This is it – the final installment of our Dystopia Futures run on comics. This does not mean that we won’t talk about Dystopian Futures in… the future, but it mean next week will not be a Dystopian Future theme.
We are continuing were we left off last week – we are concluding our discussion of Frank Miller’s Ronin six issue prestige format miniseries that was published by DC from 1983 – 1984.
*** MAJOR SPOILERS THIS WEEK***
Ronin is set in the near future and has a massive twist at the end of the comic that you don’t see coming (we debate it’s validity) but we want to warn everyone up front – if you do not want the comic’s ending spoiled, stop listening when we tell you in the podcast. You can listen to everything else but stop listening and go read the comic.
Reflecting back on Ronin, Frank Miller was in an experimental mood when creating this comic. He tires several different art styles (cross-hatching, negative space) and we also pushes the limits of dialogue and censorship with the way some of the characters speak. It was ground breaking, especially for a DC comic, at the time and still holds up today.
We are at the final comic we will be covering for the #DystopianFutures theme and it is Frank Miller’s Ronin. This podcast is so epic that we had to split into two! We will be posting part one today and follow up with part two next week.
Ronin was published by DC in 1983. DC’s Editor in Chief, Jenette Kahn lured Frank Miller away from Marvel to publish this original story as part of DC’s Prestige format comics – all glossy pages, 48 pages per issue and no ads. DC offered more creative control and Miller wanted to do a more mature comic so he agrees to write and draw the six issue miniseries.
This was one of the many great things Jenette Kahn did to modernize DC and make the comic content more contemporary. One of the other great changes she made was to hire graphic illustrator, Milton Glaser (who passed away today) to design one of the greatest comic company logos of all time. It is known as the DC Bullet and here it is:
There is a funny story behind why DC cannot use this logo anymore and I am sure we will talk about it in a future podcast.
Miller was experimenting with different art styles in this series so that first 3 issues feature plenty of cross-hatching. If you are not familiar with that style, it is a technique used ti create tonal or shading effects by drawing closely spaced parallel lines. The first issue of the miniseries features cross-hatching on the cover:
Cross-hatching is very time intensive so this style is used in the first 3 issues and abandoned for more of a traditional comic style in the last 3 issues.
Jon and I talked about Frank Miller’s Eastern influences in the podcast. I mentioned a scene in the comic that is straight out of Akira Kurosawa’s Yojimbo. Here is a trailer for that movie:
The story from Yojimbo has been remade several times. One of the most recent remakes was 1996 Last Man Standing (whose name I forgot in the podcast). This movie stars Bruce Willis as the “body guard ronin who just blew into town”. Here is the trailer from that movie:
We covered some history, some influences and we start to talk about the comic in this podcast.
We will be spoiling plot points from the comic in next week’s podcast so we recommend reading it this week and coming back to listen and discuss it with us.
We are getting close to the end of our Dystopian Future comics. This week we are talking about Sweet Tooth written and drawn by Jeff Lemire.
You know Jeff Lemire as the writer of great comics like Black Hammer, Gideon Falls, Hawkeye and many more. He started his career as an independent writer/artist and was able to get more mainstream attention thanks to Sweet Tooth which was published through DC’s now defunct alternative, mature imprint Vertigo back in 2009.
Sweet Tooth is an tale of a young boy who sees his mother and father die due to a pandemic that is impacting most of the people on the planet. The young boy named Gus (who looks like a deer) is able to survive the oppressive environment thanks to the help of a human named Mr. Jepperd. He has sworn to protect Gus and take him to a safe place where all the “hybrid” children live called “Sanctuary”.
Jon and I review the first story arc that covers meeting Gus and Mr. Jepperd and their journey to Sanctuary. We go over the art style, characters, motivation of those characters and what happens at sanctuary.
We were very interested to talk about this series. I feel it is not well know but people will find out about it due to the Netflix series that will be coming out soon. We want you to go out and read all the issue of Sweet Tooth. It is a great story about humanity in the post-apocalypse. It is a quick read too – only 40 issues.
It is Jon’s birthday today (wish him a happy one), I gave him the opportunity to pick what ever comic related item he wanted to cover for the podcast. He kept the Dystopian Futures theme going by picking Akira – the anime movie to review.
For those that are not familiar with Akira, here is a little background on the material. It is based on a 1982 Manga series by Katsuhiro Otomo. As it was published in Japan, Marvel picked up the rights to distribute it in America under their Epic imprint. In 1988, Katsuhiro Otomo directed the anime version of the movie. At the time, it cost $5 million dollars to make and was the most expensive animated movie to date. Akira is an epic tale about teen angst, political corruption, family and friendship that ends in a giant psychic battle.
This may be one of the most influential movies of all time. You can see elements of the movie being emulated in other animated shows. Here is a quick clip of Kaneda sliding on his bike how many other shows pay homage to it.
There was talk of an American live action version of Akira in early 2000s but this never happened. Here is what it would have looked like…
Akira is a great movie (and even greater manga) but it does get a little convoluted in the end. I have seen the movie multiple times but still cannot figure out the ending. Jon and I still highly recommend watching it because it still holds up.
Another week and we have another vision of a dystopian future in the 2007 comic The Last Days of American Crime. It is written by Rick Remender with art by Greg Tocchini and was originally published in 2007 as a 3 issue miniseries from Image Comics. This creative team has given us great stories like LOW and Uncanny X-Force. They come with the good stuff in this near future bank heist comic with a twist: the crew has to rob the bank the same day the government starts broadcasting a “anti-crime” signal which “makes it impossible for anyone to knowingly break the law in any way possible”.
The story begins with our main character, Graham Bricke (which is a combination of 2 units of measurement of drugs: Gram and Brick) finding out that one of the dafecracker in his crew has ratted him out to a rival mob. He deals with the problem but several new problems have bubbled up: he needs to find a new safecracker and he only has a week to do it before the American Peace Initiative renders all crime in America obsolete.
The Last Days of Crime in America tells a fast, tight heist story that is full of twists and turns that you don’t know who to trust by the end. It reminded Jon and myself of great heist movies like Thief, Ronin and The Grifters. We highly recommend the comic.
The reason we read the comic was that a movie version was recently released on Netflix. Here is the trailer…
We compare the comic to it’s movie counterpart. Listen to the podcast for the details.
We have been doing dystopian future comics for a few weeks now and there are still several ideas we want to talk about in the coming weeks but a couple of weeks ago, I saw a movie that I thought was really good and would fit nicely into our Dystopian Futures conversation. That movie was:
Alita Battle Angel.
Alita Battle Angel is based on a 1990s Manga called Battle Angel Alita that was written and drawn by Yukito Kishiro. Here is the cover to Book 1 of the collected work…
Jon and I watched the movie and then were able to get the first book prior to recording the podcast. The movie is pretty faithful to the manga in who the story flows and how the characters look. The movie has Ito, the father character to Alita, had a wife and child. In the manga, he was single. The family dynamic probably works better for the movie.
I think what turned most people off to the movie are Alita’s huge anime eyes. In fact, after the first trailer, they reduced the size slightly of the eyes.
Those eyes are a little distracting at the start of the movie but you get used to them and eventually forget about them by the end of the movie.
It is a solid Sci Fi story about a girl finding love and her own identity. She fights to overcome the odds and comes out on top. It is a real underdog story and I think, that’s what I like about it. It is currently playing on HBO and I highly recommend watching it before listening to the podcast.
This is a movie that I think a lot of people passed on that should have seen it in the theater (myself included). If they do make a sequel, I would definitely see it in the theater.
We will be doing Dystopian Futures for the near future because in comics, there are hundreds of dystopian future comics and we want to talk about most of them.
This week, we are talking about an Epic Comic that is not really well known called The Last American. It was written by John Wagner and Alan Grant with art from Mike (Mick) McMahon. All 3 creators are based in the UK and created a comic that is an American Cautionary Tale.
The Last American is a 4 issue miniseries originally released by Marvel’s Epic Imprint but it has been reprinted in Trade Paperback by Com.X and 2000 AD Press. It tells the story of soldier, Ulysses Pilgrim who happens to be the last American after a nuclear war. It graphically depicts what the world would look like if there was an actual nuclear war. Is Pilgrim the actual last American or are there others?
It is a fast and frightening read that was really relevant in 1990 which was the height of the Cold War but the story still is relevant today to show you this is what could happen if we were to stockpile nuclear weapons.
If you are a fan of books like The Road and movies like The Moon, then you will really like The Last American.
Another week, another dystopian future. This week we are covering the future of Transmetroplitan. This is a 1997 comic series that was written by Warren Ellis with art by Darick Robertson. It was published by DC under the new defunct Mature Sci-Fi imprint of Helix.
The story of Transmetropolitan starts with journalist, Spider Jerusalem living in isolation in the mountains (the way he likes it) when he gets a call from his publisher who tells him he needs to fulfill his contract of writing 2 more books. He doesn’t have any ideas for new books so he makes the decision to go back to the City to get his next story. This is a very difficuly decision because Spider hates the City. The cruel, dirty, polluted City.
Warren Ellis and Darick Robertson take use on a fun, cigarette and caffeine fueled roller coaster ride of what the world looks like in this nightmare vision of the future. You’ll laugh and laugh more.
It’s a dystopian future but it’s not too bad compared to some of the other futures we covered in the last few weeks.
The future is now! We are continuing our discussion on future dystopian comics and this week we are cover the future of American Flagg!
American Flagg! was a comic written and illustrated by Howard Chaykin with letters by Ken Bruzenak that originally started in 1983 and was distributed by First Comics, an independent publisher at the time.
American Flagg! takes place in 2031 in Plex America which is the name of the former United States of America. It follows the adventures of former TV star, now conscripted Plex Ranger, Reuben Flagg. He is relocated from Mars, a planet of the wealthy to Earth, home of the dregs of society and in a constant state of conflict. It is up to Flagg and his Plexus Rangers to establish order and return Plex America to it’s former glory before the Tricentennial.
We review the collected trade volume one by Image. It collects the first 6 issues.
This comic is a dark, satirical take on America and it’s politics in the 1980s, but it feels as relevant today, more than ever. In Flagg’s reality, people have broken their political beliefs into fractured, radicalized cells and wage war on the streets with other political parties every day – and this is a normal day! Chaykin takes a philandering louse and makes him the hero of the story and it works! This comics gets you with humor and keeps you reading for the twists and turns of the plot. Netflix, HBO and Hulu – why are you not making this a series yet?!!
We are continuing with our review of Dystopian comics and next on the list is Tim Truman’s Scout. It was originally published by Eclipse Comics back in 1987.
If you are not familiar with the comic, here is a brief summary:
BY TIMOTHY (CONAN WRITER/ARTIST) TRUMAN Scout, originally published in 1987 and created by Timothy Truman features the Native American hero, Emanuel Santana, and his one-man war against oppressive governmental forces in a post-apocalyptic United States.
This was pulled off the Dynamite Entertainment website. Direct link here.
Jon and I have did not read this in issues when it originally came out but Dynamite Entertainment collected the first 7 issues in a trade paperback so we got the opportunity to read this rarity and give our review on it.
Scout is a interesting satire of 80s politics and “Go Big or Go Home” culture mixed with Indigenous People folklore. Scout “sees” the evil in the world and it is up to him to heed the hero’s call to vanquish the beasts that destroy the land and reestablish order in America.
*** SPOILER WARNING***
In the podcast we talk about characters and plot points. We don’t give everything away but we do spoil a couple of parts to talk about the story. You can listen to this podcast prior to reading the comic. In fact, it may help you understand some of the content. But if you want to read the comic without any spoilers, go read it and then come back.
Welcome back to the second and final part of our discussion of Alan Moore and David Lloyd’s V for Vendetta comic miniseries. The 10 issue miniseries was published by DC back in 1982.
In part one of our discussion we covered: the uniqueness of Lloyd’s original black and white art and the problems with coloring it with DC. There are several literal influences in V for Vendetta but the political climate of the UK in the 1980s may have been the biggest influence on this comic.
We started to talk about the comic but we ran out of time. We picked up that discussion with Part 2. We go over who exactly Guy Fawkes is and why his mask is relevant to the comic. we get through the story and what we like (and dislike) about it but we feel it is still a very relevant comic that still need to be read.
we recently, watch the V for Vendetta movie and compare it to the comic. Jon and I have very different views about the movie and if it is faithful to the comic. Listen to the podcast to see who’s side you will take.
Overall, V for Vendetta is a good read with great art. It is not as ground breaking to comics as Watchmen but you’ll enjoy the ride.
The world is in a social crisis. COVID-19 is impacting everyone and we are all worrying about the future. Now seems like the perfect time to talk about a cheery subject – a totalitarian future were everyone’s freedoms are stripped away and there is no hope.
This is not entirely true. The is one hope – one man wages war on a despotic government to overthrow the tyrants and return freedom to the people. Hooray! We are going to be talking about V for Vendetta. A comic by writer Alan Moore and artist David Lloyd. It was originally published as a serial in a UK comic Warrior in 1982. DC converted it into a 10 issue miniseries in 1988.
I have been waiting for the perfect time to talk about this comic and now seems the best time. Jon and I share our history regarding reading this comic.
We talk about the history of the comic coming from Warrior and moving over to DC. The original David Lloyd art was in black and white and DC wanted it to be in color. Normally, this would not be a problem but Lloyd uses Negative Space technique for the black and white images and that will not look great with color. The colorists for the comic get around the problem.
We then get into world history of the UK in the 80s and how that would have a major influence on Moore and Lloyd on the creation of V and how their dystopian society looked.
We then get into talking about the actual comic (but not too much). We go over the first 2 issues. We learn about V, the main protagonist. Evey, a innocent by-stander that gets swept up by accident into V’s terrorist plot and finally, Mr. Adam Susan, face of the fascist regime that is controlling the UK.
This podcast is a great place to start if you have never read V for Vendetta. We don’t talk too much about the comic in this podcast but we are giving you a chance to read it and come back in a week for part 2. Next week, we will get into all of the comic and do a comparison of the movie to the comic.
Some bloopers in the podcast: This is podcast 256, not 258. Alan Moore wrote Swamp Thing not Swamp Men and there are probably a dozen others but I am too tired to address them. This is why it’s called Comics Misremembered.
In the podcast, I promised a link to Superman Annual #11 (Here) AKA “For The Man Who Has Everything”. Moore explores the same themes of nationalism and fascism.
Last week, The Walking Dead aired episode 15 (the penultimate episode) of Season 10 and episode 16 will not air until Summer. Well, that is too long for us to wait to recap the season. There is a reason why we call part of the podcast “misremembered” – we don’t have the best memories. We knew we could not wait until Summer so we are going over what we saw so far in Season 10’s 2nd half.
We saw that Negan became a Whisperer and we met a new person called Princess.
Now does Negan remain a Whisperer? And can Princess be trusted? Well, these are question we will answer in the podcast. So, before we go any further…
***SPOILER WARNING ALERT***
We do go over all the details about Season 10 mid-season material so if you have not watched it yet, then don’t listen now.
If you have watched The Walking Dead up to Season 10 Episode 15 then you are all set. We are not spoiling anything. We are just recapping with you.
The other thing we do on the podcast is to review the Spoil The Season predictions we made in CM Podcast 249 (link here) and see how right (or wrong) we were based on the comic.
Here are some comic covers from material we did in Spoil The Season. What do they mean? We talk a little about the future storylines in the podcast.
Finally, if parts of the podcast sound like they were recorded on the back of a pick-up truck that has bad shocks while driving over a cobblestone road, that would be the fault of our Comics Misremembered Dog, Daisy. She was asleep at the start of the podcast but woke up towards the end and wanted to play by bumping into the mic stands. Sorry about that.
This week’s podcast was brought about by an answer to a twitter question: Without telling me exactly how old you are, tell me something about your youth?
Someone answered “I was alive when you had to call a 1-900 number to kill robin.”
Jon did not get the answer to the question. I immediately knew exactly what this person was saying. I started to tell Jon about the controversial Batman: Death in the Family story arc (Batman #426 – 429, 1988). The story was written by Jim Stalin (Infinity Gauntlet) with art by Jim Aparo (long time Batman artist) and inks by Mike DeCarlo.
Jon started to remember bits and pieces. I told him that this would be a great time to review that story on the podcast since I have the trade paperback of the story. So we both read it and here we are this week talking about a story that is about 28 years old.
I started to collect Batman comic just as this story was being published. I missed issue 426 but I was able to get the rest. About a month later, DC would collect all 4 issues in a trade paperback that had this cover:
Normally, collected trades for well known stories never came out shortly after they were published in issues in 1988. Some it is unusual that the trade came out as quick as it did and it was printed on regular paper stock, not the traditional high gloss stock.
It was a shocking event for 1988. There were very few deaths of heroes in comic up to this point. Killing Robin was as significant as killing Jean Grey and James “Bucky” Barnes. The other unique part of the death is that fans decided Robin’s fate. You would call one of 2 1-900 numbers: one to save Robin and the other to kill him. The media was all over this. When infamous issue #428 came out revealing Jason Todd (Robin) died, all the news channels were reporting it.
This story is an interesting time capsule. DC used the technology of the time (1-900 numbers) to get more interactive with fans and let them have a say in what happens. This type of event was never duplicated again (as far as I can remember).
We both read it again and had some good times remembering the good, the bad and the ugly regarding Batman: Death in the Family.
Back in 2018, we reviewed the 2003 Elseworlds story, Superman: Red Sun which you can listen to here. Jon and I both really like the comic (except for the ending).
2 years later, we are reviewing the newly releases Warner Bros. Animated movie – Superman: Red Son. Which is written by long time comics scribe, J. M. DeMatteis. I looked at his IMDB page (which you can see here) and he has written quite a few TV episodes, including one of our favorite Justice League Unlimited episodes “For the Man Who Has Everything“.
J. M. DeMatteis does an excellent job at creating a teleplay based on the original comic material that retains all the great elements while streamlining the story so that people not familiar with comic can still enjoy it too.
Here is a clip of the movie to give you an example of the quality of animation:
The story and the animation are top notch. Jon and I go over the movie and talk about the differences between the comic and movie and if we like the changes.
Spoilers are ahead so we recommend watching the movie first and then coming back to listen to the podcast. Go watch the movie – it’s not like you got anyplace to go. We are all stuck inside at this point.