Sunday, April 13, 2008

Indies Review for June - Part 1 of 3


Lee: As always I love when the Indies previews roll around. And, once again, I am rewarded with a rich selection of new material from new creators and new material from friends of ours making it in the world of comics.
Jim: I agree with Lee there is always a lot of material coming out from the small press guys. While their publishing schedule can be a little erratic, it is almost always worth the wait. Up front I want to give kudos to Lee as he takes this post as his personal mission to dig up all of these gems and lets us give them a little spotlight. Lately I have not had a chance to help find too many additions, but Lee’s list is voluminous.

A FIRST SALVO
Contract #0 by Madeiros, Shell, Sharpe, McKenna & Ross
Welcome to a dark future of capitalism, where Mercenary is no longer just a soldier for hire, but a way of life. Cyber-powered Mercs lay down the law in this world where life and death is decided by the lowest bidder. Concepts of right and wrong have become a novelty. Jessie Garrett, however, is everything most Mercs are not - honest, selfless and determined to bring order to a greed-hardened world driven mad by money. She and her crew of misfits take the contracts most won't, but with their damaged pasts can they get the job done at all? The 25-cent Contract #0 is the perfect introduction to the new, full-color comic series! Cover by Franchesco!
B&W, Pages: 16. 25 cents.
http://www.firstsalvo.com/ previews at the bottom.
Lee: I know I wasn’t fond of the first book from A FIRST SALVO but this is a great idea for a new company. A 25 cent issue to get people into the story. The art looks solid so hopefully the story is good enough that people come back for more!
Jim: I agree a 25 cent comic is a great way to get fans to check out this book. Now if the retailers would only order it.

ABRAMS IMAGE
Kyle Baker's Nat Turner HC by Kyle Baker
The story of Nat Turner and his slave rebellion - which began on August 21, 1831, in Southampton County, Virginia - is known among school children and adults. To some he is a hero, a symbol of Black resistance and a precursor to the civil rights movement; to others he is monster - a murderer whose name is never uttered. In Nat Turner, acclaimed author and illustrator Kyle Baker depicts the evils of slavery in this moving and historically accurate story of Nat Turner's slave rebellion. Told nearly wordlessly, every image resonates with the reader as the brutal story unfolds. This graphic novel collects all four issues of Kyle Baker's critically acclaimed mini-series together for the first time in hardcover and paperback. The book also includes a new afterword by Baker. "A hauntingly beautiful historical spotlight." - Entertainment Weekly .Part Color, Pages: 208, Size: 6x9. $24.95
Lee: This book hits on all cylinders for me by combining my love of Kyle Baker’s art and historical fiction. Tack on a nice HC format and this is an easy sell. I’m really starting to like that my collection has grown beyond men in tights into other genres.
Jim: I don’t know about this book. I personally have issues with these types of “historical” stories and their claims of accuracy. It seems to me that when I was growing up we probably never fairly examined these historical moments, but I think today we are too quick to make our history a dark and evil past and I do not think that was the case either.

ALTERNA COMICS INC
American Terror Vol. 01: Confession of a Human Smart Bomb GN by by Jeff McComsey & James Cooper
November 11th, 2041. Nobody celebrates Veteran's Day anymore. Victor Sheppard is an old man in a new world. He remembers a time prior to the War of the Third World, when cops still carried guns and there was a ghetto in every city. All that's history now. Now the Third World no longer exists. A new age of peace and equality has begun, but it didn't come cheap. Millions died and the world is a better place, but no one remembers why. Haunted by his dead comrades, Victor decides to do the one thing he thought he'd never do - spill his guts.B&W, Pages: 80, Size: 7x10, $9.95
http://www.comicspace.com/humansmartbomb/
Lee: This looks very, very good. The little man takes on the machine! I love it. And the art looks fantastic.
Jim: This does have an interesting premise, but I think I would need to read the first 10 pages before making a firm commitment. I check out the link and the art work is okay to solid, fantastic is a stretch.

ALTERNATIVE COMICS
Thunderhead Underground Falls GN by Joel Orff
The March 15th issue of Booklist named Thunderhead Underground Falls a top 10 graphic novel for the year! Jack is a young Army Reservist with one final weekend before shipping out for combat in the Middle East. He and a friend find themselves behind the wheel of his parent's car, driving further west into a snowy landscape. The book is an exploration of Jack's flight from his future, as well as an exploration of this place that he's pledged his life to fight for. Jack wants to experience the simple freedom of taking a drive, and as the hours go by, he begins to consider desertion, but he knows that if he stays to hold onto the life that he knows, it will still be changed forever.B&W, Pages: 128, Size: 8x10
http://www.jorff.com/
Lee: With a war that never seems to end, I’m surprised we don’t see more and more of this material. I can only imagine what those final hours before going to war must seem like. And, the art reminds me of Richard Sala which is a huge plus. Jim: It sounds like a coming of age story in some ways. Personally not a book I want to read, but certainly a story that has some resonance with me as when I was growing up we had a draft for the army.

ARCHAIA STUDIOS PRESS
Awakening Vol. 01 HC by Nick Tapalansky & Alex Eckman-Lawn
The once peaceful city of Park Falls has been tainted by a series of gruesome murders and missing persons. Cynthia Ford, known as the town crazy, finds retired police detective Derrick Peters and relates to him her belief about what's going on in town. Her explanation - Zombies! Unable to ignore Cynthia's information, though not sharing her beliefs, Derrick and others in the town explore the mystery as weeks turn to months and the death toll rises. Could Cynthia be right or has she finally gone insane? Follow the first half of Park Falls' year-long struggle for answers in this collected edition of the first five issues of the ASP existential horror series, collected in hardcover format with dust jacket. $19.95http://alexeckmanlawn.com/sequential.php
FC, Pages: 128, Size: 7x10
Lee: Existential horror… hummmm. I always have trouble with the existential part. I more straightforward in my horror but the art looks really good. Slightly heavy on the photoshop but still really good. The previews are mostly splashes and if I were to be picky, I would have liked a couple more panel pages to get a better feel of Eckman-Lawn’s storytelling ability.
Jim: LOL, Lee and I will have to agree to disagree on this book. I will not link to it, but when I dropped this book as a single issue format I was very harsh on the artwork. Probably too harsh, but needless to say this is a pass for me.

ARCHIE COMIC PUBLICATIONS
Archie Americana Series Vol. 08: Best of 60S Book 2 SC
By popular demand, Archie Comics serves up a second helping of 1960's fun and frolics for the many readers who enjoyed the original Archie Americana Series: Best of the Sixties! Witness Archie's awkward entanglements in the eternal love triangle! Behold Archie incurring the wraths of Mr. Weatherbee and Mr. Lodge! Feast your eyes on Betty and Veronica's sensational sixties' fashions and hair styles! Learn yoga, catch up on the latest beatnik beat and join the peace rally with Archie and his friends! You're sure to "make the scene" with these comedy classics! Each story is meticulously restored and re-colored to match its original brilliance.FC, Pages: 96, Size: 7x10. $10.95
Lee: I know this isn’t Jim’s cup of tea but these Archie collections are great fun! I have the 40’s and 50’s reprints because it really gives a humorous flavor of life in those decades. The 60’s with all the hippies and change going should make this a really interesting collection.
Jim: What are you British? This is not my cup of coffee. Archie was a book that I read when I was a kid and it is one that I out grew. I still have some love for the character but purely as nostalgia and no desire to revisit the material.

ATLAS COMICS
Killers #1 by Frank Tra & Eric Z.
Two soldiers on opposite sides at the end of World War II, both with an agenda - one for vengeance, and the other for honor. The only problem? In their game of cat-and-mouse, how can one tell the good guys from the bad guys? Or are all sides a shade of gray? $2.99
Lee: I hate to kill comics based on previews alone but these guys aren’t helping themselves any. I googled them, I went to ComicSpace, I went everywhere and I can’t find a thing on this book or company. The story sounds interesting in a generic way. The cover looks good in a generic way. But I can’t recommend based on that. I pick this to tell every startup out there that promotion, any promotion at all, is a good thing.
Jim: I agree. The premise sound okay, the cover looks decent. I have no clue who the creators are and with nothing else to go on I will save my $3.

BIGHEAD PRESS
Roswell, Texas Vol. 01 GN by L. Neil Smith, Rex F. May, Scott Bieser, Jen Zach & Scott Bieser
In an alternate time-line where Texas never joined the United States, President John Lindbergh sends his best friend and three Texas Rangers to investigate the crash of a flying saucer near Roswell in 1947. The Rangers must race against agents from the U.S., the Franco-Mexican Empire, California, and the Third-and-a-Half Reich to find the saucer and learn the secrets that will change the course of history - again!B&W, Pages: 272, Size: 6x9, $12.95
Artist at http://www.scottbieser.com/graphicnovels.html You can see samples of art but not from this story.
Lee: The cover is so wrong but somehow it draws me in. It helps that the art is strong and I love alterna-histories too. But that covers a keeper.
Jim: I checked out the art and it is from another project called “The Probability Broach”. The art work is very strong. There are certainly a lot of amazing talents out there that we would never know about without Lee’s links. This could be a really enjoyable read and what comic fan does not like alternative histories or realities.

BLOOMSBURY
Freddie & Me: Coming of Age (Bohemian) Rhapsody GN by Mike Dawson
High Fidelity meets Wayne's World in this charming graphic memoir about a young man's life-long obsession with the rock band, Queen. All of us have had that one band with which we identify, the band that was always there for us during good times and bad. For Mike Dawson, it has always been Queen and Freddie Mercury. Not unlike "Bohemian Rhapsody," Freddie & Me takes readers on a rock-opera-like journey - from Mike's childhood in the UK, through high school in New Jersey, and into the nineties, when grunge ruled the day and Queen was terminally uncool. As Mike works to navigate the trials and tribulations that accompany the road to adulthood (with Queen behind him every step of the way), he must grapple with the fears we all find ourselves facing: committing to one person for the rest of our lives, pursuing our dream job, coming to terms with our familial responsibilities, and even facing our own mortality. With humor, sensitivity, and some wonderfully imagined appearances by Freddie Mercury, Brian May, George Michael, and Andrew Ridgeley (among others), Freddie & Me is a touching reminder of how our favorite music is the soundtrack for so many of our most important memories and moments, and how a single note can bring them all flooding back.B&W, Pages: 304, Size: 6x9, $19.95
http://www.myspace.com/mikedawsoncomics
Lee: This has lots of rave reviews all over the place. My only problem is my collection is swinging from being full of superheroes to full of life stories. Nothing wrong with that but I need to find a balance somewhere.
Jim: You know I never had that one band that I just loved to death. I really think it is a generational thing as Lee and another friend of mine around the same age live and die with music. Long winded way of saying this book does not interest me.

BOOK PALACE
Frank Bellamy's Robin Hood: Complete Adventures GN by Frank Bellamy
Frank Bellamy is regarded as probably the greatest British comic strip artist, well-known at the night of his career for his ground breaking art on Fraser of Africa, Heros the Spartan, and Thunderbirds. In the mid-1950's he was the perfect choice to bring Robin Hood's adventures to life. This book brings together every episode of this legendary and elusive series from 1956/7 for the first time, uncut as it first appeared. Bellamy's stunning visuals and attention to detail in bringing to life the adventures of Robin Hood has never been equalled.Part Color, Pages: 134. $24.99
http://lambiek.net/artists/b/bellamy_frank.htm
Lee: This is pure art book. Frank Bellamy is to England what Bourne Hogarth is to America. He is a huge influence on every British artist you talk too. I am definitely getting this.
Jim: I will definitely borrow this book from Lee to look at the art as it does look very, very good.

BOOM! STUDIOS
High Rollers #1 by Gary Phillips & Manoel Magales
Scarface has nothing on Cameron Quinn, a ruthless upstart out to make a name for himself in this tale of crime and destiny from critically acclaimed mystery novelist Gary Phillips (High Hand, Bangers)! Phillips shines a harsh light on the action and drama of the L.A. underworld with this inner-city spin on The Sopranos! A potent mix of American Gangster and The Wire, for fans of Brubaker's Criminal! $3.99
The author at http://www.gdphillips.com/index.htm
Lee: As regulars to the site now, we are big Boom! fans. And, as always this looks like another great offering from them. Phillips is a great crime novelist and Magales cover looks great. I’m really looking forward to this one.
Jim: BOOM is a publisher of graphic fiction. I think of them as a publisher who looks for good stories first and foremost. I can envision BOOM being the type of publisher whose trades are back listed for a long period of time. So many of their stories have a more timeless quality and yet are modern also.

CATASTROPHIC COMICS
Sparks #1 by Christopher Folino & JM Ringuet
William Katt (The Greatest American Hero) presents Sparks, A superhero noir thriller! Set in 1948, this super-noir thriller follows Ian Sparks, a masked vigilante who discovers the price to pay to become a hero is too high. A dark, relentless story about self discovery, heroism, failed lives and redemption. $2.99
Artist at http://jmringuet.blogspot.com/
Six page preview at http://catastrophiccomics.com/index.html
Lee: The hype has generic words but for some reason I am interested. The preview looks good too.
Jim: I scared of anything associated with “The Greatest American Hero” TV show. That show scarred me for life and created issues for me when ever I told someone I read comics. Well, maybe not that bad, but still it was a crappy a** TV show.


This will be a three part post and will be published over the rest of this week. Look for Part 2 on Thursday and Part 3 on Saturday.

3 comments:

  1. Hi, I like your review/preview threads, especially the indie one.

    Of the titles listed here, I definitely plan on getting Contract (can't go wrong with a 25¢ comic book) and High Rollers (I know it's only marketing but I'm a big fan of Brubaker's Criminal so they had me with that last line in the solicitation)...

    I've got a couple of other June indies on my radar screen. I'll see if you mention them on part 2 or three of your your review/preview. Looking forward to those.

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  2. Jeff Stevens4/28/2008 3:42 PM

    Yeah, I'd like to find out about these "Atlas comics" guys too, since they didn't bother to do a trademark check and find out that I am the federally registered trademark owner for Atlas Comics and they have left themselves open for a lawsuit.

    Any info please feel free to forward to Atlascomicsceo@yahoo.com
    Jeff Stevens
    www.atlascomicsgroup.com

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  3. The team of Jessie, Panzer and Tsumi work well together. Panzer is the brawn, Tsumi the skill and Jessie is one deadly beauty. She dresses like a cowboy but in skin tight black leather and she knows how to get people to do as she wants. Her team Stellar Rangers Inc. when they go into action it is all out action Panzer's strength and Tsumi's skill compliment each other. You'll enjoy watching this team in action. The art showing them is dynamic.
    These mercenaries for hire are standard in this futuristic world of corporations. Just this one team stands out since Jessie has a heart. Thats what makes her stand out, that and her cute old western style dress.
    The second story has Stellar Rangers Inc. picking up a big bruiser called Adrian "Brute" Bartawski. He is loaded with cybernetic parts. This little self contained story is fantasticly written. It will have you bursting out loud laughing. And you get a cute butt shot at the end.
    Next story has the team battling a cybernetic knight. Exactly why is not explained and doesn't need to be. They are merc soldiers for hire. Jessie is shown as the leader and she has that role down pat.
    Wait till you see the pin-up of Jessie. She is one merc with a big gun and sexier than any gun totting babe your likely to ever come across.

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