Monday, June 16, 2008

What I’m Getting Wednesday

This is another smaller week for me, but with the addition of picking up the new action figures from DC it will not be a cheap week. I hate when I want all of the figures in one week and this week is one of those weeks.

I thought that since I have made this column easier for me with using the company hype on each book that I may as well add some random thoughts on comic book things during the intro and outré of this post from time to time.

First is a mea culpa to Newsarama. I recently said that they were my second choice with their new website. They are now back to being my first choice and it is all because I simply changed my bookmark to which takes me to the comics only tab. From there if I want to explore the news on other things like gaming, movies, or whatever I can, but this takes me directly to what I want. I’m still not thrilled by the format, but that is just because I’m adjusting to something new. I have not been able to sign on to the message boards for some reason, but that is not important to me as this blog is my outlet.

Next is the Chuck Dixon leaving DC event. I get disappointed in people who decide that they hate someone because he does not agree with them. There seems to be one commenter who since he does not like how Dixon just uses this event to be derogatory towards a person he does not really know. From my standpoint I think that the editorial mandates may have caused Chuck to leave, but that is a shame as he is a high quality professional writer. I also give Chuck Dixon credit for making Nightwing and Robin successful solo series and is really the reason DC has a comic called Birds of Prey that has lasted 10 years. Both companies do seem to espouse a certainly political viewpoint which causes a singular viewpoint to end up dominating those companies. Reminds me a lot of the Baltimore Sunpapers and the reporting becomes so slanted that you stop reading the main articles and editorials and read the sports and maybe movie reviews and that is about it. Corporate America is much the same way, where they preach diversity, which means everyone can look different, but you all better think the same way or be ostracized or marginalized. Anyway my point is I will miss Chuck Dixon’s work in the DCU.
Wow, the random thoughts section got a little long.

Sparks #1 (of 6) – From our friends at Catastrophic comics comes their first comic. The company line “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."
See our review of Sparks #1 here.
Our interview with writer Chris Folino here.
Our interview with artist JM Ringuet here.
Finally our interview with William Katt, godfather of Sparks and more, here.
Now go out and buy this book or demand your retailer order it Wednesday

Batman and The Outsiders # 8- This is one of the books that Chuck Dixon is leaving. This book has had such a horrible history of meddling already, that I feel it is doomed to an early cancellation, but I will hang in at least until RIP is done. The company hype “As the Outsiders' situation deep in the heart of China worsens, the team must turn to the member they trust least to bail them out: Batgirl. All this, plus REMAC in full-force action and a guest appearance by the former leader of the Outsiders — Nightwing!”

Birds of Prey #119 – Oh look another book that is related to Chuck Dixon. This book just works and so far whoever writes it, does it well. The company line “Huntress is sent by Oracle to spy on the situation of an old friend…leading Black Canary to send a clear message to her old teammates: Back off!”

Brave and Bold #14 – Mark Waid and Scott Kolins are our guides for this series. I have enjoyed this series immensely as it is just good old fashion super-hero team-up fun. The word “Nanda Parbat is under siege, and to keep his mystical realm from being overtaken by insurgents, Deadman must find a champion to protect it! Boston Brand elects Green Arrow! Can two heroes so similar in temperament but so different in ability pool their resources to survive — let alone triumph?”

Casey Blue Beyond Tomorrow #2 (of 6) – I was very close to dropping this book after the first issue when the last few pages finally grabbed me enough to make it to issue #2. What’s inside “The exciting new series continues as Casey Blue finds juggling her old life with her new one can be a difficult experience…especially when she's being hunted for a murder she can't remember! And does the mysterious woman whom holds the answers an ally…or an enemy?”

Catwoman #80 – I can not believe they are canceling this book, but I’m guessing Batman RIP maybe part of the reason why. Still Will Pfeifer with David and Alvaro Lopez have produced one of the most consistently well done monthly books on the market. I believe the series ends with issue 82. The hype “Catwoman's quest to get back to the top of Gotham City's underworld hits a giant snag! Her rival has brought in some unexpected (and deadly) assistance, and it turns out Batman isn't too happy to see Selina Kyle back on the streets of Gotham!”

Checkmate #27 – Last issue was not bad, but it really is about this one character and Checkmate could have been any nebulous government lab that created Chimera. Regardless a good story is a good story and Bruce Jones may have one here. The company line “Resurrected as the monstrous Chimera, PFC Adam Sharp is sent on a deadly mission to the loneliest corner of the world even as his bereaved fiancée vows to find him…and just as Whiteside's analysts belatedly realize the full extent of his new powers!”

DC/Wildstorm Dreamwar #3 (of 6) – Talk about a comic that just delivers an out and out good story, terrific art and a fun battle between universes, this one fills the bill. We get the great battles between heroes and a rocking good story that makes the premise work. The word “All good things must pass, and our heroes find out they're on the same side after all. But tensions remain high as the heavy hitters — the JLA, Wildcats, Teen Titans and the Authority — still don't care for each other at all. But they're willing to work together if that's what it takes to save the world. Because with things like Metropolis and Gotham City suddenly showing up on the east coast of the WildStorm Universe's United States of America, or Central City and Keystone City in the midwest, massive damage is occurring on an unprecedented scale. Hate each other as they might, they're forced to work together for the common good.”

Flash #241 – This book is in the middle of the pack right now, not a great series, but one with potential to get there. Also it is a book that is getting better. The hype “A tidal wave of psychic terror sends Keystone's citizenry on a superpowered looting spree at the Flash Museum — and The Flash is forced to relive painful memories while defending it!”

Hellblazer #245 – The word “"Newcastle Calling" Part 1 of 2, written by Jason Aaron (SCALPED, Ghost Rider) with art by Sean Murphy (Batman/Scarecrow: Year One). A group of naïve documentary filmmakers try to find out what happened to Mucous Membrane — an up-and-coming punk outfit (led by John Constantine) that met a mysterious end.” Normally I would be unhappy with a two part fill-in story, but with Jason Aaron being the fill-in writer, well I can not only live with that I can enjoy it.

Justice League of America #22 – A book that is in search of a direction. This book has been floundering almost since it’s re-launch and only the pretty pictures have really kept me coming back and that may have to end soon. Inside this issue “An all-out action issue as Red Tornado is given another chance at life! The problem is that the dormant Amazo program within him wants the death of all League members! Plus, Zatanna and Animal Man come to aid Vixen with her power problem.” I’m so tired of Red Tornado.

Scalped #18 – I love this series and “Dead Mothers” was the best arc on this book yet. A series that constantly improves is impossible to maintain, but if Aaron can keep up the emotional level in this book that the last arc had, I’ll be more then happy. Inside this issue “A stand-alone issue focusing on tribal policeman Franklin Falls Down. After years spent being the one good cop on a dirty rez, Falls Down is considering retirement. But for a man who knows everything there is to know about policing in Indian Country, there's one thing he's never learned how to do, and that's "let go."

Superman/Batman #49 – The hype “It's the final chapter of the epic search for Kryptonite, as the Man of Steel must confront an old and dear friend who's harboring the "K" and threatening to set off "Kryptonite dirty bombs" around the world. Can the Dark Knight prevent this before Earth is made uninhabitable for all Kryptonians?” This has been the best arc on this series. I have to say that I’m glad I skipped the first 25 issues by Loeb as this book has really been a lot of fun lately and especially this arc.

Tangent Superman’s Reign #4 (of 12) – I think it helps a series with me when I come in with low expectations, because it is easier to then surprise and entertain me and that is what this series has done. Plus it is a great look at all of these variations on DC hero names that has been left untouched for way too long. The word “The Tangent Earth's Superman has taken over his world and made it a safer place, unless someone crosses him! The DCU's Green Lantern and the Flash are in deep trouble, and getting back to their Earth may only make things worse!”

Teen Titans Year One #5 (of 6) – I’m essentially done with this series as I enjoyed the first story, but now I could careless. Really written to a younger crowd, but I have been enjoying the art. The company line “Continuing the origin of the team, Wonder Girl and Speedy go out on a first date that ends in tragedy!!”

Trinity #3 – This is already shaping up to be a good weekly series. When you think of it Busiek and Bagley in the front half of this book will be telling an 800 plus page story of the big three and that is a lot of story to tell. The hype “The lead feature explores the unusual bond — and importance — of DC's top three characters, Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman, as a mysterious dream links them together and may prophesy important changes in their trinity!” Well this hype sucks it is the same drivel they used for issue #1.

DC Action Figures – I have an affection for certain action figures and this week the Jonah Hex figure is a must have, Hawkman modeled off Joe Kubert is a yes and I think Batgirl (although I have her already) and Superman I could have skipped, but they have an exchangeable head that makes him an ant like thing from a red kryptonite experience, so they may all come home.

Gemini #2 (of 5) - The briefest hype around Gemini is one of The Constellations top super-operatives. So why have they sent another one of their operatives, the Lynx, after him?” Jay Faeber has really been hitting it out of the park for me with this book, Dynamo 5 and Noble Causes. He has managed to capture some of that early sixties Marvel magic in my opinion with his series, but still write in a more modern style.

Kill All Parents #1 – This is a series that drew me in with the title and then the premise made me order the book. The word “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.”

Safest Place – GN – A few things pulled me in, the premise had an element that I had in a story of mine that I never did anything with and Steve Grant as co-writer. The premise “War photographer Matthew Castle suffered a brutal event in his past, closing him off emotionally, but granting him a special gift: He cannot feel physical pain. Allied with a beautiful but secretive news reporter, Matthew uses his unique ability to track down the kidnapped daughter of a wealthy San Francisco family. Forced to confront his past, not only is the kidnapped child's safety at stake, but Matthew's sanity as well. Featuring art by Tom Mandrake and a story by Victor Riches and Steven Grant”

Grendel Behold the Devil #8 (of 8) - The conclusion. The official word “Writer/artist Matt Wagner brings the most revelatory Grendel story ever told to its secret-busting conclusion as the ultimate fate of Hunter Rose's missing journal pages is exposed! Journalist Lucas Ottoman's investigation into the dual identity of Grendel reaches its grisly climax, and Task Force Grendel suddenly faces a situation far beyond the boundaries of ordinary police work, as this final issue of Behold the Devil unveils a shocking piece in the puzzle that is Grendel! Grendel's secret revealed!”

Anna Mercury #2 (of 5) – The first issue was a fun book and left you with a lot of questions. Ellis seems to be doing some excellent work at Avatar. The hype "Where is Anna Mercury from? Who does she work for? Where is New Ataraxia? What is going on? It's all here - the reveal of the new science-fiction stage created by Warren Ellis, who wrote the first graphic novel to win the prestigious Sidewise Award for alternate-world science-fiction. A high-octane blend of The Shadow, Tomb Raider, retropunk science fiction and 21st-century Weird Pulp Action, Anna Mercury is a headlong adventure serial about a beautiful and mysterious spy-adventurer who is not what she seems! Anna Mercury will be a series of mini-series, starting with this five-issue color series that features art by all-new talent Facundo Percio. “

Atomic Robo Trade Volume 1 – Absolutely love this series and happy to have it on my bookshelf. The official wordATOMIC ROBO takes on Nazis, giant ants, clockwork mummies, walking pyramids, Mars, cyborgs and his nemesis, Baron von Helsingard, in his first trade paperback graphic novel. This edition collects the hard-to-find, sold-out, debut issues of ATOMIC ROBO #1 through #6, complete with cover gallery, pin-ups, concept sketches and bonus stories.”

Cthulhu Tales #3 – I’m still shocked that BOOM has dared to do two anthology books. I hope they succeed as no one else is doing it. The hype “Acclaimed writer William Messner-Loebs (JOURNEY) joins the BOOM! family! Don't tell the Elder Gods, or they'll take him from us! Messner-Loebs and Michael Alan (FALL OF CTHULHU) Nelson chill the blood in the new, monthly anthology series! Something big is happening in the BOOM! horror universe in 2008...and it starts here! Heed the call of Cthulhu!"

Fallen Angel #27 – Last issue ended with Angel leaving town as the bad guys haven taken over. This series kicked into a higher gear with last issue. The company line “The war for Bete Noire is over... and it has not ended the way that anyone would have thought. Now the Fallen Angel and the few survivors must deal with the aftermath and try to find a way-presuming there is any at all-to try and set matters right. The first step in the process: A plane flight that none will ever forget."

Streets of Glory #5 (of 6) – This has been an okay Western from Ennis. The hype “"Garth Ennis' powerhouse saga of the Old West continues! As Dunn returns as one of the few survivors of the battle with Red Crow, he begins to learn some unpleasant truths about the wealthy industrialist who has been taking over Gladback, Montana. The times are changing, and Colonel Joseph R. Dunn may be a relic of a past no longer welcome.”

Ghost Rider #24 – Jason Aaron has taken this from a series I never thought about to a book I look forward to. The company line “What do you get when you take a maximum security prison filled with sinners of every sort and add a bonafide Spirit of Vengeance to the mix? A hot time in the old hoosegow, that’s what you get. In this first part of an all-new arc, Blaze goes behind bars, still hell-bent on vengeance, still looking for answers. But is he prepared to face the mysterious man in cell 17? The one with the sign on his door that says "Do not open under any circumstances"? The one who just got set loose? Uh oh. Bring your riot gear. Featuring art by Tan Eng Huat (Silver Surfer: In Thy Name).”

Guardians of the Galaxy #2 – Last issue was a very good first issue. They introduced the characters, gave them a base of operations and had a first mission. The hype “Groot is here! And so is...hey, wasn’t he sunk in Antarctica? One day on the job, and our cosmic protectors have already made themselves a major new enemy! But how does that connect to Adam Warlock’s mystical past? Could it really be the threat he’s spent years trying to deny? And exactly what or who have the Guardians discovered frozen & adrift in space? It can’t be...can it?"

Iron Man #30 – Stuart Moore did a good job of making me hang onto this series for a little longer. I think I‘m just tired of Iron Man, no matter how much I liked the movie. What’s inside “Iron Man and the S.H.I.E.L.D. Alpha Team race against the clock to stop the terrorist from Tony Stark’s past! But an even greater threat awaits them: the strange weapon called the Overkill Mind -- powered by a man whose only conscious desire is for Tony Stark’s death! Part 2 of 4.”

Marvel Masterworks # 97 – Sgt. Fury – As a kid I thought these were some good war comics, now I realize Stan just applied his super-hero formula to a war comics. The further you go in this series the better it got for at least 50 plus issues. What’s inside “Written by STAN LEE Penciled by DICK AYERS Cover by JACK KIRBY Get off your duff, goldbrick, and get ready for another k-ration of the adventures of Nick Fury and his Howling Commandos! From the heart of the Marvel Age Stan Lee and Darlin' Dick Ayers bring you an assortment of WWII adventures that define the 'War comic for people who hate war comics!' That means it's for you AND everybody else, bunky! Fury and his crack squadron tackle the Axis powers across both the European and Pacific theatres - over land and under sea, from scorching sands of North Africa to the darkest jungles of Burma, there's no order too tall for the Howlers! They'll square off against Baron Strucker and his cadre of Nazi commandos, the Blitzkrieg Squad; meet the young Hans Rooten for the first time; and before you finish turning these pages, one will fall in the line of duty, forever changing the life of Nick Fury. To top it off, we're including the first SGT. FURY ANNUAL, featuring a rare adventure of the Howlers in the Korean War and the story of Fury's promotion to Second Looie! Collecting SGT. FURY #14-23 & ANNUAL #1”

War is Hell Fist Flight of the Phantom Eagle #4 (of 5) – This has been a very good series, which should come as no surprise with Ennis writing a war story. The hype “Kaufmann racks up another kill but the thrill of combat is now gone. Replacements arrive to strengthen the squad but with little training and less experience, they seem easy prey for the deadly pilots of the Hun. Can Kaufmann teach them to survive in the unforgiving skies of war torn Europe? Can he even save himself?”

X-Factor #32 – I’m getting close to abandoning this series. It was at such a high level before and now it feels if it is has lost its way. Forcing books into cross-over events almost always hurts a series. The company line “After the recent loss of both Wolfsbane and Layla Miller, and the destruction and evacuation of the former Mutant Town, X-Factor is left questioning their purpose more than ever. At that lowest moment, Val Cooper and the O*N*E* step in, giving the group an ultimatum that will change everything about the team.”

Upcoming on the blog is a three (maybe four ) part Indie Preview Review for August, followed by Dark Horse, DC, Marvel and Image Preview Reviews for September, intermixed with our regular columns. I almost forgot I should be getting Gotham Underground #9 this week as my store did not get any last week.

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