Practitioners 7: Joe Madureira

As a catch up for all new visitors to Beyond the Bunker, we’ll be representing the original Practitioners series 1-55 (Simon BisleyChris Bachalo and featuring the most influential comic creatives in history). Thoroughly incomplete but featuring legends like Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Frank Miller and Alan Moore already more will be hitting the site every two alternate weeks. For now though, sit back every Tuesday for a run-down of the men and women who created the comic industry we know today. (Or check the full list in the menus above). This week: 2000AD Legend and Judge Dredd creator Carlos Ezquerra.

A controversial choice this week with Joe Maduriera. Known to everyone as Joe Mad, Joe Madureira’s style combines Western comic book convention with the wildest and broadest Japanese manga style and has been creditted for helping the latter to influence the western comic book market in recent years – clashing the two in a way that has not been matched before or since. Most reknowned for his work on Marvel Comics Uncanny X-men he was a bold choice. His populist and cartoon-like visuals have made him a foil of ‘credibility-hungry’ critics throughout the years however the reason for his inclusion here is sheer, raw, distinctive talent, perhaps not his diligence on release of independent series as will be revealed below.

Few artists in the history of Comic Books (Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Frank Miller, Alan Silverstri all of whom will appear here) have had a bigger effect on the ebb and flow of the comic industry than Joe Maduriera with their own natural drawing style. He drew comics out of love of it and this is illustrated most clearly by how little there is to tell about his working history in the field. He arrived high up, splashed around – made his mark – and left.

Maduriera’s first published work was an eight page story for the anthology title Marvel Comics Presents featuring Northstar, a fringe character in the Marvel fermament. He became the regular penciller on Uncanny X-men in 1994 with issue 312, seeing through the formation of Generation X, the tenure of Sabretooth and the stuff of legend that is ‘The Age of Apocalypse’. His work even influenced the title itself. Archangel and Wolverine pitched headlong into an Eastern adventure in order to save the soul of Psylocke – an adventure that ran for three consecutive issues – involved none of the other characters, no Blackbird, no mansion and no other mutants. A complete departure from continuity that seemed in the reading as a neat excuse (as well as hinting at Psylocke’s oriental half-self’s mystical past) to showcase Maduriera’s distinctive and fun artwork.

Ultimates 3 (2008)

A hint at the effect his artwork would later have on the much later 2008 run of Ultimates 3 1-5 with Jeph Loeb. Critically and publically lambasted for its near total disregard for the conventions introduced and made popular by Mark Millar’s run on the series it was an enormous hit for Marvel. Its secret to longevity? The immersive and unabashedly shame faced comicdom taking place in every panel – the luxurious redesign of the character’s making the continuity jump worthwhile.

Battlechasers (2001)

It was his independent title, Battlechasers, published under the Cliffhanger label, which Madureira founded with J. Scott Campbell (Danger Girl) and Humberto Ramos (Crimson) that stirred the biggest fervour. Set in a high fantasy setting and utilising steam punk and sci-fi genres the story follows four central characters – most notably Red Monika and the outlawed War Golem, Calibretto. A simple enough premise but one that showcased Maduriera’s work faultlessly – which was exactly what he had in mind. It is this title’s production he has received the most criticism for, producing 9

Red Monika of Battle Chasers

issues in 4 years – constantly pushing up the value of the title rather than reducing it as fans anticipated the next instalment with ever increasing enthusiasm. He cancelled Issue 10 and placed the series on permanent hiatus after forming a game development company, Tri-lunar with Tim Donley and Greg Peterson.

Upon the announcement he would be returning to comics for Ultimates 3 he was asked about a conclusion to Battlechasers to which he replied ‘”one of those things that I think about every once in a while, and not having finished it bums me out… I would love to do it at some point, but it would be very far out.”

In July 2007, Vigil Games’ Darksiders was announced, of which Joe Madureira was creative director. It follows War, one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, on his quest to find out who prematurely triggered the apocalypse. It was released on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on January 5, 2010 and September 23, 2010 on PC.
Madureira has also provided cover artwork for Capcom’s Marvel Super Heroes for the Sega Saturn and Sony PlayStation, and the Sony PlayStation game Gekido: Urban Warriors.

Battlechasers for Cliffhanger 2001

Practitioners 51: Stuart Immonen

Stuart Immonen is a Canadian comic book artist, best known for his work on Nextwave, Ultimate X-Men, The New Avengers and Ultimate Spider-man. Teamed usually with the elegantly named Wade Von Grewbadger, Immonen is responsible for some of the most memorable page layouts of the last decade as he effortlessly combines composition, characterisation and razor blade lettering to allow any script writer’s ideas to flow.

Immonen was, until recently, a hidden master in the recesses of the comic industry. In recent years – working on New Avengers, Ultimate Spider-man and the most recent Marvel event Fear Itself in which he was lead penciller on the main series at the core – Immonen has found his rightful place among the most recognisable artists in the industry. With an ice cool approach to complicated and original compositions Immonen has an amazing reputation for taking complex ideas and communicating them effortlessly out of the page.

Studying at Toronto’s York University, Immonen pursued a career in art immediately. In 1988, he self published a series called Playground. It was his frst published work. He progressed quickly, working at several small comic book companies before being hired by DC Comics, and most recently (since 1993), Marvel Comics, where he gained greater notoriety. In this time he had handled some of the biggest names in the industry – fictionally speaking. At DC his clean line work introduced Immonen to the great kryptonian and DC flagship, Superman. He remained with Superman for some time though more on the fringe of the associated titles – contributing to multiple artist titles such as Superman Metropolis Secret Files, Superman Red / Superman Blue and Superman: The Wedding Album. His posting on Legion of Superheroes gave him a chance to practice the combination of multiple characters in a range of compositions – something that would prove his defining characteristic later in the industry.

But it’s Immonen’s adventures in Marvel that everyone began to notice – handling the most characterful figures in the universe – with a run on Ultimate Fantastic Four and Ultimate X-Men with the newest and coolest writers of the time Warren Ellis and Brian K. Vaughn – both of whom enjoy lightweight, dialogue heavy scriptwriting. It was the deliberately outside continuity in-joke Next Wave that Immonen had the greatest impact.

A re-teaming with Ellis saw a highly collabrative approach to the book, with Immonen given the opportunity to stretch his creative muscle. A rag tag batch of fringe characters from many of the Marvel books; Monica Rambeau, the former Captain Marvel; Tabitha Smith, Boom Boom of X-Force; Aaron Stack, the Machine Man, monster hunter Elsa Bloodstone; and new character the Captain previously called Captain ☠☠☠☠ (the obscured words being so horrible that Captain America allegedly “beat seven shades of it out of him” and left him in a dumpster with a bar of soap in his mouth).

Nextwave's unambiguous cover for the Marvel Civil War Crossover event of 2006

Into this chaotic and satirical book Ellis leaned heavily on Immonen’s pencilling style – almost every edition in the 12 issue run a master class in humorous, action filled perfection. Every quirk and idea was beautifully realised. When Fin Fang Foom unceremoniously passes Machine Man it is both perfectly drawn and hilariously realised. Immonen’s panels in which the Captain beats the living hell out of Suicide Girl loving demi-daemon of a pervo elseworld, Dormmu was so well realised that Dormmu became a surprise bonus character in last year’s Marvel vs Capcom to everyone’s significant joy!

But more than that – in a later book Immonen demonstrated his absolute mastery of multiple styles. As the Forbush man overwhelmed the senses of the assembled Next Wave each was presented with their own versions of reality. Leaping seamlessly between the Captain’s naturalistic, paired down artwork on a faraway world, Captain Marvel’s transluscent trip out, seemingly influenced by African American art styles of the late 70s and early 80s, from Machine Man’s Garfieldesque adventures as an Insurance agent to Elsa Bloodstone’s battle against ancient monsters in a perfect recreation of Mike Mignola’s legendary work on Hellboy. All were simultaneously equal to the art they were satirising while distinctly mocking in style. The balance was met beautifully in a way that can only be understood when viewed.

All of this was recognised by Ellis on the run of the book. Taking the highly rare decision to allow effective free reign over a series of no less than 5 double page spreads in which a series of increasingly deranged battles ensued between the Nextwave team and a procession of bizarre choices for soldiers, launched by the H.A.T.E. corporation. This included a Brontosaurus, Battle Tigers, Two headed Samurai, Elvis MODOKs, Golems and spike-wheeled Steven Hawking’s as well as a number of other characters – some too difficult to accurately describe. The end result was an absolute unalloyed joy. Page after page of freewheeling battle lunacy, deftly executed with pin point accuracy and frankly joyous abandonment of any convention.

It is rare that any artist is given the opportunities that Immonen was with Nextwave but very few artists can inspire the sort of confidence that Immonen clearly inspired in Ellis on that book. Whether it was intended to be, it was either a showcase for Immonen’s abilities or one that Immonen refused to let pass. Most likely, given Immonen’s relaxed style he merely did exactly what the project called for.

Top 5: Pointless Nerdism (Steve’s Picks)

5.PEACE DAY: GANDHI’S LETTER TO HITLER

What does an iconic peace-loving protester and easily the most hated man in all of human history have to do with each other? They’ve been included in Geekosystem (where I found this piece) and one wrote to the other July 23rd, 1939 asking if it would be possible to avoid starting a little fight now popularly known as the Second World War. Sadly unheeded, this little number may well have been the difference between a conflict consuming millions of lives and Hitler learning to play the sitar and moving to the himalayas to find his inner peace.

One of life’s great opportunities missed. Wonder if he even read it….

4. SARUMAN GETS HIS TROLL ON (JUL 11, 2011)

Be careful. Even in defeat Saruman be Trolling.

This is about the silliest thing I’ve seen all week…and it’s a week we did a con so that’s quite a statement.

3.THE BALLAD OF MIKE HAGGAR (AUG 18TH, 2011)

If I’m totally honest, I was a Streets of Rage man back in the day but that doesn’t mean that I’m not familiar with the fine work of Mayor Haggar when it comes to the noble art of thug punching. In a world where Gordon Freeman and Commander Shepard have their own music videos it’s high time that the H man himself was given a showing, and this does the good Mayor proud!  posted this up a week or so ago and it’s already (deservedly) becoming an internet sensation.

Epic doesn’t even begin to cover it.

2. THE TALE OF CAPTAIN JACK SPARROW – NEW LONELY ISLAND ALBUM HAS DROPPED (MAY 10, 2011)

I know this isn’t strictly geek related but it is both comedy and pirate related so I think it counts. The new album from Grammy-nominated fake rap group The Lonely Island comes out today. It’s called Turtleneck & Chain and it’s well worth a download. For the uninitiated, Lonely Island are a three piece rap group who began life on Saturday Night Live and have since gone on to work with everyone from Justin Timberlake to Natalie Portman. They’ve also been known to be on a boat.

Lonely Island’s shtick is basically to do funny rap songs with massive production values and big name guest artists and in that regard Turtleneck delivers. I can’t decide yet whether it’s better than Incredibad or not but I’m leaning towards ‘probably not’. The Rhianna track is basically just a rehash of the joke from the Jack Black song on the last album and there are a couple of tracks that are longer than they need to be but on the whole the good far outweighs to bad. Plus, who doesn’t want to own a song in which Michael Bolton professes his love for Captain Jack Sparrow?

1. COMMANDER SHEPARD MUSIC VIDEO MAY BE THE BEST THING ON THE INTERNET (MARCH 23rd, 2011)

Sent to Dan by a mate, Dan was understandably excited by this video. As a Mass Effect fan that’s understandable. However, this went further. I have never played Mass Effect and was entirely unfamiliar with the characters or plot lines in it until I saw this video. Yet I can honestly say I’ve watched it maybe 30 times since it appeared on BTB in March (mostly in March). Frankly, Commander Shepard is rock and the universe needs him interfering.

The Ballad of Mike Haggar

 

If I’m totally honest, I was a Streets of Rage man back in the day but that doesn’t mean that I’m not familiar with the fine work of Mayor Haggar when it comes to the noble art of thug punching. In a world where Gordon Freeman and Commander Shepard have their own music videos it’s high time that the H man himself was given a showing, and this does the good Mayor proud!  posted this up a week or so ago and it’s already (deservedly) becoming an internet sensation.

Epic doesn’t even begin to cover it.

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Epileptic Fury: Marvel Vs Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds Trailer

Out now on XBox 360, Playstation 3, its the return of the cross platform, cross genre, cross character cross over. Reviews are in and are great. Its choice of characters is reportedly enormous. 43 playable characters from across both Universes there’s an infinite amount of gameplay to be found if you’re a fan of either side.

The trailer itself uses comic book lettering to great effect and there’s some unnecessary glass smashing something that reminds me of a certain Moon headed agent of justice. Might borrow some of the angles and gunfire effects for when things really start kicking off in Moon. If only there was a character who would use a semi-automatic….

Galactus Devours Your Twelve Hit Combo!

Hands up everyone who likes games about characters with no discernable connection to one another beating the snot out of each other in ever more imaginative ways! Well then this post is for you. Marvel vs Capcom 3: The Fate of Two Worlds is the latest in Capcom’s long line of bizarre yet addictive 2D beat-em-ups and it’s hitting the shops next week. The fifth instalment of the series (maths is always the first casualty of inter dimensional war), MvC3 features a packed roster of Marvel and Capcom characters beating the M. Bison out of each other in glorious arcade style in an effort to save both of their worlds from a messy end.

Capcom has promised that this game will define itself from the rest of the series by focusing on the “robust plot” created especially for the game by comics writer Frank Tieri:

“Doctor Doom has assembled the greatest villains of the Marvel Universe and has joined forces with Albert Wesker in order to unite their respective universes in an effort to conquer both. However, this course of action awakens a great and powerful threat that could potentially destroy both worlds. It is up to the heroes of the Marvel and Capcom universes to put a stop to this evil before it is too late.”

Ok, so ‘robust’ may be a bit of a strong word. But let’s be honest, buying a game like this for the story is like buying a Ferrari F40 for the cup holders. The point of the MvC series is to cram together iconic characters with fast paced action and more combos than KFC and on this level MvC3 looks set to deliver. The roster is beefy (any game that lets you play as the Marvel U’s resident Suicide Girl craving demon, Dormammu is fine with me) and the control system has been simplified so as to help appeal to the casual fan. It’s even got a ‘Simple Mode’ which allows players to pull of combos more easily while you learn the ropes.

Unique character endings, online match-making and piles of DLC are all present and accounted for and if you pick up the collector’s edition then you even get a special prologue comic which is…er…yeah.

Old school beat-em-ups may not be the powerhouse of gaming that they were in the 90s but there’s no denying that they deserve their place in the hearts of gamers. If you’ve got a few quid in your pocket then you could do far worse than renting this bad boy and seeing what it’s like. After all, who doesn’t want to play a game where you can make Viewtiful Joe punch Galactus in the head?

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