Tag Archives: DC Universe

Scotch & Comics Episode 020: Auld Lang Syne

Fun Fact: Robbie Burns' future was so bright he had to wear shades.

Fun Fact: Robbie Burns’ future was so bright he had to wear shades.

It may have been six months since the last episode of Scotch & Comics but that doesn’t mean that your host has gotten rusty. Or even gotten himself a Rusty Nail. (Ouch. I cut myself on that pun.) But in this special Robbie Burns Day episode, your host Devin R Bruce delivers an ode to comics. Specifically the comics Stormwatch, FF, Plastic Man, and Pretty Deadly. It’s a guid a body!

Show Notes:

  • Clarification: Martian Manhunter was in the Nu52 Stormwatch, not the Warren Ellis WildStorm version.
  • The Weird is a strange 80s DC book that Jim Starlin did. It’s a strange book but I like it.
  • The Golden Age magician that showed up in FF that I couldn’t remember is named Drakor. I can’t find references to him anywhere online, so if anyone knows if he has a previous publishing history, please let me know.
  • I feel like I give Pretty Deadly kind of poor lip service in this episode. I was kind of dumbfounded by how good issue 1 was. It’s really good, friends!
  • Musical interludes in this episode are: “Motherfuckers” by Murray Lightburn, “One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces” by Ben Folds Five, “I’ve Got A Match” by They Might Be Giants, and “Sattelite Mind” by Metric. More cursing than usual, which is okay sometimes.

Link: Episode 020 on Libsyn
Download: Scotch & Comics Episode 020
Subscribe on iTunes: Scotch & Comics

Scotch & Comics Episode 017 – Nothing To See Here

You're not making ME walk the plank, you landlubber.

You’re not making ME walk the plank, you landlubber.

Pretend it hasn’t been nearly three months. Pretend that your intrepid host Devin R Bruce has always been here, talking to you about the glory that is the comic book and the wonder that is the single malt Scotch whisky. And then pretend this is not entirely unexpected! Because boy howdy, was this a fun one to record. Put your feet up while he fixes you a (virtual) drink. and then rants at you about Batman And The Monster Men by Matt Wagner, Revival by Tim Seely & Mike Norton, Thunderbolts Classic from Marvel, The Invisibles from Vertigo, and Pirate Eye: Mark of The Black Widow from Action Lab Comics! Acceptable superhero fare, small town horror-noir, adventures in metafiction, and a pirate-gangster mashup you won’t soon forget. Is it a vision brought on by finishing off Grant Morrison’s breakfast smoothie? No, it’s just another episode of Scotch & Comics!

Show Notes

  • Seriously. Revival. Is good.
  • For more about Grant Morrison’s thought processes when he was making The Invisibles, and his insignts on superhero comics in general, you could check out Supergods. It’s in need of an edit but the concepts are fascinating.
  • Note: said I was influenced by READING ABOUT drug culture. Like, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test and The Doors of Perception and Warren Ellis comics in general.
  • My friend Stan is awesome. Here is a link to his twitter.
  • Action Lab Comics is a company you should know about, and Pirate Eye: Mark of The Black Widow was just one great thing I’ve read from them. Princeless, Back In The Day, and Fracture are just a few of their awesome offerings. Visit them now and love them like I do!
  • Musical interludes this episode were: “Our World” by LTJ Bukem, “A Song For The Dead” by Queens of The Stone Age, “Miracle Drug” by A.C. Newman. “Tomorrow Never Knows” by The Beatles, and “Dead Man Walking” by David Bowie.

Link: Episode 017 on Libsyn
Download: Scotch & Comics Episode 017
Subscribe on iTunes: Scotch & Comics

Reviews: Long Time No See

This isn’t an episode update, although that should hopefully be coming within a week or so. This is more of a “Holy crap, what the heck happened to me?” entry. Long story short: I got busy, I got lazy, I got sick, repeat. Also: my external hard drive crashed so I lost 6 old episodes and have to re-upload all my music from my CD collection and so forth. So not as bad as it could have been but still a pain.

But despite the minor inconveniences I didn’t stop reading comics during that time, no sir and nay ma’am. I read me a bucketload of comic books. So until the time comes that I can once again sit down with a glass of my favourite amber liquor and a stack of funnybooks, I’ll see what I can do to gain a foothold here with a few quick reviews.

androidsDo Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? from BOOM! Studios
written by Philip K. Dick
illustrated by Tony Parker

I really like Philip K. Dick; my first exposure to him (that wasn’t a movie adaptation) was The Man In The High Castle, which I loved, and when I finally got around to the prose version of Androids I was pleasantly surprised. Blade Runner is a cinematic masterpiece but it was fascinating to see how different the source material was, and still compelling and interesting. So I was looking forward to a comic book adaptation, seeing visions of the dying dust-choked Earth and different interpretations of Deckard, Isidore, and the others strange and wonderful characters.

So imagine how much it hurts me that this was nearly painful to read. It’s not an adaptation so much as an illustrated novel. Which I suppose would be a great thing for literalists, but to me, this is as close to a capital sin as you can get in a comic book. For example: it’s not necessary to have a written description of what a character is doing in a comic book at the same time that there’s a drawing of it. A comic book is a combination of words and images, so when you have a panel where the images and the words are doing the exact same thing, then you have a bad comic book panel. DADES is chock full of panels like this.

The transition between dialogue and narration was clumsy as well. Having narrative boxes breaking up word balloons that add nothing more than “he said” or “she said” was distracting at best and difficult to read at worst. And this happens ALL THE DAMN TIME. I feel bad for the letterer, who did a Herculean job that was also often unnecessary.

I would like to say that Tony Parker does a good job with the art chores, because for the most part he does: the figures are generally well-proportioned, and the scenery and the modern technology looks familiar and alien. There’s a particular double-page spread of dystopian San Francisco that is very effective. But when the art is either redundant or choked up with so many word balloons and narrative boxes as to be unreadable, I can’t say that I enjoyed the comic.

The best part of the book was the collection of essays on Philip K. Dick at the end of the book, written by the likes of Warren Ellis, Ed Brubaker, and Matt Fraction. Those were fun to read. But I’d rather simultaneously watch Total Recall and read a Shopaholic book than read more of this comic series.

(Full  disclosure: I really don’t like the 90s version of Total Recall. I haven’t seen the new one, but I doubt it’s much better.)

1023173

Knight and Squire from DC Comics
written by Paul Cornell
illustrated by Jimmy Broxton (interiors) and Yanick Paquette (covers)

If you’re an Anglophile and like superheroes, then this is the book for you. (Alternately, if you’re British and like superheroes, I think this is also up your alley.) Basically, Knight and Squire are the English counterparts to Batman and Robin; these particular versions of the characters were created by Grant Morrison, who I rather like but doesn’t have much to do with this particular collection. In this collection Cornell and Broxton manage quite a fantastic juggling act: dealing with over a hundred new characters while balancing a very important piece of DC Comics lore, while weaving stories that are very silly and very touching and also very scary (sometimes in the same issue). The art is not terribly shiny but does a bang-up job of showing superhero action, comedy, and pathos, so good on Jimmy Broxton. But it’s Cornell that makes the book shine for me: the dialogue crackles, the characters are really grounded, and the stories feel familiar and yet odd. It’s a very cool English take on the silliness and splendour of American superhero comics, and one I would happily recommend.

(Footnote: there’s a splash page introduction of a particular character that was so effective that it gave me chills and made me shout “Oh NO!” I won’t spoil who it was, but it was handled absolutely brilliantly. Braxton & Cornell do a great job with that character afterwards too, but the introduction was spectacular.)

casefiles2

Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files Vol. 2
The Cused Earth written by Pat Mills with John Wagner and Jack Adrian; illustrated by Mike McMahon and Brian Bolland
The Day The Law Died written by John Wagner; illustrated by Mike McMahon, Brian Bolland, and Ron Smith

As your average North American comic fan, I was aware of Judge Dredd – and 2000AD comics in general – before I’d ever read a single panel of the comics. In the past two years I’ve been slowly working through portions of the 2000AD comics universe, which spans decades of fine British sci-fi comics history, and after this second volume of The (Nearly) Complete Case Files I have to say that I am a complete and total Dredd-head.

About 90% of this volume is dedicated to two major Judge Dredd epics: The Cursed Earth and The Day The Law Died. These two stories really give the world of Mega-City One a lot more depth and texture, as well as making Dredd more than just a good Judge. By the end of this volume, Dredd is a hero on an almost-mythic scale, and although the stories aren’t perfect, there’s far more to like in them than to dislike.

First of all: The Cursed Earth takes Judge Dredd and a small group of judges across the Cursed Earth to Mega-City Two, where they are supposed to deliver an antidote to a virus that turns citizens into violent brutes. I’ve read people speaking ill of McMahon’s art on a couple of websites, but I’ve always liked his slightly messy and cluttered style for Mega-City One, and it’s a great fit for stories on the irradiated, mutant-infested Cursed Earth. Of course, when Brian Bolland shows up, I’m not going to say no. You don’t say no to Brian Bolland. Brian Bolland will cut you. With art.

The Cursed Earth is a big stewpot for the Judge Dredd writers to throw all their crazy post-apocalyptic ideas into, and what comes out of it is bizarre and delicious and wonderful. Dredd fighting cloned dinosaurs? Sure! Motorcycle death races in Las Vegas? Yes sir! Hillbillies being attacked by vampires? Absolutely! Gang wars featuring fast-food icons (sadly not reprinted in this collection)? You got it! Dredd faces all that and more in his headlong rush through the Cursed Earth, and every concept is fun and big and perfect for Judge Dredd.

The Day The Law Died, on the other hand, is set entirely in Mega-City One. It tells the story of the mad Judge Cal who takes the position of the Chief Judge of Mega-City One and rules it with an iron fist. An iron fist that is attached to a crazy person. It starts out fairly straightforward: Cal is clearly not supposed to be in this position of power, and the things he does are bizarre and wrong but within the bounds of believability. Then, he appoints his pet goldfish second in command, and things take a turn.

Dredd has to hide out and build a resistance to fight Cal, and this is where we meet the worst part of this entire story: Fergee, the giant super-strong Troggie who teams up with Dredd and his motley crew to take Cal down. Fergee is a broad caricature of a big dumb oaf, and when I say broad I mean BROOOOAAAAD. Broad like pantomime or the Beano. It feels like a weird story to shove a character like that, but it also feels a very English thing to do, so while I didn’t love it, I let it be and just accepted it.

As the story continues it gets more and more ridiculous, and every time it leaves Dredd and goes back to focus on Cal it’s just mind-boggling how much further down the spiral staircase he can descend. The Day The Law Died might be a little long but I loved seeing Cal act like a rabid Roman emperor (have you figured out what Cal is short for yet?), behaving like a lunatic and running his city into the ground.

The other stories in the collection are decent Dredd fare, but the two epics really grabbed me and made me a Dredd fan for life. Hopefully they’ll do the same for you.

Scotch & Comics: Episode 12 – The RetreatCast

Get ready for a fireside chat – Scotch & Comics style!

That’s right! The twelfth episode of Scotch & Comics is here, it’s late, and it’s just what you’ve come to expect – but not. Recorded on location on Devin R Bruce’s secret retreat somewhere in the Canadian Rockies, on this episode your outdoorsy host reflects on Supergod by Warren Ellis and Garrie Gastonny, Love & Rockets by Jaime Hernandez, Solomon Kane from Dark Horse Comics, and the first issue of the beloved Kamandi: The Last Boy On Earth! And all to the soothing soundtrack of a crackling fire, gentle rain, and not-so-random selections from his music library! Are you lost? In search of a true direction? Then come along on the RetreatCast and find what YOU have been searching for!

Show Notes:
Yes, I say Supergods when I mean Supergod. I had Grant Morrison on the brain.

Link: Episode 012 on Libsyn
Download: Scotch & Comics Episode 012
Subscribe on Itunes: The Readerfeed

Scotch & Comics: Episode 010 – High Tension

Always remember Rule #1 of JSA...

Seriously. Make fun of this guy’s costume. I dare you.

In this, the tenth episode of Scotch and Comics, many questions are raised. Such as: What do a 1970s British cop series, a beloved grandma, and Teacher’s Highland Cream have in common? Which Hernandez brother draws the best smashed-up cars? What comic book can get your intrepid host absolutely (in his own words) JAZZED? And what gives him the right to lay down the law when it comes to the Justice Society? It’s a trip through a wide selection of comics, from Mark Waid’s first story on The Flash, to Remender & Opena’s take on The Punisher, to Erik Larsen’s Savage Dragon, to the indie classic Love & Rockets, and DC’s new Earth 2 series. Five Scotch-fueled diatribes and five energetic musical breaks: ten reasons to listen to Scotch & Comics!

Show Notes/Links:

  • This podcast contains very mild spoilers for Planetary. Yes, I’ve made the jump to spoiling things that I’m not even READING.
  • I said “Beyond Palomar” when I should have said “Human Diastrophism.” I haven’t read Beyond Palomar yet.
  • Did you know that I have a Tumblr now? Well I do! Because I don’t my digits in enough internet pies!
  • Also: Wildcat is great. Seriously. You know what I’m talking about, right?
  • The songs featured in this episode are: The Sweeney Theme (written by Harry South), Right Brigade by Bad Brains, The Fifty Minute Hour by The Hylozoists, Hit It & Quit It by Funkadelic, and Train #2 by The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion.

Link: Episode 010 on Libsyn
Download: Scotch & Comics Episode 010
Subscribe on Itunes: The Readerfeed

Scotch & Comics: Episode 009 – Nine Nine Nine Challenge

Answer: YES.

Question: The Greatest Legionnaire of All Time?

In this week’s episode of Scotch & Comics, host Devin R Bruce covers his time at the Emerald City Comic Con in Seattle, drinks some duty-free Glenfiddich, and talks about the 999 Reading Challenge. (And no, it’s got nothing to do with a Pokemon-loving former US Republican “contender.”) Then, he talks about why the first issue of Stumptown is a perfect crime comic AND waxes rhapsodic on the subject of Chuck Taine of the Legion of Super-Heroes. Short but sweet this week, there’s still plenty of Scotch & Comics to wet your whistles!

Show Notes

  • This year’s Emerald City Comic Con was the tenth anniversary, and if next year’s is going to be anything like this year, I’ll be back for year eleven!
  • The Glenfiddich website covers their whole range of whiskys; I’ve only ever had the 12, myself, but I hope to try more in the future.
  • I know said I’d put up my ECCC sketches but my scanner is down; I’ll update the blog when I’ve worked out all the kinks.
  • I’ll be podcasting about books I’m tackling during the 999 Challenge, but if you’re interested in following my capsule reviews, here’s the Scotch & Comics Tumblr.
  • The musical interludes in this episode is from Kirby Krackle & Adam Warrock, two artists I have liked for a few years now and I got to see BOTH of them live during Kracklefest. Eugene (aka Adam Warrock) and Kyle (from Kirby Krackle) are really cool guys, from the brief conversations I’ve had with them, and you should legally acquire their music. By paying them for it. I know, it seems old-fashioned, but you’ll feel good about it.

Link: Episode 009 on Libsyn
Download: Scotch & Comics Episode 009
Subscribe on Itunes: The Readerfeed

Scotch & Comics: Episode 008 – Re-Peat Business

I know I wouldn't want to mess with this guy.
Rogue Trooper with his best friends and his combat gear.

 

Welcome back! In this eighth episode of Scotch & Comics, your host Devin R Bruce climbs on board the peat train thanks to a liberal dosage of the Ardbeg 10 Year Old Single Malt. Fortified by heavy doses of scotch that you could smell across the hall, he then leads a motley group of comics into the fray: The Hood from Marvel Comics’s Marvel MAX imprint, 2000AD’s Rogue Trooper, the third volume in Jeff Lemire’s Essex County trilogy from Top Shelf, and the first four issues of the  post-Crisis Justice League title from DC Comics. From war to sci-fi, superhero adventures to small-town crises, Scotch & Comics serves up one hell of a strong cocktail!

Show Notes
Happy Harbor Comics is one of the best comics stores in Edmonton. If you’re in town, you should visit.
The Malt Troll Whisky Club is a group founded for the enjoyment of and education regarding whisky. Again: if in town, attending one of their tastings is highly recommended.
Ardbeg Distillery. The place that smells like heaven.
I really do think Thor: Vikings by Garth Ennis & Glenn Fabry is Mavel MAX superheroics done right. Thor fighting undead Vikings who are trying to loot Manhattan. How can you lose?
The whole “Saliva Teeth” thing I was talking about is kind of summed up in this post from the HeroMachine blog, but I’d seen it referenced in something else first. Anyone know what I’m vaguely referring to?
The Sweater by Roch Carrier is best known to patriotic Canadians in this short from the National Film Board. Every time I watch it I become six years old.
Seriously: the 1980s Black Canary Costume. Horrendous. No wonder she burned it.
I said “Giffen and his inkers.” I of course meant “Maguire and his inkers.” Blame the whisky, not the man.
Hey, remember when I made 8tracks playlists for these things? Well, I started doing it again. Featuring the music used in this episode (from The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Medeski Martin & Wood, Beck, and The Soundtrack of Our Lives) and thirteen more tracks. Check it out!

Link: Episode 008 on Libsyn
Download: Scotch & Comics Episode 008
Subscribe on Itunes: The Readerfeed

Scotch & Comics: Episode 007 – License to Spill

Deadshot #1

I mean, isn't that a striking cover?

It’s the day after Anna Howard Shaw Day and what better way to get over your love hangover than with a dose of Scotch & Comics! After going on a little bit about Glenlivet, French oak trees, barreling, and the difference a few drops of water can make, we dive into a strange but satisfying combination of comic books. This episode features Neil Young’s Greendale, 1988’s Deadshot miniseries (spinning out of DC’s groundbreaking Suicide Squad title), a horrifying thriller in Silverfish, and the secret history of The Lone Ranger. A little of everything this week: western adventure, creepy crime fiction, ecological fantasy, and supervillains.

Show Links/Notes
Doctor Thirteen was a really exciting and wacky adventure series as well as a great tongue-in-cheek look at DC’s 52 event. Cliff Chiang’s website has a link to the unused cover for the trade collection, as well as links to the interviews he and Brian Azzarello did for the series. Well worth your time to check out even if you haven’t read 52.
In the podcast I say I know John Ostrander best from Suicide Squad. That is a lie. I don’t know how I forgot about this but I first discovered him as the writer of the 1990s Martian Manhunter series, and THEN I discovered he wrote Suicide Squad. Sober Devin apologizes.
I said “James Owlsey” when I should have said “James Owsley.” I don’t think I’ve ever said his name correctly. Damn tongue twisters.
Double Page Spread features comics, cooking, conversation, and cracking good times. Also, I was fortunate enough to be on the first episode. Take a listen!
Seriously, I welcome any suggestions for shelf organization. Please. Help a nerd in need.

Link: Episode 007 on Libsyn
Download: Scotch & Comics Episode 007
Subscribe on Itunes: The Readerfeed

Scotch & Comics: Episode 005 – An Interview With Kody Chamberlain

Can You Spot The Hidden Objects?

Cover to Sweets #1

The fifth episode of Scotch & Comics is a Very Special Epsiode, and by that I don’t mean one where we all learn an important lesson about bullying or lying to your parents. I mean one where you get to hear a conversation with a comics professional! On his episode I talk to writer and artist Kody Chamberlain, from Image Comics’ Sweets and the upcoming re-launch of Punks from MTV Comics. We talk about Sweets in particular (and my hazy confusion about the plot), his craft in general, his opinion on digital comics, and then a brief discussion about what he’s currently interested in in the rest of pop culture. And if that wasn’t enough – and believe me, it should be – I finish it off with a trio of comics reviews that span genres, companies, and decades. Your regular semi-soused comics reviews, an interview with a very talented creator, and a charming story about waterfowl: you can’t ask for much more than that!

WARNING: I mention this in the intro to the podcast, but Kody Chamberlain and I do talk about the plot points and reveals in his comic, Sweets. Spoilers abound, but the rest of the reviews start at about the 40 minute mark.

Show Notes:
A Brief History of The Scotch Watch
Kody Chamberlain’s Blog
Punks: The Comic

Link: Episode 005 on Libsyn
Download: Scotch & Comics Episode 005
Subscribe on Itunes: The Readerfeed

Scotch & Comics – Episode 002

In this second episode of Scotch and Comics, host Devin R Bruce takes a little bit of time to talk about one of his new favourite Scotch varieties, then dives headfirst into the newly-relaunched (don’t call it a reboot!) line of DC Comics titles. After going through The Good, The Bad, and The Questionable, he then cleanses the palate with some decidedly darker non-superhero fare featuring Joe Casey & Steve Parkhouse’s The Milkman Murders, Rafael Grampa’s Mesmo Delivery, and Kody Chamberlain’s Sweets.

NOTE: The DC Universe talk features a spoiler for Nightwing #1 at about the 27 minute mark, so if you want to keep your reading experience relatively pure the rest of the reviews start at about 32:20.

Show Links
The Glenrothes – A Speyside Distillery
DC Comics – Home of the New 52
Kody Chamberlain’s Blog – Creator of Sweets
Show playlist on 8tracks

Link: Episode 002 on Libsyn
Download: Scotch & Comics Episode 002
Subscribe on Itunes: The Readerfeed