Thursday, May 31, 2007

Dark Horse / Image Preview Review for August

Lee: Well, it was a good month for Dark Horse but an absolutely amazing month for Image. They are really offering some great things these days. The influx of foreign artists has given the line some truly breathtaking art these days. I am looking forward to many of their offerings.
Jim: Image seems to be acting as a packaging house for different studios. Very reminiscent of the golden age. The only difference is that we have credits.

CLASSIC COMIC BOOK CHARACTERS #7: THE GREEN LAMA 5"tall, Limited to 350 hand-numbered piecesPackaged in a full-color tin box with a small booklet and a vintage-style pinback button The sculpting and packaging design is inspired by the original “Golden Age” version of one of the era’s most interesting heroes, The Green Lama, and echoes the look and feel of his earliest comic appearances.
Lee: This is really pricey for $50 but I think that it’s a great idea. The Green Lama was one of the bigger Golden Age heroes and it’s nice to see him getting some love. This is a great idea if only to raise awareness of the Golden Age characters. It would be better if it were cheaper but I take what I can get.
Jim: If he was one of the bigger Golden Age characters how come I never heard of him until just recently. I agree that it is nice to see something like this get some love, but let’s get the material itself reprinted also.

THE FACTS IN THE CASE OF THE DEPARTURE OF MISS FINCH NEIL GAIMAN (W) and MICHAEL ZULLI (A)FC, 56 pages $13.95 HC, 7" x 10"Come, come and hear of the strange and terrible tale of Miss Finch, an exacting woman befallen by mystery and abduction deep under the streets of London! New York Times best-selling author Neil Gaiman delivers another stunning hardcover graphic novel with longtime collaborator Michael Zulli (Creatures of the Night; The Sandman). This “mostly true story” combines the author’s trademark magic realism with Zulli’s sumptuous paintings, and has been newly rewritten for this hardcover. Join a group of friends, with the stern Miss Finch in tow, as they enter musty caverns for a subterranean circus spectacle called “The Theatre of Night’s Dreaming.” Come inside, get out of the pounding rain, and witness this strange world of vampires, ringmasters, illusions, and the Cabinet of Wishes Fulfill’d. This is the first comics adaptation of his popular story "The Facts in the Case of the Departure of Miss Finch," which saw print only in the U.K. edition of Gaiman's award-winning work Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fictions and Illusions and was recently interpreted for his Speaking in Tongues CD.
Lee: I’ve read Gaiman’s “Smoke and Mirrors” and it was excellent even without pictures. Now a chance to see it with pictures… AND pictures by Zulli!!! Not to be missed.
Jim: Newly rewritten? What does that mean? Also “mostly true” means it is all a fiction. Still Lee (and I’m sure my daughter Gwen) enjoy Gaiman. Still, I’m not 100% sold on Gaiman for my taste in books.

Lee: Everyone knows about Fear Agent at this point but I love the cover. Basically bloodless except for the poor slob in the background who gets his face disintegrated. Hee hee face disintegration. Gotta love that!
Jim: The cover is terrific, has a very ECish feel to it. Fear Agent is a really cool book and I’m glad to see it thriving as a franchise.

THE GROO 25TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL MARK EVANIER (W), SERGIO ARAGONÉS (A), and TOM LUTH (C)Celebrate twenty-five years of the world’s stupidest barbarian doing stupid and barbaric things! After a brief hiatus, the Champion of Cheese Dip is back to battle the menace of “The Plague,” an all-new story by the same guys responsible for all the Groo stories for the last quarter-century, Sergio Aragonés and Mark Evanier. Also, thrill to The Groo Alphabet, a primer of that hero’s friends and foes (mostly foes), followed by a special illustrated text story by Sergio and Mark on how this comic came to be and why it just won’t go away. Plus other silly features.
Lee: Groo turns 25. A major accomplishment in this day and age and still good. It helps to be done by two of the best in the industry. But, this is a great book to try if you are wondering about it. Highly recommended.
Jim: Groo was always a sometimes read for me as I thought the humor became redundant at times, but it is very well done and if you have never read any of it you should try it out.

GLENN BARR’S 11" HELL’S PROPRIETOR VINYL FIGURE Glenn Barr’s the Hell’s Proprietor vinyl figure. Available in two colors and standing 11" tall, Hell’s Proprietor has made an appearance in many of Barr’s paintings and sketches.
Lee: $75 is pricey but these guys are so cute. And Glenn Barr is an excellent underground illustrator. Check out his site…
Jim: At $75 they are no longer cute, they are ridiculous and destined for bargin basement sales in 3 to 6 months.

Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean present their masterpiece in a completely remastered and redesigned edition overflowing with bonus material! Serialized in The Face in 1989, expanded and revised into a graphic novel in 1992, and adapted for radio in 2000, Signal to Noise has never stopped evolving. The bonus material in this first-time hardcover edition captures every leg of the journey, including three related short stories unseen in nearly two decades, an additional chapter created for the CD release of the radio drama, and a new introduction by Dave McKean along with the original by Jonathan Carrol and the radio drama introduction by Neil Gaiman.
Lee: This must be Gaimen month because this looks like another great release. McKean’s art is always a sight to behold.
Jim: Completed remastered and redesigned = reprint and new version of old material. The fans loved getting soaked and I fall into this category of buying the same material over and over again, glad I can pass on this.

HARVEY COMICS CLASSICS VOLUME 2: RICHIE RICH SID JACOBSON (W), WARREN KREMER (W), STEVE MUFFATTI (A), and ERNIE COLON (A)FC, 480 pages $19.95TPB, 7" x 10"This mega compilation of the essential Richie collects his earliest and most substantial stories for the first time ever. Contains over one hundred of the very best of The Poor Little Rich Boy, from the beginning of the series in 1953 through the classic years of the mid-1960s. Reproduced from the crisp black-and-white printer’s proofs and original artwork from the old Harvey archives, along with sixty-four pages of color meticulously restored from the original comic book pages.
Lee: I love comics in all shapes and sizes and this is soooo cool. It’s nice to see reprints of material other than superheroes. People seem to forget that there were lots and lots of comic books besides the superheroes and this is a great way to see them. Vol 1 was Casper, now Richie Rich. Can Hot Stuff be far behind? AND, best yet, part color. Now if only Marvel and DC would put 64 pages of color into the Showcase/Essentials reprints.
Jim: I think Richie Rich probably is cheaper to reproduce and maybe the artist have no reprint page rates that are owed. This is a pass for me, but I certainly enjoyed this books when I was a child and they are certainly worth reprinting.

STAR WARS OMNIBUS: TALES OF THE JEDI VOLUME 1 FC, 440 pages, $24.95, TPB, 6" x 9"Discover the earliest known stories of the Jedi and the Sith in this massive collection! Containing the Tales of the Jedi stories “The Golden Age of the Sith,” “The Fall of the Sith Empire,” “Knights of the Old Republic,” and “The Freedon Nadd Uprising,” this humongous omnibus is the ultimate introduction to the ancient history of the Star Wars universe!
Lee: Over 400 pages for only $24.95! AND, all color. Gotta love that the Essential format is alive and well. A must for a Star Wars fan.
Jim: Star War fans even scare me. I mean the last three movies sucked and still they worship all things Star Wars. This franchise will go on forever.

EMILY THE STRANGE #1: THE DEATH ISSUE Written by Rob Reger, Jessica Gruner and Cosmic Debris, art by Buzz Parker and Stan Hill.
. . . and in the end, everybody dies! Actually, not just in the end -- they also die in the beginning and in the middle, and in all the pages in between. This is the Death issue, after all, and this is Emily the Strange we're talking about -- the black-haired girl from the underground who's taking the world by storm. Emily isn't afraid of much, and this is the issue where she proves that by going face-to-face with death itself. Now she's dying to tell you all about it. 48 pages, black and white, $3.50, in stores on August 22.
Jim: I’m not sure why these seems so appealing to me, but it is. I will probably check it out.
Lee: Let’s see, this appeals to you???? Couldn’t have anything to do with the age thing and your own proximity to death could it???? Makes a person wonder. I believe this is targeted to fan of Ed Gorey… Always interesting.

THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY: APOCALYPSE SUITE #1 (of 6) GERARD WAY (W), GABRIEL BÁ (A), DAVE STEWART (C), and JAMES JEAN (Cover)Once, the Umbrella Academy was unstoppable. Under the tutelage of their guardian and mentor, Dr. Reginald Hargreeves, its members spent their childhoods fighting evil and honing their extraordinary gifts. Until something went terribly wrong. Now, nine years later, the estranged members of the Umbrella Academy are reunited by the death of the only parent they’ve ever known and the rise of a new and terrible threat. Will they be able to overcome their history for long enough to save the world—one more time?
Conceived and written by Gerard Way, lead singer of My Chemical Romance, Umbrella Academy features interior art by Eisner Award-nominated artist Gabriel Bá (De:Tales), colors by Eisner Award-winning colorist Dave Stewart, and covers by multiple-Eisner Award-winning painter James Jean (Fables).
Lee: There was a sample story in the DH FCBD book and it was interesting. It appears to be very reminiscent of Morrison’s Doom Patrol with very odd characters in very odd situations. The art will be great but I wonder about the author, Gerard Way, lead singer of My Chemical Romance.
Jim: I’ll wait until a trade comes out after the series is deemed a raging success before signing up for this one. Unknown writer (with dubious credentials – what does being a lead singer in a band have to do with writing?), an artist I’m not fond of and a so-so concept.

BONDS #1 (of 3) story, art & cover DURWIN TALONFaith Warner is an up and coming cellist leading a seemingly perfect life until the night she loses her father to an assassin’s bullet. So when Faith discovers she has the opportunity to use long dormant magical abilities to exact her revenge, she takes it. Her path of retribution is a bloody one. To become an instrument of vengeance, she must sever the bonds of her happiness… and sacrifice her future. BONDS is by DURWIN TALON, artist on BATMAN: OFFICER DOWN. For more information and preview pages visit…
Lee: This looks really nice and sounds interesting too. I am intrigued that Talon is an associate professor, Indiana University School of Informatics, New Media program. I wonder if that will make the book more “artsy”.
Jim: Now this I will try out, great premise, some professional credentials, but still no writing experience, but premise wins out.

CASANOVA #8 story MATT FRACTION art FABIO MOONAn all-new storyline drawn by the stunning Fábio Moon ignites here as CASANOVA returns with the perfect jumping-on point for new readers.
Lee: If you missed Casanova the first time around then this is the place to start. The first series was excellent even though I thought the last issue faltered a little bit. BUT, this is interesting, new artist Fabio Moon is the twin (fraternal) brother to the artist on the first series Gabriel Ba. It will be interesting to see the stylistic differences.
Jim: See now I read issue #1 and hated the book. I really think it is a generational thing as a certain demographic seemed to enjoy this book. The odd thing is that I heard one person say the last issue pulled it all together and Lee says it faltered a bit. Still I don’t care if Fraction mail order monkey is drawing it, I’ll pass.

ELEPHANTMEN: HIP FLASK Jigsaw puzzle Art LADRÖNN, 1000 PIECESBecause you demanded it -- the first HIP FLASK
Lee: I hate to tell them but I never demanded this. Must have been you Jim! BUT, I do think it is an interesting gimmick. And, based upon the color palate of blue and black, I bet its really hard to put together.
Jim: Yes, I demanded the Hip Flask jigsaw puzzle, but was hoping for the 2500 piece variety. Now if you made a Legion of Super Hero puzzle I’d might consider it.

KILLING GIRL #1 (of 5) story by GLEN BRUNSWICKart & cover by FRANK ESPINOSA
What if the Mafia had their own secret service...? Sara doesn’t remember her real name. What she does know is that she traded away misery as a former prostitute and became a world-class killing machine.
Lee: Honestly, I could care less about the premise because it really doesn’t matter. All that matter is Frank Espinosa has another book out. Seriously, that is too cool for words. If you haven’t seen his art on Rocketo… Shame on you!!!! Seriously, Shame on you. You should buy this for the pretty pictures alone!!!
Jim: Rocketo was very cool, but I can see Espinosa’s art not being everyone’s taste. His style is extremely fluid and loose and at time almost tends to be too few lines. I think it conveys a real dynamic and adds to the story, but for me the premise and the art, make this a yes for me.

story DWIGHT L. MACPHERSON art THOMAS BOATWRIGHTcover DAVID HARTMAN Edgar Allan Poe just lost everything. His dead wife is haunting him in his dreams, his latest book has bombed, and the imagination that fueled his stories has become a curse. His prayer to never dream again is answered one evening as he falls asleep in an outhouse. His discarded creativity takes the form of his dream child, Edgar Allan Poo, who must now undergo a strange odyssey through the poet's troubled mind.
Lee: Jim made me pick this. His call…
Jim: Damn right I made you pick this. What a wonderfully glorious bizarre premise. A wraped childhood fairy tales and a trip through the mind of Edgar Allan Poe. The concept sold me and the fact that it is a one and done graphic novel.

STRAY TOASTERS TP story, art & cover BILL SIENKIEWICZ224 PAGES, $24.99 Locked up for a crime he didn't commit, burnt out detective Egon Rustemagick is released from a high security mental institution in order to catch a serial-killing monster who is murdering and mutilating housewives and young children. Thus STRAY TOASTERS, the legendary seminal graphic novel written and painted by one of the world's most innovative and influential comic book artists, BILL SIENKIEWICZ. STRAY TOASTERS, a full-color definitive annotated volume, showcases SIENKIEWICZ at the top of his game. Contains new cover, cover gallery and a few surprises.
Lee: Jim made me pick this too. His call…
Jim: Glad that Lee is willing to add his great thoughts to these picks. This is Bill Sienkiewicz at his most outlandish. What I remember about this book is reading it and wondering what the frell it was I just read. At $25 it is a little too pricey to dive in and read it again, but still this was Sienkiewicz learing to be the artist he wanted to be and not the Neal Adams clone he started out as.
Lee: In my defense, Yes Bill learned to be his own artist but it didn’t make the stories any more comprehensible. You said it yourself.. you read it and wondered what you read. BUT, I may buy it just to look at the pretty pictures.

Bon Jovi (Jon + Richie) 1 page- Jon Bon Jovi Item - Richie Sambora item As they say, “100 million Bon Jovi fans can’t be wrong.”
Lee: OOOHHHH. McFarlane, not to be outdone by those cheap Iron Maiden action figures comes out with these!!! I CAN’T WAIT. Well, maybe I can wait alittle longer, BUT THAT’S NOT THE POINT. I can put Mr. Jovi on the shelf right next to Eddie from Iron Maiden, leave for an hour and see which one has “suddenly fallen off the shelf!” Mr. J gonna give Eddie a taste of some Bad Medicine!!! ROCK ON BAY-BEEEEEEE!!!!
Jim: ………………………..okay Lee.

SORROW #1 (of 4) story RICK REMENDER & SETH PECK art FRANCESCO FRANCAVILLAcover KIERON DWYER 32 PAGES BW $2.99 In 1952, the U.S. Government’s nuclear testing killed all of the good people of Sorrow, Nevada. Today, the sign in front of town reads “population zero”. The locals, however, will tell you a very different story... When a car accident strands four young travelers in this desolate ghost town, they soon find that not all that is buried is dead. A modern take on the classic ghost story SORROW mingles the psychological terror of The Exorcist with the eerie dread of David Lynch’s Twin Peaks to inspire fear in the most hardened of horror fans.
Jim: Fear Agent’s Rick Remender and a co-writer tackle a horror story. Rick Remender and good premise equals another book for me to try out.
Lee: We shall see. It sounds interesting but the hype seems to talk of all sorts of other great projects. Maybe if it were zombies….

STEVE NILES’ STRANGE CASES #1 (of ???) concept STEVE NILESstory by DAN WICKLINEart by DAVID HARTMAN 32 page FC $2.99 “THE GATHERING”The greatest monster hunters in the world are called to Holcomb Manor to hear an offer they may not live long enough to refuse. From the mind of horror master Steve Niles along with writer Dan Wickline (30 Days of Night, Unravel) and artist David Hartman (Rob Zombie’s American Witch) comes the first part of the multi-format collaboration with D2C
Jim: I like Steve Niles work and this sounds interesting, but I’m not sure how the tie-in to a video game will work. I want my comic to be in and of itself a story to follow and if I have to get a game to understand or appreciate the comic fully, then count me out.
Lee: Game comics never seem to work. And Niles didn’t write this… only the concept. I agree with Jim. A pass.

Lee: Well, I might not have been impressed with Marvel or DC this month but Dh/Image really elevated their offerings. The month looks good!! AND, even though 100 million Jovi fans may not be wrong but they can still be mullet haired geeks.
Jim: Amazing how far Image has come in offering so many diverse creators. Acting as a packaging house for Raw and Platinum studios has really given a good eclectic feel to their offering. Dark Horse has always found different niches to fit into and continues to do a great job.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Memorial Day

Well, Memorial Day has come and gone and sadly, like most Americans I think I missed the point. Unfortunately, it's easy to do these days. Everyone is so busy between work, and family, and school, or just having fun that we forget what Memorial Day is all about. We all look at Memorial Day as the beginning of summer. Or a free day off. Or according to television, the biggest car sales event until President's Day. But that's not the point of Memorial day... it really isn't...

In case you weren't aware, Memorial Day is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service.
I don't think I knew what that meant until I saw this photo....

This made me realize just what this day was about. While you and I and all our friends went to the pool or to a bar-b-q or just got together with friends, there are brave men and women who have given their lives for us to enjoy a "day off". If you didn't take a moment to reflect upon what this day is really about, take a second and do it now. It may be a day late but the soldiers who have sacrifced everything for us will appreciate it.

And, if you want to learn more, I suggest the Memorial day webpage, From the history od M- Day, I felt this said it all
"Memorial Day is not about division. It is about reconciliation; it is about coming together to honor those who gave their all."

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Best and Worst of Last Week

I've already posted about some of the best books from last week by doing my reviews, so instead of rehashing the same stuff I thought I would instead try to do a strict ranking of the best comic to the worst comic from last week. This is just an experiment as I think it is inherently impossible to judge different genres against each other. It is why a comedy can never win an Oscar. Still, what the hell.

COVER GIRL #2 (of 5)
WISDOM #6 (of 6)
GUTSVILLE #1 (of 6)
ROBIN #162
UNIQUE #3 (of 3)
X-MEN #199

The separation point are books that could never show up again and in their current form I wouldn't care. Madman I have dropped and Unique is over. She-Hulk has been ruined by the Civil War stuff and is getting a new writer soon, Wonder Woman is being revamped again soon, Testament is just too tough to follow as monthly and I should just switch to trades. X-Men is a book I get for Gwen. Ant-Man and Superman/Batman should be cut from my list and I may do it soon, but I keep hoping Superman/Batman will be good and Ant Man is mildly amusing. That of course is how many weak books remain on my list, but one day I may go hard core and that line becomes critical.

Monday, May 28, 2007

What I'm Getting Thursday

Yes those gosh darn National holidays push off until Thursday the most sacred day of the week new comic day. The best new comic day I ever had was going to Diamond in Brooklyn to pick up my new books for my store on the first new comic day I was open. I was like a kid in a candy store and later as time progressed I become a comic shop owner and ordered per my customers wants and not just what I thought was cool.

This week is almost like a vacation week for me as I'm only getting around 22 new comics. A slow week is nice on occasion. Although I have been looking over my list and Army @ Love, Punisher War Journal and a few others maybe destined for the cutting room floor.

52 Volume 1 Trade - I never kept a run for myself and the promised commentary in the book sounded interesting so I will try out Volume 1 and see if the next 3 volumes are worth the price. Let's hope they never try to do a single volume omnibus on this puppy.

Action #850 -- Writer Kurt Busiek and Renato Guedes (artist) bring us another fill-in, that involves the Legion of Super Heroes, so it could be interesting. Still waiting for Johns/Donner run to start back up again. This is really annoying.

Amazons Attack #2 (of 6) - They are still attacking. Wonder Woman in her book tried to get Mom to call off the attack, but she was not listening. The JLA jumps in at this point (as well they should). The first issue was better then I expected it to be.

Blue Beetle #15 - A fill-in issue. Blue Beetle tries to surrender to a local STAR Lab. Could be good, but I really want to regular crew as they have made this book into a very good solid series. I think a skip month would have been better.

Countdown #48 - This book is definitely a slow build, but so far I'm enjoying it. The many mysteries and "what the frell" moments are great. Of course the pay off is what will make this book work out or not. I think that just because it is weekly people thought it would be another 52 type book and it is not. It's funny because no one would that that expectation of a new monthly.

Green Lantern #20 - The conclusion of the Star Sapphire mystery. GL has become a better book lately and is now always towards the bottom of my new books pile. The way I usually read my new comics is Countdown or some book I can't wait to read first, followed by Countdown or that really can't wait to read book, then I put the best expected top 10 on the bottom and the rest on top and read them in semi-random order from there.

Hawkgirl #64 - Hawkgirl quest for Hath-Set continues as she runs into Superman on her quest. This quest is taking too long.

JSA Classified #26 - A two part Wildcat story by Frank Tieri (I think this maybe his first DC Work ) and art by Matt Haley. See this is a winning book for me even before reading it. I have read some of Frank's work and it was okay, Matt Haley is a very good artist and Wildcat is the ultimate working class hero and I love the way he is portrayed lately. So looking forward to this issue.

JSA #6 - Part 4 of the "Lightning Saga". JSA, Legion of Super Heroes, Johns as writer, Dale Eaglesham as artist, no brainer, another great book coming out this week.

Teen Titans #47 - Adam Beechen's abbreviated run begins here and I believe ends with issue #49, still they say a Titan dies. So many pointless characters have been Titans, that it could only improve the herd by reduction.

Crossing Midnight #7 - Do yourself a favor and go buy this book. Really just go buy a copy, buy two and give one to a friend. The official hype "As Toshi prowls through Tokyo learning her magical trade, she'll discover just how dangerously the kami world intersects with the real one. Meanwhile, Kai finally gets some answers regarding the enemy the twins are facing. "

Deadman #10 - I really think DC made a mistake with this title, because it is not Deadman, the main character is dead, but with all the weirdness going on we may not be sure about that. Bruce Jones needs this story to have an end point because I don't think it has many more issues left before DC cancels it.

Deathblow #5 - He is on the run from the government and not sure about what is real or not. This is a funny series, I have enjoyed it, but I forget about the book and when it is on a next week's list it is a surprise.

Daredevil #97 - The mystery surrounding Gladiator continues. Can Matt save him or does Daredevil have to stop him. Ignoring Civil War works well for this book and I can live with Daredevil living in his own little corner of the Marvel Universe. Good book.

New Avengers Illuminati #3 (of 5) - The mini-Marvels cartoon in the Worl War Hulk prequel played with the Illuminati concept and it was the best part of that book. I'm been getting this series to understand Marvel's retro-con history a little better, but it has cheapen some of Marvel's core good guys.

Silent War #5 (of 6) - Great series so far. David Hines has taken this and the Quicksiler series before this and made both books worth picking up and reading. Really enjoying this mini-series and the portrayal of the Inhumans.

Spider-Man Fairy Tales #1 - Not sure is this is a limited or unlimited series. Still getting this for Gwen, but it could be fun. This issue MJ as Red Riding Hood and Peter as the hero, I guess the Goblin is the Big Bad Wolf.

Ultimate Galactus Trilogy Hard Cover - Ok I do not officially have this on my list. Anyone reading this have an opinion as to whether it is worth the read let me know.

Ultimate Fantastic Four #42 - Part 1 of 5 as Marvel tries to shove the Silver Surfer into any comic with the FF in it. The movie makes this a logical move, can the writer Mike Carey make it interesting? Pasqual Ferry's art will help.

Hellboy Darkness Calls #2 (of 6) - Still trying to catch up to what is happening in Hellboy's world, so I'm undecided on this book.

Boys #7 - Yes the infamous Boys is back and from Dynamite Entertainment. Should be interesting to see what is what. Is Ennis just doing another "I hate super heroes" book or does he have some real story in mind.

EC Archives Shocksuspense Stories Volume #2 - One of my biggest regrets is that I have not had time to really do more then just peruse these beautiful EC reprints. Still I love each volume.

Breathe #2 (of 4) - The first issue was one of the thinnest plots I have ever read, but the art was great. So I'm in for the whole 4 issues.

Fallen Angel #16 - Peter David other best book (X-Factor is the other one). Exploring what happened with Angel's predecessor.

Shaloin Cowboy #7 - Geoff Darrow's brilliant and insane book that comes out every six months or so, but I can't wait for every issue. Just the art alone is worth the price of entry.

That's it for this week and this month.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Three Reviews - Left on Mission #2, Cover Girl #2 and Hellblazer #232

The last few weeks of comics have had their ups and downs and we have not had any MAJOR events books, which I appreciated, but like Pavlov's dog I still salivate when I hear the bell. So it takes a few weeks to settle back into just enjoying the flow of regular issues. For me, comics are at their strongest when the individual series are good. Any inter-company continuity is usually best left to the occasionally cross-over. The JSA/JLA cross-over has been good as has the Outsiders/Checkmate cross-over, because they are tightly contained. It is when the companies push the company wide events that we are start to notice that this book no longer makes sense in the world you want us to believe in. Right now we are feeling the ramifications of big pushes for company wide continuity and as admirable as that effort is with Marvel and DC I find myself drawn back to what I most love about comics and that is good solid story telling. These three books are hitting the mark.

Left on Mission #2 (of 5) - Story Chip Mosher, Art - Francesco Francavilla, Colors Martin Thomas & Sulaco Studios

Premise: Eric has been forced to go on a mission to capture his ex-lover and partner Emma who has apparently gone rogue and is selling US secrets to the Russians. This issue we find out that in fact she is sickened by the entire covert game and she has evidence that links war crimes to the highest levels of the US government. She is selling the information to the Russians for money, but plans to also give the information to the UN in an attempt to shut down what she sees as a corrupted covert intelligence operation. More so (and I can be reading too much into to this) she has become totally disillusioned with what her life has become and she is trying in her way to make this a better world by exposing the covert games being played.

What I liked:

1) Well obviously the story. As my premise is a story summary, but if fails to give you the way the comic works on so many levels. Number one it is a spy comic. We open with Eric finding where Emma is and confronting an IRA person. As Eric leaves we see how brutal and unforgiving he can be as he literally takes this guy down and then kicks him over and over after he is already down. Next it is a romance novel, in a twisted way. The underlying sexual tension between Emma and Eric is apparent even as she lives him in a car that is ready to blow up. This is also an action comic as strong as some of Chuck Dixon's work, with fist fights, explosions and pure tension.

2) The pacing. Chip Mosher (writer) stated that he is the one structuring the pacing and it is fantastic. Page one is nine panel, page 2/3 and is a double page spread with four underlying panels, we have 12 panels, wide panels, narrow panels, whatever each scene dictates is there, all delivered by Francesco Francilliva (artist). The layouts and how that makes a comic move is often overlooked, but this book has it done right.

3) The art. It suits the book very well. It has a sense of realism that is necessary for this type of story and does great work with shadows, which also suits an almost noir feeling at times. Also the expressions really convey the emotions of the characters well.

4) The underlying concepts. I get the impression that the writer has some definite political views when it comes to what is right and wrong, but so far I feel it has been subtle and the characters are espousing what feels to be their viewpoints, making me think for myself. Again I could be reading too much into the book.

What I didn't like:

1) Apparently issue #3 will be a month away.

Grade A

Cover Girl #2 (of 5) - Writer Andrew Crosby & Kevin Church, Artist Mateus Santolovco, Inker R. M. Yankowicz, Colorists Pablo Quiligotti & Brian Miroglio

Premise: An out of work actor runs a girl off the road and then saves her. Unbeknownst to him she was being followed by some bad guys. A TV crew catches the heroic moment of the actor (Alex) and that gets him noticed by a movie producer. He is cast in the lead role. The bad guys try to kill him and the studio hires a body guard (Rachael) to protect their investment. Rachael is a body guard and a knock out. She poses as his girl friend to ferret out who is trying to kill him.

What I liked:

1) The characters. Rachael the body guard, Alex the actor, Sam his agent and even Dwight Taylor (Rachael's body guarding partner). In this issue we met Rachael and Dwight and in short strokes the characters are brought to life. So much so that when Dwight is apparently killed at the end of this issue you feel more for him that half of the characters that have floated around in some books for a year or more.

2) The story. Fast paced, absurd on some levels and just out and out fun. There is a beautifully rendered scene where Rachael is hanging out of a car and shooting at the bad guys that just defines this book. She is a lethal knockout in an over the top action/mystery story.

3) The art. Sexy, fluid, slightly on the cartoon side, but nicely done.

What I didn't Like:

1) The big reveal. In a five part series not knowing who and what the bad guys are all about after two issue feels a little too long. The proof will be in the ending. Also I could not find a decent image on the web and I don't have a scanner so I took a picture of the cover to get the image. Why don't the publishers have the images on their website?

Grade B

Hellblazer #232 Writer Andy Diggle, Artist Leonardo Manco, Colorist Lee Loghridge

Premise: John Constantine is back. Using his brand of "magic" he wins the title to the Ravenscar Hotel. This has a significant meaning to John, but I'm not sure how far back into John's history this moment goes, so I'm missing some of the shock value that they were going for in the ending.

What I liked:

1) The characterization of John Constantine. Not to take anything away from the last couple of writers, but until Andy Diggle got on this book I forgot how much I use to love Constantine. Diggle has he pegged to a "T" as a confident swaggering jackass of a bloke, who has an eye for enjoying his life, a sarcasm that is part of his charm and a sharp enough edge that you can cut your finger on. After a dalliance with a croupier from the casino (that he won the title to in this issue) he is getting dressed up and the girl says "You wear that well.", she is naked on the bed and John's answer is "Funny, I was about to say the same to you, luv." Works better with the pictures.

2) The art. Manco has been the main artist for a long time on this book and he owns Constantine. His art and the colors give the edgy feel and underlying current that helps to keep this comic on my reading list month in and month out.

3) The storyline to date. In three issues we have an underlying story that is building and yet had a strong two part story to begin Diggle's run. I hope he is making this a book that you can read for the story, but come back for what we are building up to as the larger story. Too often comics have long stories that do not know how to tell it in parts and give us this long story arcs that bore me. Diggle has told one story and connected it to story number two so deftly that it truly is a joy to read.

What I didn't like:

1) Nothing - great issue.

Grade A

Saturday, May 26, 2007

New Rant - War on the Middle Class

I'm piggybacking on Ron Smith, who is talking about Lou Dobbs.

Check out the commentary and for me I have another book to buy.

I really believe the middle class is in danger and we have to wake up and use our votes.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Marvel Comics August Preview Review

Jim: Marvel’s listing are not wowing me this month, but I think they have hurt their line with the Civil War thing. Still Marvel does have some diversity in their line with the Classic Illustrated material, Dark Tower and the Dabel Brothers. So let’s see what they want us to buy in August.
Lee: I must be in a bad mood this month because it seems like the look ahead is doing nothing but making me mad. Still there is plenty to look forward to… and plenty to make fun of.

Lee: Ya gotta love the Marvel Marketing machine. Civil War is barely done, all the trades barely released, and they start reprinting the whole thing all over again. God Bless greed and commercialism.
Jim: Lee, Lee, Lee – you are being so cynical (and that’s my job). Marvel is simply giving everyone a chance to buy the entire sage in nice easy parts. Really it is a gift to the people they haven’t bankrupted before with the endless tie-ins and meaning less central series.

ULTIMATE POWER #7 (of 9) Written by JEPH LOEB Pencils and Cover by GREG LANDThe battle reaches its crescendo as scripter Jeph Loeb (WOLVERINE, ONSLAUGHT REBORN) joins the creative team for the final three issues!
Lee: Sometimes you have to wonder if it’s hype or plain old lies. For example, in this case, Jeph Loeb joins the creative team. Well, since the previous creator, Mike Straczynski, is no where to be seen it’s kinda a stretch to say “join”. How about some truth in advertising with “Jeph Loeb takes over a troubled series that is already three months late.” That I would believe. Don’t believe it’s three months??? Issue Six was solicited for May.
Jim: God and I hate to do this (defend Marvel), but Marvel long ago solicited this title as three different writers each handling three issues, so Bendis did #1-#3, JMS #4-#6 and Loeb wrapping it up. That being said this series begs to be read as a trade only.

SPIDER-MAN/RED SONJA #1 (of 5) Written by MICHAEL AVON OEMING Penciled by MEL RUBIThe wise-cracking Wall-Crawler collides with the She-Devil with a Sword!
Lee: Of all the ridiculous, pointless miniseries, this has got to take the cake. Five issues of Red Sonja and Spiderman???? FIVE??? How about one-n-done. I grew up reading Marvel Team Up so I understand the pointless crossover but still… FIVE ISSUES????
Jim: This just cracked me up when I read the solicitation. Lee is absolutely right. A one shot, hell make it a two part story, all comic fans enjoy a pointless cross-over on occasion, but five parts? Watch me avoid this sucker and wait to buy the trade (if it is any good) on a 50% off sale in the future.

Lee: Hee hee. Rocket Raccoon. Hee Hee. On the cover… AND CURSING!!! Hee hee. This is awesome.
Jim: So first you give me crap for monkeys and now a Raccoon makes you giddy! Still it is fun to see an oddball character like Rocket Raccoon being revived.

SPIDER-MAN FAMILY #4 Written by JEFF PARKER & CHRIS GIARRUSSOPenciled by LEONARD KIRK & CHRIS GIARRUSSOPeter Parker has a wonderful evening lined up for Mary Jane that starts with a horse carriage ride to a popular Broadway show. But then the stage magic becomes terrifyingly real and it's Spider-Man who has a date- with the secret super team known as The Agents of Atlas! Also, an all-new Mini Marvel tale, and classic Spider-Man tales!
Lee:I have picked this twice the past couple of months. Jeff Parker is a solid writer. Leonard Kirk is a solid artist. An Agents of Atlas cross over (Look Jim… Monkeys!). Is this the best Spiderman book on the stands??? Could be.
Jim: Ooohh monkeys – I want it, I want it. No seriously I want it. I love the Agents of Atlas and enjoy that Jeff Parker is fitting it in when ever and where ever he can.

NOVA #5 Written by DAN ABNETT & ANDY LANNING, Penciled by SEAN CHEN & BRIAN DENHAMANNIHILATION: CONQUEST continues and - hey, who the blue blazes is that woman on the cover of this issue?
Lee: I think the hype says all you need to know. Who is that woman? They left out the part about “what luck the nova star bursts just happen to fit perfectly on her…” Ah. Life as a fanboy is good.
Jim: Actually they are slightly off, here honey let me adjust those for you. The gender switching of heroes is something comics always enjoy doing, but thank god we haven’t gotten Wonder Man – oh wait we did – never mind.

THE LAST FANTASTIC FOUR STORY Written by STAN LEE Pencils and Cover by JOHN ROMITA JR. Legendary writer and Fantastic Four co-creator Stan Lee unites with artist John Romita Jr. to tell his final story of the team that started the Marvel age!
Lee: Ummmm Didn’t Alan Davis do this like two months ago? Maybe this is The End Pt 2.
Jim: Marvel commissioned two versions of this story and this is the one I will probably pass on. Stan can’t write a modern comic and Romita Jr. is over rated.

AVENGERS CLASSIC #3 Written by DWAYNE MCDUFFIECover by ARTHUR ADAMSHULK versus AVENGERS! For the very first time from Avengers #3! Plus, an all new Avengers tale - Iron Man unveils his awesome red and gold armor!
Lee:I’m gonna have to check but I’m pretty sure that the Hulk and Subby fought the Avengers on an uninhabited island so not to hurt any innocent bystanders. Somebody should have mentioned that to Art Adams. I still like the series though.
Jim: It’s been awhile since I have looked at that issue, but part of it was in a tunnel of some sort I believe, so he isn’t as far off as you think. Still a little reseach would not hurt, hell just use the Kirby cover.

WORLD WAR HULK: FRONT LINE #3 & 4 (of 6) Written by PAUL JENKINSPenciled by RAMON BACHS, SHAWN MARTINBROUGH & CHRIS MORENOPlus: two more two-page humor features!
Lee: So let me get this straight… World War Hulk… major crossover event… blood, guts, changing the Marvel Universe for years to come… has not one but *2* two page humor sections???? Wha??? Not to mention the Hulk’s Hit List Cover. Double Wha?? Tigra? Ms. Marvel? Since when are they big leagues????
Jim: Marvel has decided that Ms. Marvel is a major hero in their universe and you will like it. I think Marvel realized they have no Wonder Woman and they are trying like hell to make Ms. Marvel their major leaguer. She runs the Mighty Avengers and has her own book for no apparent reason. The two page humor section seems misplaced in this type of series.

Lee: I mentioned before that Spiderman Family might be the best S-man title on the stands. I was wrong, it’s gotta be this issue. Peter David does a Spiderman one and done, with no crossover or editorial interference. This is worth getting.
Jim: Marvel Adventure books are way too light for me and I don’t read them, but David hmmm

Lee:I have heard that one of the appeals of Manga is the consistency. No matter who draws the feature, the style guide is strictly enforced and the original artists style is mimicked. Therefore the feature always looks the same. Whereas American comics, every new artist tries to put his or her imprint upon the characters. Both systems have pros and cons. BUT, the American system has one great weakness. If the artist in question is too distinctive then he/she can mutilate a character. In this case, Jason Pearson turns in one of the absolute worst drawings of Wolverine I have ever seen. He looks like one of the ugly dwarves from Wizard of Oz. What a terrible cover.
Jim: HA, HA, HA. That is one ugly Wolverine. Looks like a constipated troll. Really, really bad depiction of Wolverine. But look Transformers – that was from your era, wasn’t it Lee?
Lee:Actually, Transformers was just after me. I never did get them. I don’t care what you say but they either look like cars or cars that have been through the crusher in the junk yard. Robbie (Lost in Space) is still the standard for robots!!!

Lee: So, the previews still won’t tell me who the characters are but the cover shows me a picture of them. And, judging by costumes alone I am very happy that I didn’t add this to my pull list. Looks, terribly dull.
Jim: This does look really, really bad. I’ll try issue #1, but that may be it.

SHANNA THE SHE-DEVIL: SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST #1 (of 4) Written by JUSTIN GRAY & JIMMY PALMIOTTIPencils and Cover by KHARI EVANSJustin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti reunite with super-hot artist Khari Evans (DAUGHTERS OF THE DRAGON) to bring you the story of modern-day pirates shipwrecked on the Marvel Universe's deadliest island, where only Shanna can protect them from hordes of man-eating monsters!
Lee:I liked Evans art on the first three issues in the Daughters of the Dragon miniseries. It seems liked he got tired and ran out of steam on the last three. But, this is only 4 issues so there is a good chance it will look pretty. Not as good as Cho’s version but what can ya do?
Jim: My question (besides I don’t want this series) is, are Gray and Palmiotti exclusive to DC? Maybe they wrote this before they moved to DC and it took this long to get the artist to be far enough ahead to publish it.

Lee: And speaking of misshapen heroes. Title says this is an X-men book but I’m not sure I recognize any of the misshapen lumps on the cover. Between this and the dwarfy Wolverine, This must be badly drawn characters month.
Jim: Maybe it is a contest. Guess who you think these characters are and we will give you Colossus as your first one. My gripe is this back up feature being spread across four different titles. Screw that noise, I’ll buy a book for the main title, but not for a back-up story chapter.

TERROR, INC. #1 (of 5) Written by DAVID LAPHAM Penciled by PATRICK ZIRCHER Meet Mr. Terror -- he's dapper, he's charming, he owns and operates his own VERY successful business…and, oh yeah, he's fifteen and a half centuries old and rotting fast.Doomed to decompose for all eternity, Terror forever replaces his festering limbs with fresh parts. The curse keeps him alive, but it's what's left of his twelfth-century sweetheart -- encased in enchanted metal and serving as his right arm -- that keeps him honest.
Lee: Well, it’s close to the original Terror Inc concept. I wonder if they will ever collect that in a trade? I shall be wait until the reviews are out before committing to this. It may be good but there is a better chance it will stink.
Jim:I forget the original Mr. Terror stuff. I’ll try out the regular issues and try to remember to send them on to you. So little new that I want to try is coming out from Marvel I decided to add this to my list.

Lee: The early issues reprinted here are OK but the later issues are fantastic. Gil Kane draws the premiere of the modern Captain Marvel costume. An excellent couple of issues. It will be interesting to see how many more Captain Marvel volumes there are because they are very close to the classic Starlin run! Very close indeed.
Jim:This material sucks until you get to the Captain Marvel / Rick Jones stuff. Really I have no idea why I’m seeing this stuff prior to Nick Fury Agent of Shield.

Lee: And for the diehards… Golden Age Submariner. Excellent Bill Everett art but very little of it. Still gonna get it though.
Jim:I with Lee on this one, wish it was more Bill Everett.

AMAZING FANTASY OMNIBUS HC Written by STAN LEE Penciled by STEVE DITKO, JACK KIRBY, DON HECK & PAUL REINMAN Collecting this lynchpin series of Marvel Comics' history for the first time ever, the Amazing Fantasy Omnibus puts AMAZING ADVENTURES #1-6, AMAZING ADULT FANTASY #7-14 and AMAZING FANTASY #15 between two hardcovers 45 years in the making.416 PGS./All Ages …$74.99
Lee: Stan, Jack, & Steve do giant monsters. What could be better? A collection of some of their best stuff. I can’t wait to get this.
Jim: I can not wait for this book either. This material is what I love. Great creators before the super hero craze took over. Plus I’m sure most of this stuff has not seem the light of day for years. I’m signed up for this book without question.

Lee: And no matter what Jim thinks… The ENTIRE series has been great. It hasn’t missed a step yet. Another, can’t wait to get it home.
Jim: One I just said #5 was flat, not that the series wasn’t good, sheesh. I’ll pass on this and hope they print a 12 issue hard cover.

ULTIMATE X-MEN ULTIMATE COLLECTION BOOK 2 TPB Written by MARK MILLAR with CHUCK AUSTENPenciled by ADAM KUBERT, CHRIS BACHALO, ESAD RIBIC & KAARE ANDREWSCollecting the second year of Mark Millar's groundbreaking ULTIMATE X-MEN - issues #13-25 - in one colossal trade paperback! 336 PGS...$24.99
Lee: This is a great idea. I don’t want to spend all the money on a HC but I can get 300+ pages for $25. Not bad at all.
Jim: Good price point, uninspired material.

Lee: The price jump to $22 is interesting but I’ve heard very good things about this. The few people that have read it liked it. I might have to give it a try.
Jim: It has been okay as a series. Not great, but certainly fun. The price jump is annoying.

HEROES FOR HIRE VOL. 2: AHEAD OF THE CURVE TPB Written by JUSTIN GRAY, JIMMY PALMIOTTI & ZEB WELLS Penciled by AL RIO Collecting HEROES FOR HIRE #6-10 Lee: This is the only problem with changing creative teams mid-stream. I really want the Zeb Wells issues… but I could really care less about the issues before that. So I would pay $13 for 2 issues. Huummmm, maybe not.
Jim: Zeb wrapped up the final Gray/Palmiotti story line with issue #7 & 8 and 9 and 10 starts his story, so I think you are buying this one.

D.P.7 CLASSIC VOL.1 TPB Written by MARK GRUENWALD Penciled by PAUL RYANCollecting D.P.7 #1-9.
Lee: And, ending the reviews on a high note… DP7. Need I say more? Probably because it was utter crap but now available in trade format. YEAH!
Jim: Utter crap? Why DP 7 had the character ….., and the story about…. It was a memorable series I think.

Jim: Not a lot of interesting stuff, but I appreciated that Marvel is reprinting the entire silver age and now going back to the Atlas era and pumping it out faster then I get a chance to read it. I wish DC would do more archives.
Lee: Yep, upon reflection, my high hopes for the month were dashed. I made far more fun of ugly characters and pointless story lines than I said “buy this”. Oh well, the indies previews will be out soon and life will be good again.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

DC Preview Review for August

Jim: It seems like a lot of stuff in this month’s solicitations. For a few months I felt like DC was not really releasing a lot of different projects and then this month it feels like a bunch of new and exciting stuff with some of the ongoing series.
Lee: I agree, there’s lots of stuff this month but I view it as needless padding. That’s a kind way of saying “screwing the helpless consumer.” Oh well. Looking ahead...

COUNTDOWN TO ADVENTURE #1 Written by Adam Beechen and Justin Gray Art by Eddy Barrows, Fabrizio Fiorentino & Julio Ferreira Cover by Ivan Reis & Oclair Albert Flying out of the pages of 52, it's Adam Strange, Starfire and Animal Man in an explosive new series! Now that they've returned to their respective homes, where do they go from here? Find out what the future holds for these heroes in the DCU! And in the 8-page backup, from the pages of COUNTDOWN, it's a tale of Forerunner! Find out more about this awesome new character and her relationship with the Monitors. 1 of 8, 48 pg, FC, $3.99
Jim: DC is stealing a page from Marvel’s playbook and adding in some new mini-series and putting the countdown tag on the book. I love Adam Strange and Animal Man, but I hope we are not forced to have these three be a team forever and the story will just deal with each of them separately. Forerunner is a stupid name and we will have to wait and see what this character is all about.
Lee: Honestly, starting here this looks to be a terrible month. I didn’t like it when Marvel did all those pointless miniseries and I don’t like that DC is doing it. Not to mention these characters have no reason to be together! Since when is Animal Man a space hero???

ALL-NEW BOOSTER GOLD #1 Written by Geoff Johns & Jeff Katz Art and cover by Dan Jurgens & Norm Rapmund Following the universe altering conclusion of 52, Booster Gold wants what's due to him - a spot on the Justice League of America! But the time stream's in trouble, and Booster Gold is in the center of it! Now he must make a choice: reclaim his former glory or do the right thing, forgoing the credit.
Jim: I’m a big a DC fan as anyone, but I’m willing to bet that making a Booster Gold series work is going to be a massive undertaking. I will try this book out because of Johns and what happened to Booster in 52, but I would not bet on this book being a hit.
Lee: It’s interesting that the original Booster Gold series did quite well until they revealed he was only a hero to get rich. Maybe the storyline will play better to a reality-show raised audience that worships the spotlight. The use of the word “time stream” makes me wonder if this won’t be DC’s version of “Exiles”. It will be interesting to see where this goes.

BLACK ADAM: THE DARK AGE #1 Written by Peter J. Tomasi Art by Doug Mahnke, Norm Rapmund & Christian Alamy Cover by Mahnke Variant cover by Alex Ross With the power of the gods stripped from him, Teth-Adam is on a quest to find not only the magical word that will restore him as Black Adam, but also the one thing that always kept his heart from turning completely black with rage.
Jim: This is a mini-series that was being screamed for after 52. This will be an eight part series and to me a daunting task. Black Adam is the most interesting and powerful bad guy in the DCU. Now you just been given the mini-series and have to not frell it up and keep him uber-cool. Tough assignment.
Lee: Anti-hero series are always tough, but having a superpowerful and popular villain makes it even harder. Tomasi has his work cut out for him.

OUTSIDERS: FIVE OF A KIND - WEEK 1: NIGHTWING/BOOMERANG Written by Nunzio DeFilippis & Christina Weir Art and cover by Freddie Williams II Get ready for FIVE OF A KIND - five issues, five top creative teams, one team-up per week, as Batman takes control of the Outsiders by using these adventures to pick his new lineup!
Jim: A five part weekly series where Batman takes over the Outsiders and picks a new team. Interesting concept and almost makes sense as the Outsiders had placed themselves in a losing situation, so the status quo could not remain the same. Looking forward to this chapter of the Outsiders.
Lee: I guess this could be good. The lineup of writers is hit/miss. Personally, based on their work with the New Mutants spinoff, DeFilippis & Weir are a miss. There is no reason for this to be any better than the “Helmet of Fate” 5 week event. Sorry but a pass.

BATMAN/LOBO: DEADLY SERIOUS #1 Written, Art and cover by Sam Kieth Get ready for an action-packed 2-part tale teaming up the Dark Knight with the interstellar madman, as only Sam Kieth can deliver! Batman, transported to an alien vessel by a mysterious figure, is asked to help cure a plague that has infected its inhabitants. Lobo, who has also been shanghaied, finds himself in the same boat. Now, Batman and Lobo, two incredibly unlikely companions, must somehow find a way to work together - and find out the real reason for their abductions - before they kill each other! 1 of 2 o 48 pg, FC, $5.99 US o Prestige Format
Jim: Okay this is going to be totally insane and stupid outlandish fun. I mean Sam Keith doing Batman/Lobo. Sign me up.
Lee: Over the top insane Lobo fun! This looks AWESOME. I couldn’t agree more.

ACTION COMICS #855 Written by Geoff Johns & Richard Donner Art and cover by Eric Powell The dynamic writing team of Geoff Johns & Richard Donner joins artist extraordinaire Eric Powell (The Goon) for "Escape from Bizarro World," a 3-part story that will thrill and horrify! Last seen in ACTION COMICS #845, Bizarro returns to kidnap one of the most important people in Superman's life. But what does the twisted, ersatz Man of Steel want? The only way to find out is to travel to the enemy's home: Bizarro World!
Jim: Eric Powell on art doing Bizarro, with Johns and Donner writing. This is a great combination of creators and makes me want to read Action comics again. Almost makes up for the crap fill-ins and Andy Kubert losing his pencil.
Lee: As long as all three issues end up in the same trade, I might enjoy this someday. But, Powell in Superman does sound interesting.

THE FLASH: THE FASTEST MAN ALIVE #15 Written by Marc Guggenheim Art by Tony S. Daniel & Art Thibert Cover by Doug Braithwaite Variant cover by Daniel Acuña Continuing the storyline so explosive we can't give anything away - and it's destined to be one of the most talked-about tales of 2007!
Jim: DC has taken this book from a worst book to a best book in a record amount of time. Great job on fixing a disaster. Plus is it Barry coming back or is it something different. I think it has to be more than just that. I love this book lately.
Lee: I withhold judgment on this book. I haven’t read Flash in years so I will take your word for it being good. BUT, if Barry Allen does come back is this more or less of a travesty than bring Bucky back?

SUPERMAN #666 Written by Kurt Busiek Art and cover by Walter Simonson An extra-sized spectacular featuring art by Walter Simonson, as Superman goes to Hell - literally - during the most nightmarish adventure of his heroic career, and a dread portent of that which may be coming!
Jim: Give Busiek credit, what better issue # to have a Superman in Hell story.
Lee: That’s funny. I didn’t even notice the issue number. I did notice the Simonson art though and it looks great.

DR. THIRTEEN: ARCHITECTURE & MORTALITY TP Written by Brian Azzarello Art and cover by Cliff Chiang Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang join forces to tell the adventures of Dr. Terrence Thirteen, a parapsychologist who disproves reports of supernatural activity. In this story collected from TALES OF THE UNEXPECTED #1-8, Dr. Thirteen rounds up a group of the world's magical beings to prevent strange forces from tearing asunder the very fabric of the past, present, and future! 144 pg, FC, $14.99 US
Jim: This was a great back-up in Tales of the Unexpected and worth reading. A really terrifically bizarre and fun read. Cliff Chang’s artwork really shined.
Lee: Interesting that the backup gets a trade but the main story from “Tales of the Unexpected” doesn’t. Hummmm very odd indeed. That said, I am really looking forward to this because it was so well received.

THE JSA ALL STARS ARCHIVES VOL. 1 HC Written by Gardner Fox, Sheldon Mayer, Bill Finger and others Art by Bernard Baily, Irwin Hasen, Stan Aschmeier and others This brand-new series collects all of the Golden Age solo stories of Johnny Thunder, Hour-Man, Atom, Dr. Mid-Nite, Mr. Terrific, Wildcat and Red Tornado from FLASH COMICS, ADVENTURE COMICS, ALL-AMERICAN COMICS and SENSATION COMICS (January 1940-May 1942)! Advance-solicited; on sale October 24 o 256 pg, FC, $59.99 US
Jim: Such a no-brainer for me. I love seeing the quality reproductions of the Golden Age heroes and DC always does them right.
Lee: I will admit this does sound interesting. The Johnny Thunder and Dr. Midnite reprints I’ve seen have been fun but the Atom ones were terrible. Adding to the curiosity of this book is the fact that I have never seen a Wildcat reprint. BUT, most notably, did you see the price increase? This is $10 higher than the normal Archive book. Hopefully, it isn’t a trend.

METAL MEN #1 Written, Art and cover by Duncan Rouleau Doc Magnus's creations are ready to take on all-new threats and some old, reimagined ones: Chemo, Doctor Yes, B.O.L.T.S., The Balloonatic and his Orphan Army, as well as the Robot Renegades led by an old Manhunter Robot! But the greatest threat lies in Le Cabinet Noir and its bid to control the natural order using dangerous lieutenants like the Nameless, an armored being that feeds off the blood of the innocent and controls the Gogoloth, giant stone Golems made of Granite, Bizmuth, Onyx and Lime. 1 of 8 o 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US
Jim: The Metal Men is a tough concept to do right, but they are so much fun as a concept that they always live on. I’ll try it out.
Lee: I really like Rouleau’s art and he should be a good fit for Metal Men. AND, it’s tugging at your Silver Age heartstrings Jim! That’s why your trying it.

SHOWCASE PRESENTS: CAPTAIN CARROT VOL. 1 TP Written by Roy Thomas, E. Nelson Bridwell and others Art by Mike Sekowsky, Scott Shaw, Alfredo Alcala and others Experience the adventures of Captain Carrot and his Zoo-Crew battle Frogzilla, the Armordillo, the alien Bunny from Beyond and many more in this volume collecting NEW TEEN TITANS #16 and CAPTAIN CARROT AND THE ZOO CREW #1-20! Advance-solicited; on sale September 26 o 520 pg, B&W, $16.99 US

SHOWCASE PRESENTS: BATMAN AND THE OUTSIDERS VOL. 1 TP Written by Mike W. Barr and Marv Wolfman Art by Jim Aparo, George Pérez, Bill Willingham and others In this hard-hitting, value-packed volume, witness Batman's formation of the original Outsiders! Metamorpho, Black Lightning, Katana, Halo and Geo-Force star in these stories from BATMAN & THE OUTSIDERS #1-19, BRAVE & BOLD #200 and NEW TEEN TITANS #16!
Jim: Lee said I had to include Captain Carrot, but I’m not sure why. Is there anyone demanding this stuff. And before this, we should have a Sugar & Spike Showcase!
Lee: I think DC is doing a great job with these Showcase volumes. They seem to alternate between the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s for the material they reprint. I wasn’t a fan of Aparo when he did BaTO but this is a good way for me to try the series. I am looking forward to it.

As for Captain Carrot… The cover says it all “fun-tabulous” Scott Shaw! is awesome. And yes, the ! is part of his name. The man is a cartooning genius and very knowledgable historian on comic books. Is this light material? Yes. Is it kid friendly? Yes. Is it good comics? You betcha. Better than half the poop being produced today that’s for sure. For fun, I suggest Scott’s site.

BATMAN BLACK AND WHITE VOL. 1 - NEW EDITION TP Written by Neil Gaiman, Chuck Dixon, Dennis O'Neil and others Art by Jim Lee, Bruce Timm, Joe Kubert and others Cover by Lee A new edition of the Eisner Award-winning collection at our standard trim size! Lee: Two things about this listing. First, if you don’t have it you should. It’s excellent. The “behind the scenes” story where Joker worries about being typecast is worth the cover price alone! Second… what do they mean by “at our standard trim size!”? I wonder if DC is heading the DH route where everything is shrunk down to manga size. Be prepared for many, many rants if they do.
Jim: I think trim size refers to the size of the hard cover itself and it is trim on your book shelf.

SWORD OF THE ATOM TP Written by Jan Strnad Art by Gil Kane, Pat Broderick and Dennis Janke Collected for the first time in a single graphic novel! Sword of the Atom #1-4 and Sword of the Atom Special #1-3 take readers on a fantastic journey into the heart of a Central American jungle, where a race of 6-inch-tall aliens treats The Atom as their protector against titanic beasts and primeval sorcery! o 232 pg, FC, $19.99 US
Lee: Talk about random reprintings. And who wanted this? I am a HUGE Kane fan but even I admit that he was starting to slip by the time the 80’s (and this miniseries) rolled around. The Atom goes John Carter but he still wears his mask throughout the entire series! Why? So, the little alien race won’t know his secret identity. True fans only please.
Jim: Take it easy Lee, I ordered this one. I’m a John Carter fan and still enjoyed Kane’s art (although it was not as strong at this point).

CONFESSIONS OF A BLABBERMOUTH Written by Mike Carey & Louise Carey Art and cover by Aaron Alexovich When Tasha's mom brings home an annoying hack novelist boyfriend, Jed, and his deadpan daughter, her dysfunctional family is headed for a complete mental meltdown. But Tasha has her blog, BLABBERMOUTH, as the ultimate weapon - and she's not afraid to use it. Especially when she starts to suspect that the obnoxious Jed has a guilty secret that goes far beyond his bad prose. Mike Carey (LUCIFER, Hellblazer, Crossing MidnighT, RE-GIFTERS) teams with co-writer Louise Carey, his 15-year-old daughter, who has written the Diary of a London Schoolgirl for the website of the London Metropolitan Archive and the novel-in-progress Bethany's Words.
Jim: I’m not getting this book, but what a wonderful concept to be doing a book with your 15 year old daughter.
Lee: I agree! And if my daughters were older (but not as old as yours Jim) I might get this too. Kudos to DC for trying this though. I hope it survives long enough until my girls can find it.

THE ABSOLUTE SANDMAN VOL. 2 HC Written by Neil Gaiman Art by Shawn McManus, Kelley Jones, Mike Dringenberg, Bryan Talbot, John Watkiss, Matt Wagner, Stan Woch, Colleen Doran, Duncan Eagleson, John Bolton, Malcolm Jones III, George Pratt, Dick Giordano, P. Craig Russell and Vince Locke Cover by Dave McKean VOL. 2 collects issues 21-39 of THE SANDMAN and features remastered coloring on all 19 issues as well as brand-new inks on THE SANDMAN #34 by the issue's original penciller, Colleen Doran, and a host of bonus material, including two never-before-reprinted stories by Gaiman (one prose and one illustrated), a complete reproduction of the never-before-reprinted one-shot THE SANDMAN: A GALLERY OF DREAMS, and the complete script and pencils by Gaiman and Kelley Jones for Chapter Two of "Season of Mists" from THE SANDMAN #23. 616 pg, FC, $99.00 US
Jim: I really want to sign up and get these, but I have the 10 part hard covers, but the first volume was gorgeous and I may have to succumb to buying the Absolute Sandman for myself also. Damn it.
Lee: These things are so big and unwieldy it ridiculous. I can’t carry the book to my “private reading room”, I can’t hold it up to read it before going to bed, AND, if I leave it on my legs for too long… my feet go to sleep. These hernia inducing tomes are good but I don’t know if I can keep buying them.

THE UN-MEN #1 Written by John Whalen Art by Mike Hawthorne Cover by Tomer Hanuka Breakout writer John Whalen and Eisner-nominated artist Mike Hawthorne (THE EXTERMINATORS, Queen and Country) bring chilling new life to THE UN-MEN - the former SWAMP THING adversaries created by Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson - with a series that explores what it means to be a freak in a society filled with gawkers.
Jim: This could be really good, but I hesitant to put a look of faith in someone taking a small bit from a old comic and exploring it as an unlimited series. Still I’m signing up because of the premise and that the Vertigo books are usually interesting reads.
Lee: This has the potential to be good. Freaks in society is a theme close to all comic fans hearts!!! But, talk about hype… “Breakout writer John Whalen”..ummm hello? He wrote a section in “Big Book of the Weird Wild West". No offense to John but that doesn’t make him breakout.

AME-COMI: BATGIRL PVC FIGURE The BATGIRL PVC STATUE is a limited-edition, hand-painted PVC statue 9" tall. This limited edition non-articulate plastic display figure comes with a base.
AME-COMI: CATWOMAN PVC FIGURE The CATWOMAN PVC STATUE a limited-edition, hand-painted PVC statue is 9" tall. This limited edition non-articulate plastic display figure comes with a base.
POWER GIRL 13" DELUXE COLLECTOR FIGURE Feel the Power! POWER GIRL is the newest female addition to DC Direct's line of realistically proportioned, super-heroic 1:6 scale figures! This deluxe collector figure comes clothed in an authentically detailed fabric costume and includes a display stand.
Jim: Okay the Japanese figures only vaguely resemble the characters they are portraying and hey why don’t we just make a full size Power Girl doll and be done with it. These are products that will not be in my house – ever.
Lee: Ah, my favorite part of the listing… the embarrassed once again to be a fanboy section. So, what frightens me about these listings… (1) on sale January 23, 2008. HELLO? Not on sale until 08???? A little ahead of the curve on this one aren’t they?
(2) Um, yeah, bondage queen Catwoman. Nuff said. (3) I like how they have to clarify “non-articulate plastic display figure”. I wonder how many fanboys were upset when the first set of these came home without 37 movable bits. I can hear the cry now “But, I can’t put her is any pose I want”
And, finally, (4) a “realistically proportioned” PowerGirl figure with a “fabric costume”… uuummm that officially makes it a Barbie. But, it should be noted that even Barbie’s bust is smaller than Powergirl’s.

Jim: That is a lot and I didn’t even hit The Sword of Atom trade, Shazam hard cover, Outsiders Showcase and other things. Of course Lee covered most of those. A lot of great products from DC to look forward to in the coming months.
Lee: I agree with Jim, there is tons of material this month. But the closer I look at the preview these days the more it depresses me. More and more pointless miniseries, more and more crossovers…. And people wonder why the industry has trouble getting new readers involved. Even with that, I really am looking forward to Cap’n Carrot.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Random Week of Goodness

And what a fine week it was. This week the house received another shipment from Amazon. And, as always, this was greeted with a mix of "yahoo" and "oi, here we go again." The mixed emotions were due primairly to the fact that there wasn't a single comic related book in the entire package. No fancy hardcovers of Sandman. No collections of the Fantastic Four. All the books were nothing but page after page after page of text.

Let me explain for the non-comic geeks reading this. You see, the comic book collector is considered one of the lowest members of society. From our youngest days we were called geeks and relegated to the uber-smart kid classes. As everyone knows, the geek stigma is hard enough to endure without the added whammy of comic book geek. In short, comic book collectors are the geeks of the geek world. School was bad enough but to survive the dating scene, many of us took our habits underground and hid them from girlfriends until we felt safe enough to share our obsession. This usually occured after we were married. Why did we hide our collecting habits? Well, I am sure Jim remembers as well as I, the cruel laughter when we offered that first really special girl a chance to read the NM+ copy of X-men 137, the moving conclusion to the Phoenix saga. Or, in Jim's case, Justice League of America 66, First appearance of Red Tornado, but the result was the same. It was a difficult lesson is "common folk" just don't get comic books.

Because we hid the collection from the future spouse until it was far to late for them to get away, they always believed that books without pictures were our favorite thing. Oh, how wrong they were! BUT, by waiting so long to share the obsession, we are open to the "Shouldn't you read a 'real book'" discussion. Sometimes it starts simple with the "when was the last time you read a book without pictures?" or if I've said something silly during the week I get "Isn't it time you read an adult book?"

So, when I opened the Amazon box and saw nothing but text books, I knew the snide comment was coming. Luckily, I keep the Amazon wish list filled with both picture and non picture books, to insure I at least get something I want. In this case, the speech never came but the intent was clear. To keep the peace in the house I am currently reading two new books.

The first is a collection of short stories called The Complete Stories of Robert Bloch Vol 1. For those that don't know, Robert Bloch has written many, many stories in all sorts of genres, but he is most notable as the author of Psycho. Yep, he wrote that famous little movie directed by Hitchcock. This collection focus's on his horror work with an emphasis on monsters, whether they be the monster under the bed, or from outer space, or you neighbor next door. I haven't read all of them yet but so far they are outstanding. All the stories were written between 1938 and 1956 and they are still as crisp and fresh today as I'm sure they were then. The thing that I like the most about the stories is the fact that the true horror of the situation is left to the readers imagination. By today's Friday the 13th slasher-gore standards, these stories are very tame. Don't get me wrong, the stories are scary but they aren't gruesome. BUT, it's refreshing that I am expected to understand and be horrorifed by the situation rather than be scared by a bucket a blood.

The second book was World War Z, An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks. WAIT. DID YOU HEAR THAT NOISE??? I distinctly thought I heard Jim groaning out loud when he read that last sentence. I'd bet a dollar he has already thought "I'm so frellin' sick of zombies". Actually, this is a very interesting post apocolyptic novel. I started it with some trepidation but I find I am really enjoying it. The story isn't so much a story but a narrative in the form of interviews. The interviewees are survivors of the 10 year Zombie war that occured after the dead first rose. I am finding this isn't so much a horror novel as a "how civilization collapsed" novel. There isn't a great deal of tension because, as an oral narrative, I know all the people in the book survive. They may come close to death but they won't die. I am still in the beginning of the book but the discussion is how the plague spread so quickly. How is got from one nation to another and how the outbreaks spread. Future chapters shall deal with the basic survival of society and how it is trying to rebuild itself. Again, as with the Bloch short stories, the book isn't scary as much as creepy. All the zombie movies have always dealt with the short term, "how does this small group of people survive", this book takes the next logical step to "what happens to society." It is very interesting indeed.

So, I got two very good books that I am enjoying. Meanwhile, my wife got a self help book called "The Secret." Would you like to know the secret to success? Would you? Well, because I am so nice, I shall tell you. It is: Be nice to people. Seriously, that's it. Oh yeah, and learn to listen. So be nice and listen to what people say and you shall succeed. What a collasal waste of money. Don't get me wrong, the book is correct. But, all the book did is take the old saying "You attract more flies with honey than vinegar" and wrap new words around it. This is such incredible common sense and the book is selling millions. Awful. Maybe I should write a book that says "Tell your wife you love her twice a day, once in the morning and once at night, ACTUALLY MEAN IT! and the chances of your marriage surviving increase 50%. All I have to do is figure out how to say that in three hundred pages and I could be a millionaire.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Best and Worst of Last Week

This week the worst book was acheived by two different books. All in all I'm finding that the independent books are where the bang for the buck really exist. Out of five books this week, the big two scored only one in the best category for me. Even X-Factor was flat last week.


Supergirl #17 - What the frell is going on in this issue. It feels like a dream sequence or something. Supergirl should have been such a fun character to bring back into the DCU, but she is such a screwed up character and her continuity is already wacky and we are only on issue #17. We get one good issue, then two bad issues. I think it is just time to throw all the creators off this title and let someone who can tell a coherent story get on this book. I guess the occasional good issue has saved it from DC needing to save it as they have Flash and are working on Wonder Woman.

Mighty Avengers #3 - Blechh. Who throw this book up. Flat out Bendis can not write a team book. The thought balloons was nice in issue #1, but instead of really being a thought or character development, it is just inane. The premise sucks, the character development sucks and (as almost always) Bendis has not captured anyone's voice. All of his characters sound similar and if the little arrows did not point to a character we would be unsure as to who was saying what.


Flash #12 - I'm just loving this book. Bart has the speed force ripped out of him and now is powerless and has had a vision of the Black Flash, that foretells a speedster's death. The rumours are Barry Allen is coming back and if true I will be a little disappointed as I want Bart's story. Of course it all depends on how they bring him back as I don't mind Red Hood and Winter Solider floating around in their respective universes. Bad the writing and art have been terrific and each issue has been more exciting then the one before. From worst to best in a year.

Left on Mission #1 (of 5) - I have already covered this book extensively, all I can say is go buy issue #1 and apparently #2 this week. Good read & good art.

Satan’s &$%#$% Baby - Just a flat out funny book. Eric Powell and Dark Horse actually oversold how bad and depraved this book was and while it was certainly not for the faint of heart, it wasn't the total extreme they made it out to be. Which is good, because ultimately it was just another funny and goofy Goon adventure.