DID YOU READ

Our favorite comic book moments from 2011

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In a year that gave us big screen blockbusters like “Captain America,” “Thor,” “Green Lantern” and “Transformers,” sometimes it’s nice to take a step back and appreciate the medium where these stories got their start.

With the book officially closed on 2011, I and my fellow contributor, Matt Singer, thought we’d offer up what were some of the best things we saw in comics over the last twelve months. If you are behind on your monthly reads or trade/digital waiting any series, please be advised that there are significant spoilers ahead.


Aunt May Gets A Hug

From “Ultimate Fallout #1”

Let’s face it, at this point, the only truly sad thing about most comic book deaths is the degree of desperation on the part of comic book companies who try to drum up interest in their characters by killing them off. The death of the Ultimate Universe’s Peter Parker in the pages of “Ultimate Spider-Man” is this year’s one notable exception. You could reassure yourself after Peter’s death at the hands of the Green Goblin by reminding yourself that the “real” Spider-Man was still alive and well in the pages of “Amazing Spider-Man,” but that didn’t make writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Mark Bagley’s work in the pages of the follow-up mini-series “Ultimate Fallout” any less devastating. In the best scene — one that literally brought tears to my eyes — Peter’s Aunt May reluctantly attends a public funeral for Spider-Man. As she walks into St. Patrick’s Cathedral, a little girl calls out to her. It turns out that Peter had saved this girl from a fire years earlier. If he hadn’t become Spider-Man — if he hadn’t made the same sort of heroic sacrifice that eventually took his life — she would be dead. She offers May a hug and they embrace. Aaaaaaand cue the embarrassing waterworks (“Oh, no, I’m not crying. No, it’s my allergies. Yes, in the dead of winter.”). I’ve been a die-hard Spider-Man fan my entire life and Bendis’ version of Peter Parker might be the best I’ve ever read. I’m going to miss reading his adventures. But it was worth losing him for a scene like that. – MS


A Cowboy in Gotham

From “All-Star Western #1

Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti had been writing the adventures of DC Western bounty hunter Jonah Hex for several years by the time they were handed the reins of “All-Star Western.” Plenty of their earlier Hex books are worth reading, but they really knocked it out of the park with this story, in which Hex comes to Gotham City in the late 1880s to solve a mystery and gets paired with an unlikely partner: criminal psychologist Amadeus Arkham (if you’ve played any Batman games on PS3 or Xbox lately, that name probably rings a bell). It’s an ingenious riff on Westerns and Holmesian detective fiction, with fittingly rough-hewn art by artist Moritat. DC cancelled all of their titles this year and replaced them with 52 new ones. Some were good, some were bad, some were great. Even though it’s set over a hundred years in the past, “All-Star Western” is one of the few that truly feels new. – MS


An Unexpected Sequel

From “Archie #627”

I love bad movies, and one of the best worst ones ever made is “KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park,” a 1978 live action TV movie about the hottest band in the world and their poorly written, even-more-poorly acted battle with an evil amusement park inventor. Everything about “KISS Meets the Phantom” is bad. Even the stunt doubles are bad (unless the movie was made during a brief, otherwise undocumented period of time when Ace Frehley became a black man). This, of course, makes it sublime. Technically the new “Archie Meets KISS” comic isn’t a sequel to “KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park,” but I’d be shocked if writer Alex Segura wasn’t a fan. Instead of a predictable storyline about the band playing a gig in Riverdale with Josie and the Pussycats or something, he concocted a story about the group getting accidentally summoned from another dimension by Sabrina the Teenage Witch. He even gave Gene “The Demon” Simmons “KISS Meets the Phantom”-tastic lines like “We can only slow them down. They have the DYNASTY AMULET!” There’s still a couple issues left to go in this crossover, but I’m already hanging on ever panel. A word of warning: if at some point in the story Space Ace is replaced for a page or two by an African American, my brain might explode. – MS


A Crossover Flies Under the Radar

In “Swamp Thing” and “Animal Man”

We can’t just pick one particular scene here, because different readers discovered this little bit of awesomeness one at different times. If you read “Swamp Thing” first, you discovered about the battle between The Green, The Red and The Rot alongside scientist Alec Holland. If you favor “Animal Man” on your pull list, you made your first journey into The Red with superhero Buddy Baker and his daughter Maxine. The crossover here by “Swamp Thing” writer Scott Snyder and “Animal Man” writer Jeff Lemire is so low-key that you don’t feel penalized if you only read one of the two books. But loyal readers of both were rewarded with an ultra-cool moment of realization when they discovered that these two books — two of the best of DC’s new universe — were covertly working together to lay the groundwork for what looks to be a massive and massively interesting storyline. I fully expect the payoff the wind up on our list of the best comic book moments of 2012. – MS


Meet the Mighty

From “Fear Itself #7”

It was probably inevitable from the moment in “Fear Itself #1” that the bad guys got their own versions of Thor’s enchanted hammer that the heroes would eventually get some badass Asgardian — “badasgardian” — weapons of their own. And they did, at last, in “Fear Itself #7, when Spider-Man, Iron Man, Wolverine, Dr. Strange, received some much-needed Odin-infused armaments and became The Mighty. Admittedly, The Mighty’s role in the “Fear Itself” finale was mighty anti-climactic, and I’m afraid the other sweeping changes made here to the company’s continuity won’t even last a year (some didn’t even last through the end of the series: see the death and return of Bucky). But the sight of all those classic Marvel do-gooders decked out in Stuart Immonen-designed Asgardian finery made for perhaps the coolest visual of the year in super hero comics. – MS

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Hard Out

Comedy From The Closet

Janice and Jeffrey Available Now On IFC's Comedy Crib

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She’s been referred to as “the love child of Amy Sedaris and Tracy Ullman,” and he’s a self-described “Italian who knows how to cook a great spaghetti alla carbonara.” They’re Mollie Merkel and Matteo Lane, prolific indie comedians who blended their robust creative juices to bring us the new Comedy Crib series Janice and Jeffrey. Mollie and Matteo took time to answer our probing questions about their series and themselves. Here’s a taste.

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IFC: How would you describe Janice and Jeffrey to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Mollie & Matteo: Janice and Jeffrey is about a married couple experiencing intimacy issues but who don’t have a clue it’s because they are gay. Their oblivion makes them even more endearing.  Their total lack of awareness provides for a buffet of comedy.

IFC: What’s your origin story? How did you two people meet and how long have you been working together?

Mollie: We met at a dive bar in Wrigley Field Chicago. It was a show called Entertaining Julie… It was a cool variety scene with lots of talented people. I was doing Janice one night and Matteo was doing an impression of Liza Minnelli. We sort of just fell in love with each other’s… ACT! Matteo made the first move and told me how much he loved Janice and I drove home feeling like I just met someone really special.

IFC: How would Janice describe Jeffrey?

Mollie: “He can paint, cook homemade Bolognese, and sing Opera. Not to mention he has a great body. He makes me feel empowered and free. He doesn’t suffocate me with attention so our love has room to breath.”

IFC: How would Jeffrey describe Janice?

Matteo: “Like a Ford. Built to last.”

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Mollie & Matteo: Our current political world is mirroring and reflecting this belief that homosexuality is wrong. So what better time for satire. Everyone is so pro gay and equal rights, which is of course what we want, too. But no one is looking at middle America and people actually in the closet. No one is saying, hey this is really painful and tragic, and sitting with that. Having compassion but providing the desperate relief of laughter…This seemed like the healthiest, best way to “fight” the gay rights “fight”.

IFC: Hummus is hilarious. Why is it so funny?

Mollie: It just seems like something people take really seriously, which is funny to me. I started to see it in a lot of lesbians’ refrigerators at a time. It’s like observing a lesbian in a comfortable shoe. It’s a language we speak. Pass the Hummus. Turn on the Indigo Girls would ya?

See the whole season of Janice and Jeffrey right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Die Hard Dads

Inspiration For Die Hard Dads

Die Hard is on IFC all Father's Day Long

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIPHY

Yippee ki-yay, everybody! It’s time to celebrate the those most literal of mother-effers: dads!

And just in case the title of this post left anything to the imagination, IFC is giving dads balls-to-the-wall ’80s treatment with a glorious marathon of action trailblazer Die Hard.

There are so many things we could say about Die Hard. We could talk about how it was comedian Bruce Willis’s first foray into action flicks, or Alan Rickman’s big screen debut. But dads don’t give a sh!t about that stuff.

No, dads just want to fantasize that they could be deathproof quip factory John McClane in their own mundane lives. So while you celebrate the fathers in your life, consider how John McClane would respond to these traditional “dad” moments…

Wedding Toasts

Dads always struggle to find the right words of welcome to extend to new family. John McClane, on the other hand, is the master of inclusivity.
Die Hard wedding

Using Public Restrooms

While nine out of ten dads would rather die than use a disgusting public bathroom, McClane isn’t bothered one bit. So long as he can fit a bloody foot in the sink, he’s G2G.
Die Hard restroom

Awkward Dancing

Because every dad needs a signature move.
Die Hard dance

Writing Thank You Notes

It can be hard for dads to express gratitude. Not only can McClane articulate his thanks, he makes it feel personal.
Die Hard thank you

Valentine’s Day

How would John McClane say “I heart you” in a way that ain’t cliche? The image speaks for itself.
Die Hard valentines

Shopping

The only thing most dads hate more than shopping is fielding eleventh-hour phone calls with additional items for the list. But does McClane throw a typical man-tantrum? Nope. He finds the words to express his feelings like a goddam adult.
Die Hard thank you

Last Minute Errands

John McClane knows when a fight isn’t worth fighting.
Die Hard errands

Sneaking Out Of The Office Early

What is this, high school? Make a real exit, dads.
Die Hard office

Think you or your dad could stand to be more like Bruce? Role model fodder abounds in the Die Hard marathon all Father’s Day long on IFC.

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Founding Farters

Know Your Nerd History

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIFs via Giphy

That we live in the heyday of nerds is no hot secret. Scientists are celebrities, musicians are robots and late night hosts can recite every word of the Silmarillion. It’s too easy to think that it’s always been this way. But the truth is we owe much to our nerd forebearers who toiled through the jock-filled ’80s so that we might take over the world.

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Our humble beginnings are perhaps best captured in iconic ’80s romp Revenge of the Nerds. Like the founding fathers of our Country, the titular nerds rose above their circumstances to culturally pave the way for every Colbert and deGrasse Tyson that we know and love today.

To make sure you’re in the know about our very important cultural roots, here’s a quick download of the vengeful nerds without whom our shameful stereotypes might never have evolved.

Lewis Skolnick

The George Washington of nerds whose unflappable optimism – even in the face of humiliating self-awareness – basically gave birth to the Geek Pride movement.

Gilbert Lowe

OK, this guy is wet blanket, but an important wet blanket. Think Aaron Burr to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. His glass-mostly-empty attitude is a galvanizing force for Lewis. Who knows if Lewis could have kept up his optimism without Lowe’s Debbie-Downer outlook?

Arnold Poindexter

A music nerd who, after a soft start (inside joke, you’ll get it later), came out of his shell and let his passion lead instead of his anxiety. If you played an instrument (specifically, electric violin), and you were a nerd, this was your patron saint.

Booger

A sex-loving, blunt-smoking, nose-picking guitar hero. If you don’t think he sounds like a classic nerd, you’re absolutely right. And that’s the whole point. Along with Lamar, he simultaneously expanded the definition of nerd and gave pre-existing nerds a twisted sort of cred by association.

Lamar Latrell

Black, gay, and a crazy good breakdancer. In other words, a total groundbreaker. He proved to the world that nerds don’t have a single mold, but are simply outcasts waiting for their moment.

Ogre

Exceedingly stupid, this dumbass was monumental because he (in a sequel) leaves the jocks to become a nerd. Totally unheard of back then. Now all jocks are basically nerds.

Well, there they are. Never forget that we stand on their shoulders.

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC all month long.

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