Wednesday, October 26, 2011

FIGcast - Episode 39 - "Digital Stimuli"

Digital Stimulus
Noun: (1) use of a form of digital communication, such as a text message, instant message, voice call, voicemail, email, etc., or (2) a prostate exam.

FIGcast - Episode 39 - "Digital Stimuli"

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.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

FIGcast - Episode 38 - "Who's a Husky Jackal?"

You are!

FIGcast - Episode 38 - "Who's a Husky Jackal?"

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.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

DCnU Mini-reviews Week of October 5th, 2011

Action Comics #2 – So far, so good. Grant Morrison's revamp of Superman and his early days in Metropolis might be one of the most interesting things done with the character since Mark Millar's Red Son. Superman acting like a brash young man with an activist leaning might not be what we are used to, but it is a take that makes him a much more dynamic character. It also stays true to the earliest Superman stories. There's something else to this re-imagination—Action Comics is set early in Superman's career. I am sure that stories set later will attempt to make Superman a more rounded character than he was in the Old DCU, but the impulsive, some-what angry Superman of Action Comics is part of a story-arc. He will grow as the story goes on. The biggest problem with the series remains the art. Rags Morales and Brent Anderson just are not giving the book a good look. Morales can be solid when given time, but it is obvious that the month-to-month grind is too much for him. Bottomline is that the art detracts from a story that has been solid so far.

Animal Man #2 – Jeff Lemire knows what he is doing. After finishing issue 1 with a creepy reveal, issue 2 continues to mix family drama with horrifying superheroics. Buddy Baker, one of the little known guys of the DCU, is confronted with events that hold frightening implications. Suddenly manifesting a series of abilities that outstrip her father's, Maxine Baker leads the Buddy on a classic hero's journey. The Hunters Three are creepy, the family drama seems real, and the plot is fascinating. Travel Foreman's art is great—sharp lines, expressive faces, and scary monsters.

StormWatch #2 – I am still not sure about this book, but I know that I enjoyed issue #2 more than the first issue. It is still kind of frantically paced. There are tons of characters being introduced and I am not sure just how well that process is going. While most of the characters are interesting, drawing a bead on where the new characters stand is kind of difficult. That might be on purpose, but it seems a bit ambiguous. Sepulveda's art seems a bit more confident in this issue than it did in the first. Even having read StormWatch 1 and 2 and Superman 1 I am not entirely sure how the three books are connected. If I can't figure it out, I doubt new readers can.

Swamp Thing #2 – For the second month in a row, Snyder tricked me. Like issue 1, issue 2 begins with a ton of exposition and dialogue that is not terribly compelling, but then hits the ground running in the second half. The creepy stuff from last month's issue returns with a vengeance and turns the scary up to 11. The relationship between Swamp Thing and Alec Holland is still somewhat in question. Apparently, there have been other Swamp Thing entities in the past? My knowledge of Swampy continuity is pretty limited. Yanick Paquette continues to draw one of the best looking books of the New 52. The attack of the creepiness, expansion of the Green and Red lore, and a cool reveal at the end of the issue make this book at least as good as the stellar first issue.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

FIGcast - Episode 37 - "SIRI-sly?"

Siri = Skynet?  You decide!

FIGcast - Episode 37 - "SIRI-sly?"

  • (01:00) Darren evaded death in Baltimore
  • (05:40) Trey sucks at fantasy football and read Hellboy: The Troll Witch and Others
  • (12:05) Tripp watched Community: Season 2 and is intrigued by Ex Comm
  • (17:45) Blu-Rays (The Lion King, Scream 4, Fast Five)
  • (21:30) Coming Attractions (Real Steel, The Ides of March)
  • (22:20) Box Office (Dolphin Tale's a dark time for movies)
  • (27:10) More than you probably wanted to know about Apple's new iPhone 4S
  • (50:55) What Would Darren Read! (with a snappy new intro by Trey)
  • (71:50) Trey's take on the DCnU week 6
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.

Action Comics #2 Annotations

As I was reading Action Comics issue #2, I noticed a ton of continuity and DCU references interwoven into the narrative by Grant Morrison.  I decided to jot them down and post them on the blog. I am by no means a Superman scholar, so I may have missed some important stuff.  This is a page by page breakdown of the things I took note of in Action Comics #2.

Page 1:  Superman, captured at the end of issue #1, is strapped to an electric chair.  I am unaware if this is a specific reference to a Golden Age Superman story, but based on Morrison's tendency to mine the past and the electric chair's old looking design, I would not be surprised if it was.

Page 2-3: Lex's refusal to acknowledge Superman as anything other than "it" is a great character touch.  Superman's abilities referred to so far: electricity resistance, x-ray opaque skin.  The second surely is a reference to invulnerability.

Page 4: The Doctor Irons Luthor refers to is almost certainly John Henry Irons, formerly known as the replacement Superman--Steel.  The Sergeant Corben is most likely John Corben one of the men who has been known as the villain Metallo. Irons seems to be a contractor working for the military, which fits with his regular DCU status and history.  Corben, on the other hand, has obviously been re-imagined as a career military man instead of his original journalist alter-ego.  Irons shows that he is a hero-in-waiting by being outraged at Luthor's treatment of Superman, while Corben seems nonplussed.
Update: Apparently Geoff Johns made Corben a military man in the recent Secret Origin miniseries.

Page 5:  The sequence where the scientist tries to take a blood sample is surely an allusion to 1939's Superman #1 where a similar, much more consensual situation takes place.

Luthor mentions a "Steel Soldier program"--this could be an allusion to either Irons' or Corben's eventual alter-egos.  The General Lane referred to is Lois Lane's father.

Page 6:  The military is wasting money trying to destroy Superman's cape.  An unnamed soldier mentions a rocket that was similarly indestructible.  This ties into older continuity--where stuff from Krypton was just as tough as the Man of Steel.  General Lane knows his daughter's nose for a story.

Page 7:  Lois is wearing a Keystone City shirt.  This is the home of the original Flash, Jay Garrick, and the third Flash, Wally West--hello, shared universe!

Page 8:  Another reference to needles being unable to pierce Superman's skin. Powers update: Survived Sarin Gas for FIVE minutes! Also, x-ray vision.  Luthor asks Superman about Krypton, this is the first mention of Superman's home world in the DCnU as far as I am aware.  There is no indication that Superman knows anything about the planet.  Or perhaps his answer of "noble gas...number...36..." could have been a new-playful-Superman answer.  Luthor seems to be under the impression that Superman is a shape-shifting alien.

Page 9: I am embarrassed to say that I have no idea what that corpse is. As far as I know, there was never a Goaty the Super-goat.  Regardless, Luthor thinks that Superman's regular form is four-legged. Lex Luthor does not like being laughed at.  Superpower update: Microwave vision...perhaps a more scientifically up-to-date explanation for heat-vision?

Page 10: Lois and John Corben obviously had some sort of romantic relationship in the past. Continuity alert! John Corben once shaved off his mustache! You heard it here first!  Another allusion to "steel soldier" which I have to believe is connected to either a new version of Metallo or Steel.

Page 11:  Superpower update: The ability to absorb electricity?  New Lex seems to be a bit of a wuss.  I don't see him being the kind of guy that would be willing to dawn a purple and green powersuit and throw punches.  Perhaps that will be part of his ongoing DCnU arc--Superman driving him to be more physical.

Page 12:  Superman threatens to kill Lex. Who knows if he would actually go through with it, but that's something new.  Actually it's something old, Superman was much more gruff and physical in his early days.

Page 13:  Superman finds his cape?  I am guessing that the importance ascribed to the cape is a return to a canonical significance.  Perhaps it is the blanket he was wrapped in as a baby.

Page 14:  First appearance of the Kryptonian baby-ship.  It obviously reacts to Superman's presence and touch.  First mentions of Superman's Kryptonian name, Kal-el, his Kryptonian parents,Jor-el, Lara-Lor-Van-Vax-El and one of Krypton's gods, Rao.  I am assuming the Vax in Lara's name is some sort of Kryptonian marital hyphenation. (I could wrong, I have no idea.)  Perhaps the ship has some sort of built in AI, because Superman promises it that he'll come back for it.  Then again, he could just be talking to it for fun...I mean I talk to my Ms. Butterworth bottle, so who knows?  Superpower update: Heat-vision.

Page 15-16:  More of young Superman's Super-confidence.

Page 17: Lois must have used her reporters skills to steal John Corben's pass key. She sees Superman just in time for him to leap away.

Page 18: After the resignation of Doctor Irons, a Professor Vale has been put in charge of the "steel soldier" project. I am assuming this is Emmet Vale--the scientist that put post-Crisis version of John Corben's brain in Metallo.  Corben's unrequited love for Lois seems to be driving him to try some sort of new and untested technology.  I don't know, could it be leading to...him turning into Metallo? Probably.

Page 19: Luthor is on the phone with an unnamed person.  Apparently, whoever is on the other end of the line was his source for knowing about the word Krypton.  As he talkes, we are shown something floating in space, implying the involvement of a certain green skinned Superman villain.

If you notice any glaring things I missed, feel free to let me know!

Monday, October 3, 2011

DCnU Week 5 Mini-reviews:

All Star Western #1 – Palmiotti and Grey have such an incredible grasp on Jonah Hex. Issue one of All Star Western makes it pretty clear why they were able to keep a cowboy/western-themed comic going for so long pre-relaunch. All Star is a great first issue. Jonah Hex and Jeremiah Arkham might be my new favorite odd couple in the DCU. Palmiotti and Grey found a perfect way to introduce new readers to Hex by having Arkham psycho-analyze him as they search for Gotham's version of Jack the Ripper. Moritat's art is downright incredible. All Star shows that he is a new talent to be reckoned with in the future. This book definitely is among my favorite books of the DC Relaunch.

Aquaman #1 – What a surprise! After the let down of Justice League and the solid but unspectacular Green Lantern, I was worried that I had bet on the wrong horse. Yet, Geoff Johns once again proves why he is one of the best classical superhero storytellers. He is one of the few writers (Johns, Waid, Morrison, maybe Bendis) that can distill the essence of a character into an exciting and kinetic package. It is obvious that Johns made addressing the conceptions and misconceptions of Aquaman a high priority. There's literally a scene in the middle of the comic where the hero is being peppered with questions by nerd stereotypes (including a cameo by's Harry Knowles). The thing is...that sounds boring...but it works! Johns, with legitimately great art from Ivan Reis, presents an Aqua-
man that is a serious badass and an interesting character. After one issue,
this is one of the most exciting books of the New 52.

Firestorm, the Nuclear Men #1 – What a mess. Firestorm was the first legitimate debacle I have read of the DCnU. Granted, I have only read about half of the books, but I would argue that Gail Simone and Ethan Van Sciver's first issue was very close to horrible. The characters are transparent, the story is laughable, and the dialogue is just plain bad. They attempt to set up conflict between Ronnie Raymond and Jason Rusch, but it just falls flat. I know that Simone tends to walk a fine line between great and goofy, but in Firestorm the line disappears. I am sure that the entirety of the blame does not rest on her. EVS' plot must not have given her much to work with. The art is passable.

Flash #1 – When I made my pull list of 15 DCnU books, Flash was the book that would have been number 16. I have obviously not stuck to my original plans, so it should be no surprise that Manapul and Bucellato's first issue ended up in my hands at checkout. The only unanswered question was whether the artists had the writing chops to carry the book. So far, they've been solid. The nice thing is that art is so gorgeous that it can carry just about an story. (Side-note: An interesting thought experiment might be to think about how bad a story Manapul's art could make look good.) Thankfully his and Bucellato's first issue's script is plenty solid.

Green Lantern: The New Guardians #1 – There's a reason that Green Lantern is one of the least changed of the New 52. The pre-relaunch status quo was already solid. Maybe my opinion is skewed because he was the only Green Lantern for much of my childhood, but Kyle Rayner is just so likable. This issue suffers from a good deal of repetitiveness, but it kind of makes sense. It might have been slow for established readers, but it was a pretty smooth introduction to what the other corps are all about for new readers. A fine issue with very little to be excited about or frustrated with.

Justice League Dark #1 – A solid first issue. I really enjoy when the formation of a superhero team feels organic. It's also fun to see some of the characters that have been in the Vertigo universe working alongside DC's more traditional heroes. As Timothy Callahan pointed out, Superman, Wonder Woman, andCyborg's appearance was reminiscent of the early Vertigo days beforethe wall of separation was built between the two imprints. Janin's art is perfect for the book. The magical heroes look so natural in the world he creates, while the normal heroes look staid and out of place.

Superman #1Superman is the antithesis of what the relaunch should have been. Look, I have little problem with change--especially when it comes to Superman.  He's an important character that should not be allowed to stagnate. My complaint is that giving the book to Perez seems like a backwards move.  The relaunch should be an opportunity to freshen the formula and incorporate new talent.  For all the perceived modernization taking place in with Lois, the Daily Planet and Clark Kent in Superman #1, the issue feels old and tired--especially compared to Wonder Woman #1 and Batman #1.  The art is's hard to make chicken salad out of chicken poop.