May 29, 2013

Easter Eggs: Future Imperfect Name Game!

Welcome to another installment of Easter Eggs in Comics! Click here for the archive!

In Future Imperfect by Peter David and George Perez, the Incredible Hulk goes to the future to fight his future self, the Maestro, who has taken over the Earth after all the heroes died. There's a resistance movement led by his old friend, Rick Jones. And in this two-page spread, we're shown Rick's lair.

See the big green thing in the back on the left side? That's the Green Lantern central power battery!

Cool, huh?

Oh, fine. There's a bunch of other stuff. How many can you name?

Got an Easter Egg for the Cube? Send it to!

May 27, 2013

Back Issue Ben: Guarding the Galaxy, Part 15: The Breakup!

Back Issue Ben is a column written by Ben Smith for the Comics Cube! See his archives here.

Part Fifteen: The Breakup!

After thrilling readers in the pages of Annihilation and Annihilation: Conquest,Starlord, Adam Warlock, Drax, Gamora, Rocket Raccoon, Groot, Mantis, and Phyla-Vell teamed up to form a new version of the Guardians of the Galaxy. The result mixed high octane action with humor and a touch of humanity.

The galaxy has been damaged following two massive wars that shook the foundation of the universe. Cracks in space-time have started appearing, fissures that the Guardians work to close before the creatures that exist outside our dimension come clawing their way in.

Last time, we saw the formation of the team, but could a team with individuals like this ever last?...

May 23, 2013

It Came from Comics: "Jeep"

Welcome to another installment of It Came From Comics, a new series of indefinite length exploring everyday terms that were popularized by comics. Click here for the archive!

Today's term is "jeep"!

A while back, I posted up some scans of the 1958 Encyclopedia Americana entry on comics, which stated that among the terms that have been popularized by comics over the years, "jeep" was one of them.  So I looked up the etymology of the word at the Online Etymology Dictionary, and this is what it gave me:

jeep (n.)
early 1941, American English military slang, from G.P. "general purpose (car)," but influenced by Eugene the Jeep (who had extraordinary powers but only said "jeep"), from E.C. Segar's comic strip "Thimble Theater" (also home of Popeye the Sailor). Eugene the Jeep first appeared in the strip March 13, 1936. The vehicle was in development from 1940, and the Army planners' initial term for it was light reconnaissance and command car.

So that's pretty interesting. It was a "general purpose" car, so they shortened it to "G.P.," and then further to "jeep," because of Eugene the Jeep from Thimble Theater, the same comic that starred Popeye and Alice the Goon! Eugene the Jeep was a mysterious animal-like creature from Africa with the power to teleport, and who only ever said the word "jeep."

Although he appeared first in March 1936, the term didn't become widespread until 1941, so Eugene's appearance in the Popeye cartoon probably has more to do with the use of the term than the comic.

But still... it came from comics!

I now want to call everyone with the initials "G.P." jeep, including former NBA superstar Gary Payton and my favorite artist, George Perez. I won't, though.

May 22, 2013

Pop Medicine: Fast Like a Train

Pop Medicine is a "visiting" column by Travis Hedge Coke for the Comics Cube! Click here for the archive!

Fast Like a Train
Pop Medicine
Travis Hedge Coke

“I’ve been to Georgia on a fast train, Honey.
I wasn’t born no yesterday.
I got a good Christian raising
And an eighth grade education
And there ain’t no call in y’all a treating me this way.”
           Billy Joe Shaver, “Georgia on a Fast Train”

"Rock and Roll? Why, man, that's the same kind of music we've been playin' since 1928!”
             Bob Wills, quoted in the Tulsa Tribune in 1957

I’m losing my patience with the folks who complain about storytelling techniques that have been around for twenty years, or three thousand. I’m tired of people complaining that a comic is moving too fast when it’s static words and static pictures frozen on a page that never changes. My tolerance for people who complain adamantly about the unfairness of being expected to actually read some words in a comic or look at what’s going on in a panel, is lessening. It’s not unreasonable to expect a reader to intuit that when you see a train speeding towards a bridge and then someone duck with someone else gone, they were knocked off. That stopping a largely action-to-action story to show thirty pages of tidal waves and decimated buildings, it could, just possibly, be because the destruction is important, that the destruction is immense and not a blip but a lasting, unending terror.

I’m burnt out readers on who demand their comics go I Can Read mode, who insist the comic flinch for them, because they are too lazy to flinch for themselves. They don’t even want an I Can Read book, because even little kids’ books don’t always tell you the moral of every moment. I’ve never read a little kids’ book about Batman –I’ve read a few; I like the simplicity of children’s literature, not young adult, but books for the three to twelve market, the openness, the way it’s pared more than coiffed – I’ve never read a children’s book with Batman that felt the need to detail an exercise regime for him, or provide the name of everyone he studied under, to present the CV of Batman. CV of Batman, or an un-messy biography of Batman isn’t I Can Read, it’s I Have No Imagination Only a Feed In and Store Feature.

I like a guidebook, a trivia list, or fictive diagrams and family trees, but I don’t care if the family tree actually lines up so long as it looks like it lines up. It’s in the service to something, for me, in the service of a fictional lineage, with the lineage mattering, the idea and the characters, more than the actual dates and branching mapped out. I’ve known this ever since, as a teen, my friends and I tried to actually play some of the RPGs we used to pick up at used book stores and we realized that playing a Palladium game is time consuming and strict and nearly as much fun as extrapolating mad shit based on the half-formed suggestions they make in those books, the prompts they give. Sabermetrics, stats guys, that’s all good, and I’m happy for you having fun, but it isn’t my world. I don’t want to know the weight of the USS Enterprise, I want to see it kick into warp and then maneuver like a glorious albatross while incredibly naïve Shakespearean future people engage in single-shot unarmored conflict on her whatever-deck-they-happen-to-say-it-is.

I’m not criticizing folks that want a fully-built world or who enjoy fiction that makes lists or diagrams, like Richard Condon or Alan Moore. But Condon doesn’t slow up The Manchurian Candidate to detail every minute of Major Marco’s training when he’d first enlisted. Condon, Moore, Michael Crichton or Chuck Dixon use semi-facts, maps and figures to establish veracity, not because the figures themselves are useful. I doubt Chuck Dixon cares if the tensile strength or burn-resistance of materials actually bears out, even if he gives an exact figure, because the figure isn’t being applied to a scene, it’s being used to gloss over the scene.

The worst thing Alan Moore’s ever done, in fiction, is in my favorite Moore comic of all time. Black Dossier has a ton of excellent pastiches, including a cod-Shakespeare who writes pretty accurately cod-Shakespearean plays, and a fun Jeeves, Wooster, and Lovecraftia story that kills itself by spending its last paragraph or three explaining the final joke. It’s poor pastiche (Wodehouse would never have done that), it’s bad for the humor, and it insults any reader paying attention.

But, I can’t help but suspect there’s a very real audience who need that explanation. They can’t have jokes that aren’t explained. They can’t even have policies against killing or bowties in their fiction without having them explained, in detail, ad nauseam. They need reassurance on exceptional levels.

Everyone likes a little reassurance in their entertainment. It’s good to be sideswiped or feel left alone in the cold once in awhile, with entertainment, but if every movie, every song, each television program and short story we encountered was wildly unpredictable and constantly felt alien and risky we’d probably drop dead from anxiety. Or, stop reading and watching that stuff for a bit.

I’m not a huge fan of Nolan’s Batman movies, but what he did get right isn’t that the movies are realistic – they are not realistic, not in any mature sense. What he got right is that he reassures us of things just enough to skate us over the chasms of doubt before we even notice there’s pitfalls there. In Batman Begins, Batman says aloud he doesn’t kill at least twice, in memorable moments that occur right before he very directly assists in the deaths of others, first with a big fight and explosion and later by point blank refusing to help a man about to die when we all know he could pull it off. He refuses to save a man just to prove that he can refuse to save him. But, we – the average moviegoer sitting watching this scene – don’t care, because what we heard was “I won’t kill.”

Movies are generally very good at reassuring the audience this way, and of reiterating information over and over, but they have to: once a line of dialogue or a visual has passed, it has passed. Movies are, traditionally, not designed with rewind or pause in mind. Movies developed a set of techniques very good for coping with that temporality, but also use it as a strength. They can use a line of dialogue or a cut to obscure something questionable or too intense that’s going on, such as the aforementioned intentional deaths in the aforementioned Begins.

A common technique in Hollywood movies is to remind the audience of important information a minimum of three times in short succession, to make sure it is lodged firmly in the short term memory of the audience. That’s more and more going to change (Hello, Twixt and your shortchanged home version release!) as movie-makers have ceased so much to be filmmakers and are embracing the fact the home player, and sadly, probably the cell phone is how people are getting their movie fix more and more, not the theatre. But, it’s still part of our training, on how to enjoy movies. When Luc Besson’s adaptation of the comic, The Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec came out, several critics were concerned that it’s outright comedy was not treated more seriously, such as Adele not being arrested for putting on funny costumes and breaking into a prison repeatedly or the first resurrected Egyptian mummy speaking flawless, contemporary French. No matter how ludicrous, if they’d shoved in a snippet of dialogue saying the mummy had overheard so much French from museum patrons, those critics would probably have been satisfied.

But, comics are not movies. A comics page makes it very easy to glance back a the previous panel. When you pause a movie, you lose the sound, including dialogue, but when you stop and have a longer look at a comics panel, it’s just there, all of it. Everything you can see in a comics panel is there every single time you look at it, no matter how you look at it (unless there’s a glow in the dark or 3D effect that isn’t being looked at in the dark or with glasses on, but pretend I’m not that pedantic and didn’t distend this sentence just to include a parenthetical about glow in the dark interiors and 3D glasses).

If you are unsure of an important piece of information in a movie, traditionally you couldn’t go back and check just that bit. This has never been the case with comics and it never will be. It is not in the nature of the medium to be transitory in that sense. You can always flip back a panel, or flip back seven pages, and reread to remind yourself. You can sit with a single scene, a solitary panel, for as long as you like. You don’t have a preset speed at which you must read a comic or any part of it.

I spend part of every week at a local children’s library, with the little kids. Just today, I sat with a little girl and, together, we read about half a dozen books about girls who are flowers, and we read a couple about airplanes who are people, and a robot Christmas parody with mechanical milkmaids and steel reindeer she assured me go “Whiirr. Click. Destroy.” These books, lamentably, never once try to explain in serious diagrams why a robot milking device need to be shaped like a woman or wear a costume, never justify a bipedal flower’s decision to wear blue jeans with flower patches on the knees. And, somewhere in the midst of reading these and throwing stuffed bears at each other, she explained to me step by step, how you figure things out you might not get the first time you read them. You’re supposed to consider each one, and if it helps you, stop there. If you need more, proceed.

Step 2: Read it again.

Step 3: Sound it out and think about it in context. Maybe it only seems like something you don’t understand.

Step 4: Look in the dictionary or online for more information.

But, it was Step 1 that put the smile on my face.

Step 1: Do you need to know right now? Or will we find out on the next page?

May 20, 2013

Back Issue Ben: Guarding the Galaxy, Part 14: It Begins!

Back Issue Ben is a column written by Ben Smith for the Comics Cube! See his archives here.

Part Fourteen: It Begins!

Following the success of Annihilation and Annihilation: Conquest, I can only assume Marvel asked themselves the same question I’ve been asking, what if all of these great reinvigorated characters all starred together in one ongoing book? Well, that’s exactly what happened, and it’s the book I’ve been eagerly teasing since we started this long journey. We got a glimpse of it with the Annihilation: Starlord mini-series, but now we get the real deal in the ongoing Guardians of the Galaxy series. How would Starlord, Adam Warlock, Drax, Gamora, Rocket Raccoon, and Quasar work together? As a comic book, excellent, but as a team, not so well.

So, let’s get started, and see if I’ve overhyped this book to levels it can’t possibly reach.

May 16, 2013

Great Back Issues: Daily Bugle #1–3

I was rifling through my back-issue bins, most of which house stuff from the 90s when I was really collecting, and I ran across the 1996 miniseries Daily Bugle, by Paul Grist and Karl Kerschl. As the title suggests, this three-issue series focuses on the crew of the Daily Bugle, Marvel New York's most prominent newspaper. This would have already been unusual for 1996, as it was a series focusing on supporting characters, but the real catch is that it's in black and white.

Paul Grist, then known for his independent crime comic Kane, tackled the staff of the Bugle in an ensemble fashion, giving the principal characters — Betty Brant, J. Jonah Jameson, Robbie Robertson, Angela Yin, Ben Urich, Charlie Snow, and Ken Ellis (I wonder where those last three are now? I stopped reading Spider-Man comics for about a decade) — all something different to do. Grist is accompanied by the shadow-heavy work of Karl Kerschl, and his work here may be a revelation to those more used to his lighter stuff, like the Flash feature in Wednesday Comics.

Kerschl uses a wide range of emotions and body language to get the story across, and it's the mood he sets and that aforementioned body language and expressions that really make this one worth tracking down, since I don't think the actual plot of the story is anything to write home about. Betty Brant goes to cover the opening of a new restaurant called The Food Factory, only to find out that it's mired in a lot of dirty business. Charlie Snow is dealing with a drinking problem, Ben Urich is being Ben Urich and trying to dig up the dirt on some mobsters, and Jameson is trying to keep Spider-Man off the front page by undertaking an investigation on his own regarding a series of burning buildings. The final issue, in which Betty Brant is kidnapped, brings most of the stories to a head.

There's no Spider-Man in these issues, save for an appearance as a front-page headline, and Peter Parker is only there sparingly, so for all intents and purposes, this is very much a street-level, "no superpowers" comic, much like, I suppose Gotham Central, which focused on the Gotham City Police Department over at the Different Company. This doesn't really give the series much in the sense of genuine suspense (since at least four of the main characters would have been untouchable anyway in terms of any permanent changes), but Grist makes up for it by taking us into the issues, both moral and legal, that the Bugle journalists have to deal with. In the first issue, Ben and Angela find out that a congressman with otherwise good intentions is having an affair with a porn starlet, and when they run the story, Angela wonders what they've really accomplished, since the bad guys are still on the loose and one of the politicians against them now has his dirty laundry out there. Jameson tries to explain the Bugle's position to the congressman, essentially espousing truth as freeing him at the end of it — that way, he can't be blackmailed.

Check out how quickly Kerschl changes Jameson's expression there.
He goes from the buffoonish curmudgeon you're used to as a Spidey
supporting character to a superserious main character.

In the second issue, Jameson tries to keep Spider-Man off the front page by investigating a series of burning buildings. When he finds out that the landlord has been negligent in terms of safety and security, he pays him a visit and sets fire to an architects' model of a new building (to replace one of the burned-down ones) in his office. This leads to Robbie telling Jonah that he's unable to run the article, even though it's really good.

Great character work, moral ambiguity, and appropriate art to match. Daily Bugle reads like the start of something more, something that would last, something that would define any or all of these characters. It didn't happen. This is what we got, which is why, if you see these things in the back issue bins, don't hesitate to buy them.

May 15, 2013

Pop Medicine: Idle Comparisons

Pop Medicine is a "visiting" column by Travis Hedge Coke for the Comics Cube! Click here for the archive!

Idle Comparisons
Pop Medicine
Travis Hedge Coke

Sacred cows. Cherished idols. Things everyone knows. Sometimes things are simply understood, the prevalence of the understanding making analysis or quantifying unnecessary and questioning feel either pointless or offensively pointless. Comics, as any field, has more than a few, and I thought I’d go around and test the brakes, trace the wiring, and kick the tires on a few, because why not? What, but our illusions, do we have to lose?

1. Karen Page vs Roy Harper

Karen Page debuted in comics as Matt “Daredevil” Murdock’s secretary. She gained notoriety when, feeling abandoned and ashamed, she became addicted to heroin, had some unwise sexual relationships (including pornography) and sold out her old friends to facilitate her junk habit. She then spent the next decade, after 1985’s release of a single storyline of addiction and misjudgment, building herself back up, kicking her habit for good, choosing better sexual partners, including a long, healthy relationship with Matt Murdock, working as a feminist activist and radio show host until she is murdered. She is called a “whore” at least once a week online, usually under the misguided belief that Frank Miller referred to her as such during his time on Daredevil.

Roy Harper debuted in comics as Oliver “Green Arrow” Queen’s sidekick, Speedy. He gained notoriety when, feeling abandoned and ashamed, he became addicted to heroin, had some unwise sexual relationships (including impregnating a mass-murderer who detonated a nuclear warhead on a country) and sold out her old friends to facilitate his junk habit. Since before 1986, real-time, he has been sleeping with anything that said yes, regardless of how sensible it was at the time, maintained a relationship (including parental) with the mass-murdering mother of his daughter, failing to hold down any job other than superheroing with any functionality, and eventually falling back into addiction and doing sick things with dead cats, until the universe was fundamentally altered.

Harper’s neither slut-shamed nor criticized for his lack of judgment nearly as often or as harshly as Karen Page, despite the fact she’s been dead for over a decade and he’s been continuously fucking up that whole time.

2. Luke Cage vs Captain America

Luke Cage called himself a “Hero for Hire,” but never really ducked out on saving lives for free when in a situation and waived his fee in a surprising number of his (early) adventures. Cage is unwittingly part of the Weapon Plus program. A black man, born poor in New York City, he was unjustly arrested and imprisoned, volunteering to be experimented on in exchange for early parole, gaining unbreakable skin, enhanced strength, speed, agility, and using these abilities in his daily life as a superhero and protector of people in need.

Born poor in New York City, white dude, Captain America doesn’t wait to get paid to be a superhero. He gained super powers, also unknowingly through the Weapon Plus program, via experimentation when he volunteers to undergo experiments in exchange for entrance into the US Army. Cap has consistently received payment from the US Government, the UN, SHIELD, or via an Avengers stipend that at times included an unlimited credit card recognized the world over. He has frequently owned entire buildings equipped with advanced technology and paid support staff with his personal bankroll, which must, by virtue of his expenses, be impressive, while living in rent free apartments provided by whomever is funding the Avengers at the moment.

Cage is mostly remembered for wanting to get paid for taking on rescue missions, bodyguard duty, or other services like any normal human being would. The money and property at Captain America’s disposal is rarely considered by fans.

3. Alan Moore Using Other People’s Stuff vs Other People Using Moore’s

Alan Moore has been quite critical of some film adaptations of his work, and some comics follow-ups and prequels, even flat out asking that Before Watchmen not happen. But, Alan Moore freely uses pre-existing characters. He’s used public domain characters, he has skirted copyright and trademark by using touchstone references or masking elements, given a shoutout to the Oz collage appropriation comic, written real people in fictional scenarios, and never denied that, for example, John Constantine was a characterization and name stuck onto drawings of Sting that were fait accompli.

I don’t think Moore has ever denied the rights to a movie adaptation if the other talent responsible for that comic wanted it to happen, and he’s actually signed over his earnings from those adaptations to the other talent. In terms of Watchmen, Moore has said he’d like to see people just steal the characters and do something good with them, he only did not want DC/Warner Bros to do anything with them.

4. Comics vs Movies

Comics come into a recognizable (American) form in the 1890s. The medium’s slow maturation is often attributed to its being a relatively young form of expression. It is not uncommon for comics appearing in different formats, released, serialized, or collected in different fashions, as being “not comics,” or “not actually comics,” with the monthly release of twenty pages in one particular genre/subgenre (superheroes) being most commonly considered truly comics by a significant portion of the total comics audience. The country or language in which a comic is first produced may, for many, determined whether or not it is a comic.

Movies come into a recognizable form in the late 1890s. The medium tended to be judged by the standards of other mediums for the first sixty to seventy years of its existence, but has since been critically and socially recognized on its own terms, while other mediums may now be judged in terms of movie/television/video criteria. In the 1950s, the distinction between theatrical-release and television-first audiovisual works was significant, but the distinction has become increasingly blurred with the rise of home media players in the late 70s and through the 80s. I have never heard anyone claim a French movie or Japanese television program is not actually a movie or television program.

5. Abstraction vs Accuracy

I think you learn realism first, so that you might intelligently discard accuracy as you like. One of my colleagues at Shandong University thinks you learn basic forms and gradations, and then progress to greater realism. When an abstracter artist takes time to produce finished work, they are often criticized because how long can it take to draw less lines, with less adherence to a real thing? The proliferation of little lines and details is often conflated with drawing more realistically or seriously. Some of our most cherished realist or naturalist artists seem to lack the capacity to subtract or exaggerate the way Jon Muth can. One of the more common admissions you’ll hear from long time comics artists, is that they used to use lots of little lines or block in areas to cover up otherwise weak art. The textures of clothes, and the way they hang on a body in motion is frequently something comics pencilers end up faking. The more accurate the figurework and traditionalist costuming is in a superhero comic, the more bloated and static it all appears. I’ve seen naturalist painters accused of lazy staginess, and seen it suggested that deliberate cartooning is, similarly, lazy. I believe in Carla Speed McNiel’s lines more than surfaces by Alex Ross. This isn’t a real versus because this – so much – is not a spectrum, the elements are so interlinked, intermixed, and codependent.

6. Fan Work vs Work for Hire

Fan art, fanfic, fan work is unpaid labor generating art of some kind relating to characters or scenarios that the maker has no legal right to make works of. These are almost always technically illegal, under American law, but generally permitted due to the unpaid nature and often defended as simultaneously promoting the fandom/product being aped or represented.

Work for hire, in terms of comics, is paid labor generating art of some kind relating to characters or scenarios for a publisher who has a legal right to release works of. There is no such thing as “professional fanfic.” Criticizing Garth Ennis for writing Superman or Captain America if he’s not a massive superhero fan is missing that he’s not hired to be a fan, he was hired to write stories and did.

7. Comics are American! Vs Comics Aren’t American!

American comics, as a recognizable form, begins with the 1890s’ Hogans Alley, featuring Mickey Dugan, the Yellow Kid. European comics, as an identifiable, definite form, can be traced back to the early Nineteenth Century and Topffer, whose more advanced techniques are virtually unseen elsewhere in the medium for ages. Japan has a history of telling stories in sequential images featuring dialogue, narrative, motion lines, symbols for emotions or radiance, that extends back as far as the Seventeenth Century. Much is made of the influence that Carl Barks had on the God of Manga, Osamu Tezuka, who revolutionized Twentieth Century Japanese comics (and, by influence, over generations, perhaps comics worldwide), often misattributing Barks’ credit as “Walt Disney,” the owner of the company for which Barks ultimately was working. Little attention, outside Japan, is paid to Tezuka’s Japanese influences, or to his response against much of the American comics and animation markets and industries.

We still cannot decisively narrow down what comics is, what qualifies, what does not, except by eyeballing and “I know it when I see it” methods.

May 13, 2013

Back Issue Ben: Iron Man vs. The Hulk

Back Issue Ben is a column written by Ben Smith for the Comics Cube! See his archives here.

The Invincible Iron Man vs the Incredible Hulk
A Battle for the Ages
by Ben Smith

This week, we're taking a break from my neverending look at the Marvel Cosmic universe, to bring you some of that sweet Iron Man deliciousness you love so much.

If you’ve been coming around here for a while, you know I love to find old comics that may not necessarily show up on any “greatest ever” lists, but are hidden gems nonetheless. I picked up the following comics on the promise of an epic battle between the Hulk and Iron Man, and what I discovered was, and I don’t want to overhype it, one of the greatest comic books that you will ever read in your entire lifetime. If you don’t have this comic, get it. If you can’t get it, I have no faith you will be able to live a well-adjusted and satisfying life from this moment on.

Let the insanity begin!

May 10, 2013


This is a list of all the interviews hosted by The Comics Cube, with the respective dates of the interview and the subject of the interview. Unless otherwise specified, the interview was conducted by Duy.

September 9, 2002: Alan Moore: The Craft, which I stole from Daniel Whiston when his site went down

May 16, 2011: David Hontiveros on Bathala: Apokalypsis

December 6, 2011: Aaron Shaps on his Nick Fury story in the 2011 Marvel Holiday Special, Jim Steranko, and his comics career thus far

February 6, 2012: Jeremy Whitley on Princeless and representing women and minorities in comics

March 22, 2012: David Finch, part 1 and part 2

June 20, 2012: Marc Tyler Nobleman and Ty Templeton on Bill, the Boy Wonder

August 14, 2012: Joe Kubert, as interviewed by Michael Leal around a year before Kubert's passing

September 14, 2012: Budjette Tan on storytelling and modernizing Filipino icons

September 19, 2012: Nathan Edmondson

October 3, 2012: Robert Venditti

October 23, 2012: Paolo Fabregas on The Filipino Heroes League

February 6, 2013: Simon Sanchez

April 12, 2013: Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez on his career

July 5, 2013: David Hontiveros and Budjette Tan on Man of Steel (podcast)

November 13, 2013: The crew of Fallen Ash (Kimberly Smith, Benjamin Bartolome, and Samantha Gungon) on Fallen Ash

May 12, 2014: 15 minutes with Charlie Adlard

September 24, 2016: Budjette Tan

April 9, 2018: Mark Russell

April 24, 2018: Ta-Nehisi Coates

July 19, 2018: Jacen Burrows

October 1, 2018: David Petersen

November 2, 2018: Jeff Smith

And now be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel for more interviews!

May 9, 2013

Easter Eggs: JLA/Avengers homage... JLA/Avengers

Welcome to another installment of Easter Eggs in Comics! Click here for the archive!

In the third issue of the 2003 crossover, JLA/Avengers, by Kurt Busiek and George Perez, history is rewritten multiple times, each time restructuring things so that the Justice League and the Avengers had always known each other. One of the adventures they supposedly had was a "Quest for the Chronal Egg," involving Kang and the Lord of Time.

That was actually the plotline for the planned 1983 JLA/Avengers crossover that didn't push through. That was supposed to be written by Gerry Conway and drawn by... George Perez! The only colored art for that crossover is below, so that panel above was actually Perez homaging himself!

I think this was a promo piece, but I don't think this was
the intended cover. Can someone confirm?

Got an Easter Egg for the Cube? Send it to!

May 7, 2013

Cosmo Cube: Batman and Wonder Woman

Cosmo Cube is a column written by Kimberly Smith that focuses on superhero costumes! Click here for the archive!

Batman and Wonder Woman
Kimberly Smith

Welcome back to The Cosmo Cube. In this week’s riveting review, I’ll give you a rundown of Batman and Wonder Woman.

There have been soooooooooooooooooooo many Batman and Wonder woman costumes, so I’m going to review the first eight I find. And here we go…


First up, the guy that way overcompensated for being afraid of bats by dressing like one and constantly putting himself in harm’s way. Therapy would have been cheaper and less painful.

My “Holy Hell, What’s That” for Batman is...shiny. I never really saw Batman as the “shiny” type. And speaking of overcompensating... that, um, bat-cup? I can’t say for sure, but I bet it’s misleading. And what’s up with the silver tummy pad? The only thing that could make this costume worse is nipples. (Yikes!)

And up next we have nipples...and lots of fake muscles. And I’m not talking about the overly defined stomach muscles. Look at those legs. Also the cape looks like a black trash bag. (Bad)

Next up is “I hope I don’t ever have to look left or right.” Overall this costume is OK but he’s screwed if someone comes at him from the side. The bat symbol could really use some color or something too. It’s all so (Muah)

Coming in at number 5 is the original Batman series suit. The drawn on eyebrows, the lack of any kind of muscular definition, the spandex... but at least he can move his head left and right. (Classic!)

It’s red, it’s yellow, it’s purple... it’s awesome! How can anyone not love this suit? It looks like Batman got attacked by Skittles. Mmmmmm evil, evil Skittles. (Love it)

Number 3 is pretty cool. Perfect for live action and he can move his head. However, I still say the Bat symbol needs to stand out more on the chest. (Good)

My number 2 Batman suit is one I grew up with. When I watched Batman as a child this is the suit I saw. It’s not as realistic as the current ones but that’s why I like it. Batman is a comic book character. He’s supposed to be a little unrealistic. (Great)

Last but not least for Batman…. The old blue and grey. It doesn’t work so well for live action but it’s perfect for comics and cartoons. (Batman does not eat nachos!)

Wonder Woman

Up next is Wonder Woman. She’s had quite a lot of costume changes over the years and most of them were not so good…

My “Holy Hell, What’s That” for Wonder Woman is of course the 90s jacket/shorts look. Spandex shorts, a bra, a belt and that jacket that so many superheroes had to suffer in the 90s. They even messed up her hair. (Yikes)

Up next is “What the hell is that?” That’s not even a costume. This was before my time so I don’t know if this was a onetime thing or if it lasted awhile but I’m hoping it died quickly. (Yikes)

And yet another “holy hell” one. The costume for the TV series that luckily for us all didn’t make it past the pilot. Not only is it very shiny but blue boots? …No. (Bad)

Now this is more like it. Classic Wonder Woman. I’m glad they changed the skirt later on but the classic is still pretty good. (Good)

Coming in at number 4—yes, I know, this costume got a lot of negativity, and I can understand that—however, I kinda like it. Except the jacket. The jacket is horrible and needs to go. But the rest of it is OK. I wish they had stuck with this shirt. (Good)

Now the next 3 are kinda the same. It’s a more familiar costume. This is the costume I immediately think of when I think “Wonder Woman.”

Number 3. I’m putting this one in at number 3 because I’m not crazy about the belt. (Great)

Number 2. I like this belt better. (Great)

And…number 1. While I still like the belt on number 2 better, the 3 stars on these bottoms wins it for me. (Great)

May 6, 2013

Back Issue Ben: Guarding the Galaxy, Part 13: Conquest!

Back Issue Ben is a column written by Ben Smith for the Comics Cube! See his archives here.

Part Thirteen: Conquest!
by Ben Smith

Previously, Ultron was revealed to be the mastermind behind the Phalanx invasion. Moondragon and Gabe have already fallen in the conflict. Adam Warlock and Phyla Quasar were last seen inside the headquarters of the High Evolutionary before it was destroyed in an explosion. Ronan, the Super-Skrull, and Wraith have traveled to the Ravenous-controlled territories of the Kree empire to obtain the contents of a secret room. Starlord was taken captive by Ultron in the midst of planting explosives to destroy the Phalanx Babel Spire.

Everyone good? Okay, let’s spank this monkey.

May 2, 2013

Escher in Comics: X-Force/X-Statix

Welcome to another installment of Escher in Comics, in which we take a look at how some comics use MC Escher's artistic techniques! Click here for the archive!

MC Escher (1898-1972) was a Dutch graphic artist that was known for tessellations, optical illusions, and mathematical pictures.One of his most famous pieces was "Bond of Union"(1956).

In X-Force #123, before X-Force would become X-Statix, Peter Milligan and Mike Allred told a silent story centered around Doop as part of Marvel's "'Nuff Said" month.

In the story, Doop attempts to pop a zit, which takes him into 20 pages of a surrealistic adventure with changing landscapes and nonsensical imagery. In the big climax, he runs into the Orphan being torn apart, with unraveling images of U-Go Girl and the Orphan at the top of the page, resembling "Bond of Union."

This story can be found in: