Monday, February 25, 2008

What I’m Getting Wednesday

Can you say, what a ridiculous big a** week’s worth of books you are getting this week, Jim. Sure you can, I knew you could. When I walk in to buy my pile of books my store owner will be thinking it is a wonderful day in the neighborhood. This is one of the dangers of the extremely high number of books that I have on my list is that the confluence of events comes together and slams me with some massive weeks sometimes. It is usually the last week of the month and when all the small press guys have gathered enough funds to print their books. If they formed a co-op would they get better rates at the printers? Anyway it is just a continued call to arms for me to continue culling from my list. This week the independent books rule the market share report with 19 titles (40%), followed closely by DC with 18 (37%) and Marvel with 11 books (23%). My favorite cover image this week is the Wormwood take on the Star Wars scene.

Mouse Guard 1152 #3 (of 6) – This is a truly wonderful series. What I enjoy about is the characters are so real and they look so much like mice and not cartoon figures. Since I will also buy the hard cover collections it is a story that can be on my bookshelf forever and is something I can loan to anyone. A newly created fairy tale that is timeless as any other.

Grimm Fairy Tales #22 – This is some odd timing as issue #21 came out just last week. I’m not sure of the benefit of releasing two issues back to back that way. I can only guess it is a catch up thing or lack of planning.

Shark-Man #2 – Every week I have a book that is on my short list to be canned, this is one such book. The first issue was a little convoluted and almost madcap, but had an ending that held me in. So this issue the book still has to prove itself to me.

The Many Adventures of Miranda Mercury #295 (of 300) – If you have noticed no real rhyme or reason to the order I’m listing the books this week, there is a reason. I only use a cover for every third book in the list. I have often let that be an almost random event as to who gets a cover, this week I’m targeting certain books to give the cover treatment to with the independents. Click here for the full fledge preview from Archaia. This books sounds like a lot of fun as we start her book deep into her career (#295) as she is in the midst of her greatest battle leading up to a milestone event of issue #300. Check out the first issue and see if it is as much fun as it looks.

Fall of Cthulhu #10 – The over looked horror series from BOOM studios. It frustrates me to no end that I’m the only person at my store buying this book, which means no extra copies are around for anyone to even look at. This is a very well done horror book that is creepy on a visceral level and on just pure shock and gore level.

Fallen Angel #24 – Continuing Peter David’s great book about a Fallen Angel and what she does now that she is back on Earth. Just the fact that this book is two years in as a series from IDW after running for a little while as a DC series should tell you there is a great story here about heaven, hell, and earth and Bette Noir, the city that shapes the world.

Wormwood Gentleman Corpse #10 – Calamari Rising #2 (of 4) – First off it is Ben Templesmith as the writer. This guy is smoking some terrific stuff to have all of these incredibly insane and funny as all hell stuff in his stories. Still without the artist that can deliver his crazed visions the book would be nothing and he is lucky to have Ben Templesmith as his artist. Ben can do some wacky Calamari and do it better then any other artist on earth. If that does not sell you (and the feint of heart need not buy this book), look at the cover and tell me how can you not laugh and want to buy this book.

Stranded #2 – The second issue in this sci-fi adventure by Mike Carey from Virgin comics. The first issue was a mixed bag as sleeper aliens who had been living as humans were being taken out and a protector was starting to notice their race may not be hidden well enough.

Project Superpowers #1 (of 6)- This book has to recover from their issue #0, which was pretty much a bore. It gave you a lot for your dollar in terms of pages and lots of text to set things up, but ultimately it was unexciting. Using public domain “golden age” characters is a fun idea, but it needs to be executed against. The Twelve has trumped this series and issue #1 needs to be strong for me to want to continue this book.

Neozoic #3 – For those of you who follow this blog if you are shocked that this is a favorite book of this blog, than you need to read more of the blog. Gwen’s has interviewed the entire creative team on this book and that has enhanced her enjoyment of the series. I just love seeing this book hit the stands as I have often read an advanced peek of the book I still love reading the actual comic itself. Dinosaurs, hot woman with big swords, political intrigue, a good story and art that gets better with each issue. This book has it all.

Secret History Book Five – This book follows four immortals as they wind their way through many of the major moments of the history of Western Civilization. Actually it gets into the details of certain events way more then I can remember from my Western Civilization classes and then adds the fantasy elements of the immortals.

Savage Sword of Conan Trade – Volume 2 – Another collection from Dark Horse of the magazine stories of Conan published by Marvel comics. I have one more trade of the Marvel comics series to get and then I have plenty of old Conan material to peruse at my leisure.

Proof #5 – I have just loved this series and believe I have found where some of their inspiration came from when I read the Perhapanauts Annual. The official hype “"MOTHER'S DAY" Hundreds of babies die! Elvis fights a half-naked old lady! Fairies are murdered! And El Chupacabra brings Joy to the world! All that, plus four extra story pages, in the conclusion to "Goatsucker." This may be the strangest comic book you'll read all year.” What’s not to love!

Lazarus #3 (of 3) – This is another Shadowline book under the Image imprint and while it says #3 (of 3) it was reading more like a story that has a lot more to tell. The “After The Cape” series has been 3 issue mini-series, but after 3 issues it is like the story just stops while the artist and writer take a hiatus. I understand marketing ideas, but if a series is to be a series of mini-series, have each mini-series tell a complete story. I could be damning this series with criticism it has not earned yet, but we will see Wednesday.

Circle #4 – Since my store was shorted on issue #3 and it was delayed a week, it feels like issue #4 came out very fast. Last issue was a let down as the series had set a really high bar and issue #3 felt like nothing happened to advance the story. With comics costing $3 at a minimum I think we should always have the story moving forward. I do not like buying middle chapters that pad out the anticipate trade. I’m not saying this series did that last issue, it just felt like more needed to happen.

Urban Monsters #1- I was going to pass on this book, but the cover just keep telling me to buy and try issue #1. It just looks like it could be a lot of fun. Since I read so much, often I see too many of the same themes and the humor element that is evident from the cover seemed very familiar. I have read a few books with the outrageous supernatural elements being treated with humor, but I try to judge each on its own merits.

Deadrider #2 (of 4) – This book was due in November. Seldom is Dark Horse involved in series that are so late. They are hyping the writer/artist as stylistically in the Frazzeta/Wrightson mold, but boys does it kill a book, especially a mini-series to be this late.

Gravel #1 – The combat magician series from Avatar by Warren Ellis. I heard the early material about this character was not well done, but this latest try had a decent zero issue, so let’s see what issue #1 does.

Dan Dare #4 (of 7) – This revival of a British comic character I knew nothing about has been very enjoyable. Ennis knows has to write and a good comic and he has introduced this character and his obvious history and started the new story all at the same time and it never felt liked I had to read a 5 page back story to enjoy this story.

Action Comics #862 – I mean this book needs no hype for me as it is the Legion of Super Heroes arc (the original Legion) and Superman in the 31st Century battling against over whelming odds. Add in Geoff Johns (writer) and Gary Frank (art) and you have a book to look forward to.

All Star Batman and Robin #9 – Appears this is the first issue that the Boy Wonder gets into the action. I went from wondering what this books was to just enjoying every panel and every new twist and turn Frank Miller and Jim Lee do on this book. I just want at least 4 issues a year.

Batman #674 – The first three books from DC are all very strong titles and make this week an easy one to anticipate from DC. Morrison is setting the stage for where he is planning to take Batman for the next few months. I feel like Morrison is just now starting to hit his stride with his Batman run. Tony Daniel is doing a great job on the art and is getting his name to the top of comic artists.

Blue Beetle #24 – Four for four in series that are just at the top of their game. The official hype for this issue is “Lost in space! The Reach brings its Scarab home — and Jaime Reyes is about to die far from his, while knowing that his family and allies will be next. His salvation lies deep within the Blue Beetle legacy; it'll take a hero's efforts to find it. Don't miss the shocking ending to this issue!” Jamie is the best new hero in the DCU.

Countdown to Final Crisis #9 – We are down to single digits and I’m anticipating the end of this series so I can finally stop having to write about it. While the ending has not been as bad as the first 35 issues, it hasn’t made up for the first 35 issues. Also once you set the bar low, it becomes easy to exceed expectations.
Crime Bible: The Five Lessons of Blood #5 (of 5) – The conclusion of this mini-series that is exploring the new Question. Greg Rucka (writer) has given us a second generation Question that keeps elements of the original character and also incorporates an established character (Renee Montoya) into the hero role, giving us a fresh look at a hero that is both old and new. DC does this better then Marvel (who almost never does it). I think having a new person take up the mantle is very important to keep the stories feeling new and to allow heroes to change how they act because it is not the same person. This has been a very good series and I’m looking forward to the conclusion.

JSA Classified #35 – This begins a three part adventure featuring Wildcat. This book proves categorically that the favorite JSA member of most writers, editors and this fan is Wildcat. I recall that this series has had more issues focused on Wildcat then any other member. The idea of Wildcat is just so simple it is hard to resist. An ex-heavyweight boxer goes out and fights crime. The only concession from Ted Grant being 100% normal is the magical spell that was placed on him that has kept him younger then his 80 plus years would normally make him (hey maybe he is taking HGH).

JLA Classified #53 – This has been a very entertaining arc by Roger Stern, John Byrne and Mark Farmer. The story is a solid adventure of the JLA that shows two battles against the same foe, but with two different JLA teams fighting the bad guy. I hope we see more from this “classic” team of creators.

Justice Society of America #13 – This is a funny comic for me, as I love this book and look forward to it each and every month. The flip side is they keep adding cast members and may soon put the Legion of Super Heroes to shame. What is so frustrating is that I like so many members of the cast I always want more spotlight and character development to be given to them and with a huge cast each member gets less face time. The Kingdom come story line is building very slowly, but I trust Geoff Johns and Alex Ross to come up with a good story that pays off. Also with art by Dale Eaglesham (who is now in the top ten of best super hero artists in the business) the book is always great to look at.

Legion of Super Heroes #39 – This book has gotten a lot better since Jim Shooter took over and it was already a good book. Shooter has given this book a solid focus and he has done the Legion the right way, by focusing on smaller groups in every story and having multiple story lines within every issue. This allows anywhere from eight to ten members to be spotlighted and still move the overall story forward. I also feel he has a long range plan for this book and he is laying the foundation as we go, while building on what has already been established. This issue Princess Projectra is no longer a princess or wealthy, how will she cope with her new station in life?

Showcase Presents: The Superman Family Volume 2 – More of the silver age adventures of Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen, stories that do not stand the test of time, but have often become hilarious because of that fact. Hard to believe the level of talent that was devoted to those books at that time (Otto Binder, Curt Swan, Wayne Boring and more).

Teen Titans #56 – Sean McKeever has failed to really make this book one that I look forward to seeing month after month. It is not a bad book, it is just missing having that extra spark.

Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters #6 (of 8) – I love this series and will have to buy the trade when it comes out. The official hype “Red Bee's amped-up powers are tearing the Freedom Fighters apart. Will the reappearance of a long-forgotten hero be enough to fix things? Meanwhile, the plan to return Doll Man to human size is set in motion...too bad the process has some deadly consequences!”

Authority Prime #5 (of 6) – This is one of the last Wildstorm books that I still get and enjoy. Actually in reviewing what books are WU books that come out they are down to only two ongoing titles (Midnighter and Gen13). I think we can officially call the last re-launch of the WU a colossal failure. Still this series by Gage and Robertson has been a very good series and is worth you $3.

Crossing Midnight #16 – This is a breather issue where Kai has to reassess his quest and determine how he will continue form here. This book has what I would call a lyrical quality. It is a terrific horror/fantasy novel with pictures.

Fables #70 – This is also a breather issue by a guest artist as we look at what decisions were made by the farm fables after Flycatcher offered them sanctuary in haven. If I didn’t already love this series the cover alone would make me want to buy this book.

Hellblazer #241 – We continue with the “Laughing Magician” story line. Constantine will try to call on old allies to fight off Mako. As John is quite the bastard, many of these allies no longer care about what happens to John. Andy Diggle (writer) has really made this a must read series again.

Jack of Fables #20 – Oh heck the official hype is so great that it’s tongue in cheek style does it better then I could “We don't want to alarm you, but this issue of Jack of Fables is so explosive, so astonishing, and SO DAMN SEXY, that it may not be appropriate for pregnant women or those with fragile constitutions. This issue contains violent death, hot sex, heartbreak and betrayal, astonishing revelations, and delusional oxen. It's the dramatic, heart-stopping, pulse-pounding conclusion to the "Americana" storyline.”

Captain America #35 – I still believe Steve Rogers comes back as Captain America and probably around issue #50. Nick Fury and Cap have been doing something covert together. I could be wrong, but I will not believe Steve is dead unless we pass issue #50 and there is no hint he is coming back. In the interim Bucky is playing Cap and it should be a good story, but I’m concerned that it will be way too long. Regardless Captain America has been a better read under Ed Brubaker (writer) then it has been for years. And I for one would be happy to let Bucky be Captain America for the next 20 years.

Criminal 2 #1 – I was shocked that this series had been re-launched already. I wonder if it was sales or some other reason. It is supposed to be longer stories; expanded back section material and the first three issues are stand alone books. In the genre of crime fiction I believe Scalped is the better book, but not by much. Criminal deserves a bigger audience and I implore your to pick up Ed Brubaker (writer) and Sean Phillips (artist) top notch series.

Daredevil #103 – Rounding out Ed Brubaker (writer) week from Marvel. If Uncanny X-Men was coming out we could complete the list of all regular Marvel titles penned by Brubaker. This is a decent series, but as with Captain America it is written as a long form story with too little happening in the middle chapters. Also, regardless of how Marvel breaks it into six part arcs, it has been one long story for over a year now.

Marvel Masterworks Volume 92 – Atlas Heroes – Collecting MEN'S ADVENTURES #27-28, CAPTAIN AMERICA #76-78, HUMAN TORCH #36-38 and MARVEL SUPER-HEROES #16. What is a nice touch is the house ads are also part of the package.

House of M Avengers #5 (of 5) – The conclusion of this alternative world story, that has been a decent read. Not really worth the price of admission.

Thunderbolts International Incident – I think there have been more one-shots (which act as fill-in issues) on this series then actual comic book itself. I was enjoying Ellis run on this book, but the big time lag between issues is killing the flow on this book. It maybe time to switch to trades on Thunderbolts and drop the regular series and all the fill-ins – I mean one-shot specials.

Thor #6 – The first arc comes to an end as the new status quo for Thor is set. I have complained a lot about JMS’ slow story pacing, but all in all I think Thor is moving along, slower then I would like, but still moving along. The lag time between issues does not help the flow, but that is an artist thing I believe. Thor is a book worth reading again and I believe Marvel did a good thing but letting Thor be off the stands for a decent amount of time (now if they could do that with Iron Man).

Ultimate Spider-Man #119 – This is Bendis best book. Some issues are better then others, but essentially Bendis does better with a more narrow focus (i.e. solo books versus group books). Add in having first Bagley and then Immonen as artist and it is hard to go wrong. This issue Magneto stops by Spidey’s school to say hello.

X-Men First Class #9 – This issue the Scarlet Witch thinks about joining the X-Men or Shield. I wander when Jeff Parker (writer) can just say the heck with established continuity and do what he wants with this series. This story line sounds close to that being the case. Side note – on Marvel’s website where they list what is coming out on what week, they do not list the creators. I find this appalling as it was Marvel that really pushed listing who does what on a comic in the first place.

X-Men Legacy #208 – Read the official hype “The X-Men’s past becomes the present as Xavier fights the greatest battle of his life. With his mind hanging in the balance, one false move can cause irreversible damage. Help arrives from an unlikely source, but in the world post-Messiah Complex, sometimes your enemies are the only people you can trust.” I have to read it, but the X-verse just sounds lame. It maybe time to abandon all of it but X-Factor and X-Men First Class.

Zombie: Simon Garth #4 (of 4) – Some mindless Zombie fun brought to us by Kyle Holtz. If they do another mini-series on Simon Garth I may skip it. It is a fun book, but at $4 a crack for some very derivative material I can only go so far.

I’d be surprised if anyone actually read the entire post word for word, as I know it takes me a long time to pull this post together when the list is 48 items long. This looks to be a terrific week of books and I can envision having a very hard time in determining next week’s #1 book.

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