Saturday, April 05, 2008

Dark Horse / Image Preview Review for June

Jim: This group has been a mixed bag as of late, with often limited new offerings, but still plenty of great ongoing material. The problem is that we focus on the new stuff for the most part so it can leave little to talk about. Let’s see what this month brings.
Lee: We shall see, I was disappointed by Marvel and DC this month my expectations are pretty low.

Starting with Dark Horse

B.P.R.D.: THE ECTOPLASMIC MAN Mike Mignola (W/Cover), John Arcudi (W), and Ben Stenbeck (A) On sale June 18FC, 32 pages $2.99 One-shot This one-shot comic tells the origin of Johann Kraus—corresponding with Johann’s appearance in the 2008 feature film Hellboy II: The Golden Army. The Ectoplasmic Man is the ideal introduction to one of the most peculiar members of the remarkable Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense.
Jim: I have become immersed in the Mike Mignolaverse and I invite the rest of the world to join me. Mignola has developed such a rich and wonderfully diverse world of Lovercraftian horrors, that are being fought against by the most diverse cast of characters that you could ever imagine. Great stuff.
Lee: I read the first two Hellboy series when they first appeared on the stands and at the time, I wasn’t impressed. But, it’s never gone away so there must be something here. This might be a good as place as any to start.

CONAN THE CIMMERIAN #0 Timothy Truman (W), Tomás Giorello (P/Cover), José Villarubia (C) On sale June 25FC, 24 pages $.99 Ongoing Conan the Cimmerian #0 marks a transitional period in young Conan’s life, as he spurns the magicians, turncoats, and legal trappings of the cities he’s seen in order to return to the beloved northern frontiers of Cimmeria, where he was born and raised. It also marks a turning point in the artistic muscle that will fuel Conan’s adventures throughout 2008 and beyond. Writer Timothy Truman and Argentine artist Tomás Giorello are joined by renowned colorist José Villarrubia in this special issue, as they deliver their adaptation of Robert E. Howard’s “Cimmeria” poem. And what’s up with Conan? He fights for his life when he crosses paths with a pack of Vanir raiders on the Cimmerian border!
Jim: Not a re-launch so much as just a way to mark Conan entering the second phase of his life and leaving behind the life of a thief. Tim Truman is doing a great job in writing this book and Thomas Giorello can draw a barbarian tale very well.
Lee: It does look like a great jumping on point so I might have to come back to this. Or, as usual, wait for the trade and come back full force.

HELP IS ON THE WAY: A COLLECTION OF BASIC INSTRUCTIONS Scott Meyer (W/A) b&w, 120 pages $10.95 TPB, 7" x 7" On sale Aug 27Ever want to know the best way to combat “the silent treatment”? How to destroy society? Apply video game skills to real life? Well, read Help Is On The Way, a collection of strips from the hilarious online web comic “Basic Instructions”! Cartoonist Scott Meyer will guide you through some of life’s more uncomfortable moments with plenty of absurdly bad advice, usually packed economically into four side-splitting panels. This is the kind of stuff that jumps from the weekly paper onto your cubicle wall in seconds flat! Learn how to apply the laws of physics to your personal relationships! Help Is On The Way, by Basic Instructions creator Scott Meyer is your “all-inclusive guide to a life well-lived.” • 10,000 web site readers every day! A guidebook for those who want a life of hilarious chaos!
Lee: Ok. I admit this was a lark pick. It looked interesting. It looked funny… and a little research proved it was hilarious. Maybe a little too funny since I had to work an extra half hour to make up for time spent reading at the office. Follow the link!
Jim: It does have some really funny stuff. This book may have to come home.

HERBIE ARCHIVE VOLUME 1 Shane O’Shea (W) and Ogden Whitney (A)
On sale Aug 20 FC, 224 pages $49.95HC, 6 5/8" x 10 3/16"
Make way for the Fat Fury! The unlikeliest superhero of all time makes his mark in this new Dark Horse archival series. Coming from the strange, wry imagination of classic comics scribe Richard Hughes (writing as Shane O’Shea) and artist Odgen Whitney, Herbie Popnecker looks like a plump lump, but with his collection of supernatural lollipops, there is pretty much nothing that he can’t do.
Jim: This was some really wacky and bizarre material if I can recall correctly. What I remember the most is how good the art work was on a book about this obese kid. Still I cannot bring myself to buy this Archive.
Lee: Wonderfully weird stuff. The price tag is heafty so I might have to wait until there is a sale somewhere but at some point this is coming home.

INDIANA JONES AND THE TOMB OF THE GODS #1 Rob Williams (W), Steve Scott (P), Michael Atiyeh (C), and Tony Harris (Cover) On sale June 29 FC, 40 pages $2.99
Dr. Henry Jones Jr. may be the world’s preeminent archeologist, but that doesn’t mean he’s spent his life in the library! Ready and able to do whatever it takes to preserve the final remnants of history’s most significant happenings, he’ll go head-to-head against Hitler’s elite who want nothing more than to exploit objects of ancient power in pursuit of world dominance!
Jim: This was inevitable with the new movie coming out. I’m surprised it is not already completed and out as a trade.
Lee: It’s not traded because DH omnibus’d the older material. 40 pages for $3 isn’t bad though.

THE MASK OMNIBUS VOLUME 1 John Arcudi (W) and Doug Mahnke (A)
On sale Aug 13, FC, 376 pages$24.95, TPB, 6" x 9"
It has all the makings of an epic adventure: an ancient artifact is rediscovered; a mask of unknown origins, with unforeseen power and magic. But who knew that after donning this mask even the wimpiest geek would become an indestructible shape-changing super-tornado with a mind for mischief and an appetite for destruction?
Equally adept with gun, knife, bat, bomb, pie, or bat-knife-gun-pie-bomb, a geek turned super-freak, The Mask cuts a crazed swath of cartoon mayhem!
• Collects The Mask, The Mask Returns, The Mask Strikes Back (long out-of- print) for the first time in one volume.
Lee: The Mask is a great series that was eventually overexposed. Don’t let the crappy movie interfere with you enjoyment of this series. It is incredibly, over the top violent fun. If I didn’t already have the HC edition of this I would get it.
Jim: I never read the mask, but the talent behind it is very strong.

Well that was a short list. Now what does Image have to offer us.

WAR HEROES #1 (OF 6) story MARK MILLAR art & cover TONY HARRIS
If you've been wondering what MARK MILLAR had planned for ULTIMATES 3, then wonder no more this is it! The mind that reinvented superheroes for the 21st Century joins forces with one of comicdom's best artists to chart new courses for superhero action in a series that will definitely be one of the most talked about of the year! JUNE 25 32 PAGES FC $2.99
Jim: Well I’m not the world’s biggest Mark Millar fan and in fact I’m often one of his critics, but I will be trying this series out. Tony Moore can certainly do a great job drawing this, I just don’t know if I care about where Mark Millar is taking the super hero concept to. I’m not sure if Millar will ever be remembered for any of his work years down the road.
Lee: How will Millar be remembered? That’s a really good question because he’s certainly a polarizing figure. But, it seems like everything he writes is interesting!!!!

CHARLATAN BALL #1 story JOE CASEY art & cover ANDY SURIANO WELCOME TO THE BALL! Meet Chuck Amok, a down-and-out stage magician pumping the sleaze in the peanut circuit. When he and his trusty rabbit, Caesar, are transported to a reality where magic actually works Chuck’s showbiz compulsions take on a whole new meaning. But why was this wayward chucker picked? Only the vile Demon Empty knows for sure! Take your comic book rulebook and tear it up, y’all! This is graphic fiction on shrooms, True Believer!
Jim: I know the vibe they are shooting for, but this is not something that would appeal to me. That is not to say this doesn’t look to be an interesting series, just missing something.
Lee: Speaking of how to remember people, Joe Casey is a really interesting author. He has some material that’s great “DeadPool” and some that’s junk, his X-books. I can’t seem to figure him out. But when it comes to wacky and offbeat I’m always willing to give him a try.

A RED MASS FOR MARS #1 (of 4) story JONATHAN HICKMAN art & cover RYAN BODENHEIM "ETERNITYîFrom the mind of comic book innovator JONATHAN HICKMAN and pen of super-talent and Image debutant RYAN BODENHEIM comes A RED MASS FOR MARS. In a world that has survived every catastrophe imaginable, a new threat from beyond stars looks to be the end of all humanity. A RED MASS FOR MARS is a story about the death of utopia, the last days of Earth and the one man who could save us all - but won't. JUNE 11 32 PAGES FC $3.50
Jim: I’m pretty sure this is a re-solicitation, but either new or re-solicitation a comic I definitely want on my reading list. Jonathan Hickman puts a lot of thought into his books and they are usually pretty dense reads for a comic, but worth it.
Lee: This strikes me a re-solict. Which is good because I couldn’t imagine this and Pax Romana on the stands at the same time.

KILL ALL PARENTS #1 story MARK ANDREW SMITH art & cover MARCELO DICHIARA KILL ALL PARENTS is the story of an authoritarian government's secret program to 'save' mankind by eliminating villains: by insuring that every child born with a super power becomes a super hero. Based on the life's work of a brilliant but demented scientist and futurist, the method is effective but fantastically cruel, unnatural, and ultimately deeply flawed. We follow the last of the strong heroes, the remaining brave, who fight for not only their future and the lives of their families, but that of all mankind. JUNE 18 36 PAGES FC $3.99
Jim: As a parent I object to the title :) Sounds like this could be an interesting series. I will have to check it out.
Lee: Eh. I guess. Now that Zombies are done it appears we’re going to get a glut of deconstructionist superhero books. Need I mention End League?

In 1939, a detective in Dashell Hammettís San Francisco investigates the disappearance of an heiress while struggling to hold his family together. In 1969, twin brothers find themselves on opposite sides of the law as the Summer of Love gives way to the death of the Sixties. In 1999, a marriage explodes in violence under the strain of unsatisfied greed as the dot-com bubble reaches the bursting point.
Displaced Persons tells the story of a uniquely twisted and tragic family history spanning the most turbulent hundred years in the history of mankind: the twentieth century saw 99 wars, 16 famines, 19 pandemics, 14 genocides and one family lost hopelessly in time.
JUNE 4 168 PAGES FC $19.99
Tag: from the writer of the critically acclaimed Stagger Lee nominated for both eisner and eagle awards and winner of four glyph awards, including best writer and story of the year!
Lee: Image seems to be offering more and more non-superhero material these days and I love it. Not that there’s anything wrong with superheroes but a top publisher giving smaller indie type books higher profiles and quality is always a good thing. Not to mention the art and story in this looks great.
Jim: The other side of this coin is that Image is offering books as graphic novel formats, with no mini-series before hand to underwrite the story. Is this the beginning of the new age for comics? Will we start to see more and more comics go straight to the graphic novel format? If so can a speciality comic shop survive?

Writer MIKE SAN GIACOMO presents 32 stories taking place over 50 years at a Drive-In Theater, featuring 21 artists from around the world. Stories stand-alone, mirroring life and the cinema with tales of crime, romance, science fiction, musicals, even a western. The stories combine to create a single novel with a powerful, shocking finale you won't forget. Fascinating characters, imaginative stories and clever twists will make STARLIGHT the surprise hit of the year.
JUNE 4 220 PAGES FC $19.99
Lee: Art by Derf? I’m all over this!!!! But, there’s lots of talent and a story that sounds good. It is interesting that this is the second or third OGN offered by Image this month. A sign that comics and the formats they are offered in are changing.
Jim: As I said in the previous post. Still I have to wonder what is the driving force to go straight to a graphic novel format. Is it all dollars and sense or is it a way to avoid using only Diamond to distribute your product or both?

Her clan destroyed, her family murdered by vampires, Chinatsu, a once-proud female ninja, had nothing left to live for... save revenge. In this centuries-spanning tale of bloodlust and betrayal, Chinatsu, now a vampire herself, tracks the dark lord that turned her all those long years ago. Immortality has only made her need for vengeance stronger as she follows him across the globe, through myriad time periods, battling the undead minions that rise up to stop her.
This stunning volume collects the entire first arc of DRAIN, fully re-mastered and re-colored by series artist SANA TAKEDA, a cover gallery, a sketchbook, and a behind-the-scenes "Making of Drain" section. And as an added bonus, there's also an all-new epilogue seen here for the very first time!
Collects DRAIN #1-6
JUNE 11 184 PAGES FC $16.99
Lee: I just read Cebulski’s Loners from Marvel and I loved it so seeing his name on another project is definitely appealing. If only the cover art wasn’t so ridiculous. This is in the running for Embarrassed to be a Fanboy!

Jim: Now having not read Loners and any other work from this writer that I recall, this has no appeal for me.

Jump into battle as the Allies and Russian special forces join to fight the evil Axis; a powerful group whose plans to dominate the world are bolstered by their amazing robotic weapons, built using alien technology taken from a crashed space ship.Don't miss the first ever collection of the sold-out WW II/Sci-Fi adventure series, jam packed with new art and technical data on the robots, weapons, zombies and characters from the DUST universe!
JUNE 18 96 PAGES FC $9.99
Lee: I know we picked this months ago as single issues. But, I waited for the trade and I am excited. This should be great. Another Embarrassed to be a Fanboy contender!
Jim: I can't to wait to borrow the trade from Lee! I can't buy everything, but between the two of us we come damn close.

From the steaming, zombie-infested jungles of Vietnam to a shadow haunted castle in the mountains of Vienna, where Dr. Frankensteinís monster collects an army of the dead, Image Comics invites you into a monster-infested world of horror. Featuring stories and art by monster makers NAT JONES, JERRY BECK, MARK KIDWELL, JEFF ZORNOW, RD HALL and JAY FOTOS, this massive tome of horror features four full book length tales of terror in full fiendish color. A must-have for fans of monster-horror, packed cover to cover with tales in the classic tradition with a modern, gruesome spin.
JUNE 18 128 PAGES FC $14.99
Lee: I am a fan of the old DC horror books, Warren’s Eerie and Creepy, and just about every other horror anthology ever made so I am really looking forward to this. And it’s got some good names attached to it, which never hurts.
Jim: Nat Jones has become an artist name that I look for between Giant Monsters and Death Dealer he has shown me he is a force to be reckoned with.

What if the Mafia had its own Secret Service? Sara doesn't remember her name. What she does know is that she traded away mystery as a former prostitute and became a world-class killing machine. When a routine hit goes sour, Sara makes a shocking discovery. Suppressed memories, haunted her since childhood, are in fact true! And her real family, presumed dead, may actually be alive.
The collection includes an "Art of Killing Girl" section with unseen art from both of the book's illustrators.
Collects KILLING GIRL #1-5
JUNE 18 136 PAGES FC $14.99
Lee: I’ve heard this was an up and down series but I really want to see Espinosa’s art in the first couple of issues. The final entry in the Embarrassed to be a Fanboy contest! Which is really a shame because I don’t think it does the base material justice.
Jim: This series fall apart in both story and art, which was a shame as it started out so very strong.

"BEGINNING, MIDDLE AND ENDîScud is programmed to destroy a basement monster but he will self destruct if he does, so the robotic assassin puts the wounded creature on life support and becomes a freelance assassin to pay for the hospital bills.
Collects SCUD # 1-24, plus the super-sweet one-shot DRYWALL: UNZIPPED
JUNE 25 764 PAGES BW $19.99
Lee: 700 pages for $20, I can’t really go wrong. It will take me years to read all the material but it’s worth a looksee.
Jim: Even when it is this good of a bargain, if I was not interested in the product before buying it cheap is not an inticement.

INVINCIBLE vs. TITAN! A few issues back, Titan tricked Invincible into helping him take over Machine Headís arm of the criminal organization knows as THE ORDER and Invincible is not too happy about being tricked.
Lee: Personally, I think the new costume sucks. Too dark for a light hearted superhero. Maybe that’s the point but in the short term… it sucks.
Jim: You'll get used to it. Let's see why before you cry about it.

Pilot Season: Genius #1 (W) Marc Bernardin, Adam Freeman (A)Afua Richardson (COV)Afua Richardson
Alexander, Hannibal, Napoleon, Patton. What if the greatest military mind of OUR generation was born in strife, surrounded by violence and combat since birth? When the gauntlet is dropped, the question isn’t “How did 17-year-old Destiny Ajaye unite the gangs of South Central into a killer army and declare war on the LAPD?” No, the question is, “Can anyone stop her?” From the minds of writers Marc Bernardin & Adam Freeman (The Highwaymen, Monster Attack Network) and innovative illustrator Afua Richardson (Half Dead), Genius is a book that will have readers talking for months to come.
Full Color 32 pages $3.99 pilot issue
Pilot Season: Alibi #1 (W) Joshua Hale Fialkov (A) Jeremy Haun (Cov) Jeremy Haun
The perfect killer always has an airtight alibi. But can anyone be in two places at once? John Stephens can. He’s always a suspect whenever a high-profile target is taken out, but he always gets off scot-free because he’s off somewhere else, having the time of his life. How can he be responsible? The authorities may be fooled, but now someone knows his secret, and John is going to have to face the consequences.From the people’s choice Joshua Hale Fialkov (Cyblade, Marvel Comics Presents) and artist Jeremy Haun (Civil War: Iron Man/Captain America, The Leading Man).
Full Color 32 pages $3.99 pilot issue
Lee: I understand the concept. The stories and art look good but I’m hard pressed to pay $4 for a real unknown commodity. And, the title Pilot Season is terrible because most pilot episodes never go anywhere. Killed in production because they aren’t good enough. Oh well, hopefully there is a future superstar in here somewhere.
Jim: I agree, the concept is good on paper, but buying a bunch of numer ones that you know are going nowhere is tough.

Jim: A short list from both publishers this month. Still that is not a bad thing because it can denote that many of the regular series are successful and the need to constantly put out new stuff is not as important.
Lee: It was short list until I got ahold of it! Personally, the best part of these reviews is that Jim and I have such different taste is subject material. Between the two of us, I cover all that’s worth reading and he gets the rest! Perfect.

Oh yeah… There were some really good choices this month for Embarrassed to be a Fanboy between Killing Girl, Vol. 1: A Sister’s Love Tp, Drain, Vol. 1 Tp, Dust, Vol. 1 Tp, but I have to say Killing Girl was the most ridiculous. Not gonna stop me from buying the trade but pretty stupid looking.
Jim: It was a short list until Lee got hold of it. Lee picks what he likes and goes for art above story, I’m the flip side story first then art.

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