The DEFIANT Lost History of David Lapham’s Mongrel

In the mid-’90s Jim Shooter, once the editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics and later a founder of  VALIANT comics created DEFIANT comics. Among those that went with him was David Lapham, an artist/writer who would go on to win Eisners for his independent work on his own Stray Bullets. Lapham would be the artist on the debut comic from DEFIANT, Warriors of Plasm, but before he did that, before anyone did anything at DEFIANT we could put in our hands and read, we got Mongrel.

defiant comics

We never saw him again.

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Doctor Doom – Badass of the Week

A special edition of Badass of the Week by Ben Thompson

doctor doom

“Show me the puny mortal who does not tremble at the name of Doctor Doom!”

I’ve always held a soft spot in my heart for comic books characters who go out there with no inherent super-powers and roll the dice in toe-to-toe combat against genetically-engineered superhuman mutant warriors from some quadrant of space where people are born with the muscular density of a rhinoceros.  Never is this more true than in situations where the aforementioned character is a sort-of-misunderstood supervillain who wants nothing more than an eternal end to war, conflict, substandard wages, hunger, and illiteracy – and who seeks to accomplish these lofty idealistic goals by violently obliterating all who stand in his way and replacing every government on Earth-616 with an autocratic New World Order devoted to worshipping him as a living God among mortals.

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Brief Lives – Sandman Meditations

brief lives

Brief Lives Chapter 1

Now, opening the first pages of the seventh collection of The Sandman, some of the fun comes from knowing right where we are in the first panels. Disorientation has certainly been an element when beginning these stories, because they could be anywhere or anywhen, but re-orientation is also an important component — at first, the stories re-oriented us to narratives and characters from outside the Sandman universe, tales that began as myths or legends or novels or other comics, but now that we have hundreds of pages of this comic itself behind us, the re-orientations can be gloriously Ouroboric.

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Batman – Badass of the Week

He’s the most dangerous man in the galaxy

Superman, telling some Martians about Batman

A special edition of Badass of the Week by Ben Thompson

batman

Batman is a crime-fighting vigilante ninja detective who dresses up in bullet-proof armor, wears a gigantic black cape, hides in the darkest corners of the city, and then sneak-attack face-kicks the world’s most sadistic criminal douchebags until every felon in the tri-state area is passed out unconscious in a Gotham City Prison complaining about how they’ve got concussions so bad that their brains are leaking out their noses.  He’s one of comics’ most beloved, longest-running, and badass superheroes, an ultra-genius master of stealth and hand-to-hand combat, and a man so over-the-top hardcore that the mere mention of his name has been known to cause incontinence among the seedier members of human society.

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Sandman Meditations – Fables and Reflections

fables and reflections

Fear of Falling

I’ll admit it: I’m cheating. This iteration of the Sandman Meditations will discuss two Sandman episodes instead of the regular one.

Fables & Reflections collects a group of Sandman stories that appeared in a variety of venues over a fairly wide range of time. Having read only the first two at this point, I don’t know if there are linking threads, themes, or threnodies among the stories, but we can revisit the idea at the end of the book.
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Sandman Meditations – A Game of You

Slaughter on 5th Avenue

a game of you

A Game of You is the first Sandman story of which I had any prior knowledge before plunging into it. That’s because the introduction to the book is written by Samuel R. Delany and was included along with two other essays about Neil Gaiman in Delany’s 1999 collection Shorter Views: Queer Thoughts and the Politics of the Paraliterary.

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Sandman Meditations – Season of Mists

Season of Mists: Prologue

One of the most famous stories by the great 20th century Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges is, it seems to me, echoed via allusion in the first two panels of the prologue to Season of Mists. “Walk any path in Destiny’s garden, and you will be forced to choose, not once but many times. The paths fork and divide.”

season of mists

The first Borges story to appear in English was “The Garden of Forking Paths”.

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Sandman Meditations – Dream Country

Calliope

sandman dream country

I could have been really cheeky and declared that I couldn’t come up with an idea for this column.

That, after all, is the situation of Richard (aka Ric) Madoc in “Calliope” — he’s a writer who has published one novel, The Cabaret of Doctor Caligari (a title that would be, I must admit, just about enough to make me buy the book without knowing anything else about it), but who has run into total writer’s block.  From an elderly writer, Erasmus Fry, Madoc gets a muse.  Literally.  He gets Homer’s muse, Calliope, the muse of heroic poetry.  Fry has held her captive for decades, and trades her to Madoc for a bezoar.

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Sandman Meditations – The Doll’s House

Tales in the Sand

the dolls house

“Tales in the Sand” is the prologue to the second set of Sandman stories, The Doll’s House, and it’s utterly different from anything in Preludes & Nocturnes right from the first panels.  The title page is almost abstract in its imagery: the pastel yellow and red of a desert fills a background of triangles and trapezoids; two small figures carrying spears and wearing traditional garb walk in the middle ground; the foreground is dominated and bisected by a black spear.

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Sandman Meditations – Preludes & Nocturnes

Sleep of the Just

Prolegomenon – You should not expect expertise. There are other sources of that, encyclopedias and annotations, websites and Wikipedia entries, oracles and seers. I’m here for an experiment: to see what happens when someone who has only basic experience with comics and graphic novels encounters one of the classics of the field.

preludes and nocturnes

Wake up, Sir. We’re here.

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Thanos – Badass of the Week

You address omnipotence. Tread carefully.”

A special edition of Badass of the Week by Ben Thompson

thanos

Going out the week of San Diego Comic-Con and telling a bunch of superhero aficionados that Thanos is badass is kind of like walking into a Star Trek convention and announcing that Vulcans have pointy ears. No shit, Professor X, why don’t you tell us something we didn’t already infer telepathically just by looking at a comic book panel depicting a giant, beady-eyed muscle-bound behemoth backhanding Captain America to the turn with one hand while simultaneously head-butting a structural tear in the fabric of the universe with his wrinkly purple forehead?

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I Share Fables with Chris Roberson Before He Created iZOMBIE

Today we catch up with Chris Roberson in the mundane world to talk about some fables and Fables. Roberson is writing a forthcoming spin-off mini to the popular Vertigo title called Cinderella: From Fabletown with Love with superstar artist Shawn McManus (and very sweet covers by Chrissie Zullo).

fables

We can’t talk specifics about the project, but we adroitly dance around it to give you some possible insight on the writer — a multiple time World Fantasy Award finalist, and a winner of the Sidewise Award for his fiction — who will be putting his talents to the much beloved Fables mythos. He is also the publisher of Monkeybrain Books which puts out nothing but the goods.

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Age of Bronze to Yellow Bricks Chat w/ Eric Shanower + Oz #1 Review (Skottie is King)

I’ve combined my lengthy interview with Eric Shanower with my review of the first issue pf his and Skottie Young’s first Wonderful Wizard of Oz comic from Marvel. I hope you enjoy!

eric shanower

Images of Skottie Young’s Wizard of Oz work for Marvel comics have been on the net for some time now and I just fell in love with what he was doing and this project quickly got vaulted into my must read category. Young has been doing excellent work for awhile now, but he seems primed with this project to ascend to even greater heights. Then, I found out Eric Shanower was writing it and it became the #1 comic series I was most looking forward to at the end of the year and continuing in 2009.

I present Eric Shanower as we talk OZ, Troy, faith and accidental deaths . . .
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