There's good news and bad news. Let's get the good news out of the way first. You can run out and buy yourself the cheapest bottle of champagne at the liquor store because EYESIGHT #4 is coming out on the third Wednesday of February! It will feature the same lovingly crafted helpings of smooth story and silky crosshatching that you've come to know and love from us (supposing you are one of the mythical beasts known only to me and Alex as “EYESIGHT fans”). We might (MIGHT) even be able to get EYESIGHT #5 out in March!
The bad news is that EYESIGHT #4 didn't come out the third Wednesday of whatever month it was supposed to come out in (December? December). Unfortunately, delays are going to be a fact of life for readers of this comic. We are lucky enough at this point that we don't have very many readers to lose, but we would hope that if you are one of the proud few you can bear with us. Me and Alex live halfway around the world from each other. We both have jobs. Well, Alex has law school. But law school is more of a real job than my not-quite-real job anyway.
Our plan originally was to get 1-6 out on schedule and then take a break. When we started making the comic we were both working minimum wage jobs in Toronto that we did not need to bring “outside the office,” so-to-speak, and lived within walking distance of each other. Now we only have so much time to interface with each other (when I say “halfway around the world” I mean “13 hour time difference”), and we only have so much time to make comics. But we are both devoted to it. You guys are just going to have to learn to love the two to four month gaps between sets of comics as much as you love the smooth and silkiness of the final product. After EYESIGHT #6 there will probably be a long delay while we try to prep the next batch for monthly release. And this is a beautiful thing! All hail the mighty and just delay...
More bad news. You might have noticed that there is a Merch button on our website that leads to a banner saying “Coming Soon.” It isn't. The banner should say “Coming Later, at Some Undefined Point.” This comes back to the thing where me and Alex live halfway around the world from each other. To elaborate, I live in Hong Kong and Alex lives in Ontario. Something you might notice about those two places is that neither is in the USA, which would almost certainly be our primary market for merchandise. Printing in Hong Kong is cheaper than in the US or Canada, but shipping to the US from HK costs about the same as shipping to the US from Canada. There also isn't very much interest in merch yet if the lack of whiny emails is any indication (feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in EYESIGHT merch!). We're working on it, and the link will certainly remain on the site, and hopefully some day I will be able to write another announcement/mea culpa about how we're now selling comics, t-shirts, etc.
But the main point is, it's about time for a little bit more gore on the third Wednesday of this coming month.
There are a lot of things to like about Jonathan Hickman's “Infinity,” and primary among those things is its ambition. The scope of “Infinity” is no smaller than the entire universe and so it makes sense that the events of “Infinity” would cross over into numerous other Marvel comics. One of the interesting things about these tie-ins, however, is that almost all of them take place on Earth, where Thanos is invading. In this sense it is exactly like every other Marvel Comics event ever. Someone bad attacks the Earth (or just New York, or Asgard, or wherever), and all the heroes around must stop them. For the most part these heroes are completely unaffected by the events, and go about their lives (and ongoing series) as usual when the events stop.
A major criticism of these event comics is that the tie-ins are usually shoed in and have nothing to do with the event going on around them or with the ongoing series they are ostensibly a part of. I didn't think that this was a major problem with Infinity. I didn't write about one of the main events spurring the tie ins when I wrote about Infinity last time- an Inhuman terrigen bomb that unlocks powers in random people around the Earth- because it isn't very important to Infinity itself aside from turning Thane into an Inhuman Eternal death monster. Most of these tie ins involve characters suddenly gaining powers or fighting Thanos. Let the blurb madness begin!
“Avengers Assemble” was redundant. Didn't read “Infinity” or “Avengers?” Well, just in case you didn't, you could read them in the pages of “Avengers Assemble” instead. And if you did read “Infinity” or “Avengers” you could waste some more money. These issues weren't so much bad as they were representative of how dumb it is to have multiple ongoing series about the same characters doing the same things.
“Mighty Avengers,” however, was pretty fun. People hate Greg Land. I mean, they really really hate him. I don't. His art looks good and I don't care if he traces people from magazines and puts different clothes on them. I don't hate collages either. Octo-spidey is hilarious, and it's nice to see Luke Cage doing some avenging.
“Infinity: Heist” was pretty pointless and I don't remember what happened.
“Nova” was dumb fun in the same vein as “Mighty Avengers.” Zeb Wells introduced us to a cool villain named Kaldera with a tail and a feisty persona. Any excuse to see more of this new Thanos mythology is good enough for me, and I would like to see more of her in the future.
“Thunderbolts” was the dumbest fun of all the dumb fun tie ins, and was probably my favorite overall. I didn't even realize that people at Marvel were still making comics this fun. The Punisher wants to nail the guys behind all the organized crime in New York. A bunch of cowardly mafia idiots get superpowers. Deadpool runs around looking for pizza. This one really surprised me with how awesome it was.
“Infinity: The Hunt” was almost as forgettable as “Infinity: Heist.” The superhero girl with the psychic land whale, however, will not be forgotten.
“Captain Marvel” suffered from the same problem as “Avengers Assemble.” Just “Infinity” and “Avengers,” but regurgitated through someone else's voice. To be fair, though, Kelly Sue DeConnick is quite good at writing Carol Danvers' voice.
“Superior Spiderman Team Up” had a pretty generic (but well executed) storyline about a history grad student getting powers, using them for misguided evil and eventually using them for good because Octo-Spiderman tells her to. But the art. Oh MAN the art. Michael Del Mundo's art is incredibly dynamic, and it reminds me of Taiyo Matsumoto without being looking like Taiyo Matsumoto, which is about the highest praise you can get from me.
“Fearless Defenders” was forgettable. But maybe just because I don't know much about these characters.
I don't even know where to begin with “Secret Avengers.” This comic was a fucking slog. First I had to go to google and search “since when is Nick” which autofills to “since when is Nick Fury black,” which lead me through the endlessly convoluted tale of how Nick Fury had a secret son that looks exactly like Samuel L Jackson, how his son lost the same eye that he did, how he changed his fucking name to Nick Fury for some reason, and how everybody just forgot that Nick Fury existed and was replaced by this guy... I mean, Christ, there are times when I wish that continuity didn't exist because of shit like this and then I remember that we wouldn't get “Infinity” itself and I make my peace with it. Oh yeah, and Phil Coulson from the MCU is called “Cheese” for some reason, because Phil Coulson isn't good enough. And he has big guns all the time for some reason. Gah. (Is this what he's like in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D?) This particular story arc is no less dumb. Some guy gets powers he doesn't want and he blames the heroes for attracting all of this madness. Is he wrong? Not really. But golly gee he shouldn't blow up the secretive superpolice! They're just trying to keep us safe from the threats that they constantly attract! This comic fucking sucks. Don't read it.
“Guardians of the Galaxy” was an action-y Bendis comic. If you've never read a Bendis comic go out and read his Daredevil run or Powers or something (or just read a play or two by David Mamet) and then you'll know exactly what I'm talking about.
This wound up going on forever (there really are a ton of comics tied in to Infinity- and I didn't even touch the Silver Surfer tie in because it wasn't a comic book), and I apologize if you read this all the way through expecting some grand unifying theory of the event tie-in. There is no grand unifying theory. Tie-ins are almost uniformly pointless, but they can be pretty fun.
GoGo Monster, by Taiyo Matsumoto, is a comic about the madness of childhood. Matsumoto never shows “the others” of Yuki Tachibana's visions beyond the drawings he composes all over his desk and a picture he draws for art class, and perhaps we're being lead to believe that they only exist in his head. But the groundskeeper explains to Yuki's teacher that he's just visiting a place that some children can visit, and that multiple children he has met over the years have visited this place. For other children, Yuki's “superstar” has taken the form of whatever word a child thinks describes the big boss of good.
There isn't a whole lot of plot to GoGo Monster (spoilers ahead, if you can call them that). Yuki doesn't have any friends. Yuki makes a friend- Makoto. Yuki stops hanging out with his friend. Yuki makes a different friend (if you can call his relationship with the box-wearing IQ a friendship). Finally, Yuki starts hanging out with his old friend again. GoGo Monster isn't about plot, it's about the alienation these kids feel. Yuki and IQ are both troubled in a way, although neither suffers through big problems at home. Yuki's mother is almost absent from the comic, but from the brief interactions we see we get the impression that she is not absent from his life.
At one point, Yuki says something like “I always thought about what it would be like to look through a hole in a box,” and Matsumoto excels in using his art to show us what the world is like for these two kids. Yuki's world is warped so that everything is huge and far away at the same time. IQ looks at the world through a hole in a box. Foreground and background exist but they are stretched to their breaking point. Everything is drawn in scratchy lines and it seems like the style is meant to echo the drawings that the kids make in school.
Matsumoto never tells us whether or not the conceptual monsters in Yuki's head are real, and the kids around him get rowdier, just like he said they would. Or is it just confirmation bias by Yuki supported by Matsumoto's editing of Yuki's life? IQ thinks that the monsters are all in Yuki's head, and he spends much of their time together psychoanalyzing Yuki, but it's possible that he is just projecting- he is using Yuki as a way to explain his own need for a box. After all, IQ's box goes from being drawn on to being completely black when Yuki starts to warn people about dark times ahead.
What an interesting comic. I think I liked this more than Matsumoto's masterpiece, TekkonKinkreet. This comic is a whole lot less dynamic than that one, though, and doesn't feature the kind of constant crazy background noise of TekkonKinkreet. I haven't even talked about IQ's rabbits, or about Yuki's friendship with Makoto, the thing that perhaps brings Yuki back to the real world. I think I will read this again in a few months and write about it in a bit more detail.
Next time there will be an entry that attempts to write a little bit about each and every of the potpourri of tie-ins to Infinity. There's a good chance I'll write a little bit more about the craziness going down in Hong Kong at some point this week as well (if you are interested you should check out our twitter @EyesightComix where I've been trying to post some photos of it every day). And don't forget that Eyesight #2 is coming out a week from today on October 15th!
As some of you may know (or not know) I just recently moved back to Hong Kong. Shit is crazy here. Shit is going down. Peaceful shit, but shit nonetheless. On Sunday things weren't so peaceful.Shit had gone down on Sunday in the sense that there was a violent reaction by the government to peaceful protests. But you've seen those videos, and shit is going down RIGHT NOW. There are no police officers anywhere in sight. There are reports of plainclothes police officers trying to incite riots, or gangsters being paid to incite riots, but I haven't seen any of this with my own eyes.
What I have seen are a bunch of peaceful people showing support for the idea that Hong Kong should be a democracy. And not the kind of democracy where the candidates are vetted by far away interests that barely even pay lip service to the needs and wants of the people.
I don't know what police were thinking on Sunday. Attacking the Occupy protesters was a horrible idea. It made more people go to the protests, it was all over the news (it still is all over the news), and it moved a number of protesters to occupy MORE areas. People at the protests are now all equipped with surgical masks, most resting on their foreheads. In a hilarious twist I had explained to my mother in New York that I was nowhere near the protests in Admiralty and Central (I live in Tai Kok Tsui on Kowloon side) but then two hours later I heard news from my wife that protests were now taking place in Mong Kok, a ten minute walk from my apartment. We expected that the gassings and sprayings would spread to MK.
But then, the next morning, the police left the areas of the protests en masse.
We just moved back, but I had lived two blocks away from here when I lived in Hong Kong before, and so I can say with limited authority that the idea of protesters taking over the intersection of Nathan Road and Argyle Street is completely insane. Nathan and Argyle is one of the biggest intersections in Hong Kong. Mong Kok, according to wikipedia, is the most populous district in the world, and Nathan and Argyle is the main intersection. Right now on Nathan there are barricades stretching blocks up and down from Argyle, into the surrounding districts, and people; people sitting, people putting on yellow ribbons and people drinking free water placed into buckets with ice provided by other people and stores.
In addition to this, of course, the protesters have taken similar intersections in Admiralty, Central, Tsim Sha Tsui, Wan Chai and Causeway Bay. The protest at Admiralty is bigger than the protest in Mong Kok. At Admiralty, given the photos circulating, there are at least four times as many people at any given time. Imagine if protesters in Manhattan took Columbus Circle, Grand Central Station and the surrounding blocks, the entirety of Wall Street, and Union Square and the surrounding blocks, for days on end.
There are chalk drawings all over the concrete divider in Nathan Road calling for universal suffrage in Hong Kong and for the resignation of Chief Executive CY Leung. Anything seems possible right now, and protests are poised to become much more packed and widespread tomorrow on China's National Day. I've been posting a bunch of photos of what's going on at Nathan Road to the twitter as well. Consider Eyesight Occupied for the moment.
So I said I was going to muse on about Fantastic Four or Gegege No Kitaro or something this time around. I wound up deciding on the “or something” option. I just read through all 50+ issues of random Marvel comics associated with the byzantine interstellar mess known as “Infinity” and I thought I should write about this “event” while it's still fresh in my mind and not jumbled together with all of the other yearly change-fests (“this time things get SHAKEN UP!”) that Marvel releases. Spoilers will follow, so stop reading if you're worried that the Marvel Universe won't be back exactly where it was in a couple of years.
All snark aside, I love Jonathan Hickman. He's one of my favorite writers in comics right now. Maybe my favorite regular writer of ongoing superhero comics now that Grant Morrison is on something like a hiatus from that world (although I will certainly be reading Multiversity when it's finished). Hickman's Avengers run has been nothing if not interesting and his New Avengers run has been marked by some crazy conceptual science fiction. Infinity, of course, can be thought of as a part of those two runs, and those two runs can be thought of as parts of a whole. We can think of this as the “Marvel Hickman Continuum” or something, in much the way that a bajillion different ongoing titles, Avengers Disassembled, House of M, Secret Invasion, etc were part of the “Marvel Bendis Continuum.” Hickman's version of the Marvel U is a lot more expansive than Bendis', featuring all of these wacky science fiction ideas that get presented to us with a completely straight face, unlike Morrison's wacky sci-fi, which almost always seems to be accompanied with a nudge and a wink.
The plot of Infinity goes something like this: the builders of our universe have gone rogue following the destruction of their multiversal transit system and have set a bee-line to Earth because Earth is at the center of the universe. This last part isn't really true, but I can't think of a simpler way to describe it; universes are colliding, with Earth as the point of collision, ergo in order to prevent the universe's destruction the builders need to destroy Earth. Or something. I think as Avengers and New Avengers proceed the why's and how's of this are becoming more clear. Anyway, the builders are destroying a greatest-hits of The Avengers' intergalactic rogues gallery on their way to Earth (Kree, Skrulls, Spartax, Shi'ar- even Annhilus' bug friends) and so everybody has to team up and save the universe. In the meantime Thanos decides that with The Avengers off-planet it's an ideal time to go down to the earth and kill his son; a son we didn't realize that he had until now.
Thanos' son, Thane, is really my biggest sticking point with this whole event. We are meant to mourn when he gains his death-powers; we are told repeatedly that he is a healer and that he has spent his whole life trying to avoid his legacy as the son of Thanos. But we never really see him heal. We never really see him do much of anything, actually. We find out that Thanos has a son and that Thanos wants to kill him because... well, basically just because. And then the hunt for him is on, and everyone is looking for Thanos' son, and we don't really get to spend any time with him. Given the way it all ends, we can only assume that we will spend more time with him in the future, but it would have been nice to actually get a glimpse of what he was like before.
I can't complain too much though, Hickman juggles fifty-odd (if not a hundred) characters throughout this event, many of which are characters that he made up specifically for it like the builders, the ex-nihili (yellow antlered beings with omegas on their chest that- you guessed it- create stuff out of nothing), and an entire new legion of galactic super villains for Thanos. The “black order,” as they are called, will almost certainly be important in the future (maybe they already are; I'm not quite caught up yet), and they are probably the coolest of these new characters. The Ebony Maw is mysterious, Proxima Midnight has a cool look and even cooler light powers and Corvus Glaive makes for a great addition to Thanos' mythology as his most trusted lieutenant.
Some would argue that the inclusion of such a huge cast of characters could make a story convoluted, and they would be right. They could also argue that a number of these characters don't get anywhere near the necessary amount of time on-page for their stories to feel anything more than fleeting, and they would also be right. But as far as I'm concerned Hickman's “Infinity” (and his Avengers run in general) is a huge step up from the almost fanfiction-y events that have taken up Marvel comics' roster for ten-odd years (“what if the Scarlet Witch went INSANE?!” “what if all the superheroes disagreed and STARTED FIGHTING EACHOTHER?!” “what if everybody was a SKRULL?!” etc). The man has ideas, even if they can occasionally be hard to follow.
Next time I'm going to write a little bit about the huge number of pointless tie-ins that accompanied Infinity. I would like to note that just because something is pointless does not necessarily mean that it is bad.
I was originally going to phone this in. I was going to take this first issue's EXELSIOR, copy it, paste it, wipe some sweat off of my brow, and post it as is. But then I realized that I can do whatever I want with this blog, and decided to talk a little bit about comics instead.
I read a lot of comics. Too many. Sometimes I read them too fast, and I miss out on details- minor or important- that imbue meaning into panels that seem completely expository. I like comics that are packed with enough details that I can read them over and over, finding new things every time. There are people who believe in the economy of details. I am not one of those people.
When it comes to monthly comics, I am a filthy trade-waiter because I like to consume them in shameful binges. The point I was going to make when I started writing this is that I think I will primarily use this blog to talk about the comics I'm reading. So this blog will be the purge.
Of course, I will also use this blog to talk about EYESIGHT. Our second issue is coming out October 15th so if you want to find out what happens to that sad girl and the creepy guy you should come back then. In the meantime I will write some musings on Gegege no Kitaro or Fantastic Four or Saturn Apartments (I haven't made up my mind yet). Alex will probably also occasionally drop by to promote his awesome music or to throw down some technicolor word vomit. Maybe if we're really lucky we can get him to write about case law.