Q: I'm interested in Hitman as a character in the larger DCU, and "the area of Gotham so bad that Batman doesn't go there," because Batman is a dude that has paid multiple visits to a planet literally called Apokolips. -- @kingimpulse
A: For those of you who haven't been following the War Rocket Ajax podcast, Matt and I have been spending the entirety of 2014 ranking every single comic book story ever on a master list from the best (Amazing Spider-Man #33) to the worst (Identity Crisis). Last week, we finally got around to Hitman, and while it eventually fell between The Dark Knight Returns and Impulse #3, the conversation that we had about it involved me mentioning that Tommy Monaghan lived in a section of Gotham called "the Cauldron," which was so thoroughly lawless that they didn't even really notice when No Man's Land swept through.
There's a pretty obvious reason why it went down that way, of course, but the more I thought about your question, the more I realized that it's the core of Hitman's complicated relationship with the universe where it's set, which is one of the best things about that comic.
Comics have seized center stage at the venerable British Library in London this summer in an exhibition celebrating the history of British comics and the work of British creators. Subtitled, 'Art and Anarchy in the UK', the Comics Unmasked exhibition places an emphasis on protest, outsider culture, and anti-authoritarian voices.
Curated by Adrian Edwards, Paul Gravett, and John Harris Dunning, Comics Unmasked draws heavily on the British Library's own collection to establish and define Britain's relationship to the comics art form -- stirring up nostalgia, scandal, and some surprising discoveries along the way. And Kieron Gillen's giant head.
Q: Supposedly it takes three pages to hook a reader before they drop off, so what are the best opening three pages in a comic? -- @shutupadiran
A: Huh. I don't think it's going to surprise anyone to find out that I'm a dude who thinks a lot about how comic books are structured and what you can do within that structure, but I've never heard that bit about the first three pages being where you have to hook the reader. It makes sense, though -- when you look at it, those first three pages, along with the cover, form a distinct storytelling unit, and it's the first thing you see when you pick up and pop open a comic.
Thinking back on comics that I love, there's a really distinct pattern there. I like stuff that builds to a big last page just fine, but the ones that I tend to rave about when those first issues hit always open up strong. It's like the first five seconds of a song. Some of them might build to a crescendo as they go along, but when you have something like the famous beat from "Be My Baby" or the opening harmonics from "I Get Around," you know instantly that you've got something.
Look, we all know it's okay for comic book characters to kill people. It's just that when cops do it, it's something of a grey area. Garth Ennis and Craig Cermak's Red Team, recently collected by Dynamite, takes an old idea and makes it new again, exploring the moral conundrum of taking the law into your own hands. One of the least-talked-about great comics of 2013, Red Team is tense, real, and dead-serious. Which is funny, because I used to think Garth Ennis was stupid.
I'm leaving both of those hanging, by the way. Garth Ennis and the killing thing: hanging.
After years of rumors, speculation, and various stages of development hell, today AMC confirmed that the network will be adapting Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon'sPreacherto television. Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg are attached as executive producers, along with Sam Caitlin (Breaking Bad), who will serve as showrunner. The duo will also write the pilot.
With Breaking Bad now concluded, AMC needs a viable replacement for the series, and the network may have just found it. After years of unfounded rumors, and being stuck in various stages of development hell, Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon's Preacher may finally be coming to the small screen, as AMC has ordered a pilot for the series be filmed.
If recent revelations can teach us anything, it's that Americans will always have a shadow behind us. Since the end of World War II, we have invested so much money and power and authority in our military-industrial complex and clandestine forces that it's categorically absurd to believe that our privacy has been anything but compromised, our national innocence -- if it ever existed -- anything but forfeit. For at least the last twelve years, American soldiers have been engaged in seemingly perpetual wars across the world, while potentially every electronic conversation we've had has been stolen and scrutinized, and the lie we've been told is that it's all been in the name of American freedom.
The truth is much worse. Like the titular character in Garth Ennis and Goran Parlov's just-concluded Fury MAX series, we simply love war, and we cannot stop ourselves from waging it.
Q: What's your favorite final issue of a comic series or run? -- @supergeekmike
A: Back when I was working at the comic book store, my friend Scott once told me that if I really wanted to know what a series was all about, all I had to do was read the first issue and the last issue. Admittedly, this is the same friend who told me that I really ought to start reading Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose, but he had a good point. On those rare occasions in comics where someone can actually build to a last issue, that's where everything about the series can come together. And the results can be pretty great.
I'm starting to get the feeling that Garth Ennis doesn't like heroes very much. I don't mean superheroes, either. His ambivalence toward the spandex set is well-established and can easily be taken as read at this point. But heroes? The men and women we've built up to be larger than life and forces for good, immaculately moral and righteous? I'm starting to notice that he's pushing away from that concept in his work more and more often. He treats heroes like we would treat stereotypes or urban legends. He wants to debunk our idea of a hero, and it shows in his work.
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