Category Archives: Jason Cohen

Silent Comics for Kids – Robot Dreams, I’m Not A Plastic Bag, Owly

Ok, so I work at a book store that has a varied selection of graphic novels. Not much Marvel or DC, but a lot of independent and even underground comics that can be hard to come by sometimes. I started working downstairs in the kids room and it’s very boring down there so I often peruse the children’s graphic novel section. I found a few silent comic books on the shelves and decided to look through them while I did nothing.

Robot Dreams, by Sara Varon, is a silent comic book about a dog who builds his own robot friend. The two become best friends until the robot breaks down and they become separated. While it is definitely a kid-friendly book, Robot Dreams holds a lot of meaning for me because I have definitely felt loss, struggled to move on and one day discovered that everything will be alright. In the end, Varon proves that pain doesn’t always have to hurt forever. We move on and we remember the good times we once had while also looking to the future for the good things to come. I have recently discovered that the future isn’t as bleak as I once thought to believe. Sometimes things get worse, but sometimes they also get better. The robot’s dreams about reuniting with his lost friend reminded me of the days I spent lamenting the past and hoping that simple thoughts could fix a great sadness that was burning inside me. Dreams will keep you afloat, help you survive the burning sun and the bitter winter, but that’s all they can do. Get up and make things better. I have and it’s made all the difference. This might be a little over analytic of a kids’ cartoon, but I think anyone can feel something after a quick read of Robot Dreams. It was very fun, but also very real. Continue reading

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Spider-Man: Fever is Out of this World. Seriously.

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Spider-Man: Fever is quite the adventure. Brendan McCarthy pulls double duty and brings Spider-Man into the world of spider magic. According to McCarthy the book is an homage to Steve Ditko’s Doctor Strange stories from the 60’s, and boy is this book trippy. Spider-Man’s soul is abducted by a spider-demon who brings him to the ancient Webwaze, a dimension that all spiders call home. Doctor Strange goes in after him and it gets weird. Bipedal talking dogs, an aborigine with inter-dimensional walking shoes, a fly that used to be a man. Also, Doctor Strange rides along a river through space in a duck boat. That happens.

Spider-Man is also in this comic book! The King of the spiders wants to eat Spider-Man so he sends him off to the insect realm to prove whether or not he is a spider or a man. McCarthy explores the dual identity of Spider-Man as not just Peter Parker and Spider-Man, but as human and spider. In recent years there have been attempts to move Spider-Man’s origins towards something more to do with magic than science. We meet the spider who bit Peter all those years ago and discover its motives. It sought out Peter before and now it attempts to control him. Peter must decide if he is a man, free to make his own decisions, or a spider, with his destiny seemingly already decided.

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A Return to Glory for the First Time

Glory was ‘created’ by Rob Liefeld in the early 1990s. I say ‘created’ because apparently Rob Liefeld’s idea of creating something is just to take an already existing character and change the color schemes a bit. Glory was clearly Wonder Woman, just like Supreme was clearly Superman. She was an Amazon warrior who went to go live with mankind. There were some differences: She was half demon and she possessed a woman in order to learn what it meant to be human (probably not doing that). There had to be something different. I’m surprised DC Comics didn’t sue Liefeld off the face of the Earth. They’ve always been so historically good at utterly destroying anything that remotely looks like their characters. Maybe it was ok in the 90s.

It was clear that Liefeld’s Extreme/Awesome Universe was not very well thought out. It took Alan Moore to make Supreme into a clever pastiche of Superman, instead of just a xerox copy of him. He won an Eisner for it! The Fighting American was an old Jack Kirby/Joe Simon character who was brought in to replace Liefeld’s already shut down Captain America stand in, Agent America. A stand in for a stand in. You get the idea. Glory was no different and no better. For a time these comics were popular, but eventually Liefeld ran out of money and everything tanked. Fast forward to 2011 and Image has decided to relaunch some of the Awesome Universe comic book properties without Rob Liefeld. One of them is Glory.

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The Last Resort Nears the Last Straw

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Cleverly disguised by Darwyn Cooke

The Last Resort is a cliche zombie movie on paper. It’s not an adaptation of any movie that I know of (it has nothing to do with the show called The Last Resort), but it feels like this is one of those comic-book-as-a-movie-pitch titles that come out all the time. The story is simplistic: a plane lands in a beach resort that has been taken over by zombies, but nothing interesting ever comes out of it. The multitude of characters are paper thin, stereotypical, and uninteresting. Most of the dialogue simply moves the plot along without any deep character moments or even the feeling that these people matter. They don’t.

As a zombie movie imitation, it acts exactly like a zombie movie would. We get bits and pieces of character moments, and then they’re slowly but surely whittled down until the last few survivors remain. Except a movie can actually make these moments short and sweet. It takes longer to read a scene from a movie than it does for it to actually take place and that’s where the problem lies: This is the wrong format for this story. It should have been a crappy zombie movie, but instead we get a crappy zombie comic book.

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How Dark Horse Can Survive After Star Wars

Sledgehammer 44 #1

Dark Horse’s licensing contract for Star Wars comics seems to be ending in 2015. Now that Disney owns Lucasfilm and Marvel Comics, it only makes sense that Disney would want Marvel to publish Star Wars comic books. 2015 sounds like it’s going to be the year of Star Wars, with Episode 7 due in theaters, but what about Dark Horse Comics? Star Wars comics have been a Dark Horse staple for twenty years and now they’ll have to find another way to make up for the business they’ll be losing in two years. Thankfully, their March solicitations prove that they have the ability to survive.

1. Hellboy. People love Hellboy. I love Hellboy. You’ve seen Hellboy, but you should probably also read Hellboy too because it’s a lot of fun! Just this month alone has four issues from the Hellboy universe. Hellboy’s journey through hell continues in Hellboy in Hell, while the B.P.R.D. has two titles out that month. An agent fights vampires in B.P.R.D.: Vampire, as a follow up to the 1948 mini-series and the Hell on Earth saga continues with the now ongoing series B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth #105. Sledgehammer 44 #1 introduces the Iron Man of the Hellboy universe, as a man in armor fights Nazis in France during World War II.

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Why All the Death?

People die. It happens. But why can legacies only be passed along after death? The old hero dies and a new one rises to take their place. It happens all the time, but what’s wrong with doing it a little differently? Why can’t the old hero just move on? Super-heroics is a dangerous business and people will ultimately die, but is it impossible to simply retire, to live? How does killing the hero do anything but hurt the franchise?

Barry Allen died so that Wally West could become the Flash, Ted Kord was murdered and Jaime Reyes replaced him as Blue Beetle, (almost) every single character ever named Manhunter was killed so that Kate Spencer could step up to be the brand new Manhunter. This goes beyond just legacy characters too. It seems that in order to introduce a new concept, you must first destroy an old one. Ed Brubaker brought Bucky back from the dead as the Winter Soldier, but in the process he kills off Jack Monroe, the hero known as Nomad. Obviously, not many people cared one way or the other about Nomad, but now that character is off the board forever (I highly doubt anyone will be attempting to resurrect him, ever). Whatever potential he may have had in the future is now gone. Scott Lang, the second Ant-Man was brought back to life during Avengers: The Children’s Crusade, but then his daughter, Stature, and Vision are killed in the same series. Creators often talk about world building, but too often the elimination of characters are used to launch that idea of world building at the reader. It seems that in order to build you must first destroy.

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How Hulk Saved the Avengers

I finally saw Avengers and I very much enjoyed it. But, it took me a while to realize what the movie’s biggest flaw was, the one thing that could have made everything else go away and allow me to thoroughly enjoy the movie. I did enjoy it, but at the same time, I didn’t. That one thing was emotion. Avengers lacked a compelling amount of emotion to get me to care about these characters, beyond the fact that they’re Captain America and Thor. A movie is a movie and you need empathy, and a sign of emotion would have solved that.

Most of the movie felt like actors who were acting. Literally. The scene where Black Widow goes down to Loki to make a deal in order to save Hawkeye could have been a great scene. She feels a certain bond with him and will do whatever it takes to save him. Whether it’s love or a sense of honor you can tell she has her own priorities and her own convictions. Just when you get the sense that we’re peeking into who she really is, when Loki explains how he’s going to kill the two of them and she begins to cry, it all turns out to be a ruse. There are no tears, no emotion, no feelings. You’re supposed to feel like it was clever, but for me it felt like we were cheated out of a moment to connect with someone, even if we didn’t agree with her logic or methods.

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