongue.  One nice thing: A modernized take on trick arrows.

Static Shock:  Virgil's moved to New York and interns at S.T.A.R. a 16 year old.  Ok,'s comic book logic, just go with it. Nothing real special about this issue, just solid superheroics.  McDaniel's art has a nice finished look to it that it hasn't had in the past.  I've always been a fan, but I would begrudgingly say it's an improvement.  I'm not sure but it seems like Static is being stalked by Power Rangers on motorcycles being bossed around by a fish-man. The issue ends with kind of a fun cliffhanger.

StormWatch:  A solid first issue. Interesting Martian Manhunter retcon that makes you reexamine decades of Justice League history.  Compared to Justice League #1, it was nice to jump into a team book without having to worry with origins.  Being dropped into the middle of a story is one thing, but being dropped into a comic that references an event that wont be published for two weeks is another.  Not great planning there, DC.  Definitely an issue that is building toward something, it will be interesting to see how it all pays off.

Swamp Thing:  Perhaps the best issue of the DC Relaunch so far.  It was interesting to see extended interactions between Alec Holland and Superman--welcome back to the DCU, Swamp Thing!  A couple of intriguing mysteries were were established: What is going on with the animals of earth and how will the Swamp Thing/Alec Holland story pan out?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

FIGcast - Episode 33 - "A Solid Number Two"

I definitely prefer solid number twos.

FIGcast - Episode 33 - "A Solid Number Two"


Don't forget, you can email us at, you can follow us on Twitter with @theFIGcast, or you can look for us on Facebook or the iTunes Store.

Friday, September 2, 2011

15 DCnU Books to Watch: "Grab Bag Edition"

Look, even to a DC Comics Zombie, the company's September relaunch can seem intimidating. The information is almost overwhelming—52 brand new books, a smattering of new characters interjected into the publisher's traditional roster, and completely new creative teams on almost every book. On top of that, the chances of all 52 (or even a high percentage) being worth buying is minuscule. So, for you gentle reader, I have taken the time to separate the wheat from the chaff, to isolate the cream of the crop, and to highlight the must-haves of the DCnU. Once a week, between now and the end of August, I will attempt to explain and justify my choices for the 15 most important books of DC's upcoming relaunch.

This week, the Grab Bag Edition: Animal Man, Stormwatch, and All Star Western

Animal Man (Jeff Lemire, Travel Foreman, and Dan Green)

     One of the tightropes that the powers-that-be-at-DC have to walk is that they must maintain a reverence for established readers and the things they like while re-branding their line in an effort to attract new readers. None of the New 52 exemplifies that more than Animal Man. On the one hand, Animal Man is a strange choice. He's a character of extremely limited history, starring in only one or two famous storylines total. Heck, at one point his greatest achievement was gracing the roster of a group called the Forgotten Heroes. Granted, that was before Grant Morrison left his mark on the character, but still, that should give you an idea of how limited Animal Man's involvement in the greater DCU continuity is. On the other hand, Animal Man is a fan favorite, thanks mostly to a late 1980s and early 1990s revamp and a starring role in DC's 52 both written by the aforementioned Morrison. What Animal Man lacks in name recognition outside of the realm of comic book shops, he makes up for with his limited but beloved status within those comic-dungeons. Still, it should go without saying that editorial at DC is banking on this new Animal Man series garnering a more widespread following than other attempts in the past.
     Now that I think about it, they may be on to something. While much of the focus among the nerds (ie: me) has been to examine and dissect the characters, creative teams, and continuity changes of the DC Relaunch, a largely ignored part of the entire enterprise is the shift to day-and-date releases. Brand new DC comics will now be sold digitally on the same day they hit store shelves. Some of the sales figures I've seen from digital comic book sales indicate that consumers that buy their comics online tend to buy comics of the more independent and Vertigo-style stripe. (Admittedly, this information may be out of date. After all, I am no comic industry insider.) So in Animal Man, DC has a character that was famously one of the founding members of Vertigo written by current Vertigo wunderkind Jeff Lemire (Sweettooth). Those in the know at DC have mentioned that they want their new 52 to encompass a broader segment of comic book readership and Animal Man is definitely one of their forays down paths that only Vertigo used to travel.
     As I have said before, Lemire is a rising star. He has received critical recognition for his short run on Superboy and his creator owned Sweettooth and Essex County Trilogy. The artistic side of Animal Man will be handled by Travel Foreman who is fairly new to comics, and has mostly worked for MARVEL since breaking into the industry. If the previews are any indication, Foreman's work will fit well with the story Lemire wants to tell. Jeff has said that he sees Animal Man “very much a horror/superhero hybrid. As such, I’m able to take it in some very dark places.” Its an interesting direction to take Buddy Baker and his animal-themed alter-ego, but one that could give new life to a character that has not had a starring turn since the early 1990s.

Stormwatch (Paul Cornell and Miguel Sepulveda)

     A couple of weeks ago, (in a cold-medicine-addled fog) I mentioned that my limited funds were forcing me to choose one Paul Cornell and one Peter Milligan penned book. Since I chose Justice League Dark for my Milligan book, that left Stormwatch as the obvious choice for Cornell. (Anyone that's listened to our podcast's discussions about Game of Thrones knows that I can only take so much fantasy. Sorry Demonknights!) Add to that the fact that one of my all time favorite characters—Martian Manhunter—is now a member of Stormwatch and I'm sold.
     The premise of Stormwatch—a secret group of superpowered people who quietly save the world—is one of those ideas that seems obviously clever but is surprisingly hard to get right. In spirit, the team has been around since the early 90s but only a few creators have been able to write comics that live up to the premise. Of all the writers (other than Grant Morrison) working at DC right now, Cornell seems like the obvious choice to head a revival of Stormwatch. Cornell has packed a lot of solid superhero comic book writing into a fairly short about of time. His recent run on Action Comics starring Lex Luthor lost much of its steam toward the end, but was still a solid story overall. A Dr. Who alumnus, Cornell has shown that he is able to mix imaginative premises with compelling threats. Word coming out of the DC camp is that the villain of the first Stormwatch story-arch will be the Moon. Having read some of Cornell's work at DC, that seems about right.
     Stormwatch is a book with a monstrous amount of potential. The premise and characters are solid, Cornell has a knack for writing interesting comics, and the art (handled by Miguel Sepulveda) looks spectacular so far. Hopefully, it will bear a stronger resemblance to the crisp storytelling of Cornell's early issues on Lex Luthor and not the less intriguing, by-the-book later issues.

All Star Western (Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray and Moritat)

     I'll make this easy: Buy All Star Western. It's strange that I, a comic book collector that literally owns only one western-themed comic book, can say that. But, without a doubt ASW will be one of the most consistently great comics being released by DC in the New 52. How can I know that? Well, the writing team of Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray were able to orchestrate a seventy(!) issue on DC's most recent western book, Jonah Hex, which ran from 2006 until last month. The only way a comic book based in the old west could survive at the Big 2 in today's market is if the writers wrote its brains out. I am sure that they will bring those same energies and sensibilities to ASW.
     No longer confined to just Jonah Hex and his cast of characters, Palmiotti and Gray now have the entire DC Western roster to play with. At least at first, each issue will feature a story starring Hex with a backup featuring other characters. Series-artist Moritat grabbed readers attention with his recent run on The Spirit. His work was perfect for the urban settings of that comic's Central City, but it will be interesting to see how it translates to the wild west. Of course, it may help that apparently ASW is taking place in the Gothic-inspired wild west version of Gotham. He's a talented artist that gives a sense of place and atmosphere to his work, which should serve a period piece comic well.
     Here's the thing: I missed out on Jonah Hex. When it first came out, I decided I wasn't interested in a western comic. Then Palmiotti and Grey quietly built up one of the strongest comic book runs in recent memory while I was wasn't paying attention. This time around, I'm determined to be along for the entire ride of this brand new western series.