Comics

Comic Vine’s Top 100 Batman Universe Stories – Comic Vine

As a huge Batman fan and the upcoming release of the new Batman film this list is a great place to start catching up on your Batman history. I have read the top ten and the latest “Court of Owls” story line would make for a great movie. The continuation of this story in “Night of the Owls” if done right will be in the top ten and could even crack the top five.

 

Comic Vine’s Top 100 Batman Universe Stories – Comic Vine.

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January Book List

January has been a great month of reading. I had forgotten how great the Kindle app was for reading while on the subway, or on a bus and I took full advantage of it this month. I have read some great ministry books as well as some great personal reads that had been sitting on my “To Read” pile for awhile. This post is just a quick synapsis of the books that I have read and I will be posting a larger review on some of the reads from this month in the next couple of weeks.

Peter and Max : A Fables Novel by Bill Willingham

I am a huge Fables fan, so naturally picking up this novel was only a matter of time. Also, add in that Once Upon A Time is one of my favorite shows right now, this seemed like a good place to start. The book is set in the Fables universe, but is a stand alone read that requires no knowledge of previous comic issues. The book explains character relationships well, so there is no information lost to new readers. It was a quick and easy read that I would not necessarily read again. I found that flipping between present and past events in the novel sometimes hard to follow from chapter to chapter. I would lose myself in the read and then have to think about whether this was Peter and Max in the present, or a flashback to the origins of the problem. A great book of sibling rivalry and the power of corruption and jealousy.

Poke The Box by Seth Godin

I think this was the third time that I have read this book. I am still failing at starting many things as this book continues to remind me. However, I love that every time I read this book my creativity and initiative skills come to the forefront and challenge my life. I would recommend this book to anyone that needs a creative boost and a push to think outside the box. This is a great book to read with a team in order to move away from stagnate thinking and results.

 

 

 

 

A Bright Red Scream : Self-Mutilation And The Language Of Pain by Marilee Strong

This book pushed my limits of comfort when it comes to ministry and the reality of self-injury in the lives of adolescents. I had a hard time putting this book down once I started reading it. I personally liked the look into the historical roots of the issue. However, this books greatest asset is the ability to include stats, real-life stories and research analysis into an easy to read youth ministry textbook on an issue that needs to be talked about. I would hope any youth worker has read this book.

 

 

 

The Day Metallica Came To Church : Searching for the Everywhere God in Everything
by John Van Sloten

”If God speaks through both the Bible and human culture at the same time, how would that work?”

 That is the central question to this book. Personally, the chapter on Van Gough and his painting The Church in Auvers was brilliant. John Van Sloten looks beyond the face value of many cultural fads into the way God is at work through them. This was by far my favorite book this month and again I would recommend it to anyone. As a note he is Canadian and does cover the Calgary Flames run to the Stanley Cup and how he saw God at work in that moment. Again, read it for the chapter on VAn Gogh, I do not think you will be disappointed. I will cover this book at greater length soon.

Bags and Boards : DC Comics New 52 – Too Racy For Some? (Rated T-TEEN)

For some reason this post got deleted. This is just a re-post of an article I posted earlier.

* Some of the quotes have strong language.

DC Comics has unleashed all of its new 52 titles as of this afternoon and they have officially sold out of all of them, and now entering into a second printing. I have really enjoyed some of the new books (i.e Captain Atom, DC Universe Presents and Men of War), and I have also disliked some of the new titles (i.e. Green Arrow, Batgirl and Animal Man). While DC Comics would like you to believe it is a relaunch of their titles some of the books, even though they were fantastic reads did not change from their current story lines (i.e. Batman and Green Lantern).

First off I have always been a Captain Atom fan and loved that the character got a new monthly title as well as Sgt. Rock in Men of War. Two great characters who were given a new life from the relaunch. Two characters that I feel took a step down from their previous monthly series were Green Arrow and Batgirl. I did not like the art work in Animal Man and the unbelievable writing was not enough to get me passed the visuals that didn’t work for me.

However, the biggest controversy that has come out of this relaunch is the visual representation of some of the female characters within the DC Universe. The website Comic Alliance has made numerous posts on both Catwoman and Starfire (Red Hood and the Outlaws).

First up the articles on Starfire.

The Big Sexy Problem with Superheroines and Their ‘Liberated Sexuality’

Read More: http://www.comicsalliance.com/2011/09/22/starfire-catwoman-sex-superheroine/#ixzz1ZINQxqoL

DC Comics On Starfire Controversy: ‘Pay Attention To The Ratings’

Read More: http://www.comicsalliance.com/2011/09/28/dc-comics-on-starfire-controversy-pay-attention-to-the-ratings/#ixzz1ZINcjXRJ

DC’s response to the articles was for parents to pay attention to the ratings of the book they are about to buy. Red Hood and the Outlaws is rated T – Teen, which means that it is meant for readers twelve and up, but a character such as Starfire has been introduced to many loyal DC fans through the child friendly cartoon Teen Titans, which airs on the Cartoon Network. The most compelling article that I have seen is a response to the new Starfire from a seven-year-old fan.

Michele Lee took the new version of both Catwoman and Starfire to her daughter and wrote about her response in this article, A 7-year-old girl responds to DC Comics’ sexed-up reboot of Starfire. Here is one of the more compelling quotes.

Most importantly? Starfire is her favorite hero.

So today I showed her your rebooted Catwoman and Starfire. She is not happy with you DC.

“Why do you like Starfire?”

“She’s like me. She’s an alien new to the planet and maybe she doesn’t always say the right thing, or know the right thing to do. But she’s a good friend, and she helps people. 

When asked about the new Starfire and how it makes her feel she responds with the following.

“Is this new Starfire someone you’d want to be when you grow up?”

*she gets uncomfortable again*”Not really. I mean, grown ups can wear what they want, but…she’s not doing anything but wearing a tiny bikini to get attention.”

“So, you know I’m going to put this on my blog right? (she nods) Is there anything else you want to say?”

               “I want her to be a hero, fighting things and be strong and helping people.”

               “Why’s that?”

               “Because she’s what inspires me to be good.”

Starfire like many other superheroes are role models to many kids, but this book isn’t intended for kids. Does this make it right, well no, but the same question can be said about movies adapted from comics. When my wife and I went to watch Captain America this summer there was a toddler in the front row at a nine o’clock showing. Was that movie kid friendly? No. Just like movie trailers for Captain America should have given the clue about the age appropriateness of the content, comic covers are usually a good indication of what is ahead.

Well, how about Catwoman. Andrew Wheeler wrote that the cover alone should have given you the clue to what the contents of the book would be.

But if you still haven’t understood what sort of book this is going to be, the first panel of the first page gives the mission statement. It is boobs. Bosoms. Breasts. The first panel is framed not on the protagonist’s face, but on her brassiered chest. Page two ends on a shot of her derriere. It’s an action shot. Men are unloading their guns on her derriere. On the third story page Catwoman smashes through a window with one boob hanging out of her costume.

The last page of this month’s Catwoman title was a drawn out sex scene with Batman. Yep, Batman and Catwoman on the roof. I think Comic Alliance got this one right when they wrote the following.

Here’s the question, though: Why? I know why Catwoman and Batman would have sex; there’s nothing wrong with the idea. We saw him hook up with Talia in Son of the Demon and that was pretty cool. I mean literally, why is that last page a full-page splash of Batman actually penetrating Catwoman? Why do we need to see that? What does it accomplish or tell us about the characters that would have been lost if that page had been omitted?

The answer is nothing. They just wanted to see Catwoman and Batman bang on a roof. And that is the whole problem with this false notion of “sexually liberated” female characters: These aren’t those women. They’re how dudes want to imagine those women would be — what Wire creator David Simon called writing “men with t*ts.” They read like men’s voices coming out of women’s faces. Or worse, they read like the straight girls who make out with each other at clubs, not because they enjoy making out with women but because they desperately want guys to pay attention to them.

Read More: http://www.comicsalliance.com/2011/09/22/starfire-catwoman-sex-superheroine/#ixzz1ZIXj0n8y

Comics are no different than any other form of media out there. They contain content that isn’t intended for every reader, just like you wouldn’t take your six-year-old to Transformers, or Kick Ass.

As parents and leaders we have the responsibility to be aware of what our kids are reading and watching. I would not recommend any of the new relaunched titles for anyone under the T-Teen rating. That is why they have a rating on them. The new issues of Batman and Detective Comics were some of the more violent issues of the relaunch. The best way to make a statement about the state of these new DC comics and characters is to just let it be. Stop buying them for your kids, especially if they are under twelve. Sara Lima on ComicVine made some great statements at the end of this week on this very idea. These are some quotes from her article on ComicVine entitled, Sexism in Comics is Not New–Here’s What You Should Do about It

With a struggling industry like comics, it wouldn’t be hard to see some real change if everyone that hated the interpretation of Starfire never picked up another issue of ‘Red Hood and the Outlaws’ again. That’s how change happens. Speak with your wallet, not just your words. Then, take that money you’ve worked so hard to earn and put it towards a title you can really appreciate, because at the end of the day, comics should be fun. They should make you feel good; and there have been plenty of female characters who are for more interesting and have a lot more depth than the interpretations of a few of the women in the books we’ve seen lately.

I really feel that a lot of comics that feature female characters in a positive, empowering light have gone overlooked. They have been overshadowed by so much hostility towards two titles and that is unacceptable. Yes, it’s easy to get upset and rant about how angry you are at the interpretation of a character, but that won’t help bring positive awareness to some really good books that deserve some love.

As a leader and a parent you should be aware of the content in these books. That can be done multiple ways. You can easily talk to the comic book store owner, read blogs and websites like Comic Vine, or Comics Alliance. Having a keen awareness of the media that we are giving our kids is the best way to protect them and teach them about the kind of worldviews they should be striving to live out.

I am a huge comic book fan and I love DC Comics, but the way they taking their female characters is more than a little disappointing. I’ll end with a couple of more quotes.

If it were just Catwoman that went this way, it wouldn’t be such a concern, but many of DC’s female characters are suffering the same fate. Characters who should be leveraged to show female readers that the medium is a safe place for them to find entertainment are instead showing more skin and less gumption than they might have a month ago. Perennial favourite Harley Quinn has switched from sassy moll to Suicide Girl. Bisexual stripper Voodoo is one of only two female character to get a new title. Power Girl’s book got cancelled, and she’s now someone’s girlfriend. – Andrew Wheeler

When I read these comics and I see the way the female characters are presented, I don’t see heroes I would want to be. I don’t see people I would want to hang out with or look up to. I don’t feel like the comics are talking to me; I feel like they’re talking about me, the way both Jason Todd and Roy Harper talk about Starfire like two dudes high fiving over a mutual conquest (left).

Read More: http://www.comicsalliance.com/2011/09/22/starfire-catwoman-sex-superheroine/#ixzz1ZIb0mLCu

Here are some great follow up questions for students to tackle topics like this one.

 

What do the drawings teach us about these characters?

What values do these characters represent?

Where are their values portrayed?

What does this teach us about how to value the women in our lives?

Do these characters make you want to be better?

 

What questions would you ask?

A Bright Light Found in the Blackest Night

One of the biggest events in DC Comics right now is the revealing of the Blackest Night storyline based around the Green Lantern Corps. It has the tagline The Dead Shall Rise… and up until the last year, the idea of multiple colors in the Green Lantern world was debatable. I truly appreciate what the multiple colors have brought to this fictional universe; hope, love, and a unmistakable reference to a Messiah. To my surprise, as I read Blackest Night: Tales of the Corps 1 of 3, there was a sermon reference jumping off the pages in the clearest words that may have ever been spoken in a comic. saintwalker_hs

As the reader is introduced to the Blue Lantern Corps, there is a journey about to take place to find the Messiah. Their faith and guidance comes from a fairly thick book that strikes a very similar resemblance to what the Bible tends to look like. So, where do they need to go in search of the Messiah? The top of a mountain, of course. Is this a reference to Mount Sinai and the journeys of Moses or could it be in reference toward many of the other mountain top journeys found in the Bible. Then again, it could just be coincidence.

To continue, as the family makes its way up the mountain, Saint Walker (the name of the first Blue Lantern) loses his whole family as he makes his way up the mountain. In each instance of tragedy, he continues to tell those that are around him to have faith and that all will be well in the end. Some of my favorite lines come from his son as they ascend the mountain. As the son looks down at his village from the mountain, he notices that he cannot see the tragedy and pain that filled the village and asks if that is why God does not seem to help those in trouble. To him, if God is found at the top of the mountain, then He must not be able to see all the pain and suffering. Saint Walker responds by saying that God wants to see how those in question will respond in the end.

As Saint Walker reaches the summit and feels that his faith is about to be validated, he makes a surprising discovery: the Messiah is not there. He then goes through a huge crisis of faith – yelling at God because of everything that he has lost on his journey and what he felt should have been waiting for him on the summit. As Saint Walker cries out, asking to be shown a message from God, there is a response. In the words of the comic, “God yelled back…” in the form of thunder and lightning. He sees his reflection in a beautifully polished rock and he makes his way back to the village to share what he witnessed: reflection.

From their book of faith, Garba, Chapter Three, verse One Hundred and Thirteen, it reads, “Live life every day as if it were the first and the last for they are both a celebration. And when we face the end, face it together.” In those words, however fictional, we see the core of the Blue Lanterns: Hope. Saint Walker gains the Blue Ring of Power because he posses the ability to provide hope to those around him.

I was brought back to one of my favorite verses in the Bible in Hebrews 10:25 that tells us that even in the approaching last days, we need to worship together and give each other hope and community.

I truly enjoy comics and love being able to look for lessons in them. I suggest that for any youth leader, this option to find God or, yet, the messages of God in any medium is essential to meet youth in the culture in which they thrive. Movies, music, books, poetry and even comics are communication “gold mines” for youth. If you are throwing out lessons that include the so-called secular world, you could be hurting the ministry that you are apart of… the youth are surviving for God in the secular world.

Just like the story of Saint Walker, how many of us have searched for Jesus and then were disappointed when we did not get the answers we were looking for? How many of us did not notice that Jesus was there, but not how we expected? Did Moses expect to see God in a burning bush? Did we expect Him in a cloud of dust, or even more importantly, how many thought that the Messiah would come in the form of a carpenter?

God is all around us, He created it all. We just need to open our eyes, remove the barriers, and be open to the endless possibilities of God.

A Bright light in the Blackest Night

One of the biggest events in DC Comics right now is the revealing of the Blackest Night storyline based around the Green Lantern Corps. It has the tagline The Dead Shall Rise… and up until the last year, the idea of multiple colors in the Green Lantern world was debatable. I truly appreciate what the multiple colors have brought to this fictional universe; hope, love, and a unmistakable reference to a Messiah. To my surprise, as I read Blackest Night: Tales of the Corps 1 of 3, there was a sermon reference jumping off the pages in the clearest words that may have ever been spoken in a comic.

As the reader is introduced to the Blue Lantern Corps, there is a journey about to take place to find the Messiah. Their faith and guidance comes from a fairly thick book that strikes a very similar resemblance to what the Bible tends to look like. So, where do they need to go in search of the Messiah? The top of a mountain, of course. Is this a reference to Mount Sinai and the journeys of Moses or could it be in reference toward many of the other mountain top journeys found in the Bible. Then again, it could just be coincidence.

To continue, as the family makes its way up the mountain, Saint Walker (the name of the first Blue Lantern) loses his whole family as he makes his way up the mountain. In each instance of tragedy, he continues to tell those that are around him to have faith and that all will be well in the end. Some of my favorite lines come from his son as they ascend the mountain. As the son looks down at his village from the mountain, he notices that he cannot see the tragedy and pain that filled the village and asks if that is why God does not seem to help those in trouble. To him, if God is found at the top of the mountain, then He must not be able to see all the pain and suffering. Saint Walker responds by saying that God wants to see how those in question will respond in the end.

As Saint Walker reaches the summit and feels that his faith is about to be validated, he makes a surprising discovery: the Messiah is not there. He then goes through a huge crisis of faith – yelling at God because of everything that he has lost on his journey and what he felt should have been waiting for him on the summit. As Saint Walker cries out, asking to be shown a message from God, there is a response. In the words of the comic, “God yelled back…” in the form of thunder and lightning. He sees his reflection in a beautifully polished rock and he makes his way back to the village to share what he witnessed: reflection.

From their book of faith, Garba, Chapter Three, verse One Hundred and Thirteen, it reads, “Live life every day as if it were the first and the last for they are both a celebration. And when we face the end, face it together.” In those words, however fictional, we see the core of the Blue Lanterns: Hope. Saint Walker gains the Blue Ring of Power because he posses the ability to provide hope to those around him.

I was brought back to one of my favorite verses in the Bible in Hebrews 10:25 that tells us that even in the approaching last days, we need to worship together and give each other hope and community.

I truly enjoy comics and love being able to look for lessons in them. I suggest that for any youth leader, this option to find God or, yet, the messages of God in any medium is essential to meet youth in the culture in which they thrive. Movies, music, books, poetry and even comics are communication “gold mines” for youth. If you are throwing out lessons that include the so-called secular world, you could be hurting the ministry that you are apart of… the youth are surviving for God in the secular world.

Just like the story of Saint Walker, how many of us have searched for Jesus and then were disappointed when we did not get the answers we were looking for? How many of us did not notice that Jesus was there, but not how we expected? Did Moses expect to see God in a burning bush? Did we expect Him in a cloud of dust, or even more importantly, how many thought that the Messiah would come in the form of a carpenter?

God is all around us, He created it all. We just need to open our eyes, remove the barriers, and be open to the endless possibilities of God.

Superheroes and Volf

I saw this book the other night called Microtrends at my local Chapters. Located on the back cover, the author made a statement about culture that peaked my interest. He hypothesized that the so-called “comic nerd” label is disappearing as these “nerds” are taking over culture and becoming the social butterflies of this generation.

I started to think about some areas in my own life, both in the past and in the present, to see if this was, in fact, a social trend that is present within society.

In the last week or so, Disney has purchased Marvel Comics to combat with Warner Bros. and DC Comics, but also to booster their presence within the pre-teen to young adult male that made Iron Man, Spider-Man and the X-Men movie franchises so huge. So, yes, these “nerds” that have been mocked so openly in the past are quite, in fact, very prominent players in this multi-million dollar deal.

Another example: Amy and I, like many our age, got hooked on the show called The OC. My question is this…

Do characters such as Seth Cohen (avid comic collector and knowledgeable in all things comic related) help or hinder the images of the people that they are supposed to represent?

Personally, I feel Seth and the mainstream acceptance of comic material has made comics the new “indie cool,” and by that I mean it’s cool to like comics and know about them, but I am still not going to run through the streets proclaiming my love for it because that would be uncool.

Let’s look at an annual event held in Toronto called Fan Expo (see previous post). I have seen this event grow immensely in the past five years to the point where culturally and demographically speaking, this event has as much diversity as Toronto itself.

The lesson for us as Christians here is integral in my view for growth for those inside and outside the Church. The lessons are simple and I will pose some of them as questions:

How can we be a part of culture and society and still have a leg outside of it?

How can we become more accepting to the point were we are not labelled Christian by the clothes we wear, music we listen to, or words that we speak?

What can we learn from events like Fan Expo?

I think the answer can be found within both the Fan Expo and Miroslav Volf’s book, Exclusion and Embrace. Volf interprets Christian identity as,

…at its core…(Christian identity) lies an all-encompasing change of loyalty, from a given culture with its gods to the God of all cultures.

To those that read and collect comics, this concept is simple. Their heroes are apart of the culture and society that they protect during the day. They don’t force change, they watch and observe those around them during the day, but at night their presence, their influence and their actions show you what they are really all about.

Can we as Christians accomplish or even attempt this?

The answer is yes. We do not have to retreat from the culture we are apart of, we just have to learn how to join them. We need to be examples of the cross…loving, sharing, and living a life like Christ with those who make up the society around us.

Fan Expo 2009

Fan Expo is one of my favourite weekends of the year. Each yeah my dad and I attempt to make it to this overwhelming event to search, buy, and meet some artists that have sparked old and new interests.

Dad and I at the end of the day.

No, we did not try to dress alike, it just happened. I tried to find him a Legion of Super-Heroes t-shirt, but no such luck.

Oliver CoipelMarko Djurdjevic

Oliver Coipel and Marko Djurdjevic are two Marvel artists that work on the Thor on-going series. Both took the time to sign a couple comics for me. Next time you are over to our house I am sure I will end up showing them to you. I also bought Marko’s cover art book which is fantastic.

Who would have ever thought to  draw a cover of Thor listening to an iPod?

Photo on 2009-09-12 at 15.49

Marko and his buddies that is who.

At some point I am going to post pictures of the costumes people had on, but for know those were the highlights, but most importantly of all it was a good day for dad and I. We also met up with mom and Amy for a fantastic dinner at Boston Pizza.