Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Art Treasures

You know, this week I was all set with this really long review of "Children of Men". Lots of details, solid exposition, and then... well work got busy and I forgot the draft there. The short version, the first half is really a character study with great details about how the world has changed people. If you liked Orwell's 1984, then this is for you. NOW, the second half of the story, which the movie is based on it completely different. I haven't finished that part yet but a complete review when I do.

So, this week I shall show off the latest acquistions. I visited a friend, and after much horse trading, I came home with the following...

On the left, we have the cover to Stig's Inferno #1. Stig's Inferno was publsihed by Vortex, a Canadian independent, in the early 80's. The story was written by Ty Templeton and this cover is by Paul Rivoche. Paul is best known in the comics world for his work on Mr. X. Currently he does animation and was involved with the Batman animated series.

On the right we have a page from Vamperella #61 with pencils by Carmine Infantino and inks by none other than Alex Nino. What a great combination! The subtlty of the inks is lost because I don't have a scanner big enough for the art. Actually I don't have a scanner at all but that's beside the point.

Next up...
On the left is a house ad for the series Dalgoda. Another mid 80's series, the art is by Dennis Fujitake. Dennis's art is all over the fanzines from the era. He tried to break in but could never make the big leagues. To bad, because his art was very nice. Currently, he is taking commissions if you want something.

On the right we have Loki by Neil Volkes. What really makes this piece interesting is the pencils are by Jack Kirby. Neil actually inked via light box but I think that it came out well. This was originally published in a book Jack Kirby's heroes and villians where modern artist inked Kirby pencils. I feel this piece worked very well.

And finally, in a shameless plug, my Adam Hughes Red Sonja sketch. Very nice indeed... but going on ebay sometime soon. Unless, someone else wants it!
Well, those are some of the pieces in my art collection. I hope you have enjoyed them. Sorry for the poor images but its the best I can do with a camera!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Waiting for Tomorrow

On Tuesday many comic fans are waiting for tomorrow and I've been waiting for tomorrow for way too many years, but the tomorrow that I'm waiting for is the one that is the future of mankind.

I have a strong cynical streak (that I call realism) that can at times make me a little depressed about our prospects. Watching how partisan politics have become, the booming financial toll that the baby boomers (myself one of them) will take on society as we age, illegal immigration, rapid technological change without the social understanding of their impacts, disappearing natural resources and the rise of nuclear proliferation in the hands of people who will use them can make one a little leery of tomorrow.

My pollyanna side though is still waiting for the better tomorrow. The one where we build the lunar colony, mine the asteroid belt, study the possibility of faster then light travel, explore the bottom of the ocean, eradication of many deadly diseases and a computer that I can just talk to and it does what I want. A mix of the beginning of Star Trek and the silver age Legion of Super Heroes. Camelot with adventure and danger, but with a future that still allows its people to live in a prosperous and safe haven if adventure is not in your soul.

I'm still waiting for that tomorrow and I think one day it will come. I hope.

I hope we can get past tribalism, I hope we can look past profit and understand money is not a goal, I hope we can help each other with out fear of the legal repercussions if something does not go right. I hope that my children have a better world then I do and I hope we understand ownership is an illusion.

I think I'm a little more upbeat and hopeful today because after your sick and you start feeling better everything can seem better at that time.

So here is to waiting for tomorrow and watching the first manned mars mission launch in my lifetime.

Of course it would be really cool if what we found on Mars was:

Monday, January 29, 2007

What I'm Getting Wednesday

First an update. I'm at day three of this death virus that has attacked my stomach and caused me to lose around 6 pounds in a manner I would not recommend. It must be a virus as I have apparently passed it along to my wife (sorry honey). Thanks to the people who have wished me well.

52 #39 - This book was a little slow last week, but it seems like the Question actually died last week. This book has been a really well done series and a massive effort on DC's part to make it on time (even with losing it's editor halfway through).

American Virgin #11 - Solid series. This series has managed to stay surprisingly strong given what I felt was a limited premise.

Batman and the Mad Monk #6 (of 6) - The end of the Matt Wagner's mini-series (which in truth was one 12 part story broken into two separate mini-series). Probably the best Batman book on the racks. Matt Wagner at his best.

Blue Beetle #11 - Beetle is a fun series that maintains a light enough touch and it is nice to see a new teen-age super hero floating around.

Creeper #6 (of 6) - Another mini-series closes out. Steve Niles did an okay job, but this book never hit any home runs and unless the end is unreal, is not having anyone begging for the next Creeper series (would love to see Ditko's initial run on this and Hawk and Dove in an Archives).

Deathblow #3 - Azz has made this one of the better Wildstorm relaunches and I'm anxious to see where we are going with this story. Azz's work usually works better in trades and this book maybe no exception.

Doom Patrol Magic Bus Volume 5 - Continuing the reprint of Grant Morrison's Doom Patrol. I think he got the DP right in that they were never meant to be anything normal. Look at the original run in the sixties and compare it to other books of the time and it was pretty far out for its day.

Hawkgirl #60 - Rumor has it the book is been cancelled. If true this was an earned cancellation. They had just revived Hawkman and tried to smooth out his convoluted past and the whole Rann/Thanagar thing messed it up again. Then focusing just on Hawkgirl didn't work as she is not the ultra-cool solo character she is in the cartoon version.

Ion #10 - This series is so hot and cold and last issue was good, that I think this issue may suck. Still the building mystery with Kyle, Nightwing, Donna and others seems to be brewing in this book.

Jack of Fables #7 - Great series so far. I believe this is part two of how Jack became Jack Frost for awhile.

JLA Classified #33 - Part 2 of Dan Slott's take on the classic JLA. Part 1 was very good, so I hope it continues. Funny how this is my preferred JLA book at this point.

JSA Classified #22 - Another part of bringing Hawkman back home. The wrap uo is in Hawkgirl #60.

Teen Titans #43 - Part 1 of the Titans East storyline. Deathstroke has a band of young villains to fight the Titans. Deathstroke is better as a Green Arrow villain. This book never quite makes me really notice it, but I never really dislike it either.

Uncle Sam and The Freedom Fighters #7 - Great book. I hope this gets at least another mini-series. Great use of some minor and forgotten characters.

Anita Blake Vampire Hunter Guilty Pleasures #4 (of 12) - I'm not 100% sold on this book, but my daughter really likes it and it has inspired her to read some of the Anita Blakes novels, so we will continue onward. Has an odd feel to the book, but Brett Booth is a good artist.

Annihilation #6 (of 6) - This is one of those surprising mini-series that was way better then I thought it would be and has been a really enjoyable ride. Kudos to Giffen for making this what it is (man is that guy been busy lately).

Daredevil #93 - The conclusion to this arc and I suppose we will return to America. I'm not as hyped up about this book as I used to be, still decent, just not as great as some thing it is.

Marvel Masterworks Atlas Heroes - Yeah baby, this is the one. A lot of goofy stuff from the pre-Marvel days featuring their few super hero efforts. Staring Marvel Boy, Captain America, Human Torch and the Sub-Mariner.

Ultimate Fantastic Four #38 - Carey's run on the Ultimate version of the FF. This group still has not sparked my deep interest yet. Carey has thrown a lot of concepts on the table for his first arc here and it may have been too much.

X-Men #195 - More Mike Carey work. His run on X-Men has been okay and better then some of the other X-work that I currently read (which is faint praise).

Fell #7 - Will probably be the best book of the week. Usually this is an excellent book and Ellis had to re-write the book at least once, so it must be a heck of a story. Can't wait.

Wasteland #6 - Oni's best series and one of my favorite independents. Another book I'm looking forward to.

Next month is a four week month and that means what you get in five weeks you get in four (yikes!).

Sunday, January 28, 2007

52 Civil Wars - State of the Union

I have recently crawled off my deathbed after being poisoned by a local restaurant While the weight loss was okay, this is not the way to do it. I'm just now starting to feel better in time to go back to work. What a bummer of week-end.

It has been suggested to me that comics are the worse they have been in years and the other question raised will Civil War be remembered as Marvel's Watchmen.

The answer to both question is I disagree and no way.

I will address the second point first. Watchmen was a stand alone event that changed the way people looked at comics. While it was not the first time someone wondered what would happen if super heroes were more pro-active in the structure of running the world it was the first one done so well and done in such a literate manner. It made the outside world actually notice that comics can have some literary qualities. It elevated the art form into a different level. Civil War is tied to a shared universe and the actual series is more of a montage of events then a cohesive story that stands on its own. Watchmen can be read by someone and they will get the story, my guess is that once Civil War is traded you will not be able to read it or even really understand it by reading it by itself.

Instead of elevating the art form, Civil War has been a successful marketing ploy by Marvel to increase their sales on many titles. I believe in the long run they may have hurt their shared universe, but these events are often ignored by writers within months and therefore have no long term impact. So Civil War is not going to be the long sought after magnus opus and perennial best seller they have longer for, it just doesn't cut it.

DC after the one year later jump is it a success or are we back to the same old stuff. Mixed results in my mind. Superman has been very successful in my mind. They have revived what was to me a tired old franchise and reinvigorate and made it new again. Batman's two main titles are strong and Matt Wagner's work on his mini-series has been excellent. JSA's recent restart I believe have been done well and while 52 is not always consistent, as a series it has been a rousing success to me and I book I look forwarding to reading each and every week. Add Supergirl and The Legion, as my current favorite series, to Green Arrow, Robin, Birds of Prey and some others and DC has at least done half the job. The huge failures have been Flash, Wonder Woman, JLA and Hawkgirl. Flash was the book that started the Silver Age, putting the next generation launch in the hands of two comic book amateurs was a bad move. Thankfully by issue #9 we are seeing a new writer. Wonder Woman is given a make over by issue #6 as the current writer apparently can not deliver his scripts and the series is all of the map, this was an unqualified disaster. Hawkgirl was my personal biggest disappointment as Walter Sinonson was the writer, but this was again a series that died almost at birth. The idea was probably based on her huge popularity in the cartoon, but this is a totally different character and Chaykin's highly stylized art made it fall even flatter. Finally we come to JLA and Brad Metzler. Who maybe a great novelists, but he can't write this series. It has been a start that has never happened. We are five or six issues in and still waiting for the return of the JLA. Hopefully he will be leaving after issue #12.

So is the DCU better or worse. I believe the DCU still has work to do, but I believe they are better off then they have been in a few years.

Now Wildstorm, the All Star Line, Vertigo all have plus and minuses also and you add into the mix the independents with groups like IDW, Oni, Image Dark Horse, Boom, Avatar, Dynamite and Virgin comics and you have a lot of material on the market. Marvel's branding of the Dabel Brothers work and other ventures show comics are trying to open the market back up to more then just the core demographic.

Are comics at their all time low point. No, I don't think so. We have a lot of very talented people in the market and have attracted a lot of talented people from other market places. Comics are not what they used to be and in a changing world that has been effected by technology and information processing to an unbelievable degree nothing has really remained the same. Especially in the entertainment arena. Comics have a lot of lousy material out there, but it also has a lot of really good material out there. So comics may not be in a golden age, but we are well out of the age of being the ghettos of the entertainment field and have the potential to become even more.

As a last side note my last post has generated a terrific both and forth discussion by Shawn and Jeff over the merit of the Boys and a general discussion of Ennis's work in comics. Well worth reading.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Boys Cancelled By DC

The Boys is a hard edged, almost pornographic comic exploring the dark side of super humans. Ennis has a well known disdain for super heroes and this comic was his story to end all stories. After about four issues I thought this comic was total trash and was strictly a comic that was trying to shock someone for the sake of being shocking. It was bordering on being a porno comic book. Then in issue #5 we saw that a character in the Boys (Hughie) and Starlight from the super hero community were looking to start a relationship. I'm sure the exploration of these two characters reaction to everything would have been a central element of the story. Issue six was a showdown with a group of heroes where one shot showed a hamster crawling out of one of the heroes pants after he had been killed or knocked out. I believe that scene may have been the one to push it over the edge for DC. Below is the cover image to issue #6.

I have no inside knowledge and it is all pure speculation on my part, but I think that inside any corporate structure brands have to protected. Still being daring and edgy is one thing, being vulgar and rude and enforcing a negative stereotype on a group is suicide in today's market place. I think DC did the right thing in pulling the plug on this book (pun intended). There has to be lines and if creators want to go beyond those lines they can, but they have to find their own venue. DC is paying for the work and publishing the work, they have a right to have some say in what is in the material. DC did the right thing.

As this is creator owned Ennis and Robertson are free to shop this book around. I believe IDW would be a great place for this book as they are an independent publisher trying to be the next Dark Horse. Having an edgy, politically incorrect series that already have a built in following would be a fantastic book to add to their line. If Darrick is allowed under his contract with DC to do work for an independent, it could be a win/win for everyone. DC maintains a certain level of what their books will and will not be. IDW gets a book that has a bigger press run that most of their books (if not all) and I'm sure find a new audience where they can cross market their other books. Ennis and Robertson remain true to their artistic vision of what they wanted the Boys to be.

Personally, I found the book distasteful and over the line at times, but they had drawn me in enough that I wanted to know what happens with Hughie and Starlight. Plus I think that even distasteful subjects are worth talking about, especially if it makes us understand certain behaviors. There is a dark and nasty side to our society that most of us try to ignore and the adult bookstores and pornographic websites that thrive lend credence to the fact that there is a darkness within our race. Ignoring it is not the answer and maybe even a cursory examination of it via a super hero book is a discussion that has merit.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Independent Comics

The term has come to mean any book not published by Marvel or DC comics. As they control about 80% of the market, I think that is an apt description.

I find that there is a lot of gold in this segment of the market and a great deal of reluctance for many fans to try the material . I'm not sure why it is so hard to get a lot more people interested in independent books, because as a group comic fans are usually a little more open to new ideas.

Having said that there is still a lot of crap in the independent market and some pornographic material in some of these comics. Plus the independent market may start a trend (Zombie comics), but then be just as guilty of over doing that same theme.

Part in an effort to at least give mention to what I think are some really good independent books I offer the following:

Mouse Guard - The mini-series ended today and is fresh in my mind. I believe David Peterson plans to do another mini-series. This book has the quality of being a children's book that can be enjoyed by adults. Also it contains a darker feel to then many of the namby pamby kids books that seem to be the bulk of what is being written for kids today. A great book and deserving of wide spread sales.

X-Isle - A mini-series about a mysterious island that our ship wrecked survivors find themselves on. A little bit of Lost, HG Wells and monster movie all rolled into one. An enjoyable read.

Meltdown - A 2 part series that is already over. An examination of a hero whose powers are killing him and what he does with the rest of his life.

Invincible - The best super hero book on the market today. Reminds me of how Spider-Man was through the first 38 issues of his run with Lee/Ditko. The character is growing and moving on. At the same time it is also very modern in how Kirkman builds his sub-plots over months and months before bringing them to fruition.

30 Days of Night - Already a wealth of material. Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith's Zombie tales. This series now has moved past the originators but is still developing good tales of Zombies. Most of the material is available in trade form and well worth your time.

Local - I believe we are halfway through this 12 part saga. Every issue takes place in a different town and every issue the main character Megan is another year older. A really nice piece exploring someone who is lost and trying to find themselves.

Wormwood Gentlemen Corpse - Ben Templesmith as artist and writer about a worm that inhabits a corpse and his adventures. Insane sounding, but really a strong artistic showing and some really fun over the top stories.

Thrud- Conan on steroids and with the IQ of a tree stump. Just pure out and out humor in a barbaric way.

Enigma Cipher - A great mystery that starts with a WWII secret and then spirals off into an adventure of a normal girl caught in an extraordinary situation. All her friends have been killed and she is not even sure what it is they have discovered. Great thriller.

Desperadoes: Buffalo Dreams - Western and supernatural adventure all rolled into one. This has been a series of mini-series that has been building character as well as telling stories. Another book really worth the look.

If you include Vertigo and Icon you can add Crossing Midnight, American Virgin, Criminal, Exterminators, Testament and others to the list. Hell I even left off Fell and Goon which are two terrific series.

A lot of gold but you have to look for it, but the rewards are great. Especially when you realize how much is out there and often it can be pick up for a song on e-bay or wait for at sale at your local comic shop or favorite internet store.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

No More Spanking - Unless It's Your Dominatrix

The above link takes you to an article on the law that a California legislature wants to pass to make it against the law to spank your child if they are 3 years or younger.

This is making the nanny state truly our care giver. I mean now we will have to define what is spanking. Is one swat to the butt spanking, it grabbing little Johnny’s arm too hard spanking. Then if you are found guilty you could spend a year in jail while the state raises your child. That’s because group homes have worked out so well.

The legislature wants to protect the children from beating; well the laws are already on the books. We don’t need more laws to say the same thing and we don’t need the state more in our lives then they are already.

When will people wake up and start realizing laws do not solve all the problems and more and more laws just give the state more and more powers.

Our founding fathers would say to toss out all the laws and start anew. When you get pulled over by a police officer on the highway it used to be for speeding or maybe you ran a red light. You would get a ticket and either pay it or go to court. Now you get pulled over and it could be speeding, reckless driving, aggressive driving, driving without a seat belt, being on a cell phone and maybe an open container of alcohol was in your car. The fines are in excess of $1,000 and if guilty you will lose your license. So you hire an attorney and that cost you $1,500 and they throw out the seat belt & cell phone and aggressive driving violations, reduce the speeding and reckless driving to 2 points and a $350 fine plus court cost and you sign up for an AA program and 40 hours of community service due to the open beer bottle. It's the same way in criminal cases the person is charged with 10 or more offenses and they throw out the minor ones and plead out a sentence on the other charges.

Common sense has lost the battle and we are a nation that has lost our common sense and now allows a government that we do not trust in polls to handle and solve all of our problems.

Sure let’s stop spanking and yelling at your child is also too aggressive so let’s stop that behavior too. Next we need more people in child services to handle all the cases coming in and these will be people who have a degree in what is right for children, because highly educated means you must be right. Of course we will need more group homes for these poor abused children to be housed in and we know only caring and wonderful families are ever licensed to run a group home.

We really have become weak and a group of sheeple who will allow our government to abuse us in almost anyway because it is all for the children and/or our safety.

Monday, January 22, 2007

What I'm Getting Wednesday

In which I have now almost gotten over my disappointment that the Colts are in the Super Bowl and will try to move on past the pain. Still if the Ravens had to lose to the Colts let it be to the best team in the AFC.

52 #38 - Last week was hot and heavy with lots of thrills and excitement. Booster Gold as Supernova was actually called by myself before the book came out. It was just a feeling that Supernova was Booster and I thought the surprise was well done. Anyway this book is now starting to really race to the end.

Checkmate #10 - Hard to believe this book is up to issue #10 already, but the longer this book goes the better I like it. As we know the players better the story gets better. Political intrigue, super heroics and spies. Rucka really feels like he is in his element with this book.

Connor Hawke Dragon's Blood #3 (of 6) - First issue I thought the book was a waste, loved issue #2 and Chuck Dixon has drawn me into a story I thought was really a pass. Chuck Dixon writes fast paced action stories better then anyone in the business (and works for almost every publisher around). I'm looking forward to issue #3.

Crossing Midnight #3 - Mike Carey has crafted perhaps his most unique and best tale yet. This book is part fantasy, part myth, part historical, part coming of age story and other things all mixed together. If this series continues to grow it has real potential to be Carey's defining book. If you are not reading this, go out and get it.

Deadman #6 - This is Bruce Jones best book (damning with faint praise I know) and John Watkiss is an under appreciated artist. Parallel worlds, future viewing, being dead, making love to your brother's hot wife, it is all here and a growing story of what is really going on and who is running the show.

Fables #57 - Great series, buy it, read it. As I believe Lee said where are the hard cover reprints on this puppy? Maybe we will go right to the Absolutes.

Flash #8 - The last issue before the new team comes on. I have soften in my venomous felling towards this writing team as I think they had some good ideas, they just failed miserably in its execution. Looking forward to issue #9, let's make Bart as great as Wally and Barry.

Hellblazer #228 - The longest running Vertigo series. He has had a movie also. This is one anti-hero who really has done well and attracted a host of great writers.

Helmut of Fate Ibis the Invincible - Tad Williams and Phil Winslade. No real expectations on this one shot of a five part tour the Helmut of Fate is taking before anointing a new Dr. Fate.

Mystery in Space #5 (of 8) - I don't care what Starlin says it's Captain Comet - not just Comet. I would love to see a showcase of his old stuff. Captain Comet is always getting some time in the spotlight, from the early Secret Society of Super Villains series to the L.E.G.I.O.N. series. Very good series and the Weird back up is really tied in well to the lead feature.

Robin #158- Part two of the Klarion the Witchboy cross over. Adam Beechen has really made Robin into a solid book and Irving Frazier is doing a good turn as a guest artist. Solid series.

Showcase Brave and Bold the Batman Team-Ups - This is a nice companion piece to the Archives Brave and Bold which started with the pre-Batman all the time team-ups. Some really fun stuff. 528 B&W pages for only $17 - you can't go wrong.

Supergirl and the Legion of Super Heroes #26 - One of my top series right now. I really love the Legion again. Dominators taking over the earth, robots rebelling, the Wanderers lead by Mekt, great stuff.

Wetworks #5 - This book got good last issue. Looking forward to this issue. Finally felt like the book has a direction and I care about what is happening.

Criminal #4 - Good book by Brubaker and Phillips, but so far I liked Sleeper better. Still the first arc has certainly had many twists and turns. This reads well as a comic and will read better as a trade.

Dr. Strange The Oath #4 (of 5) - I have been undecided on this mini-series. I like the art and occasionally enjoy the portrayal of Dr. Strange, but other times feel like the series is missing something. Night Nurse has been a fun character to have in this series.

Eternals #6 (of 7) - It was to be a six part series, but - oh well. This series has left me a little cold and feels too much like a long reintegration of bringing these characters back into the Marvel U proper. Truth be known these were rip off of Kirby's ideas from the New Gods which were a rip off of the Norse mythology stuff he did with Thor. Essentially Kirby ripped himself off and I believe each iteration was weaker then the one before. Gaiman has done okay with this and Romita Jr. has been adequate, but it is not as special as I was hoping it would be.

Heroes for Hire #6 - This is a solid and fun book that has surprising depth of characterization. Hate that the writing team will be lost as they signed an exclusive with DC (but good news for DC).

Masterworks Warlock - (#72) - Some great Gil Kane artwork and Marvel really branching out into some different bronze age material.

Moon Knight #7 - I may drop this title. The relaunch was very up and down and the character is going nowhere.

Punisher War Journal #3 - I have serious doubts about Frank in the Marvel U and Captain America punking him so bad last issue just proves the point. So far this series is a miss.

Silent War #1 (of 6) - David Hines is the writer and he made me enjoy the Quicksilver series that was the follow up series from House of "M" (remember that anyone). So I have hopes that this will be good. Black Bolt and the Inhumans versus probably everyone else.

X-Factor - #15 - Peter David at his best and a great group of characters. The characterization and interactions are so strong I could skip any super hero action in this book. The best X-book bar none right now.

Invincible #38 - Kirkman's defining series continues. Great stuff.

Chronicles of Conan Volume #11 - Dark Horse's continuing reprinting of the material originally published by Marvel.

Goon Noir #3 (of 3) - Goon is an acquired taste. It took me awhile, but now I love it and these short stories by various teams are great fun.

Damned - #4 (of 5) - If it wasn't only five parts I would have dropped this book. It just hasn't grabbed me. The dead guy in a demon gangster world.

Fallen Angel #12 - Peter David again. This book is one I'm never in a hurry to read, but I enjoy it every time I read it.

Garth Ennis Chronicles of Wormwood #1 (of 6) - Not the same Wormwood of Templesmith, but I read the first few pages online and this looks to be interesting. Talking animals (and we have a rabbit here) always seem to draw me in.

Legend of Grimjack Volume #6 - Reprinting John Ostrander and Tim Truman's hero from First Comics.

Mouse Guard #6 (of 6) - WHEN IS THE NEXT MINI-SERIES STARTING. Just a great all ages type of fable. Darker like all good fables were and fun enough to really enjoy.

Tag #3 (of 3) - Wrapping up this nice little horror show. This could be the perfect TV show that could follow who gets tagged next. Another mini-series is on its way, but as a TV series this could be outstanding.

Looks to be a really good week and some great books are coming out.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

No Rooting Interest Left for the Super Bowl

I think the AFC is the better conference, but I can't root for the Colts and I sure as heck can't root for the Bears. Sad day. First my team, then Lee's team bite the dust.

September isn't too far away for next season to begin.

Image Solicitions...

This should be the last Jim/Lee review of upcoming books for a week or so... These are a fine mix of books that are inane, and books that we are interested in, so without further ado, the show

Lee: I hate to say this but it appears that Image has stronger offering for April than DC/Marvel. When I look at the titles I am genuinely interested in v. titles I just make fun of… why there’s a lot of good stuff. I have to say that Image has really come on strong since Larsen took over. I like a lot of what they do. Anyway, on to the reviews.
Jim : Lee I would have to disagree because DC and Marvel both have a lo t more core titles that are solid books (at least DC does). Still Image has certainly had an up tick in offerings that are intriguing.
Lee: I understand the core titles but I do think Image is doing more with less. Maybe I should clarify with I think they try more more new and different things. If I want to see the medium stretched in new ways or something other than superheroes, more and more I go to Image. If I want solid superhero, then I go to DC.

Frazetta’s Death Dealer #1
Lee: Another Death Dealer comic? Oi. But, I love the tagline “Approved by Frazetta” unlike the last Death Dealer comic from Verotik that was.. what?… unapproved? I don’t think so. Sadly, I will am interested. Clarification, interested to look at it on the stands and make a judgment call, but not interested enough to preorder!
Jim: I’m a huge Frazetta fan, but not for a comic that is about a painting of his. Pass.

Madman Atomic Comics #1
Lee: Never understood the series but it just keeps ticking. I assume it has a heck of a fan base.
Jim: I have tried a couple of times to get into Madman and I can’t. I enjoy Mike Allerd’s abilities, but Madman is another pass.

Alien Pig Farm #1 (Of 4)Tag line: It’s aliens, rednecks and incest!
Lee: I mention this for no other reason than the awesome tag line. Don’t know if it will be any good but certainly could be a hoot!
Jim: This could be absolute garbage, but I want to pick up the first issue because it sounds so damn goofy.

Sam Noir: Samurai Detective Special Edition #1, Collects Sam Noir: Samurai Detective #1-3
Lee : So, because it was only a three issue series, it can’t be called a TPB? That’s just odd. BUT, if squarebound I might have to pick it up. The series was fun in a pointless, samurai, noir kinda way. Then again, it might be worth waiting it out to see if they combine it with the second series as one big tpb!
Jim: I missed this series, so this maybe a nice way to read it.

Ferro City, Vol. 1 Tp

Lee: Believe it or not I am looking forward to this. This always looked really interesting to me. The art seems similar to Espinosa’s on Rocketo. And, $16 for 160 pages really isn’t that bad a deal. Besides, Robots and Detectives seem to have replaced Zombies as the “hot item”
Jim: I have no interest in this book. I have not invested any time into checking it out. There is only so many books one can read.
Lee:Art books are my weakness because, I am always willing to give a new & different style a chance. In this case, it's different enough that I may really like it. Here’s a link to some sample pages...

Fell, Vol. 1: Feral City Tp
Lee: Fell was one of the Ellis books from 2006. Everything else he touched in 2006 was gold why should this be different. Really looking forward to this.
Jim: I signed up for this so I can have the series on my bookshelf. One of the great series from last year and well worth the wait between issues to keep it as an Ellis / Templesmith project.

Invincible: Ultimate Collection, Vol. 3 Hc
Lee: Another Invincible collection! Yippee. This is soooo coming home with Poppa! This is such a great series that reads well in single issue and even better in trades. On this series, Kirkman manages to pull an Alan Moore and carry plot threads for years without them being stale. Wonderful. It only makes me wonder why all his Marvel stuff is such crap!
Jim: I agree whole heartedly. I love Invincible and Walking Dead and have not really enjoy anything by Kirkman under the Marvel banner. Maybe he would do better at DC, but I hear he resigned with Marvel. Well he has a new born and needs the benefits. Still I’m looking forward to his Werewolf book coming out later this year from Image.

Rocketo: Journey To The Hidden Sea, Vol. 2 Tp
Lee: Another series that seems to fly under the radar. If you aren’t reading this you ought to be ashamed of yourself. Seriously, shamed!!!
Jim: This was a terrific 12 part series and the series had a real sense of adventure and wonder to it. I hope we see more of Rocketo in the future.

Savage Dragon Archives, Vol. 2 Tp
Lee: Soooo, let me see if I understand this. Marvel Masterworks, big expensive HC’s, DC Archives, big expensive HC’s, Dark Horse Archives, big expensive HC’s. Image Archives…. Cheap paper B&W reprints??? They really need a marketing guy to help with title selection. Sheesh.
Jim: Calling it Archives is a true misnomer. It could just have been called the Savage Dragon Saga or something else, but this is true false advertising as we have all come to think of Archives as quality color reprints.

Sam And Twitch: The Brian Michael Bendis Collection, Vol. 2 Tp

Lee: Another gotta have. Bendis’s run on Sam & Twitch was his last before the rise to ultra superstardom. This some great stuff. The only question, how did I miss Sam And Twitch: The Brian Michael Bendis Collection, Vol. 1 Tp??? And, even better they wised up and made the tpb color this time!
Jim: I have never read this stuff and I have been told how great it is, but I have a problem with supporting McFarlane. His business practices have been a little shady at best.

TEXAS STRANGERS #2 story Antony Johnston & Dan Evans III
Lee; Is there a company Johnston isn’t writing for these days? Sheesh. At this rate, he will exceed the output of Bill Mantlo from Marvel!
Jim: Another pass and I have not followed any of his work that I’m aware of.
Lee; Did say I was gonna buy it... just that he is everywhre. I too shall pass... but I am getting the Wasteland trade

Pats... RIP

A good game. Whole game comes down to a 5 yd penalty on the last Patriots drive of the game. Unbelievable.

We join the Ravens on the golf course.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Anita Blake Vampire Hunter

I felt left out with all of Jim and Lee's reviews so I thought I'd do a post of my own today :) A few weeks ago Jim started sending me a new series from Marvel, a comic adaptation of Laurell K Hamilton's Anita Blake books. Now I know that Jim sent me these books because they're about a vampire hunter who gets to deal with the entirety of the supernatural world, not to mention raising the dead in her spare time - but honestly I was a bit wary. The reason I had never picked up any of the Anita Blake novels (and as a fan of sci-fi and fantasy I'd come across them more than once) was because of the way they were advertised. I got the impression that they were pop culture goth/romance/vampire books. Well, I was right and wrong at the same time. The Anita Blake comics were interesting enough to get me to pick up the novels, and now I'm hooked.

This is the second time I've been persuaded into reading popular sci-fi (which I usually hide from as I'm very picky about my sci-fi/fantasy books... it's really easy to get a bad one - I still refuse to read Robert Jordan!) by a comic book adaptation. The first was Homelands by RA Salvatore, and now I have Anita - which, by the way, doesn't get romance-esq in style until maybe the 6th book, and even then there's still plenty of mystery and action. Anyway, back to the actual comic book!

For starters, the book is being adapted by Stacie M Ritchie - whom I have never heard of before. She's obviously a fan of the Anita Blake books, which is good and she's doing a nice job so far. The dialogue has retained the spirit of the novels while still being accessible to a new reader. I will say there were a few confusing moments before I read the novels, but beyond that the adaptation has held up.

Brett Booth is doing the pencils, and while I'm aware he has a fan base I'm not sure I'm one of them. His art is beautiful, no doubt about it, but men are NOT his strong point. His women are fantastic - he manages to give them all distinct qualities while still retaining his style, but his men are too stylized. They all blur together, which isn't going to make the female Anita Blake fans happy. So far his best male character has been Willie McCoy who's a minor character in Guilty Pleasures. He can't seem to draw Jean-Claude (a major character in the Blake books) without making him look dull and vacant - which doesn't define the character at all. I wish he'd pay half the attention to his male characters that he does to his female characters. Another thing - some of his expressions are wonderful, he can truly convey some emotions - he's especially good with exasperation. But he's really weak with panic and fear - which could pose a major problem in drawing this series.

So, overall the art is pretty, but I think there is still growing to be done.

For those of you who will never pick up the novel, I'd still recommend trying out the comic book. It's vampire hunting/zombie raising/murder mystery/gun slinging/bachelorette party fun at it's best and promises to continue to be a quality book.

Oh yeah, and don't forget to tip your vampire strippers!

Friday, January 19, 2007

April Previews Review - Marvel

Lee: The problem with Marvel solicitations is over half of them deal with Civil War. This is great if you are reading Civil War and all its’ tie ins… but for those of us that aren’t. Maybe it was the fact that half the books are listed with “CLASSIFIED INFORMATION!” It’s hard to get excited about “classified Information”. Well let’s just say it’s an ugly month.
Jim: Classified Information makes it tough to give any thought to what might be in those books, but at least we will know what’s happening after Civil War #7 comes out in April.
Lee: There are some things of interest (and disinterest) though

Civil War: Fallen Son – New Avengers (Note: Not Actual Title)
Written by JEPH LOEB Pencils and Cover by ED MCGUINNESS
Lee: Loeb and McGuinness did such a great job on Batman/Superman that this should be a really, really good read! If they bring even a quarter of the craziness they brought to S/B this will be awesome.
Jim: Craziness is right; I thought that book blew chunks. I really do not enjoy Ed McGuiness and truth be told Jeph Loeb has done a lot of uninteresting work lately.

Lee: From the ad-copy, and I quote… “While the Black Cat tries to wrangle the remaining Spidey doppelgangers… “ STOP RIGHT THERE!!! Spidey doppelgangers? Sounds alike like Spidey Clones. OHHH NNNNOOOOO. This just sounds bad! Really bad.
Jim: I have hated the Ultimate clone sage, so this doesn’t sound that great either. Black Cat has been busy maybe she can be in the New Avengers.

Written by SEAN McKEEVER Art and Cover by KANO
Lee: I’m not sure what this book is supposed to be. Maybe a bigger version of the old Spiderman Unlimited book? No matter, McKeever is severely underrated, and Kano is an excellent artist. Not to mention the “fresh from Japan…Spider-Man J! Printed for the first time in America and translated for your reading pleasure!” I haven’t seen this material, but I must say, Japanese Spiderman has got to be interesting.
Jim: And Sean just signed with DC. This book may be worth a look.
Lee: The issue is rounded out with “classic tales from Amazing Spider-Man #177 and #347!”… Spidey 347 classic??? Since when? Ah, well, 104 pages for $4.99 means you can’t get hurt no matter what.

OMEGA FLIGHT #1 (of 5)
Lee: I’m sorry but did someone really ask for this? Blah!!! And last time I checked Beta Ray Bill (A member of Omega Flight) isn’t from Canada at all. Gives new meaning to the phrase illegal alien.
Jim: Still it's by Michael Van Oeming, so I give it an automatic try out. It looks lame, but you never know.

Lee: New writer Zeb Wells starts here. Wells wrote the last New Warriors mini and that was great. It started the whole New Warriors reality show riff. As long as they get rid of Humbug (dumbest character ever!) then I will be giving it an issue or two!
Jim: Wow I’m bummed out the Jimmy and Justin are hitting the trial (as they also signed an exclusive with DC), but based on your recommendation I’ll hang on a little longer to see what Mr. Wells can do.

Lee: Planet Hulk conclusion. The story line had some ups and downs but all is forgiven because it was so much better than the previous 2 yrs of Hulk. I am curious to see how they wrap this up. AND, this has got to tie into WWHulk somehow.
Jim: I’ll agree this series has been dragged out and a little boring at times, but it got me back to reading the Hulk. I’m curious to see how you can have a World War and it not interfere in other Marvel titles. I’ve always been impressed that Hulk has managed such a long term life, but he seems to get bigger and bigger every so often and I worried if his series isn’t cancelled soon he will be as big as Goliath.

It's the collision you've been waiting for: the Iron Fists of two different eras come head to head! Daniel Rand: the Iron Fist of the modern age, rocketed back to front and center of the Marvel Universe. Orson Randall: the Iron Fist of decades past, somehow still alive, somehow still on the run from the nightmare of the first World War, and somehow…sharing…the power of the Iron Fist with Danny. They'll have to learn to work together if they want to escape a trap that sprang to life centuries ago, their shared mystical lineage may be their only hope at surviving HYDRA’s full-on assault against…THE IMMORTAL IRON FIST!
Lee: I copied the entire text because this is soooo ridiculous. Apparently I’ve been waiting for the different Iron Fists to all get together in the modern day. Apparently, the immortal part in the immortal Iron Fist title really is immortal. AAAUUUGGGHHHH. It’s going exactly where no one wants it to go! Lest of all Jim, who called this weeks ago on the podcast! It was bad enough when Brubaker brought back Bucky but now this??? It may be really good but it could be really bad.
Jim: I love the Iron Fist character and I’m really worried about how this sounds. Still have to love the hype. Personally I never realized this was the collision I have been waiting for.

LONERS #1 (of 6)
Lee: I love the idea of a b-list (c-list?) superhero support group. And, I actually like this group of b/c-listers. It’s all in the execution. Once again, this could be really good or really, really bad.
Jim: Lee, let me know if it is really good and I’ll get the trade. I love under utilized characters getting the spotlight also, but I’m passing on trying out this mini-series without some positive buzz.

ULTRON IS BACK and, yes, now he's a she. What?? Ultron's a girl?? It’s Ultron as only Frank Cho can bring it.
Lee: Sigh, Frank Cho can really draw woman, and zombies involved with cows but beyond that… let’s just say I am not sold. And, changing Ultron just so Cho can draw more women? Isn’t the whole point of the Ultron character that he hates humanity? How does making him look more human make sense? Maybe it will be good but the whole idea is crap. Good to see Avengers reboot number 2 in 2 years is off to a great start.
Jim: I miss the Avengers and have enjoyed reading Busiek’s run on the team, but the Avengers haven’t been a team for awhile and this promises to be more of the same. A sexy Ultron is not my cup of tea either, especially if she wants to kill me. It is definitely being done to allow Cho the chance to do what he does best. So it’s not all bad.

Lee: Just to casually mention, but has anyone noticed there has been a guest star in every single issue since the first arc ended???? First Spidey, then Cap, and now Punisher. Maybe Marvel doesn’t have any confidence in the book. Who knows but not a good sign.
Jim: This book has not won me over yet and I agree guest stars have a tendency to say we need a sales boost.

Lee: Dollar says the book gets delayed! Any takers????
Jim: $5 bucks says no one notices or cares. It will sell anyway because even though Wedon’s story has been weak, his name and Cassady’s art makes it worthwhile for most reader.

Completing the entire Stan Lee/Steve Ditko Spider-Man run in one massive volume —including every page, every pinup and every letters column. Not to mention unused covers, critical essays and bonuses galore! Collecting AMAZING FANTASY #15, AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #1-38 and ANNUAL #1-2, STRANGE TALES ANNUAL #2, and FANTASTIC FOUR ANNUAL #1.
Lee: WOW WOW WOW. I have the FF Omnibus and its great. The entire Ditko spiderman in one place! 1000+ pages! Yes, its pricey at $100 but it looks oooohhhh sooooo good.
Jim: A friend got me the first FF Omnibus and it was wonderful. I’m already signed up for my copy of this massive volume and have been lifting weights so I can get it off my bookshelf with one hand. Ditko’s art in an oversized format and some of the best Spidey stories ever in one volume. I don’t care that I own the Masterworks this one is a no brainer.

Lee: These books look really nice but fall into the “I really, really don’t know.” Reign has love it or hate it reviews, while Eternals has luke warm reviews. But there is such buzz that they might be worth taking a chance.
Jim: Eternals has been okay, but not worthy of a hard cover and Reign #2 was interesting, but the ending for both of these books will be where the rubber meets the road. I doubt I will get either hard cover.

Collecting PUNISHER WAR JOURNAL #1-4, plus the black and white edition of issue #1
Lee: So let me see if I understand this… I get 5 issues, wait wait, that’s not true, I get 4 issues in color and one of those 4 issues in B&W? So 4 issues for $20. It looks nice but I think that I will be passing on this one.
Jim: Marvel and DC are working overtime to try and get us to buy the same material over and over again. They sucker me in sometimes, but this is an easy pass.

Written by JEFF PARKER Penciled by LEONARD KIRK
Lee: This has gotten such rave reviews that I am actually going to pony up for the HC. I am looking forward to seeing this!
Jim: This series was great and Jeff Parker crafted a wonderful story and Leonard Kirk is a very good artist. Also this volume will have reprints of these 50’s characters from the original books. Can’t wait to add this to the book shelf.

Written & Pencils by JOHN BYRNE
Lee: This one is a real killer for me. I remember how big a launch this was in the day. But I also remember this being really hit or miss. But, it was Byrne at his peak. But some of it was really bad. I’ll have to review the issues before making the commitment. And yes, I have all the single issues.
Jim: I have sold my Alpha Flight issues eons ago, but I’m tempted to buy this trade as it was Byrne at his best. Still as you said very hit or miss. If I remember my history Claremont and Byrne never intended to do that much with them, but the fans pushed Marvel into this book and I don’t think much was really plotted out, hence the book lacked a firm direction.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

April Previews Review - DC

52: WEEKS 48-52
Jim: So I’m really looking forward to the end of 52 to see how DC wraps this whole thing up. I’m also pleased that while they are adding 4 extra issues to round out WWIII, said titles are only $2.50 each. The $2.50 is fast becoming a historical relic. It seems obvious the Renee Montoya will be the new Question and I also wonder if Ralph makes it out alive. After all that has happened to him I don’t know how much fun he would be as a character.
Lee: I don’t read the series but I must say I am really, really curious about the changes with the Question. As long as they don’t pull a Speedball move, it will be good.

AMAZONS ATTACK #1 Written by Will Pfeifer Art and cover by Pete Woods
Jim: I like Will Pfeifer as a writer and Pete Woods is a very good artist so this series has some potential. Also the idea of Amazons attacking is a strangely appealing image. I guess if we have to be invaded and taken over by an outside group I’d rather it be Amazons then Klingons. Still I have my doubts about how good this book will be, I think it is a hard one to pull off.
Lee: I agree this is interesting. I have always like Pete Woods art and this has the potential to have lots of big, fight scenes. Then again, I thought the War of the Gods mini would have all sorts of good stuff too.

NIGHTWING ANNUAL #2 Written by Marc Andreyko Art and cover by Joe Bennett & Jack Jadson
Jim: Number one, why did they put Dick back in the short pants for the cover. No wonder Babs dumped him. This annual is supposed to explain what happened to Dick and Barbara relationship. For me, no reason will be good enough. They belong together in my book and DC’s constantly keeping them apart just gets me ticked off. Good luck on making me like this book, oh I will have to buy, just so I can hate it.
Lee: Buy it to hate it. I admire your dedication to a title!!! I can’t say anything because I stopped reading X-men at 300 but got another 60+ issues in the collection.

THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #3 Written by Mark Waid Art by George PĂ©rez & Bob Wiacek
Jim: This book is one I can’t wait for. This for me is a pure fan dream. Mark Waid (great writer), George Perez (fantastic artist) and Batman, guest stars and the Fatal Five of Legion fame. It looks like it should be wall to wall fun. George Perez maybe the best pure super artist ever.
Lee: One of the few titles I am waiting for trade on. I agree that it should be good but I can’t see paying for it twice.

DOCTOR FATE #1 Written by Steve Gerber Art and cover by Paul Gulacy
Jim: Steve Gerber is back, Paul Gulacy with a regular assignment. I feel like I stepped in the way back machine from Rocky and Bullwinkle and landed in the eighties or somewhen. I love Dr. Fate and Dr. Strange, but I also think this are the two hardest characters to write in comics. Plus Dr. Fate is going to be Kent Nelson again (albeit an apparently different Kent Nelson) and I’m not sure if that is a good idea. I prefer to move forward and this feels a little like a sideways move. Still I’m anxious to see if they can make this a good series. I’ll be rooting for it, but I’m not sold that it will work.
Lee: Another wow. This should be good. But Dr. Fate is so hard to do right. Gerber’s last book, Hardtime (?) was very good so he still has the mojo, but can he do it again. I am really surprised they picked Gulacy for this. His strength is big, muscular men and women, such as Batman, Catwoman, and Master Kung Fu. Magic??? I am not sure he’s a good fit. And is it me, or does the lights behind Dr. Fate make it look like he is wearing headphones???

Jim: But I’m sold on this. The golden age was not always the strongest of material, but I haven’t read much of the old Dr. fate stuff so I’m looking forward to reading this one. It is amazing how weak some of the golden age material appears today, but it was produced for an entirely different market place. Still they laid the ground work that all the comic writers are working from to this day.
Lee: You are soooo diehard DC. Golden age horror, humor, westerns have all survived the times well. Golden Age superheroes I really believe you need to have an affection for the character. I read some of the reprints in the 100 page giants DC published in the 70’s. Those were more than enough for me.

JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA VOL. 1 HARDCOVER Written by Brad Meltzer Art by Ed Benes & Sandra Hope Cover by Michael Turner
Jim: I include this just to gripe. I’m sick and tired of 6 issue hard covers being done as soon as the sixth issue is published. DC used to always try to do the hard covers right and now they are in a Marvel mindset of printing the hard covers right on the heels of the book being issued. Still in DVD land 24’s 4 hour premier was being sold the day after the last two hours aired. I’m waiting for them to be selling the movie on DVD as we exit the theatre.
Lee: Does this mean you are buying it? You seem to like it so much on the radio show!!!
Jim: This means no one should buy it.

Jim: I won’t buy it, but still you must admit this Women of DC Busts play into ever stereotype everyone has of comic fans.
Lee: Heavy emphasis on bust! Where exactly would you display this? Actually, I would never be able to display it because it would always be hidden under my sons mattress for some unknown reason.

FABLES #60 Written by Bill Willingham Art by Mark Buckingham & Steve Leialoha
Jim: New story arc focusing of Flycatcher. If you are not buying this comic you are missing one of the all time great series ever produced. This book may surpass Sandman as the all time greatest Vertigo series.
Lee: A great jumping on point. I’ve heard rumor of people not actually reading this but I think it’s an urban legend. The real question, why are there no Fables HC’s????

Lee:The Batman B&W collections have always been some of the best out there. If you haven't read the first two you don't know what you are missing!
Jim: Agreed. This was some excellent work.

SHOWCASE PRESENTS: THE WAR THAT TIME FORGOT VOL. 1 TP Written by Robert Kanigher Art and cover by Ross Andru & Mike EspositoLee: 500 pages of the US Army v. Dinosaurs.
Lee: This is soooo awesome. With amazing art by Andry and Espositio. You really can't lose with this!
Jim: I thought I was the only person looking forward to this book.

ARMY@LOVE #2 Written by Rick Veitch Art and cover by Veitch & Gary Erskine
Lee: Another book that I have no clue what to expect. But Veitch is at his best when he does really really weird stuff so this has a chance.
Jim: Read Veitch's last novella and still wondering what the hell was going on. Rick is like the last psychedelic type mind wandering around.

Raising Children - First Water

My time in actively raising children is done as my daughters will be 25 and 21 this year and I have done all the damage I could do to them by now. At least these are two women who are as well versed in comic book lore as anyone can be, but that's a tangent.

I was recently reading an article about young girls (13 - 16 age) wearing extremely or very provocative sexy clothing. The article is about posting said pictures on myspace and other similar forums. The discussion was is this a bad thing, is it just girls acting out and will this set women back and make themselves think of themselves as only sex objects.

As I read all of the back and forth and the pros and cons of the various positions I realized that as a parent you have to make the best choices you can and hope to god you are right. The problem with all of these types of articles is that in a global scale a valid point could be made and maybe a conclusion can be drawn that girls are just playing dress up at that age and as surveys show early teen sex activity is down you should not worry about it. The problem is each child is an individual and you have to raise them as such. For one girl it maybe dress up, for another it could be a sign she wants to be sexual active or be more active.

With all the various ways to communicate and areas where children can find information the ability to allow our kids a chance to live in a naive and idyllic life seems to be shortened.

I think it is harder to raise children now then it has ever been before in the United States. For the most part we are past the physical struggles of survival, food, clothing and shelter, so that all the needs we have to address are more and more esoteric then before.

So good luck to Airelle, Lee and Shawn as your children are either infants or very young and that is a tough road ahead. Still the rewards are also fantastic.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Books with no pictures

The challenging read of the week is "The Children of Men" by P.D. James. Recently made into a major motion picture, I figured (for once) I would read the book before seeing the movie!!!

Premise: In 1997, all men on the earth became infertile. Now in 2021, Mankind is coming to grips with the fact that it will soon be extinct. Post apocalyptic fiction at its best!!! The story opens with the narrator reading the obit for the youngest person in the world, who was 25.

I am in chapter 2 and the story is still being setup but so far so good. What I really like about the book is that it is indeed literature. This isn’t beach reading material. This isn’t done in 20 minutes, Stephan King popcorn fiction. This is real reading to challenge the mind. In the first chapter alone were two words that I wasn’t familiar with. I find this remarkable considering all that I do read. Between comics, the newspaper, Sports Illustrated, and the New Yorker I read a lot. To find words that I don’t immediately know is priceless.
I will keep you updated.

Anthology Week...

If you didn't know, I love anthologies. They are a great way to sample lots of up and coming writers and artists and get novel stories. No anthology series is ever 100% but nothing ever is. This week, I read the Marvel Monster HC or the Marvel Westerns HC anthologies. While both have pro's and con's they could be worthy additions to your bookshelf.

Marvel Monsters was released first and collects the 5th week event of the same title. This book is a fantastic interpretation of Marvel's monster books of the 60's. There are short stories by Peter David, Jeff Parker, Keith Giffen, Duncan Fegredo, Eric Powell, Mark Farmer, Steve Niles, Tom Sneigoski, and Roger Langridge to name a few. One of the joys of the this book is the fact that the writers realize how silly the source material is. With this in mind, there isn't a "straight" story in the bunch. Eric Powell, as writer and artist, turns in a great story about Devil Dinosaur battling the Hulk. Peter David and Arnold Pander (of original Grendal fame) turn in a very funny story about a giant gorilla becoming an agent in Hollywood! Simply put, would you tell him no if he wanted his client to star in your movie???? By far, the best is by Scott Gray and Roger Langridge about a group of monster who want to go straight. Led by Fin Foom Fang, they become the FF's cleaning service! Until one of them touches the wrong button. It has a classic scene with Fin Foom Fang playing chess with Reed Richards in the park. In between all the original stories are reprints from Marvel's moster era. The stories are actually from the Atlas era, 1950's, and all feature Kirby art except one which is by Don Heck. This is really a great little collection with lots of stories, great art, and an easy way to add some marvel monsters to your collection without having to buy the Tales of Suspense Masterworks.

Obviously, Marvel Westerns collects the 5th week title of the same name. While not as strong, it offers some pretty good tales. There are stories by Dan Slott, Jeff Parker, Karl Kesel, Fred Van Lente, Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti, Jim McCann, Steve Englehart, Joe R. Lansdale, Eduardo Barreto, Tomm Coker, Carmine Di Giadomenico, Homs, Federica Manfredi, Dave Willaims, Marshall Rogers, and Raffa Garres. This is a much more mixed bag but Karl Kesel and Carmine Di Giadomenico turn in an amazing Red Wolf story. I am not familiar with Di Giadomenico's art but it really is a sight to behold. The linework is very clean and has a certain European feel to it. The other highlight of the issue is a story by Jeff Parker and Tomm Coker. Jeff turns in a classic western with the typical "presumed inept" hero story and Coker turns in a great art job. He manages to capture to speed and brutality of a gunfight all in two very quick pages. The reprints are all 60's era Marvel Westerns. I was surprised because the Monsters HC reprinted all 50's era material. And, it should be noted, that while the 60's westerns were good, the 50's westerns from Atlas were much, much better. I can't give this the official ohh-aahh superduper recommendation because there were more just-OK stories in the collection. If you are westerns guy, and would like to have some good stories and reprints, then you might want to consider this.
These are both good collections and HC's always look good on the shelf!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Future Wants in the Comic World

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN OMNIBUS VOL. 1 HC Written by STAN LEE & STEVE DITKO Penciled by STEVE DITKO with JACK KIRBY Cover by JACK KIRBY & STEVE DITKO Variant Painted Cover by ALEX ROSS In 1962, in the pages of a comic book slated for cancellation, Stan Lee and Steve Ditko gave birth to one of the most-enduring icons in American popular media: the one and only Amazing Spider-Man! Turning the concept of a super hero on its head, they imbued the young, guilt-ridden Peter Parker with the fantastic powers of an arachnid and the fantastic pressures of an everyday teenager. The combination was pure magic.

This stuff was the absolute best ever. I can tell you issue by issue what happened. As a kid I read and re-read these stories a lot of times. I have all of the actual comic book material in the Masterworks, but this will be oversized and include letter pages and other extras. My biggest concern is can a 1,000 page book binding last long and can I actually lift it off a bookshelf.

GOLDEN AGE DR. FATE ARCHIVES VOL. 1 HC Written by Gardner Fox Art by Hal Sherman and various Cover by Hal Sherman Don't miss this new, extra-sized archive collecting the complete, mystic adventures of Doctor Fate from More fun Comics #55-98! Young Kent Nelson, taken in by the ancient wizard Nabu, is trained in the mystic arts, preparing to protect the world from mystic threats as the golden-helmeted hero Dr. Fate!

Always loved the few golden age reprints of Dr. Fate that I have read and look forward to being able to read all of Dr. Fate's early tales. Dr. Fate has always been one of my favorite characters through all of his incarnations. So I get a new Dr. Fate series in April and this archive collection of his golden age years in June. Sweet deal

MARVEL MASTERWORKS: ATLAS ERA HEROES VOL. 1 The Story: As the ’50s dawned and the Atlas Era was born, the day of the Nazi-stomping super hero had passed, and in its place came a new style of hero reflective of the changing times. Heroes born of bizarre atomic science that battled otherworldly alien menaces, and patriotic poster boys that battled back the Communist hordes. Marvel Boy: Rejecting the tyranny of Earth’s governments, scientist Dr. Matthew Grayson built an experimental spacecraft and traveled to the planet Uranus with his infant son, Robert. In this incredible environment, young Robert developed marvelous powers of telepathy and superhuman strength, combined with a pair of amazing photonic wristbands. These astonishing powers made him Marvel Boy, cosmic protector of the solar system! The Hero Revival: The year was 1953, and with fear of Communism clutching the nation’s attention, Atlas Comics publisher Martin Goodman tapped Stan Lee – along with artists John Romita, Bill Everett, Carl Burgos and Russ Heath – to stage a revival of the most-famous super heroes of the era. Bursting onto the pages of YOUNG MEN, the Human Torch, Captain America and the Sub-Mariner made their explosive return to the comics scene! The inaugural volume of a line collecting the exceptionally rare 1950s appearances of Captain America, the Human Torch, the Sub-Mariner, Marvel Boy, the Black Knight and more, ATLAS ERA HEROES VOL. 1 is just the first peek into a historical bridge between the Golden Age and the Marvel Age of Heroes no fan should be without! Collecting MARVEL BOY #1-2, ASTONISHING #3-6 and YOUNG MEN

The above material always intrigued me because it was even before my time (Lee). I'm a little hesitant to pony up $55 bucks for material I'm totally unfamiliar with, but the artist behind the work ease my fears. Plus from a pure historical perspective it should be a fun read.

Written by Jeff Smith; Art and cover by Smith The much-anticipated 4-issue Prestige Format miniseries by Jeff Smith, the award-winning creator of BONE, brings the whimsical world of Earth's Mightiest Mortal to fully realized life! Young orphan Billy Batson finds himself wielding truly amazing magic powers — just in time to face an invasion of alien and earthly monsters!

I'm enjoying Trials of Shazam and enjoy moving a character and a concept forward more then most people, but there is nothing wrong with a little nostalgia now and again, especially when done right. Jeff Smith's preview work on this book looks fantastic and I can't wait to read this adventure. This is why I think we can move all the heroes forward and have someone else be Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman, because if someone has a good idea for a story from before, just do it.

JSA: DR. MIDNITE Action Figure This 6.25 inch Action Figure features multiple points of articulation, includes a JSA-themed display base and is packaged in a 4-color blister.

While I no longer really believe in ownership of the actual monthly books I still have the collecting disease when it comes to action figures and these updated JSA figures (they also are doing Atom (2 versions golden age), Mr. Terrific (current series), Hawkgirl (current series) and Hourman (current series)) I'm afraid all will be residing in my home soon. Now if I can find enough space to display them all and hide then from my wife at the same time. She actually indulges me to a degree, but you can still only go so far.

Monday, January 15, 2007

What I'm Getting Wednesday

Mentally I have recovered from the devastation that occurred Saturday and we have now moved onto the Pats bandwagon and will be cheering them on next Sunday.

52 #37 - Only 16 issues left and we are now approaching WW III. Animal Man is dead and the Question needs a miracle to survive. Why do I think Supernova is really Booster Gold?

Aquaman #48 - Only two Kurt Busiek issues left. I hope Tad Williams (he starts with issue #50)keeps what Kurt has started as this has been a really good series since One Year Later.

Birds of Prey #102 - Gail Simone's Mission Impossible take on this series continues and it has been a good arc so far. This book has always been an enjoyable series 99% of the the time.

Catwoman #63 - So it appears we may have 2 Catwomen running around. Should be interesting to see what the new status quo for this book will be.

Green Lantern #16 - I have enjoyed this series a lot more since the one year later jump, but Hal has no life at all, this book is about Green Lantern only and I miss him having a personal life.

Green Lantern Archives #6 - We are now on issues #37-47. These were some really great stories and this included the first appearance of Alan Scott (the Golden Age GL) in the Silver Age run.

Helmut of Fate - Detetective Chimp - It has a monkey and Doctor Fate involved, with a Brian Bolland cover - it will be glorious.

JLA Classified #32 - This is a new arc and it is written by Dan Slott. I thought he was exclusive to Marvel, but maybe this is an old story or his exclusive has expired. I'm curious to read this as I think some writers work better in Marvel or DC. I suspect Slott may work better in the DCU.

Omega Men #4 (of 6) - This series has been great and it appears to tie into the impending World War III. The Omega Men are now a true rag tag group fighting for survival. Fun book.

Sandman Mystery Theatre - Sleep of Reason #2 (of 5) - First issue was a good set-up and I'm curious to see if we will have two Sandmen running around in the DCU (one in Vertigo and one in the DCU proper).

Shadwopact #9 - Great series by Bill Willingham as writer and occasionally artist. This book gets better and better.

Skye Runner #6 - Last issue. A fantasy type series that was good, but just lacked something. In a strong super hero market, you can't be lacking something and survive if you are not a super hero book or an independent.

Spirit #2 - First issue was a home run. Let's see if Mr. Cooke as writer/artist can keep it up.

Testament #14 - The Vertigo title that matches biblical stories with a modern day tale. Decent series, that at times leaves me a little lost as to where the writer is going.

Avengers Assemble Deluxe Hardcover Volume #4 - Reprinting the Busiek years on the Avengers. This has been fun as I passed on this book originally and it is certainly more what I think the Avengers should be as opposed to what they have become.

Avengers Earth's Mightiest Heroes #5 (of 8) - Picked this up based on James McGuinn's glowing praise of the book and I have enjoyed it. It is a long lost Avengers story set during the era when the Vision joined the Avengers.

Fantastic Four #542 - Once I decide to give a book another whirl I'll sign up before the new team takes over, so this might still be JMS' dismal run, but I'm hoping Dwayne McDuffie can bring this book back, but with the Civil War repercussions I don't know.

She-Hulk #15 - Still like this book but somehow it is no longer as much fun as it once was.

Spider-Man Reign #2 (of 4) - Continuing the dystopian future of Spider-Man. First issue was entertaining.

Ultimate Spider-Man #104 - God I hope the clone saga is finally over. Enough is enough.

Wisdom #2 (of 6) - The first issue had its moments and makes me want to read more about this atypical anti-hero Brit.

X-Men First Class #5 (of 8) - Jeff Parker continues to shine as a writer on what ever assignment he gets. This book is a total throw away, in that it has no impact on continuity or has a major surprise/reveal, it is just good solid enjoyable comic book stories.

Conan #36 - Starting to lose my interest in this book. It has been meandering around as opposed to following Conan's career straight through.

Desperadoes: Buffalo Dreams #1 (of 4) - The prior Desperadoes mini-series have been great. Western action with a supernatural twist. Great stuff.

That's it for this week. One foot note the Last Wolverine Origins was so bad, that even I finally dropped that book, really just a bad book.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Sad Time, Happy Times and Other Things

Alright the Ravens lost and it sucks big time. Even worse because I went to the game and had to watch it happen. Our defense did the job, our offense did not.

Now the Patriots also won and as (believe it or not) I liked the Pats as my second favorite team, so I no longer have the chance to crush the Patriots at home, but now have to hope the Patriots do what they need to do and take the Colts apart at home, because I don't want the Colts in the Super Bowl.

Incredible football week-end because I believe that is the first time both road teams have won their games.

24 started tonight as this is the only TV show I will watch as it actually airs I was thrilled that season 6 looks to be another great season.

Now tomorrow is back to work and back to trying to do some more regular blogging. Loved the "guest blogger" battle and happy to see Lee conceded the battle.

Sad times - Ravens Lost
Happy Times - 24 is back.
Other Things - Go Patriots - get Super Bowl Ring #4 and finally end the debate as to who is the best quarterback in football.

Late Night Football Talk Pt 2

Oh yeah... the Patriots bandwagon is currently accepting appliactions. Anybody who's team isn't playing anymore...


Feel free to come play with the cool kids! And me too!

Late Night Football Talk

Well, well, well....

What can I say? Unlike Jim, I got the Wii, I got the Spiderman underroos, and I gots one more weekend of football!!!!!


Saturday, January 13, 2007

Mordru v. Bubonicus pt 2

Since Lee has decided that we can compare the LSH to the GoG (wow, what a terrible abbreviation!) by looking at their villains I decided to show you the real facts behind Mordru and Bubonicus. Perhaps us Legion fans aren't the "brightest bulbs" but I'll let you judge for yourself.

First let's address the point of the costume. Bubonicus - cheap ripoff of a Sentinel. Mordru - basic medieval. If tunics are skirts I guess Robin Hood wore a dress too. As for the hats, well, yet again Bub's helmet screams Sentinel whereas Mordru's screams crazy man. I mean seriously, who but a crazy person would sport that hat? I don't know about you, but I'd be more afraid of a crazy near omnipotent sorcerer than a Sentinel with a wand. As for the evil quotient, be patient, we'll get to that in a bit.

Let's talk about Mordru's orgin story for a moment. In Adventure Comics #369 Mordru the Merciless escapes imprisonment. Shadow Lass, a new addition to the Legion, is told the story of Mordru's rise and fall. We learn that Mordru was a powerful sorcerer from Zerox (later known as Sorcerer's world) who mastered "ultimate mystic powers" that allowed him to take control of his own world. After consolidating power on his home world he engaged the rest of the galaxy in open warfare - and the war only stopped when he decided that he had conquered enough worlds for the time being. After many years of quiet from Mordru's domain no one expected the next attack. "Mordru went where he wished... conquered what he desired. Sometimes he sent his armies, sometimes he himself took what he wanted."

As near as I can tell Bub has no orgin story. The most we get is that he believes that life is a disease and death is the cure. Gee, that's original.

Now I'd like to talk about powers.

Mordru is a being of near omnipotent magical powers - which means he can even take on heroes such as Superboy and Mon'el. Even having his own powers reflected back on him (see LSH #48 during the Giffen years) only serves to momentarily stun him.

Bubonicus has a wand and some armor. His wand makes people sick (some sort of tech that mimics Infectious Lass' powers near as I can tell - and she was only a member of the Substitute Legion) and his armor is... well, armor. Oh yeah, he can also live a really long time. Oh yeah, and survive in space - grats Bub, so can Dawnstar.

Hmm, I'm thinking that on power scale alone Mordru would make Bubonicus curl into a ball and cry like a little kid.

Now let's move onto the "evil quotient". Let's talk about Bubonicus first. Lee pointed out that he was listed as a "cosmic eradicator". Well that's sweet and all, but what does it really mean? As far as I can tell Bubonicus' evil originates from the fact that he infects people with seemingly incurable diseases (yet again, Infectious Lass on a more cosmic scale) and leaves them to die. Yes, that's pretty evil, but it's impersonal. Bubonicus kills with a detached purpose, and while horrible in it's result, it lacks that true moral depravity. In all actuality Bubonicus seems so removed from the creatures it infects that it doesn't seem to understand or care about the suffering it causes.

Mordru, on the other hand, knows exactly what kind of suffering he causes - indeed, he thrives on it. Not only did he start out as a mystical Hitler, but as he grew older he became even more depraved. During a period of supposed "reform" he married Mysa Nal aka White Witch. After having his powers returned to him he swiftly reclaimed a position of power, declaring himself Emperor of Tharn (the second incarnation of Sorcerer's World). He imprisoned and tortured Mysa although she was eventually rescued by her friends.

chaining your wife to the floor and summoning spiders... evil

beating your wife, also evil

burying your wife alive, really frelling evil

If that wasn't awful enough he then manipulated Mysa into giving into her hatred so he could absorb not only her power - but her essence as well. He then used that power to raise the dead. And if assaulting the known galaxy with undead wasn't evil enough, he also raised the Legion's own honored dead to fight against them.

note: check out zombie Reflecto! now that's just funny!

Making you fight your dead little brother, definitely evil

Mordru was evil in every sense of the word, not only in the impersonal dictator who perhaps somehow justifies his actions - but also on a personal level. Mordru was a man who only found joy in bringing suffering and pain to others.

If we're talking about an evil quotient I think Mordru wins the evil pageant hands down every time when Bubonicus is the competition. In the end though, a picture is worth 1,000 words:

Thank you folks, and goodnight!