Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Monthly Comics Vs. Trades Pt 2

Tonight, I conclude the thrashing of Jim's farcical logic behind liking floppie comic books...

Jim: Personally, I love getting the monthly books. The addiction to getting my books once a week goes back to my childhood when my Dad would drive down to the newsstand to pick up the Sunday newspapers on Saturday night and he would give me a dollar and I could buy 8 comics (they were 12 cents in the stone age). I still enjoy the weekly fix and certain books I want to read as soon as it is out (52 is a good example).

Also the inherent value of a good cliff hanger. I can’t tell you how many books I would be waiting for to see how the hero got out of a bad fix. One of my all time favorite Fantastic Four story arc was when they lost their power around issue 36/38 and every month I could not wait to see how it all worked out. The grand finale with the Thing versus Doctor Doom was probably a book I was reading on the way home from the newsstand or drug store.

One other small point in the monthly’s favor, readability. I’m close enough to work to come home and eat lunch and as I’m enjoying lunch I have a comic to the side and read as I’m eating. A comic stays open on the page I’m reading a trade does not.

Lee: To start, reading books at lunch? I don’t believe that’s a mustard stain on your copy of Witchblade and ever hear of a bookmark? Sheesh.

I agree with the weekly fix. I went to the store for years in just the same fashion. In fact, because I only had the local drug store, I went several times a week until I figured out the delivery schedule. Unfortunately, I don’t have that kind of time these days.

Life is far to busy and has far too many things competing for my attention. Time to read is a luxury. I want to spend my quality reading time reading truly great and entertaining material. I don’t have time to slog through mounds of comic books anymore. I want nice complete packages that I can read in the time that I have.

While I agree that monthly cliffhangers are fun, is it any different from a chapter in a book. I grew up reading Burroughs John Carter of Mars books. These were just collections of old pulp chapters. Each chapter had great cliff hangers! I could read the next chapter or I could wait without any loss of enjoyment.

Finally, the best part about trades is that they allow the reader to follow story lines better. With a trade, you can catch small plot points the first time around. You notice more of what is happening and if you miss it… well all you have to do it flip back a couple of pages and locate the connections. As a collector, you read so many monthly books that the storylines and plot points start to smear in the months. I can’t believe that you remember any subtle foreshadowing from 6 issues ago. Great writers such as Alan Moore, Warren Ellis, and Neil Gaiman were notorious for this. Moments you thought were throw away suddenly have significance. Details like that are missed in floppies, whereas a trade allows you to see, enjoy, and appreciate the writers intent. There is no way that Planetary or Moore’s Supreme & WildCats read better in single issues.

Finally, a trade has no ads. Shall I remind you of your December posts ranting about Marvel books with 28 pgs of ads and 26 pgs of story????

Jim: Hard for me to argue the ad point, but how about the fact that the extras in the monthly books add to the feeling of the book. The letter pages (when they have them), the weekly column in DC comics, the goofy fun stuff that is in Goon’s letter pages are all gone from the trade.

Lee: There is definitely something to be said for letter pages, and as you state, Goon and Powers immediately come to mind. But the nicer trades are laden with… and I shudder to use the phrase… DVD style extras. There are concept sketches, original art, and even the original script. I would never be able to see these things if it weren’t for the trade. While I am always curious what little Bobby in Nebraska has to say about the latest issue of X-men, I am far more interested in the creative process.

Jim: I wonder if the monthlies are not a way to just underwrite the trade paper backs. We do not have true sales figures of trade as that is not all processed via Diamond. Also I wonder how the companies structure the deal for page rates. In the old days you were paid $X dollars per page for art or story and if the book was reprinted that payment was greatly reduced (way back when it was reduced to zero). If the trades garner much smaller payments to the creators it is in the companies’ financial interest to keep comic sales just enough to break even and push the trade sales as they would be more profitable. I don’t know if it is true, but economics seem to be pushing the trade format, but it seems that no one is going to publish a series as trades only. Finally what the trades have done is that when I discover a series I can easily catch up with what I missed. I came into 30 Days of Night late, but was able to get the early material in trades without breaking a sweat.

Lee: The truth of matter is that I buy some single issues and I buy compilations of current storylines that are typically well received. For example, in trades, I won’t be getting Civil War trades, but I will get Punisher Barracuda. BUT, I rarely buy original material tpb’s because the cost to enter is too high. I don’t know if the story is any good. For floppies, I try to support indies because Jim is correct, you don’t know if they will be collected. And, I try to buy indie trades, to support them. And, I have been burnt by both habits. I do think that trades allow for greater accessibility and readability for a collection. I hadn’t pulled my old Champions books in a very long time but the recent trade allowed me to revisit them quite easily.

It’s a vicious cycle in which trades can’t survive without floppies and industry can’t survive without trades.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Monthly Comics Vs Trades Part 1

In the interest of full disclosure I want to state the trade versus monthly issues has so many gray areas that Lee and I choose a side to represent to better flesh out the pros and cons. Like the old point and counter point arguments you saw on Sixty Minutes or Saturday Night Live.
Also as to not overwhelm anyone with too much information we have broken the post into two parts.

Jim: The monthlies versus waiting for the trade have become a question that almost every comic book fan must make today.
Lee: I couldn’t agree more. And it seems that the decision between floppies or trades is getting harder and harder every year.

Lee: Let me tell you, I grew up with floppies, I love floppies but I have trouble getting them these days. Honestly, single issue comics are too expensive for me. When Jim was young, $1 would get you lots of comic books. When I was young $1.25 would get you 2-3 comics (I grew up 40 cent era, decades after Jim…. multiple decades). But today, $1 won’t even get a half pint comic like Casonova.

Typically a trade will collect a complete story arc and be either the same price point as buying the comics or a cheaper price. A tpb typically covers six issues and is only $15 versus $18 for the actual comics. This doesn’t even begin to address such books as Jeff Smith’s Shazam which is $6, and will be collected for considerable less.

The cost of books is so high these days, I can’t afford to read bad books. A tpb allows me to filter out the bad and limit myself to the better-than-average and great.

Jim: Lee, you filthy slut. A trade paper back is possibly more costly then any single issue of a comic book. With individual monthly issues the cost is normally $3, and if I don’t like the story arc I can stop buying the book and then save myself the cost of the last five issues in that arc. By going the trade route you have invested at least $15 in a book that you may hate after 22 pages of story and art.

Also I believe the comic companies finally got wise to people buying six issues cheaper in a trade and I have noticed a lot more trades coming out at an $18 or even $19.99 price point. Some wise person realized that were killing the goose that laid the golden egg.

Also, let’s face it, you miss a lot by not getting the monthly issues of a book. A lot of small series and some of the independents never succeed enough to warrant a compilation of their issues. This is less a problem today then yesterday, but you can also never depend on a company to complete a run (Hitman from DC was never completed in trades).

Also the publishers love to play with the format. I have been dying to get 300 in a nice hard cover or trade just like the comic, yet it is only in an over sized hard cover. Marvel has fallen in love with digest size books and Dark Horse has been enamored with the 6x9 format. With the monthly books you know more about what you are getting.

And there is the intrinsic value in the monthlies that for you $18 you can try six different series as opposed to just one. If the cost is too high how many trades will you buy in a week?

In many ways the monthly book is a better bargain.

Lee: Based upon this logic, I see why you vote the way you do, Libraritarian Green Party Scum Sucker. I agree that a trade can be more costly than a single issue but in terms of quality it is a far better value. You and I spend the same amount of money, but I get a trade whereas you get many different issues. Unfortunately, you bring home a pile of crappy single issues while I get (most of the time) an entertaining AND complete story arc.

The bottom line, you don’t save any money at all. As a collector, when was the last time you stopped a series mid story arc? I stopped reading X-men for 3 years before I got the nerve up to drop it. We are comic book FANS, short for fanatics, and we are collectors on top of that. This is a particularly bad combination meaning that we rarely drop anything. Ever! Trades are much easier to stop collecting. I don’t have nearly the vested interest in them that I have in my single issues.

As for independents, if any book is good enough then it will get a trade collection. There are many examples of this, Robotika and even Chicano’s. As with everything else, the internet has made the comic book world much smaller. In the old days (your youth) you had to try every book because collectors were separated and, like movies, once they were gone from the shelf, they were gone. Comic books are like DVD’s today, if a series is good it will be released within a month or two. QUALITY, key word there, independents are released within six months, and these days even crappy cult books (Marvel’s Champions anyone?) even get traded.

Jim: Lee you inarticulate slug, obviously your communistic masters have lead you down this road. You say we spend the same dollar amounts, but what about the flip side of the collector’s market. The single issues of the “hot” books can be sold on E-Bay for a tidy profit. The first three issues of Mouse Guard were sold by my daughter for $96, which more then pays for the comics and she can buy the trade of the series and still have money left over. Trades rarely do as well for resale.

Jim: Now in my own situation I mail out the floppies I get and enjoy the ability to be an up to date critic on a lot of comics, but if I was just buying 100% for myself I thing I would have to switch over to more trades. Still it is really hard to give up that new car, latest video game system feeling you get with getting the monthly book. I think that the comic companies have made a mistake with releasing the trades so close to the actual last issue of the arc, because it makes it easier to wait for the trade.

Lee: When I think of trades, I think about the longevity of my collection. I am far more likely to pull a trade off my shelf to look and read it than I am a floppie issue. When I am heading to my “personal reading room,” I don’t have time to pull the long box, take the book out of the plastic, and then run to the reading room. I need something I can grab quickly and go. No pun intended.

The real appeal of trades to me, is the fact that I can revisit them over and over and over again without hurting them. I have some original EC’s that languish in plastic because reading them destroys the value. A trade allows me to revisit old books quickly and easily.

Jim: Lee I don’t think the bathroom really qualifies as a personal reading room. Of course having young children sometimes that is the only room to get alone time.

Lee: Don’t even pretend that you don’t read in the bathroom!!!! Since man left the cave, it has been the last sacred haven. And, truth be told, with little children, sometimes even the “reading room” isn’t private anymore!
“What cha reading Dad?”
“Who’s that?”
“Can I read that?”
“Are you going to be long?” … ooops that’s from the wife.

Tomorrow the second and concluding part of our debate.

Monday, February 26, 2007

What I'm Getting Wednesday

For me this is a cheaper weak as no hard cover or trades that I’m getting are coming out, of course it is the last week of a four week month so that means it is a crushing number of regular books.

52 #43 - Wow last issue with the conclusion of Ralph Dibny’s story was a real winner in my book, with only 10 issues to go we have lots of ground to cover and I expect each issue will really be moving full speed ahead now.

Action Comics #846 – DC still says it is part three of the “Last Son” arc by Johns and Donner, that would be nice and then there is I believe a three issue break before the rest of the arc. (sigh). Late books suck.

American Virgin #12 – Adam is again over his head and stuck in a sexual decadent house. This series has to have an ending to make this book any good, as Adam cannot continue to have this journey without some resolution.

Batman Confidential #3 – Diggle and Portacio continue their arc on this series. The Bat plane is introduced. I find it amusing that so much focus is given to the accessories that Batman has, as I find the person and his quest more interesting. Portacio is a good artist, but it his work does not feel right for Batman in my opinion.

Blue Beetle #12 – This book made it one year and I think it is one of the better books out there for a fun read and is pretty much an all age thing. Hope this character has at least a 50 issue run.

Side Note: Since most series get cancelled after a while, would it not make more sense to write a book as a four / five year story and then rest the title a year or so until a new concept is presented that feels right for the book.

Connor Hawke Dragon’s Blood #4 (of 6) – Continuing the fast paced adventure of Connor Hawke by Dixon and Donovan. Great read and highly entertaining. Chuck Dixon flat out writes entertaining comics.

Crossing Midnight #4 – Mike Carey and Jim Fern are producing one of the most absorbing and interesting stories being published in comics. This horror, fantasy, coming of age, Japanese mythology story is really so well done, that I’m sure many non-comic fans would enjoy it.

Deadman #7 – Getting deeper into the mystery of the Deadman. I know this book will not last long, but the art of John Watkiss and the story of remote viewing and parallel worlds is fascinating stuff to me.

Exterminators #14 – Simon Oliver and Tony Moore continue the fight against bugs and madness in this cool series.

Firestorm #33 – Dwayne McDuffie jumps in as writer and has Jason and Prof. Stein (combined they are Firestorm) going toe to toe with the New Gods. This book has been a solid run and has firmly established Jason as the new Firestorm. I hear it has been cancelled, but a three run is a good start for a second/third tier character.

Flash #9 – I want to have trumpets playing as we get a new writer Marc Guggenheim taking over the reigns on Bart’s turn as the Flash. This series suffered from the launch, but I have high hopes that Marc can make this book at least a solid and entertaining read. Given the act he is following it should be easy to improve.

Green Lantern #17 – The end of the “Wanted Hal Jordan” arc and it should be good. The last two arcs have been really well done and have me back as a reluctant fan of this book. Reluctant because as much as I love Hal Jordan and Oliver Queen I think their time on center stage is over and I was happier when Kyle and Connor were the head liners.

Hawkgirl #61 – Hawkgirl begins her search for Hath-Set and is determined to end the cycle her and Carter have been trapped in for thousands of years.

Jack of Fables #9 – Okay will this be part 2 of the Jack Frost story or part 2 of the Vegas story. I’m confused as last issue was supposed to conclude the Jack Frost story, but we jumped into this story.

JLA Classified #35 – The 4th part of the 5 part arc called the “The 4th Parallel”. This has been one of my favorite arcs on this title. Dan Slott, Dan Jurgens and Jerry Ordway have combined to tell a really solid JLA adventure.

JSA Classified #23 – A two issue story starts in this issue that features one of my favorite characters Dr. Midnight. Not familiar with the writer so I have no true expectations. Which is hard one when it is a character I really like.

Justice #10 (of 12) – This has been a very good story and by all accounts it should have been All Star Justice League. If it had been an All Star book the solid bi-monthly schedule that they have maintained would have added some more credibility to the line. The big failing on this book it was written as one big story and the issue breaks are almost random. This will be a dynamite hard cover with all 12 parts in it.

Supergirl and The Legion of Super-Heroes #27 – Love this book, great stuff with the Wanderers and Mon’el are going on, but Barry Kitson signed with Marvel! Issue #30 will be his last issue. A shame, but Kitson was not making a monthly schedule here anyway, so good luck to Barry and hope we get some solid artist to come in after him.

Wetworks #6 – Wow this book got to six quick, that will happen when it is published monthly. This went from a forgettable series to a solid series on issue #4. Looking forward to this book as a solid entertaining read.

Civil War: Front Line #11 – Geez, even more Civil War crap. Even worse I hear they are doing a front line book for World War Hulk This book was not worth the 11 issues they gave it.

Daredevil #94 – An issue focusing on Matt and his wife Milla, who was a lame ass addition to the cast and I hope they get divorced or something. The cover is really funny as it is done in the style of old time romance comic books.

Dr. Strange: The Oath #5 (of 5) – Can Dr. Strange save his friend and man servant Wong? This has been a decent mini-series and an okay portrayal of Dr. Strange. I would love to see an ongoing series again.

Eternals #7 (of 7) – The end of the Gaiman / Romita series. The whole thing felt like just a re-introduction of these characters back into the Marvel Universe. They really don’t fit into the Civil War aftermath and my guess is they fall off the radar again.

Heroes for Hire #7 – This series was a surprisingly good to me at first, but I have been less enamored of it lately. This issue they are fighting the Grim Reaper, but I think their reason for being maybe over now that the new status quo is in force.

Iron Man #15 – The first real book to see if the new status quo is going to work or not. Iron Man is every where in the Marvel Universe lately and it seems impossible that he can be doing it all and run Sheild. Plus are we every going to find out what happened to Nick Fury?

Wisdom #3 (of 5) – Marvel’s attempt in creating their own Constantine like character. So far it has been enjoyable and I love this book even more as it has no association with the Civil War crap.

X-Factor #16 – Jamie Madrox quest to gather all his duplicates continue. Peter David has a home run with this book, just love this series.

X-Men #196 – This book has been okay, but very forgettable issue to issue. I was reading the hype for it and it still did not ring a bell. Mike Carey and Ed Brubaker are both good writers, but they are not making the X-Men stuff work. Every since Astonishing X-Men stole the heart of the team and the whole House of “M” thing the mutant stuff with Marvel has finally started to run out of steam. Morrison had the last great run on X-Men.

Fear Agent #11 – We are starting to get into the actual organization that our hero is part of. I love this book as it is just good solid entertainment and always leaves us on a cliff-hanger ending.

City of Others #1 (of 4) – Steve Niles and BERNIE WRIGHTSON doing a four issue horror book. Bernie Wrightson is a fantastic artist and is about the best horror artist around. It has been years since he has done any comic work, so this book I’m really looking forward to reading.
Action Philosophers #8 – Senseless Violence Spectacular – I have heard that they are stopping with #9, but regardless this comic has been the most educational and entertaining book on the stands. You really learn about different philosophers in a fun manner, sounds impossible, but it is not.

Fallen Angel #13 – This series continues to be a fascinating read and very unique. The main character is a fallen angel and she lives in a city that is alive in a way. An acquired taste, but worth the read.

Hero Squared Ongoing #5 – Way too long between issues. Best sitcom around right now. If you enjoy comedy and like Giffen/DeMattesis JLA you will enjoy this book.

Snakewoman #8 – She has 64 people left to kill. I was hearing how good this book was and recently picked up the prior three issues and it is an enjoyable comic. A young woman is possessed by a snake spirit (?) and is in the process of killing off 68 people.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Random Thoughts - Political and Comic Books

1) What ever happened to the second part of Ultimate Iron Man? All Star Batman? Action Comics by Johns and Donner, Ultimate Hulk vs. Wolverine, Wonder Woman? All good reasons to just buy the trades I guess.

2) Obama - Why is he the media darling? Is it artificial white guilt? I certainly have none. This guy believes government is the answer for everything. Give me a candidate who thinks that government is not the answer to everything. Is there one out there?

3) Sticking with politics, the republicans and the democrats have almost become the same party. I can no longer in good conscience really support any party and find it nearly impossible to support any candidate. How can a country that was founded by revolutionaries and by all accounts have an inherent distrust for government support bigger and bigger government.

4) What would it take for you to get up and actually protest something the government is doing or not doing?

5) Rush City from DC comics was advertised as almost being an ad for a new car from Pontiac, I believe. This was such a disservice as this is a great little mini-series and the new character Rush is the coolest new non-powered hero to be introduced in a long time.

6) Why does DC have so many non-super heroes versus Marvel?

7) I hear DC plans to marry off Black Canary and Green Arrow. This just sucks, because Black Canary is so much her own woman that I do not believe she would ever settle for Ollie Queen who sleeps around so much. Yet, we can't have Nightwing and Babs get together - ARGHHHH. Is it just me or does DC just like to frell with want I want to see happen.

8) Civil War is over. After 124 tie ins and extra books and bonuses, is everyone comic fan now officially over cross overs again. Don't make them do Secret Wars III or War of the Gods II to finally push you over the edge.

9) Has Marvel now broken their original universe so bad that it can't be fixed? I know only time will tell but boy have they taken my interest level down even another notch. The best series starting the X-Men is X-Men first Class and the best Avengers book by many reviews is the Marvel Adventure Avengers book. The best Marvel series now are the ones that stay away from any continuity at all. Pretty damn sad.

10) The rest of the comic industry is bursting at the seams with fun and innovative books, IDW, ONI, Image, Dark Horse, Virgin, Boom Studios, Evil Twin Comics. Granted there is a lot of garbage out there also, but if you buy comics at all please try to make a larger percentage of what you buy the independents. I almost believe that Vertigo and Icon should be included with the independents as both lines are at least different. I would just like to see the other companies combined be 35% of the market or maybe even 40%.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

The Spirit #3 - A Review

Writer and Artist - Darwyn Cooke, Inker - J. Bone, Colorist - Dave Stewart

Premise: An origin issue for The Spirit. Via flashback we see why Denny Colt now prefers to be known as the Spirit and what drives him.

What I Liked:

1) The story. It starts off with a few pages that reveals a killer's name that makes the Spirit re-live the night he died. The flashback (which is the vast majority of the story) is narrated by Denny Colt (The Spirit), his mentor Commissioner Dolan, his sidekick (a hack cab driver), his girl friend Ellen Dolan and the villain of the piece. As each person picks up the narrative the story still flows from page to page to tell how Denny stops the terrorist only to die in a toxin that mimics death. A few days later Denny emerges out of a mausoleum and decides that since he is "dead" he will be the Spirit. He dons a domino mask and his father's lucky hat as a "disguise". At the end he discovers the hired bodyguard of the terrorist is also still alive. Great stuff, very true to the essence of the character yet updated very well. Every element of the character is established in one single issue.

2) The art. The flashback is in a sketchier style, which works for this book. I love Darwyn's Cooke art, but at the animated style is still not my favorite style of art, but it is perfect for this book. Actually Cooke makes his animated style work for every piece of work he has done. Dave Stewart really uses a deft touch in his coloring to enhance this book, especially well done in the flashback part of the book.

3) Respect. This book respects what the character was and still manges to make it a modern story and make it entertaining. On top of that it is a one and done story and could easily be read and enjoyed by any age comic reader. It is a modern silver age book, one that is fun, all ages and yet is not dumbed down as many all age reads appear to be.

What I Didn't Like:

1) Nothing

Grade A

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Civil War #7 - A Review

Writer: Mark Millar, Artist: Steve McNiven, Inker: Dexter Vines.

Premise: The Marvel heroes are dealing with a tragedy that killed 600 plus innocent civilians. The tragedy was caused by a super-villain Nitro who was being chased by the New Warriors. The resulting political fall out caused a registration bill to be passed and some heroes were in favor of the bill and some were opposed, causing a Civil War. Iron Man lead the pro-registration forces and Captain America the anti-registration forces.

What I Liked:

1) The art was good, but I actually preferred Steve McNiven's earlier work. The panel layouts were okay but not spectacular.

2) Production quality was high. Nice paper all very slick and pretty.

What I Didn't Like

1) The whole idea. The end of the story is Captain America sees what great destruction they are causing and surrenders and the pro registration forces win. This is a real total change in the whole premise of the Marvel Universe. Every hero is essentially signing up to be a super cop. Being an officer of the government and being their agent is totally different from being a hero. Many of the heroes of the old Marvel universe did it because it was the right thing to do and often did it at their own expense. This takes away the heroic ideal and essentially destroys it.

2) The characterization. Who are these people. More then half of these characters don't even sound like themselves. "no, I'm just thinking about my pal up there kicking your butts into next week.." - is that something Captain America says? Reed Richards is watching Spider-Man fight and says "Amazing", then Spider-Man kicks him and says "Spectacular", hell why didn't Reed say not very Friendly - how chessy was that scene (answer very). Heracles has the line that I know Thor and you are no Thor(thank you Lloyd Bentsen) as he kills Clor (I'm not quoting as it was all darest and thoust were added). My favorite example of who the hell is this is a line from a letter Reed is sending Sue "I saw you during the clean looked so beautiful...I cried a full ninety-three minutes when I returned home that night" - BLECHHH. Plus Reed has a new power to be able to cry for over an hour and a half.

3) This not the Watchmen, this is not Kingdom Come, or Absolute New Frontier or even Crisis on Infinite Earths and I think it is less then Infinite Crisis. So why the frelling delay to let Steve McNiven draw all of it. This is not a timeless book that will last for the ages. The actual seven issues themselves were not that good and did not tell even half of the story. The fall out may have some good stories, but this was nothing more then a glorified super-hero fight that is the springboard for setting a new status quo that I think is a bad idea. Hopefully the execution of the individual series will over come this horrible status, but it has already destroyed She-Hulk.

Grade F

My grade is so harsh because this book failed on many levels, story, characterization and creating a more interesting Marvel Universe. It really missed the mark. The biggest sales numbers do not always equate to the best product.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Grandparents, Force of good? Force of Evil???

I have come to the realization that life is somewhat like Star Wars. There really is only “Do or do not! There is no try!” and no matter what you say, metal bikinis are hot. And finally, the Dark Side is alive, well, and living less than a mile from my house. Oh those deadly Sith Lords may look innocent, but they are evil incarnate. In case you are wondering, these minions of evil go by the name Grandma and Grandpa.

Now I know what you are thinking, “How can he say such mean things about cute, cuddly, little old people?” Well, let me tell you, it’s easier than you think. Just because their hair is white, or strangely too dark, doesn’t mean they aren’t capable of torturing me to no end.

And, to prove my point, I have some examples:
#1, “They don’t need no stinkin’ gloves”

Last weekend, the children wanted to see Grandma and Grandpa, and being the big softly that I am, quickly caved to their request. It had nothing to do with the fact that it was 30 degrees outside (i.e. freezing cold) and this was a grand excuse to get them out of the house which they were in the process of destroying. So I bundled them up, hats, gloves, puffy coats, the works! And off we went.

After we got to Grandma’s, took the hats, gloves, puffy coats, and shoes off, did the per functionary greetings, Grandma asked the kids “Do you want to go outside and see the lake?” To which the immediate response was “YEAH!”

WHAT? I could have done that myself at home. The key here was to keep them warm and healthy. Now the kids, in a blur of motion, put their own shoes on (strangely they can't do that at home themselves) and their coats, and run out the door as Grandma holds it open.

Notice anything missing? Like hats? Gloves? That silly zipper thing that coats are equipped with?

Now, as a child, I wasn’t allowed to go outside without the proper clothing. You know, fleece lined-down filled puffy coat, mittens, slick snow pants, boots, socks, Dad’s thermal socks (so they could fit over my socks), underwear, thermal underwear, and a scarf. I was the abominable snowsuit man by the time I was done. AND, if I was missing anything, I couldn’t go out.

With that as my basis, I watched in horror as “Grandma” just let my kids run out the door without even zipping their jackets??!!! My son's ears were turning black purple from frostbite and he was even to the corner of the house!!!!

Because I was having a mild heart attack anyway, I asked “What the hell was that? I brought the hats for a reason you know!”

Ready the reply, here it is... “Well dearie (swear to God she called me dearie!!) you’d best chase after them, they’re out of sight behind the house while you’ve been dawdling.”

Oh friggin great. Now I have to go out in the blizzard like (less the snow part) conditions and watch the stinking kids. I did not sign up for this.

Maybe that isn’t evil enough for you:
Example #2, "Sugar as a vegetable"

After I lose feeling in my fingers, toes, lower intestines, ears, and most major body parts, the kids decide they want to go back in.

What does Grandma have ready? Hot chocolate! But the kids don’t like hot chocolate, so they have chocolate milk. And some chocolate chip cookies, and the m&m’s that she picked out of the trail mix because “the kids don’t like some of the dried fruit bits”, and a popsicle to wash it down.

WHAT? What four food groups is she selecting food from? Salt, lard, sugar, and beer? Good grief, this was the woman that stuffed me with apples and pears. Now suddenly, she the Pilsbury Dough Lady and Keebler elf rolled into one.

Again, "Uuumm, Mom, what are you feeding them? AND, remember all the nutrition talks we had when I was a kid."

The reply "Oh son, back then we had the 4 food groups. Now they have the food pyramid which has far more selections for growing children."

WHAT???? As I was about to reply, my daughter rushes up (on the full tilt sugar high) "Daddy, whenareyougoinghome? Wewanttoplaywithgrandpa!!!" For point of reference, have you ever heard the chipmunks? That's what she sounded like.

As I began to open my mouth, Grandma interjected, "Yes, why don't you head home. I'm sure you have plenty of chores to do."

So, I did the only thing a good parent could do. I went home.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Brother Power The Geek

The true person behind the Marvel Civil War. Yes DC's Brother Power is the Machiavellian mastermind behind the Civil War and the final ruination of many great marvel super heroes.

If you can survive the dangers of hippie land you can do anything.

My favorite insane comic of all time. Truly a product of people who had no clue what was happening in the sixties, but still wanted to be hip and groovy. Can you dig it baby.


Monday, February 19, 2007

What I'm Getting Wednesday

When I have list like I do this week I almost think I should post what I don’t get. A lot of books and two hard covers make the comic shop owner a happy person.

52 #42 – Last issue was little moments and I enjoyed it. This issue I’m expecting some more ramping up to WW III.

Aquaman #49 – A sad issue as this is Kurt Busiek’s last issue as he needed more time on his schedule to work on a “secret” project at DC. Still Tad Williams is coming on with issue #50 and I think he may have been the perfect guy to follow Busiek.

Birds of Prey #103 – Gail Simone continues to make this book rock. Oracle, Barda, Huntress, Manhunter and Zinda (Lady Blackhawk) all really make this book a lot of fun.

Brave & Bold # 1 – FINALLY. Mark Waid and George Perez with the return of the Brave and Bold title. Really looking forward to this and trying to reign in my expectations as I don’t want to kill the book with expectations that can’t be met.

Catwoman #64 – Selina is trying to save Holly from a murder rap by breaking into Lex corporation. Should be good as Will Pfeifer has really don as nice job as the writer on this book. I just really wanted Holly to take over the role permanently.

Checkmate #11 – The spotlight moves to Fire, who has again become a character I really love. This is really a well done book and should be a must read for people. Political intrigue, super heroics, spy games, it has everything and is done well.

Hellblazer #229 – A brief one shot by Michael Carey before Andy Diggle takes over the book. With Carey and John Paul Leon it should be a good read. Amazing that this book is up to #229.

Helmet of Fate – Black Alice – Continuing our spotlights on various magical characters in the DCU. Black Alice I believe is a Gail Simone creation and she can steal any magical persons powers and use them as her own for awhile. Steve Niles is the writer and Scott Hampton is the artist, should be good.

Ion #11 – Donna Troy's coming to see Kyle about a crisis. Okay how many universes are there floating around in the DCU and are they are crossing over or what. Is Action a different DCU then Superman. I have a feeling we will have more questions then answers out of this book, but I’m looking forward to ION (there I said it, I’m looking forward to Ion).

Kamandi Archives #2 – I never got into Kamandi when the book came out and now that we have two Archives volumes of Kamandi I’m really looking forward to reading it. Jack Kirby may not have been the best writer, but his concepts and ideas were often nothing short of amazing and this was when he was still in his prime for concepts. I always wished he had been pared with a writer, but after all the years with Stan Lee I think he wanted full credit for what he was doing.

Omega Men #5 (of 6) – I have a feeling this book is tying into WWIII, but who really knows. Anyway writer Andersen Gabrych and artist Flint Henry have made this a crazy and enjoyable space epic.

Robin #159 – Tim on a first date. Adam Beechen and Freddie Williams have made this book a great read month in and month out.

Rush City #5 (of 6) – Dixon and Tim Green have made a throw away series a great read and Rush is a really cool character who just oozes a almost charismatic feel to him. I want to see a second mini-series and I would love to see him show up in a Batman comic one day. A very neat non-powered hero.

Shadowpact #10 – Willingham was supposed to be writer and artist, but I think he has only drawn three issues, but that’s okay as this book rocks. Nightmaster has a sword in his chest and is dying and Blue Devil seems to be heading for full Demon status.

Spirit #3 – Story and Art by Darwyn Cooke and an apparent flash back tale telling us the origin of the Spirit. I love this book.

Superman #659 – This issue is a flashback tale and seems to be a treading water issue. All the Superman books have been entertaining but the over all story plan that seemed to be brewing with Superman and Action has been side tracked by the very late Action Comic issues. Still looks to be a good issue with Busiek and Nicieza writing and Pacheo and a new artist Pete Vale as artist.

Testament #15 – The Babel story continues. Really a book that needs to be read to understand it and even then it is not 100% clear. Douglas Rushkoff as the writer blends a science fiction near future with biblical stories and the art is by Liam Sharp, very enjoyable and a challenging read.

Wonder Woman #4 – Who cares. I hear #5 may just be pushed off and the next issue will be the new team (not sure is they will skip the numbering or not). This book is just totally off the tracks and the first five issues should just be ignored as an Elseworlds or be the multi-verse that is destroyed in the next crisis.

Amazing Spider-Man #538 – The end of the Civil War and the last Civil War tie-in for Spider-Man. Marvel is saying much, so I have no clue is this is post Civil War #7 or before it.

Civil War #7 (of 7) – The 500 pound gorilla arrives this week. This series has sucked and the whole Marvel Universe has been delayed as this book has been delayed. I don’t believe the ending can save this series, but it is still a book that I’m curious to read to see if Marvel has any guts to make any long lasting changes to their Universe.
Iron Fist #3 – Danny Rand meets the prior Iron Fist. Brubaker and Fraction as co-writers have crafted an interesting premise for Iron Fist and I’m enjoying this book (the whole forever legacy could be old, but let’s see what their idea is first before I scrag it).

Legion of Monsters :Werewolf by Night #1 – By Mike Carey and Greg Land (ugh). Still I love the old Werewolf by Night character and can not wait for this book.

Marvel Masterworks DD – Volume #4 – This was almost the first Masterworks I skipped as Daredevil was not really that good in this era and the whole triple identity thing where Matt Murdock pretended to be his identical twin brother Mike Murdock and was DD was just silly.

New Avengers: Illuminati #2 (of 5) – Continuing the retro-con of the Illuminati in the Marvel Universe. This issue focuses on the Infinity Gauntlet. Not really high on this book, but curiosity has the better of me.

Punisher War Journal #4 – The funeral of the Stilt-Man – should be amusing.

She-Hulk #16 – She-Hulk teamed with Wolverine, the book must really need sales. This book is still okay, but it used to be so much more. I have a feeling this book will not last much longer.

Silent War #2 (of 6) – This issue really surprised me as I went in with limited expectations, Dave Hine and Frazer Irving made the Inhumans versus the US a very well told tale of how a war gets started and how things can go wrong in a hurry.

Ultimate Fantastic Four #39 – Diablo shows up in the Ultimate Universe to plague the FF. Mike Carey continues his run on this books. Curious to see if this is better then his first arc.

X-Men First Class #6 (of 8) – Jeff Parker and Roger Cruz have delivered a highly enjoyable run on seeing the first X-Men (updated into more modern times) in new adventures.

Invincible #39 – I love this book, everyone should buy this book.

Nightly News #4 – Wow this book is an excoriating indictment of the media and more. Full of facts that you can ignore and enjoy the story or read the facts and learn. The Voice (a cult like sect) versus the media moguls of the world.

Conan #37 – More barbarian goodness from Truman and Cary Nord – glad we are back to the early Conan years.

30 Days of Night – Spreading the Disease #3 (of 5) – We continue to follow our FBI agent into what the hell is going on with the Astronauts from last mini-series and what is going on with the disease. A very good series.

Local #8 (of 12) – Welcome back. I have missed seeing this book for awhile and look forward to our next city and to see where Megan is now.

Walk-In #3 – Read #1 and then missed #2, I’ll see if 3 continues to draw me into this offbeat story.

Wasteland #7 – Great book by Anthony Johnston. This issue is I believe a stand alone by a guest artist before the next big arc begins. This book has a really great feel to it and I have enjoyed ever issue.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

The Surrogates - Is Technology Always an Improvement?

This was a really great graphic novel and I have to thank Lee for turning me onto this book .

Lee does a nice job of reviewing the story, so I won't reiterate, but what I liked in addition to the actual story is the themes it touched on. As a culture that is obsessed in some ways with always trying to be younger and refusing to acknowledge that our appearance can change and we can still always be mentally young, this books serves as the ultimate extreme. Also the ideas of gender and race equality as never being resolved was really interesting as humans we will always stereotype as it just the way our minds work, so getting surrogates would be the one way of finally removing all barriers.

Finally I think a theme that I think about a lot was in the book and that is one of technology removing us away from the real world. While technology provides us a way of keeping in touch and shopping online it also has removed some of the social interaction that we used to have. Ultimately whether this is a positive or negative social force only time will tell.

Anyway thanks Lee for a great read and this graphic novel is on its way to Brainiac6 who will then loan it to Airelle.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Image Comics for May - A Previews Review

Jim: Image is really pulling out all the stops and bringing in a very independent feeling into there books. A far cry from what they were when they started.
Lee: Well, another strange group of books. A very odd month.

GUTSVILLE #1 Written by Simon Spurrier, art and cover Frazer Irving. Gutsville is a town living in the belly of the beast, literally. 150 years after the ocean liner HMS Daphne was swallowed at sea, its passengers' descendants cling to life in Gutsville. All is not well among the slippery streets... As revolutionaries, sadistic priests and frothing psychos clash in the psychedelic innards of an impossible creature, it's left to one scared RatCatcher to consider escape...
Jim : Have to give kudos to Image, their line has gotten very diverse and they are trying out lots of different material. Taking the Jonah the whale story to it’s ultimate extreme and adding in Frazer Irvings art and I will be looking into this beast for at least a couple of issues. I thought Spurrier was back to coaching college football, but a comics writer too – who knew (oh that’s Steve Spurrier, never mind).
Lee: I agree, this looks very, very nice. The problem is… if Image starts putting out more interesting things like this then something has to give. Shall I stop X-men from and risk not having every single issue since the dawn of time??? Kidding aside, Image producing good books is a problem because I am semi maxed in the budget now. Having to do a pull-list cleaning isn’t a pleasant idea.

STRANGE EMBRACE #1 Written by David Hine, art and cover by Hine and Rob Steen. Hine brings his magnum opus to Image Comics! Digitally re-mastered, Strange Embrace will be available as eight monthly issues colored by Flanimals co-creator Rob Steen and lettered by those awfully nice chaps at Comicraft! Strange Embrace is a modern gothic sexual tortured romance and is not for the nervous!
Jim: Okay, different is good, psycho-sexual tortured, hmmm, sounds a little too far out there.
Lee: Honestly, I’m not really sure what to make of this. It was originally a GN and now they are chopping it up into single issues. Why? It is cheaper to get the GN. Anyway, this would be more interesting if Hine had become more. I think there was a time that David Hine was “the next thing” but none of his ideas seemed to really stick. Having already read this, it’s ok, it certainly isn’t a psycho-sexual tortured romance. There’s a bit of exaggeration here.

WARD OF THE STATE #1 Written by Christopher E. Long, art and cover by Chee. Norma Balitzer is just your typical average foster mother...who happens to train her young wards to be hired killers! Dravis Trucker, her latest ward, has always yearned for a normal life. Now he's hoping to survive long enough to get his driver's license!
Jim: So out all the publishers so far Image has more new projects in May then Marvel and DC combined at this point. This one sounds like a pass, but boy is horror making a strong comeback in comics. Between the crime and horror books it sounds like the second coming of EC comics. Now if we can just get some more science fiction anthology books going.
Lee: I really like the cover image. Not sure about the stories. I do wonder where Image is going these days because this month seems to be heavy on the horror offerings. Maybe they’ve seen the success of IDW and are imitating them to some point.

INTERSECTIONS Art and cover by Duncan Fegredo and Sean Phillips. Conceived during a repast of fine wine and nouvelle cuisine, Intersections is the meeting of two artistic minds. Sean Phillips and Duncan Fegredo play artistic ping pong with a sketchbook -- a drawn and painted conversation where punctuation is provided by the postal service. Can you read between the paintings?
Intersections: A visual dialogue between Sean Phillips and Duncan Fegredo.Intersections: The sequential conclusion to an excess of curry and beer. 96 pages, $14.99, in stores on May 9 (limited edition hardcover, $34.99).
Jim: Very cool concept. I may drop $15 to check it out.
Lee: Ummm, as you always tell me, you’re on your own with this one. If I read this correctly, two guys get drunk and doodle in a notebook???? And they want $14 of money I earned while I was sober… money I earn when “less than sober” supports my comic book habits, but enough of that…. I don’t see the appeal.
Jim: When Lee puts it that way I'll have to rethink this and just look at at the comic store (if they even order it).

Jim: This book is so good that it should be the number one selling continuing monthly series. It is reminiscent of the Lee/Ditko run on Spider-Man and has elements of the great writers of today who plant seeds in the series and slowly bring them to fruition.
Lee: Aaahhhh. What is a month without the “Jim LOVE Invincible” speech. I got it already it’s a good book. And, for the reader at home (he’s right).

TELLOS COLOSSAL HCstory TODD DEZAGO, art & cover MIKE WIERINGO288 PAGES $39.99TELLOS is an all-ages roller coaster of action and adventure, mystery and magic, and good versus evil! The perfect format for the perfect bedtime story—for children of ALL ages!RETAILER WARNING: MAY NOT BE SUITABLE FOR ALL AGES
Lee: This is really an odd offering. The original series did “ok” if I remember correctly. And the story was “ok”. But, seriously, was anyone asking for this? But, that said, 288 pages for $40 is a good deal and the art is really pretty which somewhat makes up for a weak script. I still won’t be getting it though. I do like the ad, specifically the little text for children of ALL ages! and the bottom retailer warning text NOT BE SUITABLE FOR ALL AGES. Not that’s a marketing plan!

Jim: So I wonder exactly what ages it is not suitable for? Have to love the back and forth on that marketing plan.

Lee: FALSE ADVERTISING ALERT!!! This is a really great looking cover by Mark Schultz… but no interior art. I was jipped! Wish Schultz would do some interior stuff.
Jim: Been a long time since I remember any project with Mark Schultz doing all the art. A shame this is not more then a cover.

Lee: Nothing special about this other than Mike Perkins is the current artist on Cap’n America. If you like his stuff you might want to read this. I won’t but you might want to.
Jim: This is a easy pass for me.

THE TRIPPER (ONE-SHOT) Written by David Arquette and Joe Harris, adapted by Steve Niles, art and cover by Nat Jones.
The official comic of the movie. A group of free-loving hippies head to Frank Baker's American Free Love Festival for all the sex, drugs and rock n' roll they can get their grubby hands on. But they're not the only ones coming... out of the woods comes a maniac of presidential proportions! He's big. He's mean. And he's come back to save a country that's lost its way, and slaughter every last filthy hippie who dares to enter his domain. It's morning in America all over again! Go out there and... kill one for The Tripper!
Jim: This type of project always leaves me cold and I have seldom, if every purchased one. An easy pass for me.
Lee: Love the cover. It is very effective for selling the plot. It should be noted that Nat Jones is a good horror artist, but, I’m with you. Don’t care.

THE PIRATES OF CONEY ISLAND #8 (of 8)story RICK SPEARSart & cover by VASILIS LOLOS & NICK FILARDIThe Pirates and the Cherries go toe-to-toe with the Hitman and Cadillacula and only one will rule Coney Island.
Lee: I love the covers to this series and the previews for issue #1 that newsarama did looked great. I am glad the series is over so I can get the trade.
Jim: I have to borrow the trade from you Lee. This holds no real interest for me.

MADAME MIRAGE #1 Written by Paul Dini, art by Kenneth Rocafort, covers by Greg Horn and Rocafort.
Jim: No sir, the comic fan is not just an over-sexed man-child living in Mom and Dad’s basement lusting after 4-color women on a comic page. The concept and the writer make me want to buy the book, the cover makes me want to hide from any non-comic friends who stop in the house.
Lee: This comic makes me relive those happy days when I was single… in the basement of my house… all alone… reading –wink wink- -nudge nudge- my comic books. Aaahh those were the days…
Oh sorry. What were we talking about?

UNIQUE #3 Written by Dean Motter, art and colored by Dennis Calero.
Jim: This sounds like such an interesting story, I hope it is good as the write-up. I’m always worried, that like trailers being the best part of the movie, that the concept is the best part of the comic.
Lee: How did we miss this before? I don’t remember seeing it advertised anywhere. Dean Motter is an excellent, excellent writer, from Mr. X to Terminal City, he is fantastic. Since, I already missed all the other issues I guess I’ll be getting the trade.

MADAME MIRAGE GREG HORN LITHO12 by 18” Limited Edition Lithograph
Lee: And in case you missed it, for only $30, you can have that stunning cover to Madame Mirage in super duper, bigger than life size, full color, 12x18 glory. Why hide your creepy, fanboy side when you can post it on the wall… in the basement … where you live… aaaallll by yourself. I wonder if the wife will let me hang my copy in the living room. I’ll frame it and call it art!
Jim: If you start hanging that in your living room, you will be living alone. I guess you have to give kudos to Greg Horn and Greg Land for drawing some incredibly sexy women, but they really solidify the image of the comic fan boy.

Ghost Rider Movie Review

Last night my boyfriend took me to see the new Ghost Rider movie (as my Valentine's Day gift) at midnight. As much as I loved Ghost Rider as a kid I was worried going into the movie - this film had several problems along the way and even without those issues I had to be able to accept Nick Cage as Johnny Blaze and deal with the fact that Ghost Rider was going to have a hard time coming to screen regardless. Ghost Rider is NOT a story that I foresaw translating well to motion picture format. And honestly, it didn't.

But damn if I didn't really like the movie.

Let me explain... they changed the orgin story. They must have realized that Ghost Rider in it's original glory didn't work. I mean, sure, we can accept it for what it is in the comic books, but lets face it, it doesn't make for a good movie. They made the orgin story BETTER. I was shocked. And somehow Ghost Rider works very very well as a Western. Oh yeah, Virgil was there too! (from Tombstone)

They completely revamped Roxy - but yet again it worked for the film. She was a fantastic love interest and had a few good solo moments as well.

The special effects were so much fun. Watching Ghost Rider drive around on his bike was so frelling cool I felt like a little kid on Christmas morning. Then again, I'm also easily distracted by shiny things, but so what, it was nifty.

Now don't get me wrong - the movie certainly had some hokey moments and Ghost Rider's voice could have been better done. The bad guys were a bit cliche and there were one or two moments that made me cringe. But the bottom line was the movie was FUN. Fun with plot and character development. I walked away giddy and very pleased that they stayed true to the spirit of Johnny Blaze while still being able to try something new.

As for Uncle Nick, he did a good job. He still doesn't quite fit my mental image of Johnny Blaze, but he obviously loved the character enough to make it work for him. Major kudos to him for pulling this one off, I'm glad he asked Johnny Depp to stay away from the role. It all seemed to work out in the end :)

So if you're a comic book fan because you can sit back and enjoy a fun story you should go see this movie - you'll have a good time!

Friday, February 16, 2007

Fatherly Duties

Tonight, I shall ask the readers a simple question? Am I a big softie?... and before you all say "Oh yeah. Lee's the Pilsbury Doughboy he's so soft" here's the story...

To start, I have a "room" that is filled with all sorts of comic book goodies. On the left side of the room are the boxes. You can see I am well organized with boxes and boxes and boxes. This is the Marvel half of the shelf, the other half consists of DC/Indies. On the right hand side of the room is the trades. Needless to say, the wife never enters the room... well, just because, BUT, it's all I can do to keep the kids out.

In a free moment, I put up a shelf and began to load it with action figures because no comic book room is complete without an highly, collectable ACTION FIGURE display area. Now, I didn't tell the kids about the shelf figuring they would see it soon enough.

It took less than a week. I came home from work yesterday and Jonah attacked me as I walked in the door!

"Daddy Daddy DADDY. You have a new shelf. When can we play with your toys Daddy Daddy DADDY!" Jonah is five and as with all five yr olds very excitable. He has trouble telling the difference between highly, collectable ACTION FIGURES and toys but other than that he's great. Once his twin sister Maia joined in the "Toy, toy toy, please please please" chant I caved. "After dinner" I said to a chorus of cheers. The interesting part about this whole exchange is that I never told Jonah about the shelf, and typically I don't leave the door to "THE ROOM" open. So, how exactly he knew about the shelf and the highly, collectable ACTION FIGURES on the shelf is a great big mystery.

After dinner, the kids rushed into the basement and flew into the room. I had to explain who everyone was... twice because everyone was too excited to listen the first time... and all the figrues were touched and held and generally loved as only five year olds can.

Now then, this is the part which will or won't define me as a softie... After all the highly, collectable ACTION FIGURES were down,
Maia turned to me...,
With her eyes as big as bowling balls, innocent and full of hope...,
looked me right in the eye....
And with a little mist in her eye, because she already knew the answer asked "Daddy, don't you have any girl action figures?"

TO which I replied "HELL NO!".... NO NO NO. I didn't do that!!!!

I replied, "Daddy has some in the back room that he hasn't unpacked yet. Maybe tonight, after you go to bed, I shall try to find them." I asked who she wanted and she settled for a moon knight because he has a cape like Batman.

Soooooo, since I don't have any girl highly, collectable ACTION FIGURES, today, I rushed out to Toys'r'us at lunch and bought a Wasp figure. I would have gotten the Spiderwoman figure too but she really, really didn't look good.

Tonight, after dinner, I snuck the Wasp down, and presented her to my daughter who played with her until bed time.

So, am I a big softie????

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Marvel Solicitations May

Lee: Well, now that DC is done… time to review the Marvel books. And, I must say, YUCK. There’s some good stuff but whoever did all the DC covers seems to have done the Marvel covers too. Lots of stuff in the middle of story arcs and lots of trades I’m not interested in. Could be a light buying month… The good news, the worse the selection, the more books I can ridicule!!!
Jim: I thought May would have more new stuff from both companies looking to get us pumped up for the summer months, but with comics being market for 20 plus year olds (or older) maybe summer isn’t the big deal it used to be.

Lee: I think this is a great idea. Maybe it will bring some new readers into the hobby. I remember when First redid Classics Illustrated a couple of years ago and that was some great stuff. Hopefully this will do well. My only problem… from ad-copy “Plus-delve into the history of the man known as Hawkeye in a special bonus story!” Uuuummm, I never read the story so the only Hawkeye I know is the member of the Avengers. If they shoe horn a back story about him (or his great-great-great Uncle) then this immediately goes in the trash. Bottom line, won’t be buying it but interested by it.
Jim: Classic Illustrated was great stuff (and I remember the originals). Back then they were one and done cliff notes with pictures. Still I’m signed up for this book. Side note to Lee – it ain’t that Hawkeye.

Lee: Not at all interested in this book but the cover… seriously, what is the Invisible Girl doing??? Since when did super smart Sue Richards (or Storm if they aren’t married yet) become a porn star??? Is it to much to ask that the artist use “reference material” that has real (non-silicon) people in it? This gives fanboys a bad name.
Jim: Greg Land produces all of this type of crap. Hell I’m embarrassed to leave certain comics on my coffee table for fear of being looked at as a pervert. This type of stuff only lends credence to the complaints of how exploitive comics can be of females. Plus it takes away from any merit the story may have.

Lee: WHY??? FOR THE LOVE OF GOD WHY DO THEY PRINT THIS CRAP???? Anway… won’t be buying this either.
Jim: Actually my daughter (who is 24) enjoyed the X-Men Fairy Tales and I’m getting this for her. It is just another riff on Willingham’s success with Fables. True I could care less, but it could still be good.
Lee: HOLD ON!!! WOP WOP Danger Will Robinson!!! Personal information alert. You’re daughter is 24??? OMG THAT MAKES YOU…. FRIGGIN OLD AS DIRT. I thought the white hair were highlites to make you look… I don’t know, wise and sopiss, sophtic, …smart or something.

Lee: Seriously, who is that on the cover? Sure doesn’t look like Blade? Not ANY of the incarnations of blade that I am familiar with at least. Apparently DC fired the cover coordinator and marvel hired him.
Jim: It Luke “Blade” Cage. Remember when covers were the selling point of a comic?

BLACK PANTHER #28 Spinning from the pages of the mega-hit MARVEL ZOMBIES!
Lee: Enough with the Zombies already. There in what??? 4 books this month. Let it go. Please. BUT, I do like looking at how they decompose marvel heroes every month. Unfortunately, that too will be old in a month.
Jim: I hate when anything has success anymore, because if you liked it once, you will like it a thousand more times until you are sick of it. Plus I just started to get FF again for Dwayne McDuffie taking over writing it, do I now have to pick up Reggie’s crap version of the Black Panther book too. I don’t think so.

INCREDIBLE HULK #106 Written by GREG PAK, Pencils and Cover by GARY FRANK
Lee: The return of Gary Frank is very cool. The Hulk back on Earth is very cool. The very obvious mega crossover that’s coming… not cool. I will get the book because I am interested to see where it goes but my hopes aren’t high.
Jim: I think the Hulk character is worn out. I would prefer to leave him married and on his planet and out of continuity for awhile. I mean he has no supporting cast and you can only go so far with this character.
Lee: WHAT??? Peter David made this character work for 10+ years. Sheesh, now you’re old and senile. Tough day in posting world J-.

Lee: Ok. Not buying the book. Don’t care about the book. BUT THE COVER!!! This is so tongue in cheek, it’s awesome. On Cap’s head, “France”, on Thors hammer, “Whosoeverrth findeth this hammer. If she be hot, shall wield the power of the gnarly Thor.” That’s too funny.
Jim: This is a very funny cover. It does make you wonder what is going on, but it is a firm pass.

Lee: Once again not buying it. Why talk about it then???? Because I love Marvel monsters and because I will be picking up the deluxe HC, one month after the last issue is published and read it that way. And, I shall save a buck or two. At least the covers look interesting.
Jim: I will be buying it and then I may buy the hardcover. I prefer to see if what I get in a hardcover is worth it and if the stories really suck I’ll pass on the hardcover.
Lee: Someday we are going to have to debate the floppies v. tpb v. HC thing. But, until then, you're wrong wrong wrong with this attitude. And as a prempitve... because I know how you argue... ARE TOO! ARE TOO! ARE TOO!

Lee: Let’s have the argument… Is it a swipe if uncredited or just a homage? In case you couldn’t figure it out, this is a SWIPE from the 50’s b-movie “Attack of the 50 ft Woman.” Don’t get me wrong, it’s well done but shouldn’t you give some credit somewhere??? I call swipe and lazy artist.
Jim: I call it a swipe and almost illegal. I have no problem with paying homage to great poses and stuff, but for gosh sakes at least credit the people you are ripping off.

MIGHTY AVENGERS #3 Frank Cho drawing Tigra!! Did you hear us? FRANK CHO DRAWING TIGRA!! Which Avenger is Tigra dating? Prrrrr!!
Lee: Speaking of giving fanboy’s a bad rap. Sheesh, did you read this? If your main selling point is Cho drawing Tigra and not the story then this is a sad, sad day. What crap.
Jim: It’s sounds prrrrfect. I have to agree and I don’t want to even borrow your copy of the book if this hype is what sold you on the book.

WOLVERINE #54 It's time for round five!
Lee: You know what I love about this… “It’s time for round 5”! Ummm, round 5 this week. It’s more like round five thousand. You complained on the show about issue 50 being a waste and what luck, it continues until issue 54 with no end in sight. Soooooo not buying this.
Jim: Plus Loeb’s writing has been uninspired lately. What crap when your best shot on a character is to redo what has been done over and over and over again. Wolverine used to be an incredible cool character, but he has become a caricature of himself.

Lee: One of the few bright spots this month. I can’t wait to read this. But, I am surprised there isn’t a HC to go along with it. Especially with all the rave reviews, I expected a HC.
Jim: The series has been good, not great and at times I think actually a little weak. I think this is a series that will get better with time and I’ll wait for the 12 issues hard covers anyway.

Lee: Honestly, how many times can I get the same material? I have the Masterworks HC’s. The series has been reprinted three or four times in single issue format. The series has even been reprinted as a Essential. What more do they want from me? Honestly, I really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, *deep breath* really, want this but can’t see forking the money out. Especially, since the only new thing I would get is the 18 letters pages. Someday, it will show up on eBay at a 60% discount and I will get it then.
Jim: I really, really, really, don’t want this as I’m content with the Masterworks version and the Silver Surfer was really a boring character in many of these stories. The soliloquies that he did were so over dramatic. This material did not age well story wise, the art was fine.

MARVEL MASTERWORKS: THE INCREDIBLE HULK VOL. 4 Collecting INCREDIBLE HULK (Vol. 2) #103-110 and ANNUAL #1. Lee: This bad boy is coming home! Great stuff and Severin’s ink over Trimpe’s pencils… SWEET! Classic stuff from Marvel peak!
Jim: I agree, this was an easy decision. I have all the Masterworks but it is getting hard to sometimes decide to buy each one, but this is a no brainer.

Lee: Warren Ellis does the Ultimate Galactus. I just don’t know. The individual mini-series kinda faltered but collected… will it work better? Will it read better? Jim, an opinion?
Jim: I skipped all of this stuff and based on the Cosmic Comics panelist’s review of this stuff I think it was Warren Ellis’ worse work in a long time. I’m skipping it.

Lee: I like newspaper adventure strips. They hold a certain charm and appeal. That said, you would think I would be all over this. But, Spidey dailies from Jan 1977 to Jan 1980 don’t do it for me. I like the **OLD** strips because of the fact that they are **OLD**. I can learn something about the mores, and values, and lifestyles of the 20’s and 30’s by reading those strips. It’s interesting. And besides, the strips I like are the classics that impacted life and became cultural icons. Dick Tracy, Gasoline Alley, Peanuts, all had lasting impacts and tremendous influence in society. This was just another avenue to cash in on Spiderman. More for the Spiderman/Romita Sr completist than the casual reader.
Jim: Well hell if you are passing on this who the hell will buy it?

Lee: Now this is classic Fantastic Four. Great, great stuff. BUT, the Masterworks series just completed up to 104. Do I wait for the color version or do I just get this now??? Decisions, decisions, decisions.
Jim: No decision, it’s mine and it’s home. The Fantastic Four Masterworks are going to be on the slow track now that the Lee/Kirby stuff is done. I would prefer some nice soft cover color reprints, but I’ll take what I can get.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

New Comic Publisher Announced

Red 5 Comics has announced it will launch with its first titles this fall.
Red 5 Comics is the creation of Paul Ens, former director of Lucasfilm's and Lucas Online, and Scott Chitwood, co-founder of
The Red 5 line-up will be a combination of creator-owned and internally developed titles. Individual comic issues will be sold in both traditional print form at comic shops and in downloadable electronic formats online.
Among the titles in development are:
* Abyss: From Kevin Rubio, Abyss, tells the comedic and dysfunctional tale of the relationship between a son and his powerful supervillain father. Lucas Marangon is drawing the series, re-uniting the creative team behind the Dark Horse Comics' Star Wars: Tag and Bink.
* Atomic Robo: Brian Clevinger and Scott Wegener chronicle the Action Science adventures of Nikola Tesla's robot across the 20th century and beyond.
* Midknight: Tom Hodges creates and illustrates the exploits of a husband-and-wife team who fight crime from the office by day and on the streets of Philadelphia at night.
* Neozoic: Created by Paul Ens, Neozoic imagines a gritty sci-fi / fantasy world where dinosaurs did not become extinct, and humanity lives under the constant threat of giant predators. Art is by J. Korim.
* Afterburn: When half the planet is destroyed by a solar flare, out of the ashes emerge the action adventures of Jake and his treasure-hunters for hire. Afterburn is written by Scott Chitwood and Paul Ens, drawn by Wayne Nichols, with covers by Matt Busch.
I love seeing new publishers entering the field. I think it pushes the big two to be better and I think it encourages mores genres of comics. I have to try and keep an eye out for these books. Do you know how hard it is to keep an eye out?

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

DC Solicitations For May Previews Review

Jim: Wow the DC solicitations has very little of the shiny and new stuff that always gets my attention. In some ways this is a good thing as it is nice to see that the core titles is the focus of the company instead of only new things. But, I have also heard that Countdown will be rushed solicited after the New York Comic show where the series is to be announced. That makes me wonder about maybe some other new projects are being kept under wraps also.
Lee: So, I wrote this intro where I said that it was a light month. It really isn’t. There are lots of trades, a couple of HC’s, and the usual assortment of toys. The truth is… most of it just doesn’t interest me. It won’t stop me from looking and poking fun at it but I won’t buy most of it…

BATMAN #666 Written by Grant Morrison Art by Andy Kubert & Jesse Delperdang Meet Damian Wayne, the Batman of Tomorrow in this special issue set 15 years from now in a nightmarish future Gotham! In a world torn apart by terrorism, plagues, rogue weather and bizarre super-crime, only 24 hours are left before the climactic battle of Armageddon - and only one man who might be able to stop it. But will he? The Son of the Bat meets the Prince of Darkness and the stage is set for the ultimate battle between evil and moral ambiguity. Can Damian make peace with his heritage to save the world? Find out in BATMAN #666, "Numbers of the Beast."
Jim: I’m curious to see what this is all about. I have always wanted Batman to give up the mantle, but this supposed son of Batman is not really a good guy. Still it has my curiosity aroused and it should make for some good fodder for future critics.
Lee: This completely falls under “wait for trade” in my book. It’s a glorified Elseworlds tale… oops I mean Earth 692 tale. If you go back (and I know you can’t Jim), Morrision’s run on Batman wasn’t all that good. There were inconsistencies in story flow and art that really marred what he might have been doing. I will keep my eyes on the critics and see what people are saying before making a commitment. For comparisons sake, didn’t he end his run on X-men with one of these crazy future tales?

DETECTIVE COMICS #832 Written by Royal McGraw
Lee: Speaking of keeping focus… who is Royal McGraw? Anyone? Anyone? Seriously, I have never heard of him. And this seems to be awfully high profile for someone I have never heard of. Oops, let me correct myself, with a quick google I see he wrote the ever marginal Dr. Phosphorus story. Whee fun! Another break in my almost continuous run so let’s hope Dini returns soon.
Jim: I have to wonder who the hell Royal McGraw is also, the only McGraw I know is Quick Draw. They may have been McDraw, still same difference.

ALL STAR BATMAN AND ROBIN, THE BOY WONDER #5 Written by Frank Miller Art and cover by Jim Lee and Scott Williams The pulse-pounding adventure continues with the All Star creative team of Frank Miller, Jim Lee and Scott Williams! The Batman puts Dick Grayson to the ultimate test, and the orphaned aerialist must make a difficult choice before becoming Robin, the Boy Wonder!
Jim: Does anyone care about this book anymore. What a waste, end this series and start it with a real Batman All Star Team that can actually deliver a comic book on occasion. A shame two great talents producing crap.
Lee: Issue 5.. not bad in two years. Soooo glad I WFT(waited for trade) on this. Especially since at this rate the trade will never come out. I smell quarter book fodder in less than two years.

BATMAN: EGO AND OTHER TAILS HC Written by Darwyn Cooke and others Art by Cooke and others Cover by Cooke DC proudly presents Darwyn Cooke's tales of the Dark Knight in one graphic novel, including the acclaimed BATMAN: EGO and the original graphic novel CATWOMAN: SELINA'S BIG SCORE! Also included are stories from BATMAN: GOTHAM KNIGHTS #23 & 33 and SOLO #1
Jim: This is just a cruel joke to get $25 buck from me because I’m such a huge Darwyn Cooke fan. Good I hate it when they know me so well, I feel easy.
Lee: You are easy. I am easy. Wouldn’t you like to be easy too!!! Really looking forward to getting this on the shelf at home. Especially since the Ego story is supposedly really good.

ACTION COMICS #849 Written by Fabian Nicieza Art by Allan Goldman
Jim: The whole Geoff Johns/Richard Donner and Adam Kubert thing is really taking a long time to come together. We have had tons of delays and fill ins to keep Action comics on the racks. I know big names are cool, but publishing books is even cooler.
Lee: If the show didn’t talk about it then I would never know about this book. It just isn’t on my radar.

Lee: WOW! I remember a few years ago the hub-bub that Witchblade covers caused because they were, for all intents and purposes, covers to Playboy. These two covers aren’t much better. Powergirl is wearing a swimsuit that is cut so high and drawn with such… subtlety… ANYWAY, I can’t comment because this is a family blog. And whoever decided the Supergirl upskirt on the cover was a good idea should be shot. Good thing DC is refocusing Supergirl towards young women because this is EXACTLY what fashions I want my daughters seeing. To steal a line… awful.
Jim: The real crime is that she is supposed to be about 16, so how can a grown man feel anything but perverted for lusting after a 16 year old. It's not like I'm in Congress.

FLASH: THE FASTEST MAN ALIVE #12 Written by Marc Guggenheim Art by Tony Daniel & Art Thibert Cover by Daniel Tony Daniel (TEEN TITANS) brings "Full Throttle" into the endgame stage! The dark force behind the Rogues' full frontal assault is revealed -and this issue's shocker ending will change the Flash forever!
Jim: First off very happy that we have a new team on this book starting soon, but I just love this type of hype from DC and Marvel “and this issue's shocker ending will change the Flash forever!” Yawn. Sure it will, sure. Fool me once, shame on me, fool me 10,000 times and I ignore you.
Lee: La la la. Hype hype hype. Snore. Anyway… Isn’t Guggenheim writing something good right now???? That’s right, he’s doing Hyperion v. Nighthawk and Blade too! I am not getting either book so I shouldn’t comment…. But I will anyway. If I look back in your reviews, HvN is saved by the art and Blade is so-so. And let’s not get started on Tony Daniel’s art, ugh. DC seems to be throwing people at this title and hoping something sticks. I guess the chance will make it better than the current series but that doesn’t say much.

DOCTOR FATE #2 Written by Steve Gerber Art by Justiniano & Walden Wong Cover by Paul Gulacy
Lee: Uuummm, minor quibble but wasn’t Gulacy doing the interiors last issue? That must be a new record if you can’t get more than one issue done.
Jim: Was it Gulacy? Wow he has been busy for a guy who disappeared off the comic scene for a few years. Lots of writers and artists have come back into comics, maybe the money is better or they couldn't get a job anywhere else.

JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #9 Part 3 of the hottest crossover of the year featuring the new JLA & JSA!
Lee: Speaking of senseless hype… “The hottest crossover of the year” until July when the next big event comes along. Sigh. I actually feel bad for you Jim, because you already dropped the putrid JLA and now you have to get it again just so you can read this SENSE-SHATTER MEGA EVENT EVENT EVENT!!!
Jim: I have not dropped the JLA, Lee. As much as I want to, Ed Benes art has kept me in the loop. But you have to love the over the top hype.

HAWKGIRL #64 Cover by Howard Chaykin
Lee: Jim once told me “Chaykin has 5 faces” and WOW oh WOW does this cover prove it because this does not look anything like Superman. And, that doesn’t even begin to address to dull composition of the cover. This book begs to be canceled.
Jim: I have heard the begging has been answered. I agree time for this book to fold its tent, wait a year or two and try again.

SEVEN SOLDIERS OF VICTORY ARCHIVES VOL. 2 HC Written by Joe Samachson Art by Ed Dobrotka, Maurice Del Bourgo, Joe Kubert and others Cover by Mort Meskin Another fantastic volume collecting the adventures of the Seven Soldiers, the inspiration for Grant Morrison's hit maxiseries! Featuring Green Arrow, Speedy, the modern Western hero The Vigilante, The Crimson Avenger, The Shining Knight and more, The Seven Soldiers battled injustice and villainy at the height of World War II in these colorful, fast-paced tales from LEADING COMICS #5-8!
Jim: What’s bad is I haven’t read the first Archive on this, but I really love the older and obscure stuff. The stories at times are simple, but there are so many nice surprises with art and story.
Lee: Never thought I would say this but I trust your judgement. I know nothing about this book. I would like to see early Kubert art but I have the strange feeling that there isn’t that much in the collection. This is for all your Golden age collectors out there.

SHOWCASE PRESENTS: BATMAN VOL. 2 TP Written by Gardner Fox, Bob Kanigher and John Broome Art by Sheldon Moldoff, Carmine Infantino and Chic Stone Cover by Carmine Infantino & Joe Giella The 1960s Batman and Robin adventures continue in this second volume reprinting, in black and white, the original stories created for Batman #175-188 and Detective ComicS #343-358. Witness the first appearances of the behemoth Blockbuster, the pernicious Poison Ivy, the obscure Outsider, and more! Advance-solicited; on sale June 27 o 512 pg, B&W, $16.99
Jim: Some really fun stuff in this volume and why hasn’t the cover villain been revived. He looks really cool!
Lee: I wear my love of Marvel silverage on my sleeve and you wear your love of DC silverage on your sleeve. This is good material but I know that it will be in print for a long long time. Meaning… I will get it someday. Just not today.

SHOWCASE PRESENTS: THE ATOM VOL. 1 TP Written by Gardner Fox Art by Gil Kane, Murphy Anderson and Sid Greene
Lee: Jim, ummmmm… you forgot to mention this book. Must have been an oversight. I shall correct for you. NOW, the Atom had… well generally terrible stories BUT some of Gil Kane’s greatest artwork. If you were ever thinking of getting into the penciling business, get this, study the dynamics of Kane’s storytelling and don’t submit anything until you understand it!!! This is the definition of “pretty picture book”
Jim: I have the Archives, so no need for this version. The Atom did have some incredibly weak stories and he often beat up bank robbers, what else can you do at that size.

Lee: To quote “and now along comes Zauriel!” OH YIPPEEE. I have been clamoring for his return. *SIGH* Why does DC love this character? Please make him go away already. Marvel got rid of Dr. Druid, the least DC can do is get rid of Zauriel. BUT, if anyone has a chance of making him interesting, it’s Willingham.
Jim: I agree Lee, but Willingham has made this book a really fun an enjoyable read, plus it has Detective Chimp.

Lee: Don’t know about the book but that is one cool cover!
Jim: This book rocks for the backup feature on Dr.13.

Lee: (comments deleted by management - just let's say it was about the cover)
Jim: What the @#$%!!!!!

MIDNIGHTER #7 Written by Brian K. Vaughan Art by Darick Robertson & Karl Story Cover by Chris Sprouse & Story Writer Brian K. Vaughan (Ex Machina, Pride of BagHdad), and guest artist Darick Robertson (TRANSMETROPOLITAN) deliver an all-out action issue examining the Midnighter's abilities from a unique perspective. He's the man who can anticipate any move to the nth degree - now we get an idea of what that means. On sale May 2 o 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US
Jim: Now this sounds like a great concept. If done well it could really put a new light on how Midnighter operates.
Lee: I thought this was a limited series? Is it now ongoing? Seems interesting enough. Still waiting for the trade though.

SILVERFISH HARDCOVER Written by David Lapham Art and cover by Lapham Multiple Eisner Award winner David Lapham (Stray Bullets, Murder Me Dead, DETECTIVE COMICS) brings his unique brand of stark crime noir and dark, gritty realism to SILVERFISH, an original hardcover graphic novel replete with betrayal, double lives and family annihilators that will plunge itself into your gut and keep twisting until its bloody conclusion. What starts as a childish prank for her father's affection turns into a deadly game of cat and mouse for 16-year-old Mia when she discovers her beautiful new stepmom Suzanne's secret possessions: an address book, a stash of money and a knife caked in blood. Mia makes the fateful mistake of phoning Daniel, a murderer from Suzanne's past, who believes he's possessed by a demonic silverfish. And at midnight, on the boardwalk of a sleepy seaside town, Mia's survival will depend not only on whether Suzanne is good or evil, but whether Mia can find out which before Daniel reaches them... Advance-solicited; on sale June 27 o 6.875" x 9" o 160 pg, B&W, $24.99 US o MATURE READERS
Jim: I don’t know. Lapham is supposed to be all that, and his run on Detective left me cold, but this is creator owned and it is a light ordering month. I don’t know. Lee what do you think, but it or wait for the trade?
Lee: I am in the same boat on this one. Lapham’s creator owned stuff is good but the rest is junk. If I am going to spend the money to figure out if I really like his work, then I am going to start with Stray Bullets. That is his most critically acclaimed and probably his best stuff. I’ll pass on the HC and see what the general opinion is prior to committing.

BATMAN: BATMAN & SON Designed by Andy Kubert Based on the best-selling BATMAN series storyline: BATMAN & SON, art by Andy Kubert, written by Grant Morrison. Each figure features multiple points of articulation and a base.
Jim: This stuff cracks me up and sometimes makes me buy things I should skip. But it is amazing how fast we go from a single four issue story arc to five new action figures. Fortunately I can pass on this as there are no monkeys involved.
Lee: Hee hee. *Sing along everyone* Jim’s got a monkey… Jim’s got a monkey. Hee hee… Jim said Monkey.

Lee: Uuummm, I missed something but what does Warcraft have to do with the DCU? This always happens… I must remember LEFT TURN at Albuquerque Dammit!!!
Jim: I think DC has some leftover plastic and decided to branch out.

Lee: And speaking of randomness… What are these? I don’t know, but they do look funky enough to make me want to see the cartoon. Not going to buy the figures but might watch the TV show. Uuummm… To clarify, so I don’t sound weird, I would watch the cartoon to get in touch with my inner hip-hop homeboyness to better assimilate into current pop culture. YEAH, that’s why I’m watching!!!
Jim: ----------no way to follow that up.

Jim: As I said at the start a rather light month for the shiny and new, but we may see more later this month and here about other May projects during the NY convention.
Lee: As I started looking at the previews, I didn’t think there would be anything to talk about. But, close inspection turned up a smorgasbord of bad art and questionable action figures! May be a light month of purchases but it’s been a good time making fun of the marketing decisions.