One Shot 10: X-Factor #13

January 6, 2012

Variant cover to X-Factor #13

Peter David’s X-Factor, like a lot of ensemble superhero books (particularly books relating to the X-Men franchise), is half insane sci-fi action storytelling and half soap opera.  But very, very few writers can blend those two tones as well as David, or with as much humor and heart.  Like any good soap opera, David’s book is filled with sex, rejection, betrayal, brain-washing, sex, kidnapping and dopplegangers.  Unlike many soap operas, though, David occasionally took the time to stop and catch his breath, lest we forget that these are characters rather than interchangeable plot-driving devices.

Look, for example, at “Re-X-Aminations”, the thirteenth issue of his X-Factor relaunch.  After two solid arcs introducing us to many of the core conflicts that would drive the series, X-Factor #13 steps back a bit and asks us this: how has this affected the characters and their relationships to one another?  The answer, gleaned from a series of interviews with superheroic shrink Doc Samson, is illuminating.

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One Shot 9: All-Star Superman #10

July 10, 2011

Just about every issue of Morrison’s All-Star Superman would probably be a good fit for this column.  With the exception of the Bizarro Earth two-parter and the two issue conclusion, every issue could stand alone as a fantastic single serving Superman story.  There are two stories in the book’s 12-issue run, however, that deserve special attention in this regard: “Neverending” and “Funeral in Smallville”.  For now, I’ll be focusing on All-Star Superman #10, “Neverending”, but believe me, I’ll come back for the other.

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One Shot 8: The Unwritten #5

June 12, 2011

The Unwritten #5, “How the Whale Became”

Mike Carey broke in a big way with Lucifer, his spin-off from Neil Gaiman’s Sandman – a spin-off that managed to build into one of the most satisfying fantasies in the medium, turning an already well-drawn character into one of comics’ best.  Afterwards, he crafted and contributed to a few fascinating Vertigo books – including one that I firmly believe deserves more discussion, Crossing Midnight – and some noble failures, but none took off the way Lucifer had… and he was busy becoming one of Marvel’s superstars, as well as a successful novelist.  His big creator-owned-comics success story would have to wait.

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One Shot Update

June 2, 2011

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Hello again, read/RANT fans! Cal here. I know updates have been few and far between around here, but now that I FINALLY have a) an internet connection (well… kind of) and b) the ability to purchase comics, I hope to start posting a little more regularly.

I’m still working on a way to revamp The Unread Canon, to move the focus away from ongoing story-arcs and towards a more coherent look at some ‘classic’ books, but for now, I hope you folks enjoyed my One Shot colums (from the number of readers I got on the Astro City and Animal Man issues, I’d imagine you did). I’m going to ease back in, and the first part of that will involve starting up my looks at standalone issues of comics, some great, some merely okay, once again.

This, hopefully, is what my schedule will look like for One Shot this year…

6/12/11 – The Unwritten #5, “How the Whale Became”
7/10/11 – All-Star Superman #10, “Neverending”
8/14/11 – X-Factor #13, “Re-X-Aminations”
9/11/11 – Ex Machina #40, “Ruthless”
10/09/11 – Tales of the Slayers, “Righteous”
11/13/11 – Daytripper #8, “47″

As ever, any suggestions for future issues are more than welcome, and hopefully I’ll get more writing coming up soon!

I apologize that life has pulled so many of us away from the site, particularly given how exciting things have gotten with DC’s recent announcement – more on that later.

Glad to be back!

- Cal Cleary


Batmonth!: One Shot 7: Detective Comics #826

October 23, 2010

Twenty-two pages fills up fast.  There’s no denying that.  Action sequences often eat up huge chunks of a book, and you can only fit so much dialogue on the page before it becomes cluttered, not to mention how much of the probably excellent art you’ll be covering up by doing so.  So, understandably, most writers will have their stories run in arcs, often using well over 100 pages to let it unfold.  It’s not hard to see why, but the tendency to keep expanding the story is part of what makes it so rewarding when you come across a single issue that manages to not only exemplify what it is you so love about that particular book, or even comics in general, but that manages to do so with an impressive economy of storytelling.  One Shot is meant to take a close look at why those issues work as well as they do, the way they do.

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Batmonth!: One Shot 6: The Batman Chronicles #16

October 3, 2010

Twenty-two pages fills up fast.  There’s no denying that.  Action sequences often eat up huge chunks of a book, and you can only fit so much dialogue on the page before it becomes cluttered, not to mention how much of the probably excellent art you’ll be covering up by doing so.  So, understandably, most writers will have their stories run in arcs, often using well over 100 pages to let it unfold.  It’s not hard to see why, but the tendency to keep expanding the story is part of what makes it so rewarding when you come across a single issue that manages to not only exemplify what it is you so love about that particular book, or even comics in general, but that manages to do so with an impressive economy of storytelling.  One Shot is meant to take a close look at why those issues work as well as they do, the way they do.

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One Shot 5: Planetary #10

September 13, 2010

Twenty-two pages fills up fast.  There’s no denying that.  Action sequences often eat up huge chunks of a book, and you can only fit so much dialogue on the page before it becomes cluttered, not to mention how much of the probably excellent art you’ll be covering up by doing so.  So, understandably, most writers will have their stories run in arcs, often using well over 100 pages to let it unfold.  It’s not hard to see why, but the tendency to keep expanding the story is part of what makes it so rewarding when you come across a single issue that manages to not only exemplify what it is you so love about that particular book, or even comics in general, but that manages to do so with an impressive economy of storytelling.  One Shot is meant to take a close look at why those issues work as well as they do, the way they do.

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Delayed Posts

August 17, 2010

Greetings, loyal audience!  Cal here, with one of those, whaddaya call ‘em, ‘good news ,bad news’ deals?

On the bright side, I got a job!  I’ll be moving for the next few weeks, completely upending my life and running off to an exotic land far, far away from Ohio.  What this means for you?  I’ll be able to afford comics again!  On top of my regular columns, once I’m moved in and getting paid, expect to see reviews popping up again.  I’ll also be able to afford Netflix and cable, so expect the TV reviews, both of older shows (Justice League Unlimited) and newer shows (… there are going to be, like, 6 superhero shows this year, so pick one), to become a more regular and varied feature.

The down side?  As I mentioned, the moving process might take a little while.  While I’ll be down to my new location pretty quickly, how regularly I can get connected to the Internet is another matter entirely.  As you’ve noticed these past two weeks, my updates on The Unread Canon, One Shot and Summer Rewind have been greatly delayed.

Rest assured, posts will be going up, but it won’t be like clockwork for the next month or so.  Thankfully, it looks like the fantabulous brucecastle has returned for now, to fill your souls with the sort of joy only a discussion of new comics can bring.

I know, you’re all bereft.  I’ll do what I can to assuage your wounded hearts, and until I do, I hope you all have a fantastic week!

- Cal Cleary


One Shot 4: Fantastic Four #60

July 30, 2010

Twenty-two pages fills up fast.  There’s no denying that.  Action sequences often eat up huge chunks of a book, and you can only fit so much dialogue on the page before it becomes cluttered, not to mention how much of the probably excellent art you’ll be covering up by doing so.  So, understandably, most writers will have their stories run in arcs, often using well over 100 pages to let it unfold.  It’s not hard to see why, but the tendency to keep expanding the story is part of what makes it so rewarding when you come across a single issue that manages to not only exemplify what it is you so love about that particular book, or even comics in general, but that manages to do so with an impressive economy of storytelling.  One Shot is meant to take a close look at why those issues work as well as they do, the way they do.

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One Shot 3: Astro City #1/2

July 15, 2010

Twenty-two pages fills up fast.  There’s no denying that.  Action sequences often eat up huge chunks of a book, and you can only fit so much dialogue on the page before it becomes cluttered, not to mention how much of the probably excellent art you’ll be covering up by doing so.  So, understandably, most writers will have their stories run in arcs, often using well over 100 pages to let it unfold.  It’s not hard to see why, but the tendency to keep expanding the story is part of what makes it so rewarding when you come across a single issue that manages to not only exemplify what it is you so love about that particular book, or even comics in general, but that manages to do so with an impressive economy of storytelling.  One Shot is meant to take a close look at why those issues work as well as they do, the way they do.

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One Shot 2: Animal Man #5

July 2, 2010

Twenty-two pages fills up fast.  There’s no denying that.  Action sequences often eat up huge chunks of a book, and you can only fit so much dialogue on the page before it becomes cluttered, not to mention how much of the probably excellent art you’ll be covering up by doing so.  So, understandably, most writers will have their stories run in arcs, getting 44, 66, 88, etc… pages to tell it.  It’s not hard to see why, but the tendency to keep expanding the story is part of what makes it so rewarding when you come across a single issue that manages to not only exemplify what it is you so love about the book, but that manages to do so with an impressive economy of storytelling.  One Shot is meant to take a close look at why those issues work as well as they do, the way they do.

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One Shot 1: Sandman #8

June 17, 2010

Twenty-two pages fills up fast.  There’s no denying that.  Action sequences often eat up huge chunks of a book, and you can only fit so much dialogue on the page before it becomes cluttered, not to mention how much of the probably excellent art you’ll be covering up by doing so.  So, understandably, most writers will have their stories run in arcs, getting 44, 66, 88, etc… pages to tell it.  It’s not hard to see why, but the tendency to keep expanding the story is part of what makes it so rewarding when you come across a single issue that manages to not only exemplify what it is you so love about the book, but that manages to do so with an impressive economy of storytelling.  One Shot is meant to take a close look at why those issues work as well as they do, the way they do.

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