‘All-Star Superman’, the only Superman story that makes sense

All-Star Superman, the defining Superman story

The problem with Superman is that he’s God in the form of a human.

He’s easily one of the most well-known fictional characters ever created. Faster than a speeding bullet, able to leap tall buildings with a single bound, he’s everything we aren’t but want to be. The problem with Superman, fundamentally as a character, is that he doesn’t do all of the things he should be able to do. For example, why doesn’t he feed all the starving people in the world, planting sustainable crops in their backyards. Why doesn’t he free the oppressed? Cure cancer with his brilliant, Kryptonian mind? This is where disbelief tends to not be suspended and your left with an omnipotent being that fights dudes in spandex outfits.

Then came along All-Star Superman in January of 2006, written by Grant Morrison, with pencils by Frank Quitely and digitally inked and colored by Jamie Grant. In my opinion, it’s the best Superman tale ever told, because this creative team simply makes Superman, super.

Continue reading this post…

December 12, 2011 / By

‘Everything We Miss’ by Luke Pearson

'Everything We Miss' by Luke Pearson

'Everything We Miss' by Luke Pearson

'Everything We Miss' by Luke Pearson

Here at The Fox Is Black we’re big fans of the work of Luke Pearson and although we’ve featured him a number of times before I couldn’t resist writing a small piece about his excellent book Everything We Miss. Published in June by the folks at Nobrow; the book is an atmospheric tale of heartbreak and longing. Told with a striking sense of poignancy and maturity, it also displays Pearson’s amazing visual talent and his skill at crafting a story through words and pictures. Below Luke describes the premise of the book:

Everything We Miss is a breakup story set against a darkly fantastical backdrop. A couple’s final moments together are documented alongside the events and strange occurrences that go on unseen and unheard around them (and around us).

The tone and atmosphere of the book is wonderfully captured through Luke’s drawings and his restrained palette of black, grey and orange strike the perfect balance between the magic and melancholy of the story. This book will easily strike a chord with anyone who’s found themselves in a relationship that’s become consumed by insecurities and resentments. And while the story may be emotionally complex, Luke handles it beautifully – capturing the poetic poignancy that can be found in the darker moments of our lives.

Everything We Miss is released through Nobrow and available to buy here.


October 18, 2011 / By

Will DC Comics’ Massive Reboot Help Them Stay Relevant?

Will DC Comics' Massive Reboot Help Them Stay Relevant?

Click image to enlarge

A few weeks ago DC Comics did a gigantic rebrand/reboot to their entire universe called the New 52, and well, it’s an interesting route to go. I’ve been reading comic books for over 20 years now, and I have a silly amount of comic book knowledge in my head. At heart I’m a Marvel kid, I’ve always been a fan of X-men, and in recent years, all of the Avengers stuff that Brian Michael Bendis is doing. That said, DC has always been doing some great work with Vertigo (which isn’t really DC Comics and shouldn’t be lumped together) and I love what Geoff Johns did with the Green Lantern comics in Blackest Night.

But this New 52? Ugh. I’m going to concentrate on Justice League, which is being written by Geoff Johns, who is basically their main creative, and drawn by Jim Lee, who was basically the most popular comic book artist in the 90’s. Here are some thoughts on Justice League, and I’ll wrap up with some other comics.

The Logo
DC Comics is owned by AOL Time Warner, one of the largest companies in the world, and Justice League is DC’s flagship title. So why does their logo look like it was made by a high school kid? Title design in comic books has always been lacking, and this just goes to show that there’s little to no movement in that area. I have no idea what that font is, but it couldn’t be more generic. DC Comics and The New 52 are all bright and golden, but the Justice League logo? Little to no care.

The Character Designs
Superman Redesign A big deal has been made about the redesign of the characters, all of which were done by Jim Lee. This may have been an insanely big deal… 20 years ago, but Jim Lee hasn’t changed his style in roughly that same amount of time. I know that’s why a lot of comic book readers love Jim Lee, but personally I see that as a being a really bad thing.

The costume redesigns might look different to a long-time reader, but the point of the New 52 is to get new readers on board. I can’t imagine someone unfamiliar with superman thinking that this looks at all different. Why reboot an entire universe if you don’t want to do something new and exciting? Superman’s cape now hangs magically off of his clavicles, he no longer wears red underwear, and there are now all of these weird lines all over this costume… how edgy. I guess there was a giant internal conversation over whether or not Wonder Woman should have to wear pants, which sounds completely sexist to me, and Batman has tech-y gloves. These are really the things that should considered when redefining a character?

The Story
I guess I shouldn’t comment too much on the story of just the first issue, but for $4 all I got to see was Batman and Green Lantern making stupid banter for 20 pages, 4 pages of a young Cyborg not-yet-turned-into-Cyborg, and one page of Superman. I’m sure it’s setting up everything but the entire thing felt cliched. Batman being chased by the cops (who have insane weapons) chasing a bad guy trying to get information when Green Lantern comes in and gets all Lantern-y.

When the Marvel started the Ultimate Universe they decided to take familiar characters and themes and twist it. The Ultimate Universe is now what the Marvel movies are being based on and expanding into new markets. It feels like DC is trying to be edgy, but it feels like they’re trying way to hard, like Batman calling the cops “idiots”. Batman is so bad ass.

Overall I feel bad for DC, as it’s bad for comics in general. DC seems like they’re trying really hard, but they’re not doing it right. They’re reusing tired, old comic book cliches and not coming up with any new and exciting ideas. I wish it was exciting and new, I wish they made Marvel look like chumps with an amazing story that surpasses anything they’re doing, but they aren’t, and it’s a shame.

I recently read an interview with Brian Michael Bendis, who in my mind is the smartest, most talented comic book writer out there. He was talking about how he killed off Peter Parker in the Ultimate Universe and replaced him with Miles Morales, a half-black/half-hispanic kid who happens to get powers. This is exactly why I think Marvel is doing the best work these days.

“It’s where my head’s at, man,” he says. “For this genre particularly to matter, it’s gotta feel real. People say, ‘Yeah, if I had powers, this would be my life.’ That was always the magic of Peter Parker and the Marvel era of comics when it first debuted is that if you had powers, you wouldn’t really change all that much. You’d still have the same problems — they’d probably be worse.”

There’s also big missteps like the new, gay Teen Titans character who couldn’t look more stereotypical, they’ve got Rob Liefeld (the worst comic book artist in history) drawing Hawk & Dove again, the Static Shock writer quitting and they keep making these damn Subway advertisements with their characters.

Please DC Comics, get your act together and start telling good stories again.


September 19, 2011 / By

Stussy x Marvel

David Shrigley's Hulk for Stussy x Marvel
John K's Crystal & Johnny Strange for Stussy x MarvelTodd James (AKA REAS)'s She-Hulk for Stussy x Marvel

I’m a little late on this but recently the Californian based clothing brand Stussy joined forces with both Marvel Comics and a group of artists to create a series of special edition t-shirts. This is the second series in their Stussy x Marvel range and this one is particularly great because of the talent that they’ve been able to attract. Above you can see some good examples of the kind of thing to expect from the series, with each superhero being re-imagined in the artist’s signature style. Above, you caught David Shrigley’s Incredible Hulk, Ren and Stimpy creator John K’s take on Crystal and Johnny Storm, and Todd James’s She-Hulk. They’re pretty crazy but I think they’re really great.

The talent doesn’t end just there either, check out their site and you’ll see people like the LA tattoo artist Mr. Cartoon, the American animator Bill Plympton and British illustrator Will Sweeney have all contributed designs for the project. I think my personal favorite might be James Jarvis’ take on The Thing which just has so much character. If you’re interested in finding out more about the project I’ve included a little video below the cut which was made by the guys at HBTV. It’s fairly typical marketing schtick but it’s worth the watch to see plenty of the artists speaking about the influences that Marvel has brought upon them and you’ll also catch Mr. Cartoon do a sweet little rendition of the Spiderman theme!

Continue reading this post…

May 25, 2011 / By

Trailer for AMC’s ‘The Walking Dead’

To say that AMC is leading the pack in innovative television programming that might be an understatement, this coming from a guy who doesn’t even watch TV. But with their successes with Mad Men, Breaking Bad and now Rubicon the network is certainly making some great decisions with it’s original content. So the fact that they’re turning The Walking Dead, one of the finest comic books out there, in a series is amazing.

I’ve been reading The Walking Dead for a while now, I even posted about it a couple years ago, and it’s definitely a top notch story. Where you might think it’s just a standard zombie story it’s actually a human drama that just happens to have a bunch of dead folks walking around. The real dangers of their world are the people they run into, not knowing their stories, their experiences and their motivations.

The trailer looks extremely hopeful, the zombies are totally creepy and the environments they’re running around in don’t look fake or CGI. Could this be a Battlestar Galactica for zombie fans?


August 26, 2010 / By

‘The Magician And The Snake’ by Katie and Mike Mignola

Mike Mignola, the amazing illustrator and creator of Hellboy, recently completed a short comic story with his daughter Katie, age 7, and it’s a beautiful and touching little ditty. It’s about a magician who is proclaimed to be the best ever after he makes a set of shapes disappear. But he tells his best friend the snake that by doing this he’s sealed his fate and that the shapes will come back and take his life one day. So he and the snake live out the rest of their lives until the shapes do come back one day and take the magicians life.

It’s crazy to me that Mike Mignola can take such a simple story and concept and create something that’s so amazing around it. I think my favorite part is when the snake is hissing from the top of the tower, the beam of light from the shapes engulfing him.

To read the rest of the story be sure to click here.


August 17, 2010 / By

‘Asterios Polyp’ by David Mazzucchelli

Last weekend (I think) I was in Skylight Books, as is usual for me to do on my weekends, and while browsing the comics and graphic novels I came across this book called Asterios Polyp. The name immediately struck me because it was suggested to me by a reader who wanted to help me out named Rhea Rivera. There’s also the vibrant as all hell cover, as well as who the author/illustrator is, a Mr. David Mazzucchelli.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with comic books, Mr. Mazzucchelli was the artist behind Frank Miller’s amazing Batman: Year One storyline as well as illustrating Daredevil which Frank Miller was also writing for a time. The thing is, this was all happening way back in the mid to late 80’s. David Mazzucchelli is something of legend when it comes to comic books, but here he is now in 2010, finally releasing his very first graphic novel.

The story is centered around a man named Asterios Polyp, who when we first come upon him you can clearly see that his life, which is filled with designer furniture signifying he has wealth, has somehow fallen apart. Suddenly, lightning strikes the generators outside of his apartments, setting fire to the building until eventually it’s all gone. And that’s where we start, on a voyage with Asterios as he tries to put himself back together while seeing how he got so very low.

The book is exquisitely drawn and designed, it’s hard to even describe how brilliant this book is. The style is nothing like his old comic work, it’s much more stylized like an Italian or French comic book. It’s a simple style that allows the story to dominate the pages, while at other times the art completely shifts tone, illustrating a plot point with a visual punch.

I also thought I’d include these images of the endpapers, which I thought were quite wonderful. Once you read the story you’ll understand the significance of flowers, but it’s subtle touches like this that really make this story so wonderful.

Do yourself a favor and buy this book now.


April 13, 2010 / By

Redesign Superman #1

At the end of February comic book writer and all around lunatic Warren Ellis asked the readers of his blog to redesign Superman as if it was being released today:

You are an artist/designer. You have to put together the cover for a comic called SUPERMAN. It is issue 1 of this book.

You have been told that Superman is a man who dresses predominantly in a shade of blue, and wears a red S symbol. You know nothing else about the character.


And that’s it.

It’s up to you what kind of company you’re at. What kind of comics you make. How you translate that description of Superman. What era you’re in. Who you are, even. Go nuts with it.

A lot of the entries were, well, kind of janky, but the cover above by the very talented Tom Muller definitely caught my eye. I’ve posted about Mr. Muller before and I’m sure this won’t be the last time. I love that he didn’t try to go with any kind of superhero motif, he simply made an awesome and interesting cover. If I saw this comic sitting on a shelf I would buy it in a heartbeat. This is exactly the reason why I always say that there needs to be more graphic design in comic books.


March 8, 2010 / By