Tagged: 24

Review: ‘Harbinger: The Beginning’ by Jim Shooter and David Lapham

I had forgotten how much superhero comics had changed in the past 15 years when I picked up Valiant’s new Harbinger: The Beginning collection ($24.95), which revives the book’s first issues from 1992.

It’s impossible to evaluate the stories without looking at the context of their era. True, [[[Harbinger]]] never reached the excessive silliness of Liefeld’s [[[X-Force]]], but it’s populated by edgy characters with dated nicknames like “Torque,” who spout even more dated phrases like “buttlick.”

Since the crash of the ’90s, comics have largely moved toward a more serious and realistic tone, and Harbinger (created by Jim Shooter and David Lapham) stands in stark contrast. All the same, in many ways the book holds up, probably no surprise since it once garnered a great number of fans.

What’s especially appreciable about Harbinger is how it strays from the superhero stereotype, something even today’s books struggle to do. The protagonist, Pete, is not a clear-cut hero; instead he’s an immature and often egotistical teen who doesn’t understand the dangers of his powers. The villain, Harada, is no great man, but his central goal is to protect the world from Pete.

As much as anything, Harbinger is about the folly of youth and the lessons to be learned from those mistakes. It falls into cliché and hollow edginess, but more often jumps in surprising directions and offers a new (again, in context) take on heroes.

On This Day: ’24 Hours in Cyberspace’

On This Day: ’24 Hours in Cyberspace’

Today in 1996, the largest one-day online event (to that date) occurred, called "24 Hours in Cyberspace."

The professional photographers, editors and programmers who participated in the event aimed to to create a "digital time capsule of online life," explained Rick Smolan, a photographer who headed the event.

Participants photographed, edited and collected images of people whose lives were affected by the use of the Internet over the course of the 24-hour period. Second Lady (at the time) Tipper Gore even contributed several photographs, while her husband, Vice President Al Gore, contributed to the environmental impact areas of the site.

The site was originally hosted at www.cyber24.com, but has since been moved to a mirror site hosted by Georgia Tech University.

The website received more than 4 million hits in those 24 hours – an unheard-of tally at the time.


52 Weeks of Reading Recommendations by Dennis O’Neil

52 Weeks of Reading Recommendations by Dennis O’Neil

When ComicMix launched a year ago, we were especially pleased to include the legendary Dennis O’Neil as one of our regular columnists.  Denny has written and/or edited every major character in comics, including Batman, Spider-Man, Daredevil, Superman, Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Iron Man, the Question, Azrael, and Millie the Model.

Back in the day, when comics had letter columns, Denny would usually share his reading preferences with readers.  We’re delighted to have continued this tradition here on ComicMix in Denny’s weekly columns.

To celebrate the last 52 weeks of Denny’s contributions to ComicMix, here’s a list of what he’s recommended so far, in the order he recommended them and with his thoughts on the recommendations (when he provided them). You’ll notice that, sometimes, he suggests the same book more than once.  And sometimes, he suggests more than one book at a time.  That’s the kind of reader Denny is — he takes his time, and he’s eclectic.

Good reading!


Understanding Comics, by Scott McCloud

This is the one essential book for anyone with a genuine interest in the subject.


The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason, by Sam Harris


Anger: Wisdom for Cooling the Flames, by Thich Nhat Hanh


GRAPHIC NOVEL REVIEW: James Sturm’s America

GRAPHIC NOVEL REVIEW: James Sturm’s America


The first thing to note is that America collects three previously-published stories: [[[The Revival]]], [[[Hundreds of Feet Below Daylight]]], and [[[The Golem’s Mighty Swing]]]. Sturm’s end-notes don’t make it clear where the 24-page Revival or the 44-page [[[Hundreds of Feet]]] were originally published, but [[[Golem]]] was a stand-alone graphic novel from Drawn & Quarterly in 2001. So if you’re a huge James Sturm fan – and there have to be a couple of them – you probably have all of this already.

Enough with the consumer report, though – what about the stories? All three are historical fiction, set in little-examined, unspectacular times in America. There are no wars, no famous people – none of the usual hoo-hah of historical stories. Sturm concentrates on ordinary people living ordinary lives, in what were fairly ordinary times for the people living them.

[[[The Revival]]] is set in eastern Kentucky in 1801 – as the first caption helpfully tells us. A married couple, Joseph and Sarah Bainbridge, are traveling to Caine Ridge to see the revival preacher Elijah Young. They arrive in the camp, meeting a niece, and are soon caught up in the religious fervor. They do see Young preach, on their second night there, but I don’t think I should tell you what Joseph and Sarah are praying for, nor whether they get it.

[[[Hundreds of Feet Below Daylight]]] takes place at the other end of the nineteenth century in a gold mine, presumably in California. A group of locals slaughter the Chinese workers running the mine and take it over – but it’s still not very successful. Tensions rise between the owners and the workers, exacerbated by the discovery that one dying, incoherent miner is secretly rich.


DENNIS O’NEIL: Tribute to a true master

DENNIS O’NEIL: Tribute to a true master

Kurt Vonnegut is gone.

I’d like to say that I was a bit ahead of the crowd in discovering that, while he was a science fiction writer, he was also much more, but by the publication of Cat’s Cradle in 1963 a lot of people had found this wise, sad, funny man – particularly disaffected young people.

He was often likened to Mark Twain and the comparison’s apt. But while I unstintingly admire Mr. Twain (maybe such admiration is in every Missouri-born writer’s DNA), I think Vonnegut’s quality average may be a bit higher. True, he did not write as much as his predecessor – Twain was astonishingly prolific – but he always seemed to be at or near his best. I can’t remember reading any Vonnegut piece that I thought was second-rate.

He was pessimistic without being sour, famous without egotism, and he had compassion completely devoid of sentimentality. Like Mark Twain, he could voice unpopular opinions without offending those who disagreed with him.