Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Hawkgirl "Bombshell" Pin-Up Art Print

This 1940's style pinup of Hawkgirl is part of a part of the DC Comics "Bombshell" collection by Ant Lucia.  You can check out the others in the series right here.  The entire ten image series is being released as art prints by Quantum Mechanix at a price of $14.95 apiece.

I had seen the Wonder Woman of these before, but the others, including Hawkgirl, are new to me.  I would have figured that being of a 1940's art deco style, the subject would have been Shiera Saunders, between the helmet design and the colors on her costume, it's clear that this is Shayera.  Then again, the fact that it is Thanagar Tree-Top Tours should have also been a dead giveaway, but hey.  

My favorite part of the piece is the posing, specifically the legs.  Very much in the "good girl" sort of pose which was common for pin-ups.  Legs together, toes pointed, tush sticking out (although covered with her jacket), it all works very nicely.  I also like that her arms are toned but not muscular, and her chest is ample without being ridiculous or over-the-top.  The helmet is a nice take on her swoopy Silver Age helmet, with the colors reminding me a bit of the Nicola Scott designed Earth-2 Kendra Saunders helmet.  The aviator goggles hanging around her neck similarly call back to this.

The jetpack/wing harness is very amusing.  I like the WW2 style artwork on the side, designating it as "The Hammer," along with her morningstar mace and 5 tick marks, which I can only assume are her "kill" count.  

Overall a very striking piece, which would look perfect hanging up in my bonus room amongst all the other nerd wall hangings.

Image: Hawkgirl "Bombshell" Art Print, 2014, Ant Lucia.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Read: Hawkworld

Finally cracked the spine on Hawkworld #1 a couple of days ago, and finished the series last night.  I had intended to read #2 to my infant daughter while my wife put the other kids to bed (at her age, simply reading is fine, doesn't matter what the material is... no, really...).  I ended up essentially tearing through #2 and then #3 in short order.  So, needless to say, I enjoyed this series quite a bit.

I have had some contact with a fellow (but admittedly much more prolific, talented, and respected) podcaster about doing a show about Hawkworld, so once I have more information on that I will communicate it here.  As such I don't want to get into my thoughts too much in this space, but I will share a couple notes.

First off, while I knew that this series was where the utopian Thanagar was jettisoned for the dystopian "modern" version, I was not privy to the details of the story, only some broad strokes (namely, Byth's presence).  So the twists and turns in the story were fresh to me, and I very much enjoyed being surprised by them.  I liked how Tim Truman included some subtle aspects of the original Katar Hol in the personality of the new one, but made him a more complex and involved character.  I mean, I'm a huge fan of the Silver Age Katar, but he's, by design, a straightforward kind of guy.  This version has a lot more facets.  

I also really appreciated the themes of dichotomy and duality, which is common in science fiction comics but very well executed in this series.  Like it says on the back cover: As Above, So Below.

Truman's art is a great fit, especially on the nice paper of the square bound, prestige format books.  I get a strong 2000 AD vibe from his work, which I suspect may be a combination of the subject matter and the muted colors.  But considering said subject matter, the art fits very nicely and I think the overall presentation is helped out tremendously by having Truman handle the visuals as well as the words.

I also have to laugh, because I was reminded of how I acquired these books while listening to an episode of the Quarter Bin Podcast, hosted by Professor Alan Middleton.  The Professor was discussing the three part prestige format book Adam Strange: Planet Heist, which he pulled, complete, out of a quarter bin.  While I did not get quite as good a deal as that, I did get the entire series from a discount bin... for a buck.  Talk about getting your money's worth on your comics!  (As an aside, I heartily recommend the Professor's show, along with the other shows over on the Relatively Geeky Podcast Network.  Go give 'em a listen!)

Overall, really dug this series and now will be queueing up the ongoing Hawkworld series as my next bit of Hawk reading.  And given that, how else can I sign off but...

As Above, So Below.

Image: Hawkworld #1, Tim Truman, 1989, image obtained from Mike's Amazing World Of DC Comics.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Upcoming: New 52 Earth-2 Hawkgirl Figure

As I mentioned yesterday, the DC May 2104 solicits are posted, and we have this offering: Earth-2 Hawkgirl!

DC COMICS EARTH 2: HAWKGIRL, SUPERMAN AND BATMAN ACTION FIGURES
Based on the designs of the hit monthly comic book EARTH 2. Batman, Superman and Hawkgirl continue the battle against the hordes of Apokolips to protect all life on their Earth as they know it!
BATMAN - 6.75"
SUPERMAN - 6.75"
HAWKGIRL - 6.6"
EACH FIGURE SOLD SEPARATELY
* Action Figures * $24.95 US • On Sale August 2014 * Allocations May Occur

Kendra Saunders comes equipped with her pistol, and it looks like a working holster for it as well.  In her left hand, she appears to be holding her combat knife, but it is hard to see as the tip is pointing right at the camera.  The giveaway: the sheath on her right boot.  Her long ponytail is off to the side in the solicit image, but it's unclear what kind of articulation it has, if any.  It may just be on a ball joint in the back of her head, but if it was up to me I would make it a bendy piece.  The blue and black look nice, and the wings retain the angelic quality and coloring from when Nicola Scott first drew her a couple of years back.  

The price is a bit steep compared to retail toys but these "adult collector" toys have been essentially at this price point for a while.  Trust me, the price of oil has really taken it's toll on the price of poly-plastics.

Not sure if I will pick her up or not.  I really like Kendra's new duds (the blue is such a twist from what one normally expects for a Hawk costume), but I have severely cut back my spending on toys... the $150 I dropped on X-Plus's vinyl Sanda and Gaira not withstanding.  But I have to admit, she would look super sharp on my Hawkman shelf!

Image: New 52 Earth-2 Hawkgirl toy, 2014, DC via Newsarama.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

DC vs Marvel: The $3.99 Debate

Alright, this is not really Hawk-related, but please bear with me and hear me out.

I have been hearing for several years now how "DC made $3.99 the standard price point" for comics in this country.  I have long pushed back on this, saying that DC generally (but not always, especially for miniseries) kept their standard length books at $2.99, whereas Marvel arbitrarily decided which books were $2.99 and which were $3.99.  But this being the Internet, Marvel == Good; DC == Bad; so my cries fell on deaf ears.

So with the May 2014 solicits for both Marvel and DC going live on Newsarama, I decided to do a little research.  I'd get a count of how many books each publisher put out at each of the two price points.  Maybe I was off base with my statements, and that was why no one was listening.  Some hard numbers should make things clear.

For reference, here are the solicitation lists I used -- Marvel, and DC.  As I said, both are from Newsarama.

Here's what I found:

Books Priced $2.99:
-- Marvel: 8
-- DC: 50

Books Priced $3.99:
-- Marvel: 60
-- DC: 17

As you can see, Marvel has far, far more titles at the $3.99 price point than DC does for the month of May 2014.  But, I wanted to make sure I was comparing apples to apples, not apples to oranges.  It's fair for a publisher to charge more for a title with more pages than standard.  So maybe Marvel is releasing a lot of oversized books with extra material in them, which would explain the higher amount of $3.99 books.  So I took a look at page counts.

Books with page count of 32 pages (with ads):
-- Marvel: 67
-- DC: 61

Books with page count of 40 pages (with ads):
-- Marvel: 5
-- DC: 4

Books with page count of 48 pages (with ads):
-- Marvel: 4
-- DC: 3

So, no, Marvel is not publishing appreciably more oversized comics than DC is.  Pretty cut and dried, isn't it?  Certainly seems that way to me.

Now, I suspect that a lot of these higher price point comics from Marvel are priced that way because of the inclusion of the "free" digital codes in the books.  At this point, the only series I read from Marvel is Iron Man (natch) (although that Nightcrawler book written by Chris Claremont is seriously tempting), and that series has been $3.99 with a digital code for a while.  But here's the rub: I don't use those digital codes.  I have redeemed a few of them, but at the end of the day I read my new comics physically, reserving my tablet for older comics, generally.  So why can't Marvel give me a break, knock a buck off the price, and not include the code?  

Of course that will not happen.  And in the interest of full disclosure, I get a discount through DCBS on every comic I buy (save for the odd one here and there I get from the LCS).  But in today's market, every dollar and every cent really matters, and those start to add up really quickly.

Now, none of this means anything from a quality standpoint.  Please, read what you like and can afford to buy, and if you don't like what DC, Marvel, or any publisher is doing then make yourself heard.  But I wanted to put these numbers out there and at least make everyone aware that this popularly held notion that DC is gouging readers is simply not borne out by the statistics.

Some additional notes:

-- Obviously, these numbers are not looking at trade paperbacks, hardcovers, or other collected editions, nor toys and other collectibles.

-- Both publishers have 9 titles at the $4.99 price point.  All of these are either oversized (ranging from 40 pages to 64 pages) or a "combo pack" which includes a digital access code.

-- Hawk-related: We're getting an New 52 Earth-2 Hawkgirl figure!  More on this in later post.

-- Showcase Presents: The Great Disaster is FINALLY getting released!  Woo Woo Woo!  You Know It!  

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Read: Hawkman v.2

In an effort to actually, ya know, READ my Hawkman comics which have taken up seemingly permanent residence in a series of boxes in my bedroom, I finished up Volume 2 of Hawkman this past week.  This is the book, you will remember which spun out of the Shadow War miniseries (see here, here, here, and here), and continued to address the quiet invasion of Earth by agents of Thanagar.

At least, it does until Tony Isabella leaves after issue #9.  Dan Mishkin was scripting over Isabella's plots, and he takes over writing chores proper in issue #11 (after a crossover with Action Comics).  Normally this wouldn't be much of a problem, but Isabella leaves right in the middle of the blow-off of the entire Shadow War story, so the ending which has been building for over a year ends up being a little wonky in the grand scheme of things.  Before he heads out, though, Isabella does some really neat stuff, including introducing the evil Wingman Deron Ved, AKA Dawkwing (no, not that Darkwing) as the leader of the invasion.  Darkwing's schtick is that he was the first Wingman to earn the Honor Wings, with Katar Hol being the second.  The running battles between him and the Hawks are very nicely done, and Richard Howell and Carlos Garzon  make the art pop, despite it's somewhat tame "DC house style" finished look.

Mishkin also turns in some cool story beats as well, including a council of Thanagarians using an android duplicate of Hyathis to rule from the sidelines, and a very Silver Age-y story where good portions of Thanagar are turned into giant monsters.  And you folks know how I love giant monsters.  

But then everything sort of goes off the rails.

The finale of the series shifts the action from Midway City to... New Orleans, I guess, although it is never spelled out.  And in the wake of Katar and Shayera closing the book on their lives as Thanagarians, our hero becomes extremely unsure of himself: indecisive, irrational, and ineffective.  There's a lot of stuff about ghosts, the Gentleman Ghost, and realms of the afterlife (where you are not, like, "dead dead," but maybe just "mostly dead") and the roiling storm in Hawkman's heart.  And while Hawkman having a tortured, angry heart might fly for the modern rendition of the character, it doesn't ring true for this one.  The last issue features a raging Hawkman essentially battling a hurricane, while Shayera and the Gentleman Ghost try to breach their way back into the world of the living.  I can see what Mishkin was going for, but as essentially a capstone on the character before Hawkworld, it doesn't really work for me.

(The fact that Howell and Garzon didn't do this issue doesn't help it; Ed Hannigan and Don Heck are game but it doesn't flow from the previous issues.)

Ultimately my feeling on this series was one of missed potential.  I dug the Shadow War mini and thought that a series which really dug into that concept would be a lot of fun.  And for a while, it did exactly that, and I had fun reading it.  But it was clear that the sales were not there, and DC did some shake-ups, and in the end, it was too little too late.  Katar and Shayera as we knew them were going to be on their way out; Hawkworld was looming, for good or ill.

And it looms for me too, for that is the next series on my Hawkman read-through.  Maybe I'll even blog some about it.  What do you think?

The Shadow War Is Over... As Above, So Below.  

Friday, February 14, 2014

Forever Evil #5 Takes Out a Hawkman Character

I finally got my copy of Forever Evil #5. Overall I am still really enjoying this series, but I have a petty sort of complaint which bugged me last issue, and really bothered me this issue.

SPOILERS for Forever Evil #5

Lex's team runs into resistance from the Society in #4, and among the crew is the new Shadow Thief.  Now, this alone is annoying, because the new Shadow Thief has not been shown to be a member of the Society, nor do her motivations suggest that she should be a member.  Her whole MO is to hunt down aliens on Earth.  She is not a thief in the same vein as Carl Sands was; she is called "thief" because she stole her shadow suit.  But I let it slide, because maybe there is a reason she is working for the Society and we just haven't seen it yet.

So then we get to issue #5, and the fight rages on.  And what goes down here?  That's right, Black Manta blasts Shadow Thief with his eye beams, and seemingly rips her in half.  

ARRRGH.

I am not one of those folks who complains about the level of violence in comics generally.  Forever Evil is a violent series and I'm cool with that.  But killing off the new Shadow Thief in such a throwaway bit is very irritating to me.  Here was a character who was introduced specifically for the New 52, had a different identity, backstory, gender, and motivation from the previous version.  Even the way that her powers were presented was different than what had come before.  This was an original take on the concept of the Shadow Thief, which has been around for 50 years at this point.  

And blam, there she goes, dead as fodder to put over a character who doesn't need any more putting over at this point.  I mean, Johns has successfully established Black Manta as a "bad dude" going back to Brightest Day.  Does he need to kill a character like Shadow Thief at this point to earn any more "cred?"

Talk about a waste.  For all the net-marks kvetch and complain about how the New 52 has no diversity and is "just doing the same things over and over," why has the offing of a character which is both diverse and different from what has come before not generated even a peep from the normally breathlessly-offended internet comics community?  

I know I am going to be shocked (shocked!) when in a year or so, a new new Shadow Thief shows up to fight some iteration of the Justice League, and it's (wait for it) Carl Sands.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Justice League of America #7.3: Shadow Thief Preview

Newsarama has a preview up of next week's Justice League of America #7.3: Shadow Thief.  My desire for a lack of spoilers, coupled with the fact that Newarama's previews don't launch correctly for me on this computer, means I have not checked it out -- but don't let me stop you!

The book is written by Tom DeFalco (which makes sense, as he created this new Shadow Thief), with art by Chad Hardin.  Should be interesting to see how much (or how little) DeFalco ties the Thief to the Forever Evil event, as she has not been seen with the Secret Society in any capacity at this point.  

I have gotten my first batch of Villains Month comics freom DCBS (namely, Two-Face, The Creeper, and Grodd), and for those curious I did manage to get the 3D covers for all three.  They are rather striking in person, and the 3D separation looks really dramatic.  That having been said, I am not married to them, so if anyone wants to swap them for a 2D cover I'm game.  (Aside, DCBS contacted their customers asking for volunteers to swap out a 3D cover for a 2D cover on several upcoming VM issues; I gladly took them up on the offer, figuring its better to spread the wealth around.)  

So, who's picking this issue up?