Saturday, July 28, 2007

The Nitpicker #32.

DISCLAIMER (angry creators, please read)


Sorry this column is a couple of days late, it's just that... you know what? I was going to keep apologizing, but nah, I spent some time reading comics instead of writing it, and there's nothing to apologize for. Not like I actually get paid for this thing....

This week's column, now that we're back to our weekly schedule (what's a couple of days late, huh?), marks the end of my vacation. I go back to work on Monday, and boy, I don't want to. Like I have a choice... this week's column is certainly loaded with stuff, not really on nit amount (15), but on text. Yes, part of it is quoted from somewhere else, but I wrote me up some nice nits too.

Before we go on to the nits, I just came up with a new feature that I'll do weekly. Nitpicker's Picks Of The Week! What's that? Well, nothing less than the best and worst comic I read the week before. In this case, the worst book I read last week was Superman/Batman #38. While it wasn't as bad as previous issues have been, it's still a boring book. Why do I read it? God only knows. And the best book last week was Knights Of The Dinner Table #129, a book that never fails to satisfy me, and this week's issue was chockfull of funny moments and plot advancement.

Let's go on with the nits, shall we?

TITLE: Countdown.

ISSUE: 41 (I'm tired of this little "yup" or "you know it" game...), but it's actually the whole series so far.

CULPRIT: Mike Carlin & Mike Marts (editors) and Jeanine Schaefer & Elisabeth Gehrlein (assistant editors).

NIT-TO-PICK: The continuity fuck ups (because there's other no way to call them) that happen in Countdown never seem to cease. I think it's a good book, with very inconsistent art, but still good. The art is something that should get better once Giffen starts in the book, and it does, as we can see in issue 40, is first full one (he did some breakdowns in issue 41, but refused to be credited). It's taking more time for the book to shape up, longer than it did for 52, but I still think it's a good read, although changes need to be made.

The changes I'd make would be cutting back on inserting scenes referring to other storylines from all over the DC Universe. Karate Kid stopping by to see Batman when he supposedly couldn't even walk after taking a glancing blow from the lightning; even his earlier scenes with other legionnaires and Red Arrow were completely unnecessary. The Bart Allen funeral is also out of sync with the rest of the DC Universe, there was no need to do it in this book instead of in Flash, JLA or Titans...

These things are what cause the largest continuity problems, showing a complete scene, where a simple reference, a comment by a character, would do. If you didn't waste pages and pages on those needless scenes, you could use those pages to tell the stories that are actually specific to Countdown (Mary Marvel, Piper and Trickster, Jimmy Olsen, etc).

Removes those scenes, and not only you get the extra pages for the Countdown-specific stories, but you can work the continuity better. To mention the worst fuck up, the Amazons attack on the US can't be taking two months, yet it's shown as happening during this week of Countdown, and it was first shown in Countdown 47. Superman would be out there, giving a 150% to save lives and stop the war... and even if by any chance he didn't have his powers, he'd be out there as Clark Kent, reporting on the war. But no, Clark Kent is lounging in the Daily Planet's offices, making jokes about global warming.

The coloring errors on Monarch's face, Holly Robinson's hair length, even the horrible art, all those things can be forgiven. But the continuity fuck ups are simply outrageous, and when the book's editors (namely Mike Carlin) are asked about this by Matt Brady, from Newsarama, they just brush the questions aside, in a way that's even insulting.

Matt Brady is usually accused of brown-nosing creators and editors of the comic publishing companies, particularly Joe Quesada of Marvel, and although he sometimes seems to ask only the questions that the interviewee approves of, it's mostly a matter of him having cordial relations with these people. In this case, however, he completely did away with the brown-nosing accusations, and completely grilled Mike Carlin. He was so on-point, that I couldn't do less than quote fragments of the interview here:

Newsrama: Fair enough. Back to that point about the editor's boxes – as it was revealed on the news, Amazons took down the President's plane? Where did that happen? Why isn't there a pointer for readers to find it?

Mike Carlin: Countdown won't match every week but do check out Amazons Attack this month.

NRAMA: Timing things out, it's on the news as a recap, so it's already happened, and Clark is just sweating the day away in the Daily Planet? Can we discuss how time is presented throughout this series? Is everything that we saw, scene-by-scene meant to be least...sequentially? It seems like this raises more issues that it settles - the Amazons are attacking and killing people, yet we see Clark Kent...just hanging out? It seems that, by inaction, he's at most endorsing, and at least, allowing the Amazon's actions...

MC: It's on the news later in the issue... you really should give things some minute-to-minute time to unfold, no? This is an age old problem in a shared universe, though, why doesn't Superman intervene in every issue of Blue Beetle or Birds of Prey or everywhere in all titles...

Sometimes when all is said and done, you can piece your year of all DC publications-- and figure a kinda place for everything...

or you can just relax and enjoy the comic you're reading!


NRAMA: Yeah, but still - Clark's blase attitude while his adopted country is under attack and its citizens dying due to a friend's nation kind of goes to the larger question - what's the mood like in the DCU now? Sure, readers can see the larger threads, but does the average hero (okay, aside from Batman) realize anything big and bad is going on?

MC: Again... at least let the timing in the issue you're reading dictate when things are happening...even Superman can't predict the news!

Newsarama Note: The effects of Amazons Attack were first seen in Countdown 47, which, if going by the original explanation of time in this series, suggest that the Amazons have been attacking the U.S. for over a month. We still wonder how Clark can justify sitting around, but we’ll move on.

NRAMA: Speaking of that "sense of something going on" something that was a hallmark of 52 was it's separate plot threads that, despite many readers' predictions, remained virtually separate through the entire story. Given the canvas is much larger for this story, will we be seeing that happen in Countdown, or will storylines weave in and through each other and reach their own conclusions?

MC: These stories will criss-cross and meld to the end... at least the threads that don't end suddenly-- and tragically! Here's a way to look at Countdown... it's not 52. 52 covered a lost year-- 52 literal weeks. Countdown is several stories that play out in their own time... not a year's worth in the DCU.

Nothing that happens in the DCU happens in real time... Lois & Clark have known each other for maybe 8 or 9 years in real time-- but they've celebrated twenty Christmas issues since 1986 alone!

If you think about it too much you will die!

NRAMA: Okay, well that’s one way to handle it. Again, back to the editor's box comments - the Karate Kid scene...when we last saw him in Countdown, he was fine. Nothing bad happened. Now, they're carrying him...what happened, when, and where?

MC: Dude, give up on the editors' boxes.

NRAMA: Never. Thing is, if you're going to say that Countdown #42 was before “The Lightning Saga,” and this scene in #41 was after, that doesn't wash, as All-Flash #1 showed clearly that Wally got back within an hour of Bart dying - but we already saw Bart's funeral in #43...which Wally apparently skipped out on for his own reasons. Time and events can be fluid, sure, but the events don’t seem to be matching up to the actual books that have been published. So what's the order of events here?

MC: Good thing I didn't say "Countdown #42 was before “The Lightning Saga"...honestly the whole universe is-- and has to be-- fluid... some things do happen off camera. And in the super-hero biz you sometimes end up getting carried.

But, frankly, it looks to me like buddies trying to hustle to a small opening-- and Karate Kid is standing pretty firmly for the rest of the page. Not like he was on a stretcher suddenly!

Newsarama Note: Not to nit pick Mike, specifically, but in discussing Countdown #43, he said “So it’s my vote that this happened before Wally was back,” speaking of the funeral, while All-Flash #1 showed that Bart died and Wally returned within the same hour.

Likewise, the “carrying” of Karate Kid is a recreation of the scene from JLA #10, where Kid’s teammates were helping him to walk due to the injuries suffered when Wally came back – time, apparently is very fluid - the Karate Kid scene is happening at one time, the Piper/Trickster at another (stemming out of them attending Bart's funeral) at another, and the Amazons' activities at a third

So, for his work, I've awarded Matt Braddy the first ever Honorary Nitpicker Scout badge!

NIT-O-METER: 10 Bazzars. It could not be lower.

TITLE: Action Comics.

ISSUE: 852.

CULPRIT: Kurt Busiek (writer) and/or Jared K. Fletcher (letterer).

NIT-TO-PICK: On page 4, as part of a scene mirroring one from Countdown 42, Lois Lane catches Jimmy Olsen sketching costume designs, and she calls him on the corny names, but in this issue she says "Human Porcipine" instead of "Porcupine".

NIT-O-METER: 1 Bazzar, just a typo... my my, how long ago has it been since we had a 1 Bazzar nit?

TITLE: Avengers Classic.

ISSUE: 02 ("The Avengers Battle The Space Phantom", story originally printed Avengers V1 02, 1963).

CULPRIT: Stan Lee (writer).

NIT-TO-PICK: I must say that it pains me to no end to feature Stan "The Man" Lee in this column as a culprit for the first time... But somebody has to do the ugly work, and that somebody is yours truly. On page 10, panel 1, Rick Jones tries to calm down the Hulk, in that old dance that has been going on for more than 40 years. However, Rick must not be a very good friend, because he says "(...) make sure you're able to turn back to Doctor Don Blake (...)" Uuh.... Rick, my man... Don Blake is Thor's alter ego, I think you were looking for Dr. Bruce Banner...

NIT-O-METER: 10 Bazzars. Stan, I'm sorry, but if it had been later in the history of the Marvel Universe, I would have let it go, but this early on, this would have confused readers to no end.

TITLE: Avengers Classic.

ISSUE: 02 ("The Avengers Battle The Space Phantom", story originally printed Avengers V1 02, 1963).

CULPRIT: Jack Kirby (penciller).

NIT-TO-PICK: Oh my God!!! I mean, "Oh Hashem!", since it's King Kirby I'm nitpicking on now. I'm really sorry Jack, but you left yourself wide open to this one... Hulk, from the first page of the story, up until page 14 is portrayed as having three toes on each foot.

Now, this, as well as his original grey color, and his intelligence (while he wasn't Banner smart, he wasn't all Hulk smash, he spoke in complete sentences), all those changes, can, and probably have been, chalked up to the gamma mutation process. However, on page 14 he has four toes, until the end of the story... come on Jack, where you multitasking? See below for the comparison.

NIT-O-METER: 10 Bazzars for blatancy.

TITLE: Black Canary V3.

ISSUE: 02 of 04.

CULPRIT: Paulo Siqueira (penciller).

NIT-TO-PICK: This book is off to a good start, with both a look at Green Arrow and Black Canary's early interactions, and Black Canary's life today with her adopted daughter, Sin. Tony Bedard, who is a competent writer at the very least (his Exiles and Legion of Super-Heroes, while not as good as Winick's and Waid's, are enjoyable) spins the tale, while penciller Paulo Siqueira provides beautiful art, in conjunction with inker Amilton Santos.

Like most of their fellows in this recent Brazillian invasion of the American comics scene (I assume they are Brazillian from their names, and it's doubtful they're not), they can draw some very hot women (Ed Benes, anyone?), and when they draw faces, you can actually tell someone's age (look at the page below, number 14, and you'll see the teenaged Speedy, the child Sin, and the adult, somewhat mature, Green Arrow).

However, not all is perfect... and remember when I sometimes mention that I take note of a page in a book I'm reading because it has a nit and then forget what it was? I've started putting a note about what the nit is about next to the page number... but apparently, I don't do it always, and when it's not obvious, I can read and re-read the page over and over, looking over the art and trying to spot that little detail I spotted the first time I read it.

In this case, I got nothing... or at least, what I found I'm certain is not what I found the first time, and it's not something I'd caught reading this book (I really don't obsess over each page trying to find a nit, they just become apparent to me). Look at the page below carefully, you'll see, in panel one (which is kind of a juxtaposition of two images, or rather, the background is not complete to let us center on Ollie and Dinah), and you'll see the two adults are sitting on one side of the table, and the teen and child on the opposite side across the table.

Ollie's left arm, the one with his watch on the wrist, is on the far side from the table. That holds true for the next panel, and we can see the two girls still on the opposite side of the table, with Ollie's right arm facing them. The "camera" shifts for panel 3 and 4, and you can see Ollie facing the reader. It's quite clear that they're all still seated in the same positions, however, on panel 5, Sin tugs Ollie's sleeve (and I just found a different nit, more on that on the following entry) and all of a sudden she, and the table are to his left, watch on his wrist and all.

And no, it's not that Siqueira drew the watch on the wrong arm, because on panel 6 you can see Ollie facing Sin, and from the way the seating arrangement was show on the first panel, you can see facing her like that would be impossible, they are now seating next to each other. Even in panel 5 you can see Sin and Ollie "sharing" one corner of the table, when Ollie was sitting directly across Speedy, and Sin across Dinah.

NIT-O-METER: 10 Bazzars, it's not story-affecting, and it's not blatant, but it's a show of sloppiness on Siqueira's part, when he can't even keep track of the seating arrangement for one single page.

TITLE: Black Canary V3.

ISSUE: 02 of 04.

CULPRIT: Paulo Siqueira (penciller).

NIT-TO-PICK: Look at the page again, you'll see that Ollie's shirt has very short sleeves (nice guns man!) that end about three inches down from his shoulder, and is tight; but when Sin tugs at his sleeve, it reaches his elbow.

NIT-O-METER: 2 Bazzars.

TITLE: Black Canary V3.

ISSUE: 02 of 04.

CULPRIT: I.L.L. (colorist)... International League Of 'Luminators?

NIT-TO-PICK: I just found a third nit while going over the seating arrangement thing, looking at page 13, Ollie's watch and Dinah's bracelet are silver, and Sin's shirt is a very light blue. Then on page 14, the one above, the jewelry is golden, and Sin's shirt is distinctly white. This is what happen when you need more than one person to color a single issue...

NIT-O-METER: 5 Bazzars.

TITLE: Marvel Illustrated: Treasure Island.

ISSUE: 02 of 06.

CULPRIT: Hard, read below, but I'm saying it's Roy Thomas (writer), with a little responsibility on part of Mario Gully (penciller) and VC's Joe Caramagna (letterer).

NIT-TO-PICK: I read the novel when I was a kid, around 8 or 9, and it was fun... so I naturally picked up this comic series, with more reason when I learned it was to be scripted by Roy Thomas, a giant in this art (not to mention the beautiful Greg Hildenbrandt covers). Still, isn't the name of the line "Marvel Illustrated" kind of redundant... I mean, Marvel is primarily and traditionally a comics publisher... so it's a given that it's illustrated!

Anyhoo, look at this panel, number 2, from page 10. The guy is obviously blowing on a bugle of some sort to announce himself. How can he blow it and speak at the same time?

NIT-O-METER: 4 Bazzars.

TITLE: Super-Villain Team-Up: Modok's 11.

ISSUE: 01 of 05.

CULPRIT: Fred Van Lente (writer).

NIT-TO-PICK: This book started alright, but without much of the humor I would expect from Fred Van Lente, writer of the infinitely funny "Action Philosophers!" comic (what, you don't know it? Go look for it, dammit!

Anyway, Mr. Van Lente, after showing us Modok's origin, continues the story with Armadillo wrestling in Acapulco against "El Chupacabra" (who I don't know if he is a Marvel villain, or just a fake wrestler, or a real wrestler, that Van Lente put into the story). The Spanish dialogue of the guy commenting the fight is perfect at first, showing that either Van Lente knows Spanish, or took the time to consult with someone who does.

As you can imagine, I was ecstatic! The dialogue is perfect, even having tildes in some words, and using opening exclamation points (in Spanish you don't say "Yes!" or "What?", you say "¡Si!” or “¿QuĂ©?”)

However, not all is perfect... I like Mexican wrestler, and while I'm by no means an expert on the subject, I'm pretty sure that they don't use English names for the wrestler's moves, like they do here with "brain-buster", "roadkill slammer", and even the word "finisher" to describe this last move.

NIT-O-METER: 3 Bazzars, since the rest is practically perfect and shows Van Lente is diligent.

TITLE: Super-Villain Team-Up: Modok's 11.

ISSUE: 01 of 05.

CULPRIT: Fred Van Lente (writer) and/or Blambot's Nate Piekos (letterer).

NIT-TO-PICK: On page 8, Big Papi, the guy who set up the fight for Armadillo, says the wrestler's purse for the fight is "ten-thousand-peso"; when it would be "pesos", since it's plural, like "dollar" and "dollars".

NIT-O-METER: 1 Bazzars, it could just be a typo.

TITLE: Super-Villain Team-Up: Modok's 11.

ISSUE: 01 of 05.

CULPRIT: Francis Portela (penciller).

NIT-TO-PICK: I'm pretty sure I didn't mark this page because of the nit I just found while I was reviewing it, but it's still a nit. On page 15, panel one Rocket Racer (yes, Rocket Racer!) is standing next to a sign with a Daily Bugle front page, with of course, Spidey on it. The headline says "Spiderman still menaces New York." Thing is, the character's name is "Spider-Man", and it's something every red-blooded comic fan knows... and any professional working at Marvel should know too!

NIT-O-METER: 4 Bazzars.

TITLE: World War Hulk: X-Men.

ISSUE: 02 of 04.

CULPRIT: Andy Schmidt & Nick Lowe (editors) and Will Panzo (assistant editor).

NIT-TO-PICK: I found this one while checking out the credits to see who the culprit was for the nit below, the one I had originally spotted in this book. So, on the credits page, VC's Joe Caramagna is credited as colorist, when he's the letterer. And it's not like they switched the colorist and letterer credits around, no, they credited two colorists and no letterer.

NIT-O-METER: 6 Bazzars, because I just checked and they did it last week. It's important to credit people properly.

TITLE: World War Hulk: X-Men.

ISSUE: 02 of 04.

CULPRIT: Laura Villari (colorist).

NIT-TO-PICK: She did it again. Laura, check references, Professor Xavier's eyes are blue, and not brown. Oh, page 3, panels 1 and 3.

NIT-O-METER: 8 Bazzars, and it'll keep growing.

TITLE: Teen Titans Go!

ISSUE: 43.

CULPRIT: Whoever digitally composed the cover for printing (added logos, etc).

NIT-TO-PICK: This book came out some time ago, and I don't even read it, but this nit was reported to me by my friends Roy and Bea from Dragon Comics, so here's an Honorary Nitpicker Scout badge for them!

Look at the cover below, I'd challenge you to "find the nit", but Roy and Bea already sent the error circled out in red, so... Hey, now that I mention it, who would like a "find the nit" contest every week? In this case, as you can see, Raven is on the lower right corner of the cover, and both her hands are there... however, at the top left side, next to Starfire (or Fakefire, because those breasts are too small for Starfire, sorry), lo and behold, a disembodied hand of Raven!

Some research on the net allowed me to find out that the hand came from the cover to the previous issue (see below), and it was left there due to some computer glitch when they composed the cover, as confirmed by writer J. Torres on this TitansGo thread. The error only affected the copies sold to the public, because according to Torres, none of his comp copies had it.

NIT-O-METER: 10 Bazzars, this is stupid, but blatant. Oh, following recommendations from Roy and Bea, as well as Ziplizard and others, I actually read this issue and it was okay, I guess, for kids, or reading with them... but nothing that makes me want to keep reading the book. And I totally hated those cutesy chibi-style interlude/side note things...

TITLE: Teen Titans Go!

ISSUE: 43.

CULPRIT: J. Torres (writer).

NIT-TO-PICK: The dangers of making me read a comic... you know I'm gonna spot a nit. In this case, on page 15 Jinx says she can open the door to Titans Tower with her Titan communicator, to what Gizmo says that he had one of those and didn't know it was a key. Come on! It's Gizmo, who's a genius with electronics and all that stuff!!!

NIT-O-METER: 8 Bazzars.

TITLE: Knights Of The Dinner Table.

ISSUE: 129

CULPRIT: Jolly R. Blackburn (writer/artist/letterer, because of the latter, in this case).

NIT-TO-PICK: On page 31, panel two, dialogues that, by context, should be Weird Pete's, actually are said by Bob.

NIT-O-METER: 3 Bazzars, it still kind of makes sense. And I know I said I stopped reporting typos on KODT, but this is not a typo. The mag still has several typos per issue...
As meaty as the column was, in text amount, the average went down from last week (tough not to go down from that 8.1!), since there were many low-ranking nits this time. We have a 6.3 Bazzars average this week, and who knows what'll happen next week?

Let me know what you think about the two new things we have, the Nitpicker's Picks Of The Week, and the Honorary Nitpicker Scout badges... and it you want me to have a "spot the nit" contest each week (the prize will be a badge, like I have budget for anything else... oh, whoever has the time, disposition, and skills to design a better badge, knock yourself out!). That's it for now, until next week, I'll be on the outlook for more nits, because (almost) nothing escapes...



Dragon Comics said...

100% agreed with the continuity problem in Countdown, it make me sick just think about it. But remember 52 was also a mess: Nightwing in Outsiders/Nightwing/52
Green Arrow in Green Arrow/52

Changing the subject: we won a badge!!!


MaGnUs said...

I don't know much about the Nightwing problem in 52, they had other problems like Detective Chimp, but it wasn't this bad, nowhere near.

Congrats on the badge, and display it on your site! :P

MaGnUs said...

Because of a nit of my own that you'll see referenced on the next post, comments for this issue were left on another post, see them below:

At 11:37 AM, The Guvnor Paul C said...

Good stuff as always Magnus and thanks for the info on Countdown last time, but boy, did Mike Carlin get himself into all sorts of trouble in that Newsarama interview. It must have been painful to nit Stan Lee and Jack Kirby but I think you are right, them two were pretty big clangers. I also liked the badges and the picks of the week, they were cool new features.

At 10:10 PM, MaGnUs said...

Thanks for the kind words Guvnor (but why did you comment in this post, instead of this week's?). Yeah, Mike Carlin is in deep doodoo... and it still hurts going after the Man and the King...

Glad you liked the badges, keep your eyes peeled and we'll see if you get one. And the picks will be back this week, along with the "spot the nit".

At 11:07 AM, Guvnor said...

"but why did you comment in this post, instead of this week's?"

This is where the "Please leave comments here" link took me to at Shotgun Reviews.

At 6:32 PM, MaGnUs said...

God, I feel like such an idiot. You just won yourselve a Honorary Nitpicker Scout badge, since I forgot to update the link when I posted the column.... This week's column will have two self-nits....

MaGnUs said...

And by "yourselve" I mean "yourself".

TokerTheKid said...

sorta off topic, but you mentioned Stan Lee making a mistake so I just had to say: NEVER feel guilty about commenting on a Stan Lee mistake...they made 10 times more mistakes in the old days, and Stan Lee was overworked with titles so he made more mistakes than the average writer.
Also wanted to mention my 2 favorate Stan Lee mistakes: He had Electro call Spider-Man "Superman" in issue 3 ("thank god DC's lawyers weren't paying attention" he comments in the No Prize book) and in the backup story of issue 1 he claims Spider-Man's secret ID is "Peter Palmer"! :)
Jeez Stan, usually you're subtle about Spidey's name being a sexual inuendo!
If you like laughing at mistakes I highly recommend reading that comic "The No-Prize Book"
Oh and lastly, great article as always...

MaGnUs said...

Thanks for the comment, and the compliment. But I can't help feeling guilty about reporting Stan and Jack :P

I read the no-prize book, and man, it's a keeper.