Italian Legion!

Bit of an artist(s) spotlight today, specifically looking at the current wave of extremely talented artists coming out of Italy.  See, comics are a visual medium and the art has always been the most important aspect for me.  It’s a debate/conversation that has been going around for a while and since taste is an entirely subjective beast it varies from person to person.  I can make my way a comic with a story that doesn’t grab me, hell even a comic with a flat out garbage story, if the art grabs me.  I frequently follow artists from book to book whereas there are very few writers I do this with, even a character isn’t necessarily enough to pull me in.  In the complete opposite direction, I can’t finish a book, even one that is of literary greatness, if I find the art to be poor.  Whether it’s lacklustre art or maybe art that just doesn’t fit a particular story, it’s the make or break point of a book for me.  Now I’m not putting writers down here, really I’m not.  There are a huge number of writers I can name that I’ve loved the work of, but I can give you a much greater list of artists I love more.

But I’m not here to sing the praises of comic artists in general.  No.  I had a realisation recently, one I discussed with a friend of mine not too long ago, that not only are there a fair wedge of books I’ve been reading lately with an Italian artist but  near enough half of the original art in my collection is from an Italian artist.  What makes them so special?  Well, for one thing every single one of them I’ve met has been genuinely lovely, they’re so incredibly gracious and warm.  But the biggest and most important thing is they’re damn fucking talented.  Let’s take a look, shall we?

The first I met, and probably the first one I started seeing in comics is Emanuela Lupacchino.  She did some work in Supergirl during the Red Daughter of Krypton story arc, a time in Supergirl where I hated what they were doing to the character, but loved Ema’s work on it so much I ended up buying an original page from it.  Later, Ema joined the team full time during the Crucible arc, in my opinion the best arc in New 52 Supergirl.  Her clean line work and wonderful facial expression work pulled me in.  I’m looking into picking up a few Valiant trades simply because her name is on the cover, not through any particular interest in either the publisher or any of their characters.  Have a look through some examples of her work here and please go check out her DeviantArt page.

 

Next up is an artist I only came across this year on DC Comics Bombshells (look out for the pattern here too).  Mirka Andolfo hasn’t been on the American Comics circuit that long and, relatively speaking, she’s still quite young too but her artwork is something quite special.  As soon as I’d finished reading issue #7 I went straight online, ignoring the rest of the pull list I had sitting there to go find out more about this amazing artist.  Quickly finding her on Twitter I had a look through bits and pieces she’d posted on there and popped over to her DeviantArt page and, well, I think the art speaks for itself.  Originally starting out primarily as a colourist, Mirka not only has an incredible amount of talent at bringing the drawings of others to life, she also pencils and inks her own work where she can too.  Honestly, it’s phenomenal.  I’ll leave you my favourite piece I’ve seen on her Twitter and this link to her DeviantArt page.  This is a name you’ll want to remember and watch for in the future.

harley

 

Another artist that’s been getting a bit of work over at DC recently, Paolo Pantalena has a very healthy body of work behind him already but is well worth noting in this post anyway.  A good way for me to judge how much I like and artists work is by seeing how they handle one of my favourite characters and, in the lead up to the Rebirth event, Paolo has taken over the art duties of the final three issues of Deathstroke.  The last issue, and Paolo’s first, was simply sublime.  Now being a huge fan of comic art, I fully understand that there is more to it than the pencils, and right off the bat I could see that the colour work was absolutely on point too but the pencils lay the groundwork and boy, Paolo killed it.  His attention to detail is stunning.  Take a look at a couple of pages from the issue below and then, as above, please go have a look at Paolo’s DeviantArt page.

 

Onwards we go, to another artist I had admittedly not heard of until very recently, funnily enough brought to my attention thanks to the fantastic DC Comics Bombshells (Marguerite Bennett, you get some of the best artists!).  Maria Laura Sanapo had mostly worked on Zenescope comics, usually on covers, before landing some Bombshells issues and I sincerely hope she gets more.  I had exactly the same reaction to Maria’s work as I said above with Mirka Andolfo, my immediate reaction was frantically searching online for more examples of her work.  Then I saw some of her pre-show commissions for London Super Comic Con and absolutely had to have one.  The best part was, I sat next to her in a cafe watching the image go from rough pencils to inks, a truly fascinating process to witness.  To top it off, Maria was incredibly cool, I will absolutely be commissioning her again in the future and sincerely hope DC give her more work.  Now as far as I can see Maria doesn’t have a DeviantArt page but she has set up a Comic Art Fans page you should check out.

20160222_092542

 

Next up is Marco Santucci, another who was at London Super Comic Con this year but I unfortunately just didn’t have the money to commission him.  Brought fully to my attention through the best Superman comic in the last four years, Superman Lois & Clark, Marco continues the theme of clean, personal and emotional art that makes a comic so special.  I much prefer it when an artist puts their own stamp on a book rather than conforming to any of this house style bullshit, and Marco just has this beautiful, flowing style that makes me take freaking ages to read a book because it all looks so good!  I’d highly recommend you go check out Marco’s website, especially the original art page just so you can see his work without all the colour on it.

 

Lastly, and right now one of my absolute favourites in comics, is Laura Braga.  I first found out about Laura when I saw the previews for her first issue of Witchblade, back when it was announced that Ron Marz would be coming back on board to write.  It’s amusing that two of my favourite comics artists have not only come from that book, but have also come from a Ron Marz run!  Anyway, Laura is another example of someone you really want to meet at a convention.  Even when she’s incredibly busy, she’s always smiling and genuinely loves what she’s doing and it shows in her work.  I very proudly own a commission from Laura, which I will end the post on below, and will 100% be seeking another from her.  Funnily enough, Laura has been featured in a few issues of DC Comics Bombshells recently, with more upcoming which is just great, I really hope DC continue to give her work since I think her style is absolutely perfect for many characters at the publisher.  Have a look at the commission below and the go straight over to Laura’s website, you won’t regret it.

MxDKR5Tu_2202161920241

So there we have it, there is stunning talent all over the world as far as comics go, and with internet access being so much better on average now than it was all people need is a scanner and they’re off, but I feel the already established brilliance and upcoming talent from Italy warranted spotlighting.  Seriously, these guys and girls are some of the best in the industry right now and can only reach greater heights going forward.  It’s going to be very exciting indeed to watch the progress of these careers.

DC Rebirth Fantasy Draft Part 3

The third and final instalment of my dream DC Rebirth creative teams.  As before, I’ll lay out a little of what I’d like to see from each title too.  Don’t forget you can check out part one here and part two here.  This one covers the most important title for me in Rebirth, Supergirl.  Let’s get started.

 

Nightwing

Writer: Tim Seeley
Artists: Andy Kubert (Pencils & Inks)
                Jordie Bellaire (Colours)

So we’re obviously getting Dick back as Nightwing for this relaunch, which I’m really glad about.  I like Nightwing.  Thing is though, what I’ve read of Grayson shows that Seeley knows Dick Grayson so I think moving him on to Nightwing would be a smart move.  He’ll have the fun and playful thing going while still keeping him grounded and playing with some interesting mysterious stories.  Andy Kubert is a phenomenal artist, he knows Gotham, he knows the Bat family (who will undoubtedly drop in and out of this book too) so he seems like an obvious choice.  And Jordie Bellaire on colours because I really want to see her colour a Gotham book.

 

Red Hood & The Outlaws

Writer: Tony S. Daniel
Artists: Tyler Kirkham (Pencils)
                Sandu Florea (Inks)
                Sunny Gho (Colours)

Right, so let’s kick off with the cast of characters first.  I figure DC will be moving Starfire back here now her solo series is cancelled (boooo) but I don’t think they should.  Let’s go with a story for this spinning out of what may or may not happen in the upcoming Deathstroke.  Red Hood (obviously), Arsenal, Ravager and Jericho.  We know a confrontation is coming up between Red Hood and Deathstroke and in his current state Jason has a decent chance of knocking the Terminator down a peg or two.  This could give way to Rose and Joseph coming to them for refuge, resulting in a potential team up of characters I think could get along really well.  Tony Daniel on the story (possibly covers too) because he’s handled Rose in the latest Deathstroke series and I liked what he did, Kirkham on pencils again since he’s done work on Deathstroke recently and he has a knack for fast, frantic violence.  Sandu Florea inked a lot of (maybe all, can’t remember) Kirkhams pencils on Deathstroke and it looked beautiful and Sunny Gho for a colourful yet somehow still slightly muted look.  I would 100% buy this.

 

Suicide Squad

Writer: Steve Orlando
Artist: Stjepan Šejić (All)

For starters, remove Harley Quinn from the team.  I know, I know, “but she’s in the upcoming movie, she has to be in the book”.  No.  DC higher-ups keep going on about legacy and continuity and frankly having a character be on a team built from prisoners going on suicide missions to bring their prison time down while also having their own solo series doesn’t work.  The only way you can make that work is if her solo series takes place between missions.  In her cell.  Which would be boring as shit for the most part.  The team should have regulars such as Deadshot, King Shark and Captain Boomerang and the rest should be a rotating cast.  Have some die, to keep that reminder that the stakes are high, but have some released because it’s seen fit they’ve done enough for a pardon.  Steve Orlando is my pick because he gets character progression very well, on top of that he writes very entertaining fights involving lots of violence, something this book needs.  Stjepan Šejić on the art because I had to, there’s so many cool looking characters that could end up on this team and he’d be a blast, it would be a beautiful book start to finish.

 

Supergirl

Writer: Sterling Gates
Artists: Laura Braga (Pencils & Inks)
                Peter Steigerwald (Colours)

Alright, I’ve been looking forward to sharing this one since I started these posts.  In fact, I’d say it was this title that prompted me to start thinking about all of the others.  This one took no thought, this was a simple choice for me.  First things first though, let’s look at the character.  Ditch the anger, for the love of Rao she doesn’t need that kind of edge to sell.  Where Superman carries the weight of the world on his shoulders, Supergirl kind of takes it in her stride a bit, plays things more on a day by day basis and has fun.  That doesn’t mean you can’t tell big, serious stories here.  Far from it.  What it means is don’t repeat the mistakes of the early New 52 Supergirl, pushing her down a path that eventually led to the “Red Daughter of Krypton” story arc (ugh).  Sterling Gates gets it.  He’s written Kara stronger than anyone else I can think of right now, put him back in the seat of control.  As for the art, Laura Braga has been killing it on DC Bombshells, move her on to a print title.  Why Supergirl?  Well, here’s why.  That’s a piece I picked up from Laura in London this year.  Put her on this book DC.  Bring in Peter Steigerwald on colours, the man who coloured Superman / Batman, the book that brought Kara back post-crisis pre-flashpoint.  No-brainer all round.

 

Superman

Writer: Dan Jurgens
Artists: Lee Weeks (Pencils)
                Scott Hanna (Inks)
                Brad Anderson (Colours)

Ok DC, I’m going to make this one really easy for you.  Get rid of the Superman imposter that’s been flying around the New 52 Universe the past four years.  Yep, get rid of him completely.  Then take Superman and his family from the currently running Superman: Lois and Clark series and make them the Kents in this Universe.  Then, take the entire creative team from that book, and give them Superman, with this cast.  Real easy, huh?

 

The Super-Man

Writer: Peter J. Tomasi
Artists: June Brigman (Pencils)
               Joseph Silver (Inks)
               Monica Kubina (Colours)

The rumours I’m hearing lately are that this will be a Lex Luther centred series which I think sounds incredible!  I absolutely want this, a man who has been a villain all his life and has finally come to the realisation that he was in the wrong.  So we have Lex trying to be a hero for all the wrong reasons at the start, then we have him slowly become a true hero while still having to fight off urges to do things he shouldn’t.  June Brigman on pencils (please can we have June pencilling a series again?) with Joseph Silver on inks, keeping things nice and clean, then Monica Kubina on colours as she does a very good job of keeping things under control and balanced.  A Lex centred book does not need to be in your face all the time, no doubt there’d be a fair amount of down time for him in the book, which this art team would handle wonderfully.

 

Super Sons

Writer: Tony Bedard
Artists: Jamal Igle (Pencils)
               Joe Prado (Inks)
               Eva de la Cruz (Colours)

Linking in with what I’ve already said on Superman, make this title a team up book between Damien Wayne and Jonathan Kent.  I’d like to see a return to the days of old with Batman and Superman where they’re close friends, so we could see them almost push their kids into being friends and partners, which considering the attitude of each would be disastrous.  Well, it would start disastrous anyway, but I think there’d be a certain pleasure in seeing them find their pattern with each other and grow to at least respect each other.  Tony Bedard handling the story beats, another veteran of comics who has experience with both the younger and older heroes, he’d handle the kids teaming up and the almost guaranteed appearances of Superman and Batman very well.  Igle on pencils because it’s Jamal Igle and he’s awesome.  Joe Prado inking Igle, I reckon that would work.  De le Cruz on colours, she’s done a fantastic job on Catwoman and I’d like to see her continuing to get work with DC.

 

Superwoman

Writer: Kathryn Immonen
Artists: Ivan Reis (Pencils)
                Jimmy Palmiotti (Inks)
                Tomeu Morey (Colours)

Superwoman could go one of two ways, right?  We’ll either get Lois Lane Superwoman or Earth 3 Superwoman.  Personally, I think it’ll be Earth 3 and actually I think I’d rather it be Earth 3.  I like Lois being a strong character without super powers, taking on big stories and pushing her journalism career to new heights.  So I’ve done this based on Earth 3.  Immonen writes strong and powerful women incredibly well, and I mean that in terms of physical strength and strength of character.  I became a fan of Sif purely down to how she was handled in Journey into Mystery, and I think Immonen could do a really interesting fish out of water style story.  Ivan Reis is a very talented artist with strong tie to DC and Superwoman would undoubtedly have run-ins with multiple members of the Justice League, something Reis could handle with ease.  Jimmy Palmiotti on inks, he has a great style to his inks and I think it would suit both the book and Reis’ pencils really well.  Morey on colours because I really like his colour work.

 

Teen Titans

Writer: Felicia D Henderson
Artists: Stacey Lee (Pencils & Inks)
                Laura Allred (Colours)

The team first; Red Robin, Wonder Girl (Cassie yes, but ditch off that awful costume and put her in jeans and tee again), Bunker, Superboy (again, ditch the crappy New 52 costume), Hawk & Dove (Dawn Granger & Hank Hall), Bart Allen, Aqualad (Kaldur’ahm) and Artemis.  For starters, if this was announced as the team those final two names would instantly get the attention of Young Justice fans.  Secondly, that team is god damn awesome.  Henderson has worked on Teen Titans before, in particular on one of my favourite modern Teen Titans stories, The Hunt for Raven.  Stacey Lee on art, she’s the main reason I stuck it out on Silk, her art is gorgeous.  Laura Allred on colours to make it bright and fun feeling, how the Teen Titans should be in my opinion.

 

Titans

Writer: Marv Wolfman
Artists: Nicola Scott (Pencils)
                Raul Fernandez (Inks)
                Sotocolor (Colours)

You want legacy?  Continuity is important to you?  Get Marv-fucking-Wolfman on Titans.  The team; Nightwing, Donna Troy, Changeling, Starfire and Raven.  Leave Wolfman to do what he does best, write amazing stories with these amazing characters.  Nicola Scott is not only an incredible artist, but an artist that’s proven herself worthy of the Titans with the Convergence: The New Teen Titans book she drew, funnily enough written by Wolfman.  Raul Fernandez, another quality inker who had an opportunity to shine during Convergence, would bring those pencils out beautifully and Sotocolor, a colour studio I hadn’t heard of before Convergence: The Adventures of Superman, would be my colour pick.  The work on that Convergence title was just so spot on.  Make this happen DC.

 

Trinity

Writer: Dan Abnett
Artists: Jason Fabok (Pencils & Inks)
                Marcelo Maiolo (Colours)

As well as being important in titles like Titans, Trinity needs to have that strong tie to continuity.  Honestly I’d be happy skipping straight to the point where Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman are already a closely knit group of friends.  Almost like family, with the Justice League being an extended family.  Put Dan Abnett on it.  His recent work on Titans Hunt shows he understands DC, he understands good story telling (most of us knew that point already, but it’s worth saying) and he knows what fans want.  Now I’m not saying that fans should always be listened to, that would be a catastrophic mistake, but right now DC needs to win us over big time or they’re going to lose a lot of us.  Bring in Jason Fabok on most of the art duties here, his work on Justice League with Geoff Johns has been exemplary, I particularly liked his approach to Wonder Woman, so I’d love to see him tackle Trinity.  Marcelo Maiolo on colours for the equally fantastic work on Justice League United and I couldn’t possibly say no to this book.

 

Wonder Woman

I get to end this slightly longer post on a very, very easy one.  Have you read the Legend of Wonder Woman?  If not, it’s a digital first series from Renae de Liz and Ray Dillon and it’s far and away the best Wonder Woman book DC have put out in years.  Go and check it out over here.  Move this pairing over to the main Wonder Woman title, I can guarantee not only would it draw sales, it would draw consistent critical acclaim.  This would make me very happy.

 

Well, it’s been a lot of fun going through all these, there are one or two that I’m holding out a little bit of hope for but most of these are almost completely impossible.  In fact, some of them are 100% impossible due to exclusivity contracts.  But this would be my perfect line up.  All of those creators on all of those books would result in me buying every single one.  Anyway, thanks for sticking around and checking it out, later!

 

DC Rebirth Fantasy Draft Part 2

Quick recap; here’s a run through of all 32 upcoming titles that are part of DC Rebirth and my ideal creative line ups and story beats/team dynamics.  None of this is meant as a prediction, many of these would be impossible due to contracts with other publishers or an unwillingness to move back into work for hire with the “Big Two”.  It’s for fun, basically, so take it as such please.  Today, we are going from Earth 2 to Justice League America.  Friday I covered Action Comics through to Detective Comics, which you can view here.  Let us begin.

Earth 2

Writer: Ron Marz
Artists: Kenneth Rocafort (Pencils & Inks)
                Hi-Fi (Colours)

You’ll see Hi-Fi pop up for a fair few of these books, especially those with characters often depicted with bright costumes so let’s get that out the way right now.  Writing wise, I feel a book centred around the classic JSA, which Earth 2 should be, would be a pretty much perfect fit for Marz, I feel he has a firm grasp on legacy and on the classic DC characters from various interviews I’ve seen/read and from his work on Convergence.  Make this a big book, with a large rotating cast and a few core cast members.  Regulars should include Green Lantern, Flash, Wildcat, Dr Fate and Power Girl, all in their classic guises.  Then bring in some rotation, Liberty Belle, Stargirl, Hawkman/Hawkwoman, Hourman, The Spectre and more.  Kenneth Rocafort on art would be amazing, allow him the freedom to ink his own work too, bringing a distinctive style to the book to help it stand out from the regular Earth books.  He’s already shown his capability at handling a team book on Ultimates at Marvel so deadline keeping shouldn’t be huge problem.

 

The Flash

Writer: Dan Slott
Artists: Humberto Ramos (Pencils)
                Adriano Lucas (Inks)
                Michael Spicer (Colours)

Dan Slott on The Flash!  Right?  RIGHT?!?  It just seems such a perfect fit, a match made in heaven.  The Flash needs to be fun, it needs some light hearted moments, but we’re also talking about a character who carries the weight of the world on his shoulders when he perhaps doesn’t really need to.  With his high level powers, The Flash also needs some big stories.  On top of that, I think he has one of the most interesting rogues galleries in comics, who are equally important to get right.  Bring in Slott, he can handle all that and more.  Top it off with pencils laid down by Humberto Ramos, one of my favourite artists, who has not only worked with Slott before but has worked with a DC Comics speedster before and has a wealth of experience in drawing energetic, high octane action scenes and I think you have a real winner.  Bring in Lucas on inks, with a diverse history of work and the ability to bring out the best in every artist he’s worked with (check out Red Sonja for some wonderful ink work) and then throw in Michael Spicer, who has blown me away with his colour work on The Tithe, being able to bring the right palette for a scene’s mood and this would be a must buy for me.

 

Gotham Academy

Keep this one short and sweet.  It’s a title I don’t currently read, I would like to get started on it at some point but my pull list simply doesn’t have space on it for a book I’m only mildly interested in.  Point is, I know a few people who do read it, and they love it.  I’ve seen the response to it online to and it’s found it’s market, why change it?  Obviously the title would grow and evolve as time went on, but as far as the creative team goes keep it as it is right now.

 

Green Arrow

Writer: Ed Brubaker
Artists: Rahsan Ekedal (Pencils & Inks)
                Jordie Bellaire (Colours)

Let’s take Green Arrow away from the darkness, let’s bring him back into the left wing everyman role he used to hold but with a bit of a twist.  We see him doing the superhero thing, yes, because he is a superhero and people would expect that.  But let’s have him taking down “evil” corporations through various forms of espionage.  Maybe they’re corporations that have got shady business practices, maybe they’re extorting less fortunate people in and around Star City, maybe it’s not the whole business he goes for every time but a key player within their organisation.  Play around with something like that, and if it goes in that kind of direction I’d like to see Brubaker on it.  Don’t give him that silly hat back though, keep to the hood.  But give him the goatee back.  Anyway, Rahsan Ekedal on pencils and inks because he’s a badass artist and has done a lot of work on comics based in urban environments already and I find his art to be very relatable, something I’d say the whole book would need to be.  And Jordie Bellaire on colours because I’d wager a fair bit of the book would be taking place at night, at least the superhero side of it would, and Jordie is very good at dark, slightly muted action scenes but can really bring out quiet moments with just the right colours.  Oh, get him back together with Black Canary too, DC!

 

Green Lanterns

Writer: Devin Grayson
Artists: Ryan Stegman (Pencils)
                Norm Rapmund (Inks)
                Bill Baumann (Colours)

If what I’ve heard and can gather myself from what little we’ve been teased for Rebirth, Jessica Cruz is about to get a power ring upgrade away from the sentient and psychotic ring she has in Justice League right now and will be joining the Corps for real.  It’s a good move, and makes sense from a story standpoint, if she can resist the fear induced by Power Ring then she should be perfect for the Green Lantern Corps.  She’s going to need someone to take her under their wing, teach her the ropes.  Why not John Stewart?  He’s a cool, calm and level headed Lantern who’s not only seen major conflict with the Lanterns but is an ex-marine, he’s seen it all and has a lot to offer a new Lantern.  So we’ll have Jess who’s still unsure of herself, had a tough entry point into life as a superhero with Power Ring trying to take her over, being mentored by John.  I say give it to Devin Grayson, and if you require some solid evidence as to why, go read Nightwing: Renegade.  Ryan Stegman on art for his overall brilliance, Norm Rapmund for his experience with DC characters and larger than life characters and Baumann on colours for his stellar work on Green Lantern books previously.

 

Hal Jordan & The Green Lantern Corps

Writer: Brian Azzarello
Artists: Ethan van Sciver (Pencils)
                Marlo Alquiza (Inks)
                Bill Baumann (Colours)

I’m not sure exactly what direction to take with this one, I don’t think Hal should be put back into a leadership role within the Corps, it’s been done already.  What would be more interesting is having him in a position where he’s got no jurisdiction restrictions, especially since 2814 is in hand with Jess and John, if we place Guy back into an honour guard position in the Corps then I think we can use Hal as a free roaming officer, going where he’s needed the most with a small team of his choice and teaming up with local Lanterns wherever he goes.  Brian Azzarello is very good at telling big stories, being mindful of what’s come before but also being unafraid to do something a bit different.  Ethan van Sciver is the only artist I’d want on a Hal Jordan book, team him up with Alquiza as they did such a phenomenal job on Rebirth and have Baumann on this GL title too to help keep everything tied up and coherent visually.

 

Harley Quinn

I know these entries might seem a little cheap and cheat-like, but can we please keep the creative team on Harley Quinn as it is right now?  It’s one of my favourite books on the shelf each month, Palmiotti and Conner are absolutely perfect for spinning new and interesting tales for Quinn and they’ve successfully taken her away from her tiresome dependence on the Joker.  Couple all of that with the wonderful relationship they’ve fleshed out between Harley and Ivy and frankly I see nothing that needs to change here at all.

 

The Hellblazer

Writer: Marguerite Bennett
Artist: Ray Fawkes

Let’s go full blown weird, fucked up John Constantine book.  Let’s not be afraid to explore his bi-sexuality, meet weird and interesting people and really allow him to grow as a character.  Bennett is the one for this, bringing this kind of story telling to many of her titles before.  Art wise, Ray Fawkes entirely painted, bringing an eerie style to a book already potentially packed with weird story beats and this one would be a real winner for me.

 

Justice League

Writer: Paul Dini
Artists: Emanuela Lupacchino (Pencils)
                Ray McCarthy (Inks)
                Hi-Fi (Colours)

Big name writer with an extreme amount of talent and clear love of the DC Universe, Paul Dini could reach such heights with a Justice League title and is one of the few writers I’d genuinely trust with such an incredible cast on a flagship title.  Lupacchino on pencils because she’s fucking awesome and I will not have anyone say otherwise.  There is simply no argument anyone can make here that would make me change my mind.  Ray McCarthy on inks, having already worked on Lupacchino’s pencils during Supergirl: Crucible I already know it would look stunning.  Hi-Fi on colour, every time I see Lupacchino and Hi-Fi on a cover I get excited because it just works so well.  This creative team would result in a series of incredible stories wrapped up in a beautiful, colourful comic.  As for the team line up, I would say Wonder Woman, Superman, Batman, The Flash, Aquaman, Green Lantern and Martian Manhunter.

 

Justice League America

Writer: Mark Waid
Artists: Maria Laura Sanapo (Pencils & Inks)
                Edgar Delgado (Colours)

Ok so, one thing I’d want to make clear from the start, this should not be exactly the same team as Justice League but telling a different story.  Justice League of America should be effectively the B team.  Not to take anything away from the characters or creators involved, but JLA should be a huge rotating cast of characters from arc to arc, with regular guests.  It would open up so many avenues and keep many currently fading characters relevant.  Maybe have a few mainstays but and have one of the main League members pop in every now and then and by all means have it cross over with Justice League, but don’t take the piss.  Just do it when you’ve got a really good story to tell, for the most part they should be able to exist on their own.  Creative team wise, Mark Waid can handle multiple characters and, given the room to do what he wants, can pull out some truly incredible stories.  Sanapo is a wonderful artist and I really hope she starts getting more work from either Marvel or DC, why not thrust her into the limelight with a book like this?  Having been on several issues of DC’s Bombshells we know Sanapo can handle an ensemble book.  Delgado on colours, I will simply point to the beautifully coloured Extraordinary X-Men as my argument here.

 

And that’s part two, what you think?  Monday evening I’ll be rolling out part three which will be the final 12 titles coming from DC starting with Nightwing and ending on Wonder Woman.  The most important title for me will be in Monday’s post and yes, I already know exactly who I’d want to see on the title in all roles but you’ll have to wait and see.

DC Rebirth Fantasy Draft Part 1

Yes, I have come out of hibernation.  No, I don’t want to talk about it.

DC Rebirth!  I’m excited for it, I think it has a lot of potential to right some of the many wrongs done to the DC Universe over the past four and a half years.  Don’t get me wrong, there have been a lot of things that have worked and been done right since the New 52 reboot, but many things have gone wrong and the glaring lack of history in the current universe has been a prevalent issue for me.  So, just for fun, here’s a fantasy draft for all 32 titles DC will be releasing under Rebirth, creator wise.  I’ll also give a brief overview of what I’d like to see done differently with certain characters, things I think currently work and what team dynamics I’d like to see.  So, alphabetical order, it’s just easier.  Also, this is not a prediction by any means, this is just my ideal line up.  Finally, I’ll be doing ten titles today, ten on Saturday and the remaining twelve on Monday.

Action Comics

Writer: Dan Jurgens
Artists: RB Silva (Pencils)

                Norm Rapmund (Inks)
                Blond (Colours)

Make Action Comics big, fun and explosive.  This should be the platform where Supers are brought together, maybe giving some of the Super characters that don’t have their own book the spotlight for one shots or a even mini arcs.  Utilising Action Comics in such a way would allow more open stories involving other characters to be told, preventing the need for these frequent crossovers that result in people having to buy books they wouldn’t normally to get a complete story.  That does not drive sales, it drives people away.  Having a writer with the experience of Dan Jurgens running this title would allow order to be kept in place while providing stories that are enjoyable.  RB Silva worked Action Comics before the reboot, I’d love to see him back on the book and he’s easily got the chops to pull off a major DC book.  Norm Rapmund has a proven track record, having inked many great comic books with skill and style.  Blond has a lovely, warm palette on many books and I think warm colour use is a great way of keeping the book from going to grim.

Aquaman

Writer: Tom Taylor
Artist: Dustin Nguyen

I think Aquaman needs two things to make it work: a writer who can write a badass with genuine character, one who understands the history and importance to fans, and an artist who can capture unfamiliarity in an almost alien manner, whilst being able to capture human emotion in facial expression.  Tom Taylor has proven time and time again that he not only understands the characters he’s worked on but writes them with love and care.  He also knows dialogue better than most other writers out there, and scripts some incredible fight scenes.  As for the art, let Dustin Nguyen cut loose and paint the whole thing, deep underwater might as well be an alien planet for everything weird that’s down there, I think he’d make it perfect.

Batgirl

Writer: Marjorie Liu
Artists: David Lopez (Pencils)
                Alvaro Lopez (Inks)
                Jason Wright (Colours)

Coming out of the left field a little here, but bare with me.  Let’s have two Batgirls.  Why not?  We’ve got two Batgirl books, one solo and one with the Birds of Prey, let’s have two characters using the name.  We’ll come to the team up book next, but for the solo title let’s bring back Cassandra Cain under the mask.  Marjorie Liu has tackled a character raised and trained to kill struggling to do the right thing before, successfully I think, with X-23.  She has a fantastic knack with characters and motivation, and while there would be crime fighting and mystery solving, I believe this would need to be a title driven heavily by character progression and motivation.  David Lopez is one of my favourite artists, I’d love to see him take on a Gotham based book and I think a Cass Cain Batgirl book would be a perfect fit, Alvaro has inked David’s work before and I think they make for a wonderful team.  David can ink himself extremely well but I think having an inker he’s worked with before would alleviate some of the deadline pressure.  Jason Wright has a very diverse palette colour wise, I think he would be a great fit for a Gotham book while also being able to brighten things up any time Cassandra’s story allows her some joy.

Batgirl & The Birds of Prey

Writer: Gail Simone
Artists: Annie Wu
                Lee Loughridge (Colours)

Yep, a completely obvious choice on the writer I think, but Gail Simone is fantastic at writing teams, injects a wonderful sense of humour into her stories and dialogue and can tell big, action packed stories with meaning and fun.  Gail is one of those writers that I can read anything from, but she also has experience with the Birds of Prey and with Batgirl.  Annie Wu has an art style I think would jam really well with Gail’s writing, and again not only has she proven her ability to draw Black Canary in a way that is both respectful to women and respectful to the character and her history, she’s also proven her ability to handle a cast of regular characters about the size of the Birds of Prey on a regular basis.  Lee Loughridge has worked on Annie’s art on Black Canary before and has a good understanding of how to give her work the final pop it needs, I think this would be a solid team.  As for the characters, that’s easy; Batgirl (Barbara Gordon), Black Canary, The Huntress, Spoiler and Bluebird.

Batman

Writer: Geoff Johns
Artists: Marc Silvestri (Pencils)
               Danny Miki (Inks)
               FCO Plascencia (Colours)

I know, I know, the chances of this particular line up are extremely unlikely, but I’m admittedly a huge Geoff Johns fan, he is the reason I have faith in DC Rebirth since it seems like he’s leading the charge on this one.  I also appreciate the fact that even ignoring the fact that Silvestri has a company to run he probably couldn’t keep to a twice monthly schedule, but this particular team would rock it.  I’d envision the Batman title to be the big, action packed title with the epic story arcs and with Bat family members popping up to provide support to Bruce, whether he wants it or not.  Sure, you always need some character growth going on, and I think Johns could provide that quite easily, but similar to Action Comics for Superman, you could use this book to bring in characters from other books to save having to cross over all the time for events.  This practice, as I said above, would keep all the books as reader friendly as possible while also brining occasional big events when it’s warranted.

Batman Beyond

Writer: Matt Hawkins
Artist: Linda Šejić

Yup, keeping in with the Top Cow talent theft for this next “fan casting” of sorts, Matt Hawkins has a mind made for science based fiction, he does proper sci-fi, by which I mean his futuristic (near or far) writing is always grounded in science that’s either readily available today or being heavily researched right now.  It makes the worlds he creates and writes feel more believable, I can immerse myself in his work much easier than many other science fiction stories because everything just makes sense.  Linda Šejić has already shown her ability to draw fantastic sci-fi with the Top Cow comic based on the series of novels from David Weber, Tales of Honor.  Linda has such a visually pleasing art style and over the years has developed a wonderful talent for not only drawing the weird and crazy, but capturing raw human emotion in both facial expressions and body language.  Much of her work could quite easily exist without words and you’d still have a firm grasp on what’s happening, and her use of colour is always very well suited to the situation on page and the mood.  I think this pairing would absolutely kill it on a Batman Beyond title.

Blue Beetle

Writer: Keith Giffen & J. M. DeMatteis
Artists: Yildiray Cinar (Pencils)
                Matt Banning (Inks)
                Hi-Fi (Colours)

Blue Beetle needs to have Ted Kord in it.  I have absolutely no problem with Jaime Reyes, in fact from what I’m hearing it’s going to be both of them in this new title with a mentor/pupil relationship, which sounds pretty cool.  But for me, first and foremost it needs Kord.  Secondly, while having plenty of superhero action, it needs to be funny.  Thirdly, and by no means the least important point, if it has Kord it needs Booster Gold even if only sporadically.  To make all of these things work, it can only be Giffen and DeMatteis on the book.  In my opinion.  I’d use Cinar for the pencils because I think he has a wonderful style that would fit this kind of book well, I’d use Banning for his very clean, neat inking approach which I think would compliment Cinar’s pencil work nicely, and I’d have Hi-Fi because the colours would need to be fairly bright and sharp and, well, just go look at any Hi-Fi coloured superhero book.  They’re perfect.

Cyborg

Writer:
Artists:

Sorry, I know I said I was doing all 32 of DC’s books but there isn’t a creative team I can put on a Cyborg book that would make me give a shit.  Not that I don’t like Cyborg, I think he’s a great supporting character with the odd leading story, but carrying his own book?  No thanks.  They should have jettisoned this title from the DC You line up, left it to die, moved Cyborg on to the Teen Titans (I’ll explain later) and used this publishing slot to give us a Legion of Super-Heroes monthly instead.

Deathstroke

Writer: Brian Buccelatto
Artists: Clay Mann (Pencils)
                Seth Mann (Inks)
                Christina Strain (Colours)

A Deathstroke title needs to be bold, both in terms of it’s story and it’s art, which I think this team up could easily achieve.  Buccelatto has had an immense amount of success on DC’s digital first title Injustice, now in it’s fifth year, taking over the writing reigns from Tom Taylor and frankly, he has managed to fill those rather large shoes.  Clay Mann and his brother Seth would be great on the pencils and inks, they make for a great team and are often paired up on books already, and I think they could capture the fast paced, violent nature of Deathstroke with ease.  Christina Strain has had a fantastic career as a colourist already, and that experience along with her smart and stylish colour selections could be just what a Deathstroke comic needs to make it pop off the shelf and in to peoples hands.

Detective Comics

Writer: Scott Snyder
Artists: Greg Capullo (Pencils)
                Jonathan Glapion (Inks)
                Alex Sinclair (Colours)

Scott Snyder works better on smaller stories.  I don’t particularly rate him on the big, epic story arcs that span six months to a year, and I don’t particularly like him constantly telling us that his next arc will be even bigger.  No, I think Scott Snyder is at his best when he’s working on smaller, personal stories with a mix of mystery and general weirdness.  Detective Comics, for me, should be smaller personal stories, this should be where a lot of the character growth for Batman happens.  It should be shorter story arcs, taking on cases in and around Gotham.  It should be working closely with the GCPD to track down escaped Arkham inmates, solving murders and taking down smaller, street level villains.  This is where Scott Snyder would be in his prime for me.  And you can’t have Snyder on a Bat book without Capullo.  Throw in Glapion on inks, who inked the Court of Owls story line and Alex Sinclair on colours, who most famously worked on Hush with Jim Lee and I think you have the perfect team for a quieter, darker and moodier Batman title.

That’s a wrap on part one, agree?  Disagree?  Let me know!  Be sure to check back Saturday for Earth 2 through to Justice League America.

Pick Of The Week 30.09.15

I’ve been pushing myself more and more recently to start buying and reading more indie titles, not just the stuff coming from Image but other publishers too, small press and webcomics.  It’s been remarkably enlightening in fact, I’ve realised over the last few months that my tastes in comics and art are far more diverse than I originally thought.  It’s nice, being able to look at so many more books than I did before, not judging something as “not to my taste” without actually picking it up and even flicking through it first.  A perfect example of this was picking up book 1 of Hinges from Meredith McClaren, so struck by her wonderful art I ended up buying Heart in a Box, published by Dark Horse.  Written by Kelly Thompson and with art from McClaren, it tells a story so gripping and heart warming nothing could avert my attention until I’d finished it.  Not a book I would have picked up six months to a year ago, but here I am thoroughly recommending it to anyone that likes good comics.

But, sometimes, a good superhero story can’t be beaten.  My pick of the week this week is Justice League #44, Chapter Four of the Darkseid War.  With Geoff Johns spinning what is quite possibly his best story to date, Jason Fabok providing absolutely art and all perfectly complimented by Brad Anderson’s colours, the latest issue seriously ramps up the tension and action to breaking point, with the final act payoff being so huge I had to read the book twice today to properly take everything in.  I’m a huge fan of Geoff Johns, I loved his run on Teen Titans but in particular it was his work on Green Lantern that really pulled me in.  Before Flashpoint he had two major events and one smaller one, Sinestro Corps War, Blackest Night and War of the Green Lanterns respectively, all of which were fantastic reads and drew from decades of DC mythology.  Darkseid war is taking things to a whole new level, it feels like everything Johns has done since Flashpoint has been leading right up to this moment, this entire story line is a huge payoff for the last four years of DC.

JL44Preview

Honestly, we as DC fans have been through some solid books and a whole lot of garbage mixed in for those four years, and even through all the crap we’ve endured this Justice League story, this Darkseid War, all feels totally worth it.  Jason Fabok is proving himself to be an upper echelon artist not just at DC, but in the entire comics industry.  He manages to keep pages busy with action and characters clear and easy to follow, the level of detail is frankly incredible and he’s drawing Wonder Woman better than anyone else at DC right now.  With Brad Anderson on colours, who perfectly compliments the mood and action of each panel with expertly chosen palettes further cements my opinion that this is an A* book put out by an A* team.

Outrage! Hypocrisy!

Anyone who is a fan of one of the following people or things will know exactly what I’m about to discuss; Frank Cho, Spider-Gwen and Robbi Rodriguez.  Since you probably know the story so far, let’s have a really quick recap in bullet point format.

  • Frank Cho draws a picture of Spider-Gwen on a blank variant, a light hearted parody of Milo Manara’s Spider-Woman variant.  Check it out here.
  • Robbi Rodriguez makes a comment about drawing pictures of his children and makes a veiled yet transparent threat of violence against Cho.
  • Cho responds by inserting a funny little Spider-Gwen on all of his blank variant sketches screaming “outrage”.
  • Rodriguez makes another comment on how Cho should be thankful he’s been made relevant again, thanks to Rodriguez.
  • Cho responds with this.

Now I tend to sit on the sidelines of such a thing with a metaphorical bag of popcorn and a literal beer and just watch it play out, but I’m really bored right now so I thought I’d offer up my own opinion.  First, surrounding the actual original sketch, I get why many people don’t like it and with art being a subjective thing, anyone can like or dislike whatever they want.  Personally, I thought it was a well drawn image, and cleverly drawn in such a way that Gwen didn’t look like the teenager she’s meant to be in the comics.

Robbi Rodriguez’s response, yeah, not so cool.  He didn’t really create a new character so much as help chuck spider powers on to a character that’s been long dead in the 616 universe.  Ok, that’s maybe a little harsh.  I stand by my enjoyment of the series, and I think Robbi’s costume design is absolutely bang on.  They have made a comic that has successfully appealed to old and new readers alike.  But I think the comparison of Cho’s drawing to that of a dirty picture of one of his kids is blowing things out of proportion.

Cho’s sketches from here on out have been very deliberately inflammatory, unnecessarily so perhaps but I’ll be damned if I haven’t both enjoyed the artwork and had a little chuckle at the content itself.  Cho is a phenomenally talented artist, an artist I put into the same category as J. Scott Campbell, Terry Dodson and Adam Hughes.  Bloody hell, that is a superb collection of artists.  But I think at that point most artists would have shrugged at the prospect of someone not liking their work and voicing that opinion and moved on.  I get the feeling Cho has taken the complete opposite approach since a lot of the criticism has been overly harsh.

From there we have the final response from Robbi, stating Cho should thank him for making him relevant in the industry again.  Hahahahahahaha… what?!  You think Cho got the job on Totally-Awesome Hulk because of this situation?  No.  You think Cho commands a high rate for commissions and sketch covers because of Rodriguez?  Nope.  Will Cho continue to get work in the future due to this new found relevance Rodriguez has brought him?  No again.  Cho is where he is due to incredible talent and two fucking decades of hard work.  The nerve of Rodriguez after one book became a hit is baffling and frankly makes me lose respect for him.

The thing is (yes I’ve skipped the last point, the image is telling enough) Rodriguez had the major problem with Spider-Gwen being drawn in this rather suggestive manner, in an image that makes her look mid-twenties I’d say.  But in a rather interesting turn of events has thrown his weight behind this new Gweenpool one shot announced by Marvel so much he’s doing a variant cover for it.  So, not slightly suggested images of a grown up version of the character I kind of semi created, but it’s totally fine for me to help turn “one of my kids” into a psychopathic murderer shown holding twin pistols on the cover.

Outrage

Rainbow Six And The Need For Betas

As anyone with a vested interest in video games, particularly first person shooters, will know, this weekend marked the launch of the Rainbow Six Siege closed beta test on all platforms.  I nabbed myself a guaranteed access code without the inherent risk of pre-ordering a Ubisoft game since they’re one of the main developers/publishers that has pretty much run out of goodwill by this point, so in between work and other commitments I’ve managed to put around about ten hours into the beta so far.  Thankfully, due to issues with the beta access website, Ubisoft have now committed to keeping the beta running all the way to October 1st.  Good job.  This game needs as much technical testing and assistance as it can get before its December launch date.  It adds further weight to the fact that beta tests are a full on requirement with multiplayer games these days and it adds fuel to the already sizeable fire that publishers are rushing developers into getting games out the gate well before they’re ready.

rssbeta

It’s funny because from a gameplay stand point, the game feels pretty much done.  There are a few things that need balancing, which a beta is great for.  Operators using the riot shield with a pistol are a tough challenge, while they’re stood upright you can shoot out their legs but while crouched and moving forward there isn’t a single operator that can counter them in a one on one fight.  The hip fired pistols are also way, way too accurate and pulling headshots, which are a one shot kill regardless of weapon, is much too easy.  Granted, there’s a certain feeling of baddassery by sauntering into a room and pulling three straight headshots but at the same time, it feels a little cheap and dirty.

The MP5 could probably do with a bit of balancing too, the recoil is so minor that even while unloading a full mag down a corridor, it’s practically laser beam accurate.  It requires minor balancing tweaks here and there but on the whole it almost seems to be there, the real issue I’ve had is with stability.

For reference I’m playing on Xbox One.

Now, it would appear the game doesn’t run on dedicated servers, but rather uses a player as host.  I’ve had a couple of situations where a host has either left or lost connection and then you get that little “migrating to new host” message.  It seems a little backwards, we’re in 2015 and a time where Microsoft is really working on this whole cloud based gaming, which certainly has its merits.  The main this is though is Ubisoft are not a small time publisher, there is no way dedicated servers would be decided against for monetary reasons which means they either made this decision thinking it was a good idea (please) or Ubisoft don’t have faith this game will succeed.

Finding a game can be an absolute nightmare too, it frequently takes me at least five minutes to get added into a squad which is appalling, I’ve had situations where it won’t even find me a game unless I drop out of the search and back in two or three times.  Then there are the multiple times I’ve been added to a squad only to be met with an error code, where the game then proceeds to drop me back to the main menu screen.  It’s wildly frustrating.

But it’s not just the sometimes crippling network issues that hound the beta, but actual game stability has been an issue for me on Xbox One too.  At most I can play four or five games in a row at the moment before I either lose connection or the game fully crashes to the home screen.  Sometimes the game won’t even open when selected from the Xbox home screen.  Frankly, if the game launched like this, retailers would need to be preparing to make concessions for a large amount of refunds, I would not accept a game in the state at all.  And this, ladies and gentlemen, is precisely why beta tests should be mandatory for all multiplayer games.  I actually think the game, when it works, is a lot of fun.  Will I pre-order it?  Nope.  Will I buy it day one?  More than likely not.  Fortunately, the game will be going through an open beta test before launch too so it can be stress tested with a larger audience before it’s fully released, but they’re beta testing a game a little over two months away from launch and, frankly, I’m not entirely convinced they’ve left themselves enough time to fix some of the more serious issues and problems that need addressing here to make the game fully playable.

With a lack of dedicated single player campaign, a fundamentally flawed and outdated host system instead of dedicated servers, serious game stability issues and a game engine that looks to be more at home on the 360 than the One Rainbow Six Siege finds itself in the unenviable position of facing a rather steep uphill climb with a relatively short amount of time in which to do it before launch.  Will they manage it?  I couldn’t say for sure, but with the news of the omission of a proper campaign and my first impressions from the beta, this looks like a £20 purchase in a few months, which is a real shame.