Beating Panels #7
As is traditional, here is a shop with a pun in its name.
And here is Beating Panels, a blog about a few of this week’s comics that also has a pun in its name.
Beating Panels #6
As is traditional, here is a shop with a pun for a name.
And here is Beating Panels, a blog about comics that has a pun for a name.
Beating Panels #5
The rule is that if you come up with a name for something that is also a pun you must create that thing. Hence:
And also hence: Beating Panels, my thoughts on a few of this week’s comics with some pictures of the panels to accompany them, get it — panels. Genius.
Beating Panels #4
Here is a shop with a pun in its name.
And here is this week’s instalment of Beating Panels, where I read some new comics and have extremely complicated thoughts about them.
Beating Panels #2
If you come up with a pun that would make a good name for something, you have to follow through and create that thing, no matter what. Here is an example of that rule in glorious action:
These men are the real heroes.
Which brings us to Beating Panels, which is what I call it when I read some new comics and have some thoughts about them.
X-Men: Season One
Isn’t it always the way: comics get a bit of media attention, this time thanks to Northstar getting married to his boyfriend, and Marvel can’t turn that interest into new readers because the comics are mired in years of incomprehensible backstory and there’s no easy way in you can recommend –
Earlier this year Marvel published a bunch of “Season One” books to reintroduce their characters. The X-Men book, written by Dennis Hopeless and drawn by Jamie McKelvie, shows the original cast going through their early days at Professor Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, only updated all modern-like with laptops and txt-speak and that young-people fashion worn by the young people.
At a brisk pace it throws together the main characters, with narration from Jean Grey, and quickly sets them to doing the things super-powered mutants do: developing love triangles, squabbling, and fighting robots.
After superhero comics have been around for a while they start to use visual shorthand to depict the main characters’ powers because they get drawn so often. I’ve heard it said – okay, read on a blog – that it’s hard to find images of Cyclops using his eyebeams in the same panel as them hitting something, because nobody’s drawn the full thing for years. It seems like a small thing, but that kind of expectation that everybody reading a book starts out on the same page carries over to every element of the story.
Well, here’s the eyebeams for you.
X-Men: Season One is pretty good at depicting teenagers with superpowers. If I could create and control ice, I’d use it to slide down a hallway on an office chair too. I would probably wear more than just shoes, though. Iceman doesn’t seem to have learned an important lesson of being a man yet: shoes and socks come off first. A woman in nothing but her shoes can look hot; a man in nothing but shoes looks like a tool.
The story is a little rushed, as if it’s trying to cram a year’s worth of events into 100 pages, and perhaps it’s anticlimactic because of that, but this is a fine introduction to the comic-book version of these characters. Sure, you could just watch X-Men: First Class instead, but then you’d miss out on seeing Cyclops and Professor X hanging out together in the Danger Room like Troy and Abed in the Dreamatorium.
Crammed in the back of X-Men: Season One is the first issue of the relaunched Uncanny X-Men from last year, the one where the team has split in half after relocating to San Francisco and Magneto is a good guy and no new kids have developed mutant powers for years except now they have and Jean Grey is dead and Colossus is bald and Cyclops is dating a woman who is underdressed for a Victoria’s Secret show.
They should hire me to write those catch-up blurbs at the start of each issue.
It’s an immersion directly into the current status quo, almost 40 years of continuity catching up to you like an overstretched rubber band. And it’s actually kind of thrilling.
When I was a kid I read Spider-Man comics for years before I found out about the radioactive spider that gave him his powers. Spider-Man had spider-powers because he was Spider-Man, duh. I only found out Batman’s parents were dead when the movie came out. I was never lost while reading those comics, often by picking up random issues in the middle of stories I didn’t always see the ending of. I just didn’t care. The appeal was what they did and how cool it looked, and why wasn’t a question I ever asked.
So this is a fine introduction to a cast of characters that some people may be interested in being introduced to, but it’s reminded me that these things are basically unnecessary. The reason these occasional bursts of mainstream interest in superheroes haven’t flooded the shops with new readers who stick around isn’t because they can’t find the beginnings of stories, it’s because they don’t want them. Readers of comics tend to think that all it takes is the right book to turn anyone into a fan just like us, but the truth of it is that people who don’t like superhero comics don’t like them because they don’t like them, and that’s that.
Which is okay, because the fact that it’s only us reading books like this doesn’t make them any less enjoyable. But please, somebody tell Iceman to put some pants on or take the shoes off.