Saturday, June 30, 2007

Books Lee is Reading

As both Jim and Lee are on vacation I'll be posting the articles they emailed to me.

Another week, another posting. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be in a non comic book reading house? I know that I have. I often wonder this because I can’t imagine how quiet and uneventful book discussions are at those houses.

You see, book discussion are always lively in my house. The most recent one went like this…

Wife: Oooohhhh, I see you’re reading a “real” book tonight.

**Yea Ed’s comment: This statement was laced with sarcasm in case you missed it.

Lee: Thanks! I’m just reading “The Sheep Look Up”

W: What’s that about?

L: The usual post apocalyptic story. This time, humanity has polluted and destroyed the environment to such an extent that life, and the earth is starting to die.

W: Ewww. Why do you read those books?

L: Same reason you read those silly depressing tales of tragedy and stories about people who can’t make a decision. At least my stories don’t make me cry.

….. Needless to say, there was a short period of quiet in the house that allowed me to continue reading uninterrupted.

But, seriously, I wonder what the rest of you do. Periodically, my wife and I “exchange” books so that we can broaden our horizons. I give her best selling graphic novel “Blankets”, she gives me exquisitely painful “Love in the time of Cholera”

I give her the uber-classic “I am Legend”, she give me “The Kite Runner”. Which, I must say, was a marginally improvement over “Cholera” at best.

Don’t believe my books were better? The main character in “Love in the time of Cholera” describes for one… *1* ENTIRE PAGE… how his urine smells like asparagus if he eats too much of it. Which happens often because he likes the taste so much. ONE ENTIRE PAGE. Yeah, yeah, it’s classic of unrequited love but it damn near killed me. And, don’t get me started on Kite Runner which consisted of 40 pages of betraying your best friend (dick!) and 150 pages of whining and general indecisiveness (loser!).

At least I tried to give her books she had a chance of liking. I think the Wife was punishing me.

Anyway, the latest book “The Sheep Look Up” by John Brunner. Originally published in 1972, Sheep is a novel about environmental disaster, along with the co-opting of America by the media and large corporations. The book is rife with little details such as, the US imports 60% more oxygen than it produces and it’s primary export is pollution in the form or airborne particulates and if you are outside for too long without a filter mask then you throat will burn. It’s also full of wonderful character development as people struggle to come to grips with life in the world. This doesn't mean people live in caves struggling to survive, far from it in fact. The characters are reporters, policeman, and even a corporate flunky. It's interesting to see how the extreme environment affects them. It also provide rich details about the haves (rich) and have nots (poor).

One aspect of the book I really enjoy, is the balance between short chapters of factoids that describe the environmental situation and chapters of character development. I am only 50 pages into the book and we are still establishing characters but I think there is going to be a large cast with a series of intertwining tales that will come to a conclusion. If you like grand science fiction novels, this is a good book for you.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Women Take Over DC Comics

After reading Supergirl and the LOSH and seeing how she ended up as the new Legion leader I thought it was funny how these trends show up all at once in comics. In JSA Power Girl is the new leader, in JLA Black Canary is the new leader and now Supergirl in Legion.

In theory I have no problem with these woman as leaders, but it is annoying in that they are the leaders with no established rhyme or reason that they have any leadership ability.

Supergirl has just shown up in the Legion and her being elected by popular vote can make some sense as she has had a high profile since going to the future. Plus the Legion in their prior history has often had female leadership, so this is not a radical change for the Legion at all. In fact the case can be made that Saturn Girl was perhaps the best leader the Legion ever had. Still she was established as a leader type and a intelligent person and Supergirl is more questionable. The counter is that this is a popularity vote for leader and not just voted on by core the super hero team. My net conclusion, Supergirl as Legion leader is fine and it seems to fit with the natural flow of the story.

Black Canary as leader of the JLA seems a little forced and somewhat ridiculous at this juncture. Black Canary had a great portrayal in Birds of Prey as a smart and savvy operative and as one hell of a fighter. See quits Birds of Prey to devote time to her "adopted daughter". Suddenly she decides the join the JLA, becomes the leader of the group, decides Ollie is her true love and is looking to get married to him. Additionally DC has her dressed in a "hooker" wedding dress with Ollie draped over her shoulder as she carries him off into wedded bliss. Is it just me or is the portrayal of Black Canary all over the place in the DCU now. She is not the leader type in any of these portrayals and making her leader feels unnatural. In the next adventure of the JLA Batman seems to be running the show and in Amazon Attacks when the JLA shows up Batman seems to be running the team. The writers seem unable to even portray her as a leader. Oracle as the JLA leader would have made more sense or even Wonder Woman, but Black Canary does not work. Also from a personal viewpoint I have come to know Black Canary as a strong and independent woman, who would not be running back to Green Arrow. Bottom line, this just does not work for me.

Next up is Power Girl I have followed this character from her original incarnation as a member of the "Super Squad" with the JSA. She did not have the enormous boobs at that time. My problem is with her being the leader is that the portrayal of the character has also been all over the map inside the DCU and there was no indication that she was this type of a leader. Still I can buy it with her character a little better because in some of her portrayals she has run her own company. But the cutaway in her outfit and her ridiculous boobs just makes her into some arrested adolescent male's perverted fantasy figure. When the good girl art is overdone, it takes away from the character and hurts their credibility. Power Girl as JSA leader is iffy at best for me to buy.

DC (and other companies) need to establish their female characters with some character development and consistency before just making them in charge of these groups to make it believable.

As a tangent the over done good girl art is almost a negative to me buying a comic. I'm not coming at this from a "super sensitive" male standpoint either. I love a good looking woman with a great rack and I probably will never remember a woman's eye color as I have a tendency forget eye color. Hell Cindy in Alien Pig Farm is one of my favorite voluptuous characters in comics. But even I with all my stereotypical male fascination for breasts is almost put off books because the overdone good girl stuff makes me wonder if what is under the cover is going to have any value worth my time to read. Grimm Fairy Tales is a prime example that you have to get past the obvious good girl stuff to see that some of their material is an enjoyable read. Madam Mirage put me off the book a little because the cover showed that her a** was popping out of the top of her dress.

Don't get me wrong, I like to see sexy women in comics, but they don't need to be such absurd caricatures. Catwoman today is sexier then when Balent drew her, Jennifer Maze from the old Maze Agency was sexy, smart and savvy without being a ridiculous extreme. I would like to see DC stop making Power Girl out to be a set of boobs, just give her a breast reduction and an updated costume so we can take her a little more seriously. Good writing can overcome some of these problems, but I wonder if these covers actually drive up sales and if they do, then the comic buying public in general has some issues.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Random Thoughts

I was listening to the news about various problems with our imported goods from China. The tainted dog food, tainted toothpaste, sub-standard tires and other issues. China had to shut down a lot of their food processing plants due to toxins being discovered in the food supply. Yet as a country we continue to allow the Chinese (and other countries) to bring in their goods to us with less regulations and control then our products.

I heard about a law firm that is actively teaching companies how to circumvent rules to allow them to hire foreign workers and not Americans as this keeps their cost down.

Energy prices have continued to go up and yet the cost of living index no longer reflects the energy component so when it is reported on it by the media it appears to be less then what it is in reality.

Greenspan has warned of the looming fiscal crisis in this country and the ruling elite have continued to put their heads up their collectives a** and ignore the problem.

Corporations are soulless entities with decisions being made by group think as opposed to a responsible single party. I believe the saying is, a camel was a horse designed by committee. Also corporations are now global entities and are interested in themselves only and no longer have American interest at their core.

The global world order push will lead to a 10% (best case 20%) elite class and a working class as the rest of us.

What is insane is that all of these self enriching schemes and steps that are occurring are a zero sum game as ultimately you will reduce the population to a state that they can no longer afford your products.

Our economy has been in go mode for awhile and much of it has been funded by cheap interest rates and higher and higher valuations of our homes. These things are cycles and what goes up eventually comes down. Plus we are in so much debt as a country and as individuals it is beyond insane.

The net message that I have with this random thoughts /rant is that we are heading for a crisis and what form it takes and how hard the system comes crashing down and when are the only questions I have at this point.

I was encouraged by the defeat of the Illegal Immigration Amnesty Bill, that maybe when pushed into a corner our politicians can be forced to do the right thing. Still vote against the incumbents, throw the bums out and start with a new set.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Books you’re Missing – TMNT

While the post says Jim at the bottom, this was Lee's post that he had to e-mail to me as he was unable to post it tonight.

Occasionally, I like to talk about things other than myself. It’s hard to do because I know that y’all only really care about me. I realize that all you men see me as a role model and all you women see me as a big hunk of sexy manliness so I feel a certain amount of pressure to talk incessantly about myself. But, I feel that it is my duty to show my otherside… not the back side… the intellectual side. Which is why I want to talk about the TMNT!!!

Now that you’re done groaning, you should know this is not the TMNT that your kids grew up with. You see, at some point along the way, the Turtles publishers realized they needed to diversify the line beyond the kids market. To do this, they created another series called “Tales of the TMNT” which allowed high profile creators the freedom to use the Turtles concept as they wish. For example, Michael Zulli did a great three issue story arc that is both visually amazing and also very interesting.

Because of this creative freedom, I picked up “Tales of the TMNT Collected Books Vol. II “ which reprints issue #5 of the series and all four issues of "Tales of Leonardo: Blind Sight" with story and art by Jim Lawson. While Tales of TMNT focused on higher profile creators, it also gave lesser known creators a chance to play with the Turtles concept.

The premise of the story is deceptively simple. Leonardo, one of the Turtles, battles an opponent from his past who is blind. It turns out, Leonardo blinded the Villain but doesn’t remember doing it. In revenge, the Villain blinds Leonardo. The Villains revenge is made even sweeter as he tricks Leonardo into killing an innocent man. Leonardo now must come to terms with his killing of an innocent and being blind.

The most amazing thing about this trade is the art. Lawson does a complete issue in a negative image format. The pages are only black and white, no motion lines, and only outlines of characters. Since the story involves the character being blind, the story is told by his perceptions. The skill it takes to convey all the action and motion associated with fight sequence with only negative images is astounding. The story telling is very clear and at no time was there any doubt about what was happening or where the characters were. In addition to the negative images, there are several issues of standard comic book images. It’s still black and white but with shading, motion lines, and some straightforward panels. Jim Lawson has a nice visual style that is cartoony enough to maintain the feel of the TMNT yet detailed and structured enough to appeal to the long time comics reader. It reminded me of Roger Landridge’s art, simple in form but complex in design and layout.

Beyond the art, the story is quite good. At it’s core, this is a tale of redemption. Leonardo is a perfectionist who channels his anger into his fighting. And more than that, as he strives for perfection he channels his emotions into all his actions. He distances from his emotions so the he can’t see the things happening around him. Leonardo must come to grips with his actions regarding the death of an innocent person and with his blindness.

Overall, this is a very enjoyable read. It isn’t Watchmen by any means but it’s light years ahead of Civil War in terms of good, old fashion story telling. The trade is only $12 and I highly recommend it!

Preview pages can be seen at

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Best to Worst of Last Week

This week was really a tough one as there were a lot of excellent books and quite a few really solid books, that makes it very hard to have an absolute number one. The bottom of the list also created more casualties for me. Still when you buy and read as much as I do canning a few books doesn’t have a big impact.

Flash #13 – The newest Flash dies. An emotional and surprising issue. I’ll miss Bart.
Hellblazer #232 – Diggle has upped the ante with this book. Ever issue so far has been a winner.
Alien Pig Farm #3 (of 4) – This book is so much fun and I love it. Plus Cindy lost her shirt this issue. Todd says more nakedness in issue #4.
Catwoman #68 – Very emotional and great high drama. Holly and Selina save the day, but at what cost.
Highwaymen #1 (of 5) – Wow what a great start from creators I didn’t know until now. Check this book out. Action, political intrigue, spy games and older guys.
Brave & Bold #4 – Waid is telling a good story and it is fun. Perez is one of the best super hero artists – ever! I’m thinking Absolute if this run last 12 issues with them.
Captain America #27 – I still don’t believe he is dead, but this is a good story.
Gamekeeper #3 – Best issue to date and the story has stepped up into a higher gear.
Justice League of America #10 – The end of the “Lightning Saga”. JSA/LOSH/JLA and the return of Wally West.
Annihilation Conquest: Prologue – Did its job and got me interested in what is to come.
Conan #41 – Really good issue, saved the book for me as the constant fill-ins had been killing the flow of the book.
Robin #163 – Tim’s first father’s day with Bruce. Nice and a heart felt issue.
Checkmate #15 – Penultimate chapter of the Checkmate/Outsider cross-over.
Incredible Hulk #107 – The art by Gary Frank pulled this book higher then it probably deserves.
Garth Ennis The Chronicles of Wormwood #4 (of 6) – The talking rabbit as the anti-Christ’s sidekick is so funny.
Heroes for Hire #11 – Zeb Wells has turned this into his book and the WW Hulk cross-over is working.
Ultimate Spider-Man #110 – Good ending to the “Marvel Knights” arc.
Shadowpact #14 – This is a very enjoyable series. The art could be better.
Weapon #1 (of 4) – Decent opening issue. I had low expectations and the book exceeded them.
Amazing Spider-Man #541 – Still a good issue, the story feels like it is losing its momentum.
Madam Mirage #1 – An okay opening issue. I’m curious to see how the series progresses.
Spiderman / Fantastic Four #3 (of 4) – Fun and light hearted adventure, well done.
Spirit #7 – Three short stories, all did a nice job. A great fill in.
Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis #53 – I’m over my initial shock of the new creative team and starting to enjoy this book again.
Countdown #45 – Weakest issue so far as almost nothing happened, but still an okay book.
Wasteland #10 – My least favorite issue of this series. I’m losing track of who is who, maybe time to switch to trades. Still a good book.
X-Men Endangered Species – Yawn. This is the launch point for what: an endless self pity party.
Iron Man #19 – Worthless book and totally redundant with the core mini-series WW Hulk.
Fallen Son: Death of Captain America: Spider-Man – Nothing ever happens in this mini-series. Semi-pretty pictures.
Army @ Love #4 – Too much and feels like a one note book. I’m done. Off the list.
Tales from the Crypt #1 – The publisher Papercutz attempt to revive this series, failed. No more for me.

The bottom of the list cost two books their lives with me. Fallen son is over in one more issue, Iron Man will be off the cross-over in one more issue and the X-book was a one shot. Where Annihilation Prologue made me want to read the rest, this one-shot has me caring less about the next segment of the story (8 page back up in 4 different X-Books).

Monday, June 25, 2007

What I’m Getting Wednesday

Week #4 in a four week month. A ton of stuff is coming out this week and I have almost no time to get around and read it as I’m taking a long week-end Saturday to Tuesday to go to the Jersey Shore. A lot of good books coming out, but a somewhat quieter week after this week’s death of Bart Allen and the prior week’s Electra is a skrull stuff.

Amazons Attacks #3 (of 6) I have no strong reason to tell you why I’m enjoying this series but I am. This issue Supergirl and Wonder Girl join the fray. Curious to see how they resolve this as it is obvious that Hippolyta is either demented or under someone’s control.

Blue Beetle #16 – Back to the regular creative team after a rather bland fill-in issue. Countdown issues are front and center as Eclipso shows up to make Jamie’s life a little more complicated. This series continues to be a rock solid good book.

Countdown #44 – Monarch is starting to play a role in all of the multi-verse madness. It is very cool that Monarch is now who he was going to be way back when DC first created the Monarch concept. Last issue was slow, but this is still a good series.

JSA Classified #27 – I enjoyed part 1 of the Wildcat story and look forward to the ending in this issue. I really love Wildcat as a hero as he is so very basic, but a true hero in every sense of the word. Ted Grant is the man in the DCU.

Green Lantern Sinestro Corps Special – I’m a big fan of many independent books, but the super hero stuff still gets me jazzed and I’m very anxious to see this book. Geoff Johns has really made Green Lantern a very good book again and the Sinestro Corps and Star Sapphire stuff is really building up into a great story.

Supergirl and the Legion of Super Heroes #31 – The Mark Waid / Barry Kitson era is over and Tony Bedard takes over as writer. Not sure who the “regular” artist will be yet, but Kevin Sharpe is doing the interiors in this issue. Waid left the book with a good break point, so we should get a feel for where Bedard wants this book to go fast.

Showcase Presents Batman Volume #2 – I’m not sure if any of this overlaps in the Dynamic Duo Archives, but this was some fun and crazy stuff from the Silver Age of Batman. Plus the cover just sells the whole book. 500 plus pages for $17 – you can’t go wrong.

Superman/Batman #37 – New arc by Alan Burnett and Dustin Nguyen. Called "Torment" and apparently is a saga involving the New Gods. Burnett is a decent writer usually and Dustin Nguyen has a style that I usually enjoy. Curious to see if this picks this series up.

Teen Titans #48 – An Amazon Attacks tie-in, which is fine as we are waiting for the new writer and a direction to start in issue #50.

Wonder Woman #10 – The official hype “Jodi Picoult's sensational run reaches its gut-wrenching finale! Amid a war between the United States and the Amazons on American soil, Wonder Woman must race to save Paradise Island from total ruin! But the traumatic repercussions of her decision to slay Max Lord bring the Amazon princess full circle, as she realizes there's only one way to stop the war. Can Wonder Woman cross that line once more, or will lives continue to be lost?” But at this point I’m really waiting for Gail Simone to take over.

Wetworks #10 – A new creative team comes in and I have heard that this book was cancelled, but the solicitation for #13 does not indicate it is the last issue. For the most part the re-launch of the Wildstorm universe has been a failure. Wetworks I considered a partial success, but losing the writer after the initial arc is finally over does not bode well for this book. Still J.M. DeMatteis is a good writer, so I’ll judge it when I read it.

Crossing Midnight #8 – The trade comes out this week and I encourage those who have not read the book to get the trade and try it out. It is a dense story, but worth the investment. The official hype for this issue is “Trapped in the mortal realm, Toshi discovers that Tokyo by night has rules and rhythms that its daytime inhabitants scarcely dream of. But will the people she meets and the things she learns be enough to defeat an adversary who is one of the five faces of death?”

Crossing Midnight – Cut Here – TP – The first collection and it is only $9.99. The solicitation does not say how many issues is collected, but even if it only 4 issues it is still a bargain. I’m buying this to pass on to my other daughter as I think she will like it as much as Gwen and I do.

Deadman #11 – I liked this book and then it started to frustrate me as no resolutions were occurring and we just kept getting more and more questions. I was thinking that I might cancel this book, but DC beat me to it with issue #13 being the final issue, so I can hang in there till the end.

Jack of Fables #12 – Last issue was the best issue ever for this book. Mr. Revise comes back in the picture and Jack is finding out the cost of fame for a Fable. Should be a good issue. Jack of Fables is ultimately a tough book because like Marvel’s Ant Man the main character is not a nice person at all and both are very self centered.

Criminal #7 – This is a really good series and possibly Brubaker’s best work to date. This arc is on part 2 and is about Tracy Lawless trying to find out who killed his brother. This should have been the first arc in this series. Really a good read and this maybe a great series. Brubaker is striving for making a great film noir comic with artist Sean Phillips.

Daredevil #98 – Another good series by Brubaker. I have issues with Daredevil, but now that it has been basically reset (a soft reset as opposed to many hard resets) I’m enjoying the story of the Gladiator and what has caused him to go nuts. I just think they need to ignore the new martial law status quo in the Marvel Universe.

Fantastic Four #547 – You know I can actually remember buying issues of this book at around number 20 or lower over 500 issues ago - geez. Of course given the numbering crazes Marvel has gone through that could be last week. Okay part of the official hype for this issues is “Meanwhile, the current FF deal with the aftermath of their battle with the Marvel Zombies”, which is a story from the Black Panther book and I hate when I feel forced to pick up another book when I’m trying to follow just the FF. Nice cover for this issue.

Iron Fist #6 – This book has been so well done I’m tempted to pick up the hard cover of this book. Especially since an issue I had was this book had so many ads in the earlier issues it killed the flow of the book. Brubaker/Fraction and Aja have done a nice job of building more history and legend into Iron Fist. The “Golden Age” Iron Fist has been a great add and I hope he remains a supporting character as the book continues.

Legion of Monsters: Satana – Also this issue has a Living Mummy story. I have to say that Marvel is doing a nice job with these little used characters from various genres and giving them a little spotlight and then publishing a hard cover book with extras thrown in. So far the “Legion of Monsters” series has not been that great, but they are a light read and fun to see this “C” list characters.

Marvel Masterworks Sub-Mariner – Wrapping up the Tales to Astonish issues of the Sub Mariner in the Silver Age and his first solo issue. Contains Bill Everett artwork. A lot of fun late Silver Age material.

Marvel Illustrated Last of the Mohicans #2 (of 6) – I could not even read issue #1, but I’m continuing to get this book strictly to mail off to my daughter Gwen.

Spider-Man Fairy Tales #2 (of 4) – Same as above. Gwen works and is going to school, so I try and supply her entertainment, maybe she will write a post on the blog and let us know what she thinks of these books. (HINT, HINT)

She-Hulk #19 – Dan Slott is leaving this title on issue #21. Hopefully we are back on track as this issues focuses on Mallory asking Jen to help defend the Leader. I was thinking of dropping this book once Slott was off it, but Peter David is the new writer and he may be able to keep this book fun.

Silent War # 6 (of 6) – It’s funny how on Marvel’s web page they never acknowledge this is a mini-series or say the thrilling conclusion or any hint that it is a mini-series. It has to be planned and seems disingenuous. Still this has been a really well done story and I’m looking forward to the ending.

Thunderbolts #115 – Concluding the first arc since Ellis has taken over this book. It will be curious to see how all of this plays out. Osbourne is obviously mad, Moonstone is uncontrollable and everyone is ready to stab anyone else in the back. I still think the premise is inane, but Ellis makes it interesting.

Ultimate Fantastic Four #43 – Part 2 of the Silver Surfer story line. I’m starting to fall off this book as I can't really buy into these characters as the Fantastic Four, I’ll make a call on this book soon.

Ultimate Visions #4 (of 5)– I have no clue anymore as the last issue was a long time ago. If this thing was any longer I would not even bother finishing it.

WW Hulk X-Men #1 (of 3) – If Christos Gage was not writing this I would have not even bothered with this added on mini-series. Gage failed to make his WWHulk Iron Man fill in issue interesting, so this is another tough test of his abilities as a writer. I think it is hard to make certain things interesting, especially when they are obvious editorial ideas and not your idea.

X-Factor #20 – The best x-book on the stands continues, although the last issue or so this book has not been as strong. Maybe all the forced cross-over stuff that is coming down is hurting this book. Still David has a real strong handle on this book and the worse issue of this series is still a decent book.

X-Men #200 – The cover has Phoenix on it, I know she is called Phoenix, but can we move on. Big issue numbers mean some sort of event occurs or some sort of lame ass retrospective book is done. Instead of eagerly anticipating this issues, I now wonder whether they will be any good at all.

X-Men First Class #1 – Now an unlimited series. Can’t wait for this book as I really enjoyed the mini-series and thought Jeff Parker had done a wonderful job of updating and still keeping true to the spirit of the original X-Men.

Fallen Angel #17 – This book has been hurt by the weak art. I was enjoying the story arc about the prior protector of Bette Noir, but the writing and stories have to pick up even more with such a weak artist.

Frank Frazetta’s Death Dealer #3 (of 6) – I picked up this mini-series because I heard it was good and I read the first two issues and was hooked. Interesting tale being told about a character that was just a picture. Julie Schwartz is smiling somewhere.

Invincible #43 – After last issue’s new jumping on point almost bored me to death I hope we are back on track. I’m sure we will be, last issue was just a bad marketing idea for this book, now back to one of the best super hero titles on the stands.

Breathe #3 (of 4) – I missed issue #2 because this is such a small press publisher my store was unable to get an additional one on re-order as he only orders enough for the actual orders he gets. This points out why it is so hard for a small press book to gain any audience.

Nightly News #6 (of 6) – Great freeling series and I have already signed up for the trade paperback. Should be a good issue ot see how the how Voice thing wraps up. Can’t wait.

Hellboy Darkness Calls #3 (of 6) – Slowly, slowly I’m getting back into Hellboy. It has gone beyond a monster hunting exercise for the character.

Boys #8 – The book I love to hate. I may drop this book soon regardless, but I want to continue to buy to see if it can rise above being anything more then just a “I hate super heroes” book. Plus if I don’t read it and people say it is good now, I have no reference.

Grimm Fairy Tales Return to Wonderland #1 (of 7) – Zenoscopes attempt to franchise Grimm Fairy Tales but building a longer story arc and giving it much more depth. The preview issue was good and I’m looking forward to this book. I also think it was smart to do this as a separate mini-series and keep the regular book going as a long story that failed in the regular book could kill it. I worry that these "good girl" covers actually turn off some of their perspective audience as the interiors have not been reflective of the covers (pun intended).

Grimm Fairy Tales #15 – Simple fun books. I enjoy these one and done issues. They took a fairy tale and re-tell it and tie it into a modern day story (that is only about 4 pages and acts as a framing device).

Sheena #1 (of 5) – This is just a simple stupid guilty pleasure book. The zero issue was okay and they have her in a modern setting, still I have low expectations for this book, but still look forward to reading it.

Snakewoman: Tale of the Snake Charmer #1 – My favorite series from Virgin comics is back. I think they are now doing this book as a series of mini-series and I hope the switch in format works. This is a cool story that should have a definite end.

And that is a wrap for a very big week of comics. A lot of really decent books coming out and it should be a good week.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Marvel Previews for September

Lee: Well, Marvel seems to be having a so-so month in terms of new material. Lots of tie ins to WW Hulk and X-men: Endangered Species. Really good if you are involved with that stuff. Kinda weak otherwise.
Jim: I would agree. I thing one month we may have to comment on just ongoing series as opposed to the focus on new stuff.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #544 Written by J. MICHAEL STRACZYNSKI Pencils & 50/50 Cover by JOE QUESADA "One More Day," Part 1 of 4 Get ready for what will be the most talked-about and controversial comic event of the year -- brought to you by J. Michael Straczynski and Joe Quesada. The stakes have never been higher for Peter Parker. At his darkest hours -- and he's had plenty -- Peter has always had one shoulder to lean on, one person who'd remind him who he is, who he was, and who he can be. Now he's about to lose that person. What would he do...what would you do, if you only had "One More Day?" PLUS: Director's Cut style extras!
Lee: Well, Jim says I need to mention more on-going titles. Look here. Another world shattering, earth shaking, super cataclysmic event. Whoooppppeeeee. I still don’t care. The good news is Joey Q is on art duties so this should see print this year… right?
Jim: Hey if they are actually killing Aunt May I can sign up for it. The funny think is if they really wanted to make this special they should hire Ditko (is he still alive) to do a cover or something.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE CHOSEN #1 & 2 (of 6) Written by David Morrell Pencils Mitch Breitweiser New York Times best-selling novelist and creator of Rambo, David Morrell, takes on Captain America in CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE CHOSEN--a six-issue Marvel Knights limited series in the tradition of SPIDER-MAN: REIGN! Super-star-to-be Mitch Breitweiser provides the finest art of his career as he chronicles the last days of Captain America.. 32 PGS. (each) CARD STOCK ...$3.99 (each)
Jim: The story is Cap saves a soldier in Afghanistan and at the end the solider is not sure if it was really Cap or not. This is an easy pass. I much rather read Brubaker’s work.
Lee: This should be good but it is being handled really poorly. David Morrell already gave the entire story away. $4 for 32 pages. I can't see me getting this either.

Lee: And Marvel’s winner for “embarrassed to be a fanboy” cover goes to… drum roll… Nova 6. Don’t know what the story is about but I seem to keep coming back to this cover.
Jim: On the plus side this has been a really well done series and certainly doesn’t need this type of titillation. Do these covers make the sales go up?

IRREDEEMABLE ANT-MAN #12 Written by ROBERT KIRKMAN Art by PHIL HESTER & ANDRE PARKS FINAL ISSUE! blah blah this final issue of the series everyone who read loved! So get your 'Save Irredeemable Ant-Man' campaigns ready. Hey, it worked for Runaways and She-Hulk. Why not Ant-Man?
Lee: I don’t understand this series. People who read it love it and it just seems to be gaining steam. Oh well. I do like the reference to the “Save Antman Campaigns”.
Jim: This is a book I dropped and was convinced to try again and I have stayed on it. Still I can not recommend it. It has it’s moments, but it is far from Kirkman’s best stuff.

IRON MAN: ENTER THE MANDARIN #1 (of 6) Written by JOE CASEY Pencils & Cover by ERIC CANETE Warming up for the movie event of 2008 -- find out exactly how Iron Man's deadliest nemesis came to be. A tale from the early days of the Marvel Universe, this mini-series contains secrets never-before-revealed of the first-ever meeting between the Golden Avenger and the global terrorist known only as the Mandarin! What really happened during that first encounter?
Lee: Warming up for the movie in 2008? A little bit ahead of the curve aren’t they? Oh well. It has Eric Canete art which is to die for. Buy it for that reason alone.
Jim: If I’m going to buy a book for just the art, I’ll wait for the trade.

MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS #1 Written by Marc Guggenheim, STUART & KATHYRN IMMONEN, STUART MOORE, RICH KOSLOWSKI Penciled by STUART IMMONEN, CLAYTON HENRY & DAVE WILKINS Classic heroes! Top talent! All-new stories! Jump on board the landmark first issue of MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS! 4--count 'em 4--brand new stories with a landmark wrap-around cover by J. Scott Campbell! Inside, you'll find these incredible mysteries: Who is DAMIEN CROSS? Why will his murder shake the very foundations of the Marvel Universe? Why is SPIDER-MAN needed in outer space? Patsy Walker is HELLCAT. But then who's the other HELLCAT? What is the SYSTEM? And what does it mean for the future of super heroes? Extra-sized first issue! 48 PGS./Rated A ...$3.99
Lee: A monthly with 4, 8 page stories. I see this crashing and burning early. It didn’t work for DC when they did the showcase series (late 90’s version). It didn’t work in Marvel Comics Presents Vol 1. Why do they think it will work now?
Jim: Really good points. It should be especially amusing as most writers today can’t tell a story in less then four full issues, so let’s see if anyone has the chops to write short stories anymore.

FRANKLIN RICHARDS: MONSTER MASH Written by MARC SUMERAK & CHRIS ELIOPOULOS Cover and Art by CHRIS ELIOPOULOS Things get frightful this Fall as Franklin Richards returns to explore the deepest, darkest corners of his father's lab. Join Franklin and H.E.R.B.I.E. as they unleash all kinds of monstrous adventure! It's five brand new tales that will be so much fun it's downright scary!
Lee: These are really, really fun. I wish they would collect them in a trade already.
Jim: I have never gotten into this and the few I read were not as funny as Lee and others seem to think. I guess I rather read Calvin and Hobbes.

PENANCE: RELENTLESS #1 (of 5) Written by PAUL JENKINS Pencils and Cover by PAUL GULACY From the pages of Civil War: Front Line and Thunderbolts! Once he was a hero, now only a shell of Robbie Baldwin remains. As Penance, he begins a slow descent into madness: the most hated man in America, blamed for the disaster at Stamford, tortured by visions of his failure and obsessed with strange, seemingly meaningless numbers. A relentless pursuit begins...
Lee: Fine. I’ll say it. I want Speedball back. This sucks.
Jim: Why in god’s name would you want a light hearted fun hero when you can have an S&M nightmare come to life. The 612 spikes that dig into his skin causing excruciating pain that gives rise to his power. Yeah, much better then a fun loving ball of kinetic energy.

FANTASTIC FOUR OMNIBUS VOL. 1 HC Written by STAN LEE & JACK KIRBY Cover & pencils by JACK KIRBY Collects FANTASTIC FOUR - issues #1-30 and Annual #1 848 pgs/ All Ages...$99.99 UNCANNY X-MEN OMNIBUS VOL. 1 HC Written by CHRIS CLAREMONT & LEN WEIN Penciled by JOHN BYRNE & DAVE COCKRUM Collects UNCANNY X-MEN #94-131 and ANNUAL #3, and GIANT-SIZE X-MEN #1. 848 PGS./Rated T+...$99.99
Lee: Check it out. Marvel is re-releasing the Omnibus collections they said they weren’t going to rerelease. I bet there is a fanboy or two who paid 2-3x cover on ebay that’s really pissed right now! My favorite part… DC screwed the retailer with the variant cover thing and Marvel screws the buyer. Between the big two they get ya coming and going.
Jim: Once you say no re-release this is wrong.
Lee: And, did you notice the FF is “all ages” and the X-men is “T+”? What does that make X-Men 2007? NC-17?
Jim: Good question.

Lee: And speaking of rereleases… The limited edition, variant cover goes back to print too. Makes the limited edition, variant cover on my bookshelf just about valueless now. Thank you Marvel! Would it have killed them to make it a little bit different?
Jim: Ha, ha, ha. I missed this, but I got the variant cover to keep a thematic thing going on with the Masterworks.

Lee: This was good but an Omnibus? Nope. Not for me. AND, since I complained about Speedball, I shall complain about Bucky. A farce!!!! Total farce. Kill him again already.
Jim: Leave Bucky alone, he is a good add right now as is Jason Todd. I was hoping for the 12 issue hard covers of this stuff, but I’ll buy this. 25 issues, plus the special is a higher cover price then the book and this is an excellent run.

Lee: Now this is tempting. The single issues are reading so well so this just might have to come home.
Jim: I’ll wait till a bigger collection is put together. I’m avoiding the six issue or smaller hard covers for the most part.

MARVEL MASTERWORKS: NICK FURY, AGENT OF S.H.I.E.L.D. VOL. 1 HC Written by STAN LEE, JACK KIRBY, ROY THOMAS & DENNIS O'NEIL Penciled by JACK KIRBY, JIM STERANKO, Collecting STRANGE TALES #135-153, TALES OF SUSPENSE #78 and FANTASTIC FOUR #21. Lee: Jack Kirby, Steranko, Buscema’s first work at Marvel… need I say more?
Jim: It is about frelling time. I have been dying for this Masterworks forever. Now let’s do another one on SHIELD, finish the Human Torch Strange Tales stuff and do an Iron Man Masterworks.

Lee: And, my weakness for westerns shows. I didn’t hear much about this but it looks very, very pretty. Crain is a solid artist. Most likely coming home.
Jim: This is a huge pass. This was from all reports a crap story and no matter how pretty the art, to get on the book case it needs more then pure art.

Lee: Great silverage material. Thankfully I never got the original trade so I won’t be paying for this material twice. But, it’s still coming home. Did you notice the variant cover is way ugly?
Jim: I never got the trade either, so this was an easy I’ll buy it.

Lee: For me, this is a pure art book. Irving’s art is outstanding. I’ve heard good things about the story too. Hopefully, my lack of knowledge about the “House of M” storyline won’t hurt my reading this.
Jim: Nope it won’t. And in addition to Irving’s art you are getting a very compelling story to date. Enjoy it.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: RED: WHITE & BLUE TPB Written by PAUL DINI, BRUCE JONES, PAUL POPE, PETER KUPER, MAX ALLAN COLLINS, MARK WAID, EVAN DORKIN, DAN JURGENS, JEN VAN METER, JOHN RHETT THOMAS & MORE! Penciled by ALEX ROSS, BRUCE TIMM, PAUL POPE, PETER KUPER, FRANK QUITELY, DEAN HASPIEL, DAVID LLOYD, PASCUAL FERRY, EVAN DORKIN, MIKE DEODATO, STUART IMMONEN, KEVIN MAGUIRE & MORE! AVAILABLE FOR THE FIRST TIME IN TRADE PAPERBACK! In this thought-provoking original graphic novel, a world-class collection of top comic-book creators from around the globe presents a series of uniquely personal visions of the heroic icon that is Captain America! RED: WHITE & BLUE roams between the humorous and the serious, the farcical and the personal invoking the power people give over to Captain America. In all, more than fifty creators have crafted timeless stand-alone stories each told with a color palette limited to Cap's signature colors of red, white and blue! In addition to these original short stories, this anthology reprints the back-up stories in CAPTAIN AMERICA #50 (2002) and MARVEL SPOTLIGHT: CAPTAIN AMERICA REMEMBERED.
Lee: I was just looking at this HC the other day. It’s a great collection of stories with lots of good art. You really can’t go wrong with this.
Jim: Eh --- I can’t buy it, but I can understand the temptation.

LOKI TPB Written by ROBERT RODI Penciled by ESAD RIBIC Cover by ESAD RIBIC In this surprising tale, writer Robert Rodi views Asgard from a most unexpected perspective: that of Loki himself. After a lifetime of disgrace and humiliations, Loki has finally won his most cherished prize: command of all Asgard. With Odin overthrown, Thor held helpless in chains and Sif imprisoned, Loki is at long last master of the realm. With the kingdom in his hands, Loki at last discovers the truth about himself and his destiny. Featuring lushly painted pages by artist Esad Ribic, LOKI presents a never-before-told version of classic Asgardian mythology. Acclaimed by critics and fans alike, this startling story will shock and surprise even the most ardent Thor reader.
Lee: And speaking of new trades, if you haven’t seen Ribic’s art in Loki you are missing out. The story is really good too as Loki tries to fight his destiny. It’s a great story with even better art.
Jim: I may have to break down and buy this one. I have heard other’s also rave about it.

Lee: Well, another month down. There is some good stuff from Marvel. Not thrilled with the rerelease of HC’s but the Strange Tales masterworks trumps all bad feelings.
Jim: For me the SHEILD Masterworks is a holy grail thing. I have been waiting for this one for years, so no matter what else or how lame the rest is, I’m a happy camper this month.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Dark Horse / Image September Preview Review

Dark Horse and Image get their own lime light from Lee and I as they are the two largest independent publishers. Each of them have their franchises, but both of them reach out and publish some very different types of projects.

Dark Horse continues its series of vintage-style statuettes featuring the best characters.The sculpting and packaging design is inspired by the original "Hunter Rose" version of one of the modern era's most interesting heroes, Matt Wagner's Grendel. Produced in a limited edition of only 550 hand-numbered copies, making this a significant component in our celebration of Grendel's 25th anniversary. Sculpting by Yoe! Studio from designs by Wagner.
Each hand-numbered statuette comes packaged in a custom-tooled, full-color, litho-printed tin box. Also included is a small booklet about each character and a vintage-style pinback button of the character. 6 inches tall, limited to 550, $49.99, in stores on Nov. 17
Jim: I love Grendel, especially the Hunter Rose character. I’m glad to see that Dark Horse is starting to do some hard cover collections of Grendel. Also independent characters don’t get as many collectibles made as other characters.
Lee: This does look cool. But, as with all these pieces, 6” for $50 is steep. You can get the Grendel action figure on ebay for $5 and he moves…ummm I mean he has multiple points of articulation!

CRIMINAL MACABRE: MY DEMON BABY #1 Written by Steve Niles, art by Nick Stakal, colored by Michelle Madsen, cover by Tim Bradstreet.
To say that Cal's been through hell and back would be a misstatement. He's been to hell, all right, and he seems to be stuck there for good. When we last checked in on Cal, he and Mo'Lock had just witnessed the vile, horrifying transformation of Cal's lovely ex, Sabrina Lynch, into a minion of the vampire Nosferatu. After that Cal disappeared for a bit, and at the start of our new series, Mo'Lock finds him just in time to lure him off the filthy couch in an abandoned house with an offer he can't refuse‹either he gets up and takes a new case, or Mo'Lock will kill him before the drugs can. And what a case it is. Devil worshippers in sunny SoCal are doing their best to bring Satan into the world, and by the looks of things, Cal's already too late. What does one feed a bouncing baby Beezelbub, anyway?
32 pages, $2.99, in stores on Sept. 19.
Jim: This is a series that I have ignored, but I now feel compelled to get into it. If I like it I will pick up the trades of the earlier runs, so trying something out that I have ignored before gets expensive. Still the premise of the current arc sounded too cool to pass up on.
Lee: I agree. DH keeps putting these out so there must be something there. I have always had an interest in the trades too. I agree that you should try it and let me know how it is.

DOCTOR SOLAR, MAN OF THE ATOM VOLUME 4 Written by Paul S. Newman, art by Frank Bolle.
After his debut in October of 1962, Doctor Solar swiftly rose to join Magnus, Robot Fighter as one of Gold Key's most popular original heroes. Stunning painted covers sucked in even the most casual comics reader, and the source of Solar's astounding powers -- nuclear radiation -- addressed one of the biggest fears of the day. While the character has been reinvented in the decades since, his adventures in this archive of Gold Key and Wilson comics completes the body of work that formed his foundation.
This collection restores and reprints issues twenty-three through thirty-one of the original Doctor Solar comic-book series -- the revolutionary science-fiction adventure that gave birth to one of comics' most distinctive and beloved superheroes -- for the first time in over forty years. His guest appearance in The Occult Files of Dr. Spektor #14 is also included, making this the biggest Doctor Solar volume of them all!
240 pages, $49.95, in stores on Nov. 21.
Jim: I’m a sucker for hard covers and this type of off beat stuff is very appealing to me. The shame of it is I haven’t read the first three archives of this material yet (but I did glance through issue #1 and it was some fun stuff).
Lee: You haven’t read these yet? Maybe you should before making the commitment. I am not saying they are bad, just very, very dated. I am interested to see the material but I don’t have the love for it that makes Masterworks no-brainers for me.
Jim: I read the first couple of issues and Lee is right, dated is a good term.

THE GOON #20 Written and art by Eric Powell.
Eric Powell has clawed his way out of Albatross's basement and back into the hearts of horrified readers everywhere with the return of his flagship character in a new (or at least only gently used) ongoing series. The diabolical magician Draxton Entity and his saucy avian sidekicks are back -- with a mission! Can Goon and Franky's resolve withstand the charms of these tartish harpies? Does Franky even have resolve? Do we even care?
THE GOON: CHINATOWN Written and art by Eric Powell.
Dark Horse is very proud to present the first original graphic novel from Eisner Award-laden swami Eric Powell. Powell has been sowing the seeds of Chinatown and the Mystery of Mr. Wicker for years in his award-winning bimonthly series The Goon, and salivating fans may now feast their eyes on the Goon's formative backstory of love, loss, and extortion -- a lengthy tale that demanded to be told in this uninterrupted format.
Spiritual leader of Tennessee and hero to the Great Unwashed, Powell escaped catastrophic death and mother-shaming scandal to bring this work to fruition. He's a sensitive man in insensitive times. But be warned: this book ain't funny.
128 pages, $19.95, in stores on Nov. 21.
Jim: A double dose of Goon goodness. I was a Johnny come lately on this book, but now I totally sold on the crazy world of the Goon. Plus Eric Powell has such a nice drawing style that the art alone is worth the price of entry.
Lee: The Goon returns! Yippee!! I am surprised they haven’t put the original run out in HC yet. But, I will take all the Goon goodness I can get.
Jim: Actually Lee they did do a hard cover Goon, but that came and went before I got interested in Goon.

GROO: HELL ON EARTH #1 Written by Mark Evanier, art by Sergio Aragones, colored by Tom Luth. Groo is back . . . and oddly enough, that may not be the biggest disaster looming over the world. It seems to be getting hotter everywhere . . . that is, in those places where it isn't getting colder than ever before. The usual suspects -- Sergio Aragonés and Mark Evanier -- bring you the first chapter of what will eventually be four issues. That is, if the planet in the comic survives that long!
32 pages, $2.99, in stores on Sept. 19.
Jim: New Goon and new Groo, it feels like Christmas in September. Groo on a monthly basis can get old, but I like it as a four part mini-series ever once in awhile.
Lee: You know this is a humor series right? You don’t do humor very often but I am glad to see you coming to the bright side. And, you are right, 4-6 issues of Groo a year is perfect.

On sale Nov. 28, FC, 160 pages, $19.95 HC w/dust jacket, 7" x 10"
Wizard Top Ten and multiple Eisner Award-winning writer Brian K. Vaughan tells the tale of three aspiring comics creators with big dreams, small cash, and publishing rights to one forgotten Golden Age hero—The Escapist!
Inspired by Michael Chabon's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay , this is Vaughan's love letter to his chosen medium, a story about what it takes to start out with nothing in Cleveland, Ohio and end up with a comic so hot a major corporation wants to steal it from you! Brilliantly interweaving the lives of the creators with the world of their creation, artists Steve Rolston and Philip Bond bring the comic-booking trio Maxwell Roth, Case Weaver, and Denny Jones to life, while the inimitable Jason Shawn Alexander and Eduardo Barreto illustrate the thrilling trials and exciting extrications of the new—and old—Escapist!
Lee: This has some great names attached to it and was very well received if I remember correctly. I might have to give this a try.
Jim: Bran Vaughn is only an okay writer in my book. It’s a pass.

SERENITY: THOSE LEFT BEHIND Written by Joss Whedon and Brett Matthews, art by Will Conrad, colored by Laura Martin, cover by Adam Hughes.
Dark Horse's biggest hit of 2006 is now available in a special-edition hardcover! Joss Whedon, the pop-culture mastermind behind Buffy the Vampire Slayer, bridged the gap between his cult-hit Firefly TV series and his Serenity motion picture with this three-issue miniseries.
96 pages, $19.95, in stores on Nov. 14.
Jim: I passed on the mini-series, but I loved this show and I maybe sucked into buying this book as it was written by Whedon who was behind the TV show. If you never watched it, pick up the 13 episodes of Firefly and watch it. I can loan it to you Lee if you haven’t seen it.
Lee: Honestly, I watch so little TV these days all of these projects are meaningless to me. I haven’t made it through the first season of Sopranoes in the 4 times I’ve rented from the library (total 1.5 episodes watched) so don’t loan Firefly to me because you will never get it back.

STAR WARS: DARK TIMES #7 40 pages, $2.99, in stores on Sept. 26.
STAR WARS EPISODE III: REVENGE OF THE SITH PHOTO COMIC 96 pages, $9.95, in stores on Nov. 21.
STAR WARS: KNIGHTS OF THE OLD REPUBLIC #21 40 pages, $2.99, in stores on Sept. 26.
STAR WARS: LEGACY #16 40 pages, $2.99, in stores on Sept. 12.
STAR WARS: REBELLION #10 40 pages, $2.99, in stores on Sept. 12.
Jim: I’m always amazed by how much Dark Horse must rely on their agreement with Star Wars. I mean if they lose that license, they lost at least 25% of what they produce. I’m not big at on Star Wars at all, after the first three movies, the rest has been crap in my opinion, but man does it live on.
Lee: I give DH credit for this stuff though. They milked the Alien/Predator franchises for a very long time. And now they are doing the same to the Star Wars line.

56 PAGES, FC, SEPTEMBER 5, $3.99
For the young mouse Karic, the Mice Templar are merely an exciting legend. They were real, though, and a vicious civil war left them scattered and all mouse culture in the grip of brutal rat masters. When Karic’s family is enslaved, he realizes their only hope of freedom lies in his paws…if he can only find the courage and strength to become one of the legendary Templar himself.
Jim: Really looking forward to this, between this and Mouse Guard, mice are finally getting the attention they deserve. Image is calling this a “Gem of the Month”. I don’t know if that is a good idea, I know it might be coming from what the Diamond Catalogue does, but for their own solicitation, doesn’t that push any other new launches down a notch?
Lee: I thought you “purchased” gem of the month status. It’s all hype anyway so I don’t think it hurts other titles. I wonder if Mice are going to be the new Zombies? Next launch, the Ultimate FF crosses over into the Earth 669, the MouseVerse.

The elite Angels, known as the Caste of Architects, needs the help of Spawn to retrieve one of their living weapons that has gone amok, the Horsaak-El. For centuries this “weapon” has been absorbing the souls of the damned to keep them from joining the armies of Hell, but now it is preying on the souls of the innocent. And just to make sure Spawn carries out their plans, the Caste have placed his brother Marc in the weapon’s path.
Lee: WOW. I am not a Spawn fan but did you see the preview art for this? Now this looks like a scary, bad-butt (family blog you know) Spawn. Dark, dreary, horrific Spawn. This might actually be good.
Jim: No it won’t be, its Spawn. Plus McFarlane is the devil incarnate as I blame him for the Miracleman material being tied up when I should have a new high quality hard cover on my bookcase.

The first issue in an ongoing anthology series based on the successful wrestler themed designer toy line. Includes three ongoing series: THE LUCHADORES FIVE are masked wrestlers protecting Los Angeles from tiki warriors and werewolves. The incompetent PROFESOR FURIA teaches his life “lessons” to aspiring wrestlers. The LUCHADORITOS is part “Peanuts,” part “Dennis the Menace” and lots of Lucha Libre!
Jim: This is a total pass for me, because wrestling is something I have no interest in, but damn give credit to Image for really being the most diverse publisher in the business.
Lee: Diverse publishing to pandering to the latest craze. There’s a fine line there. A big pass for me too. Is Mexican wrestling really that big?

PARADE (WITH FIREWORKS) #1 (of 2) story MICHAEL CAVALLAROart & cover MICHAEL CAVALLARO 32 PAGESFCSEPTEMBER 12$3.50 In 1923, Italy was pulling itself from the wreckage of one World War while unknowingly plummeting towards another. The Nation seemed to be holding its breath, and the slightest perceived transgression could result in violence. On the evening of The Feast of the Epiphany, it did. Young Paolo is caught between a rowdy group of local Fascist Party members and his family. And the choice he’s about to make will change his life forever!
Jim: Count me in for this book. Historical fictional if well done is fascinating to me and although the creator is not a name I’m really aware of, I want to try this book.
Lee: Yeah yeah book. Got it… but Michael Cavallaro is interesting indeed. A punk rock guitarist turned comic book writer…. From a bio I found:Former STICKS & STONES and ZERO ZERO guitarist and one time BOUNCING SOULS collaborator Johnny X (a.k.a. MIKE CAVALLARO) has turned his attention to his other love; comics. Having storyboarded Celebrity Deathmatch and an upcoming Barbie movie, he's also worked on Cartoon Network's Codename: Kids Next Door and teamed-up on nearly 100 comics by both major and independent publishers.Give the man credit, he appears to be talented.

Astrid and Dave are teenagers stuck in a dead-end suburban town living uneventful lives – until Astrid gets a visit from her childhood imaginary friends, who tell her something big is about to happen. Are they real or is she crazy? Life is about to get a lot more interesting for the pair – interesting and very, very dangerous. From the co-creator of PHONOGRAM comes this tale of magic, mystery and underage drinking.
Jim: Another book I will try. I almost liked Phonogram, so I will try out this series to see if a different subject matter will work better for this creator. As you can tell by what I’m saying, I’m only half sold on this book.

Lee: Let me get this right… you didn’t like his last book so you are going to buy his new book????
Jim: But it was interesting, so a new subject matter another #1 is worth a look.
Lee: It does sound interesting, well as interesting as every other discovered the imaginary friend is real story. Sometimes, price point is a barrier for me and this is one of those cases. If it is that good then I’ll get the trade.

BOMB QUEEN IV #2 (of 4)story art & cover JIMMIE ROBINSON32 PAGES, FC, SEPTEMBER 26, $3.50
Jim: Embarrassed to be a fanboy award cover.
Lee: I agree but I am so disappointed in this cover. It’s too easy. I mean, seriously, DC did subtle… well sorta subtle with the Batman cover. This is just blatent. I might have to disagree and go with the embarrassing and misogynistic Spawn: Godslayer #5 cover Jay Anacleto.

Velocity: Pilot Season #1(W) Joe Casey (A)Kevin Maguire CYBERFORCE'S resident speedster, Velocity, finally gets her groove on in this one-shot brought to you by Joe Casey (UNCANNY X-MEN, AVENGERS: EARTH’S MIGHTIEST HEROES) and Kevin Maguire (JUSTICE LEAGUE, SUPERMAN/BATMAN)! How does a young heroine find love when she's the target of an all-new batch of super-villains?! Pure pop superheroics unlike anything Top Cow fans have ever experienced!
Full Color 32 pages $2.99 pilot issue
Jim: I think this pilot season crap is a dumb idea. I guess the book with the best sales gets its own series, but shouldn’t it be the best sell through sales or maybe best reviewed. Just because a bunch of people buy one issue of a book, that is not the making of a successful series.
Lee: Uuuummm work with me here, but Topcow isn’t known for the best marketing plans ever. Oh well, anyone who buys these knows exactly what they are getting.

SPECIAL FORCES #2 (of 6)story art & cover KYLE BAKER
Lee: And speaking of WHOA covers. Check this out. AND, from Kyle Baker big, time family man no less. I give him lots of credit for the shock value of it.
Jim: This is a whoa cover, but also making a political statement.

THE NIGHTLY NEWS TPstory cover & art JONATHAN HICKMAN184 PAGES, FC, SEPTEMBER 19, $16.99 Collects THE NIGHTLY NEWS #1-6 As an act of violence spirals out of control to encompass the entirety of the news media, a cult has emerged from the errors and retractions that have ruined careers, marriages and even lives. Under direction from his cult master, The Hand leads an army of followers committed to revolution, willing to die for their cause.
Jim: Buy this book. A good story, contains interesting factual snippets and is an excoriation of the major media. Political, against the status quo, trying to raise people’s awareness – hey I should be writing this. Also a really nicely designed book.
Lee: I agree. I actually stopped picking up the series because I knew the trade would inevitably come home with me. I wonder how well this will hold up in 5 years because it is so political. That shouldn’t stop anyone from buying it now but just a point to ponder.

The Darkness Wizard World Philadelphia Exclusive T-Shirt

Lee: I think the picture says so much in this case. On the left, we have the imaginary muscular, works-out guy flexing in his new Darkness t-shirt. On the right, we have the reality of fat-guy from behind who will be wearing this shirt.
Jim: Ha, ha, ha. Good point Lee.

That ends part 2 of all monhtly four part preview review. Tomorrow is Marvel and then in a week or so, the rest of the independent preview review.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Heroes for Hire - Is it Already Over?

Comics Book Resources ( had a link about Heroes for Hire #15 on their front page. That link has been removed. The brief one liner implied the series was going through let another revamp (which would be three in just 15 issues) or the book has been cancelled and Marvel was smartly using WW Hulk as a method of ending the book with a bang and not a whimper. My sidekick Lee (well he is the junior member and he likes to wear short pants (why he has to shave his legs is odd), so I think of him as Robin to my Batman) brought this link to my attention. The official hype line from Marvel is "World War Hulk has arrived…and The Heroes For Hire will be no more.Some will die.Some will live.The only thing certain is that the future just got a lot DEADLIER!HEROES FOR HIRE #15Rated T+ …$2.99On-Sale In October!"

So did they pull it because it was a day early or something. It is a shame if this is the last issue as Zeb Wells writing was getting my attention. I hope it is just killing off one of the characters as a nice little sales gimmick to grab people's attention.
Still the September solicitations have just come out and releasing an October solicitation the same week seems a little redundant and maybe a little overkill (pun intended).
If the book is cancelled I think it lends credence to the theory that many companies and DC has recently adopted, that certain books are better off as a series of mini-series. 30 Days of Night, Desperadoes, Hellboy and many other titles seem to thrive that way. If this means we get eight issues a year and the four part series comes out on time with the same creative team, it might be the right thing to do for many books.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

DC Preview Review For September

Jim: Wow DC is cranking out a lot of stuff. They were crushed by Marvel in the May sales race and I’m not sure if all of their strategies are working, but sometimes a plan takes time to develop.
Lee: I’m definitely not sure if their strategy is working! DC seems to have placed a lot of eggs into the Countdown basket. If Countdown continues to go down in sales, I wonder what it will do to the entire line? But, let’s read on and see for ourselves.

COUNTDOWN TO MYSTERY #1 Written by Steve Gerber and Matt Sturges Art by Justiniano & Walden Wong and Stephen Segovia Cover by Justiniano Get ready for two incredible features in new stories that shine a light on the dark places in the DCU! The Helmet of Fate has landed on Kent Nelson - a man so far down on his luck, he doesn't know what luck is! The transformative nature of the helmet grants him powers he can't begin to comprehend but will they make his life better, or even worse? Plus, Eclipso becomes the temptress of the DCU, bribing its heroes to the dark side in more ways than one! She succeeds and the results will shock you! On sale September 19 o 1 of 8 o 48 pg, FC, $3.99 US
Jim: See right away I think putting Countdown in the title is not as effective as what Marvel did with cutting the covers in half and stamping Civil War on every thing. I’m looking forward to this series and was sorry to hear the Steve Gerber’s health issues had caused Dr. Fate to end up as a mini-series and half a book as opposed to its own series.
Lee: I have to agree and it makes the title of the book dumb. It will be interesting to see just how it gets incorporated into the cover. I wonder if the “countdown” styling will be the same as the regular book and how big.

THE BLACK CANARY WEDDING PLANNER Written by J. Torres Art by Lee Ferguson, Christine Norrie and Karl Story JLA WEDDING SPECIAL #1 Written by Dwayne McDuffie Art by Mike McKone & Andy Lanning Cover by Ed Benes THE GREEN ARROW/BLACK CANARY WEDDING SPECIAL #1 Written by Judd Winick Art by Amanda Conner & Jimmy Palmiotti Cover by Conner Everyone will have seen Black Canary's response to Green Arrow's proposal from GREEN ARROW #75 and the BLACK CANARY miniseries. Now see why that response may have been the biggest mistake for both of them in this landmark special issue! On sale September 19 o 48 pg, FC, $3.99 US
Jim: Geez, it’s not like this is the couple of the year or the wedding everyone was demanding. Yet DC is making it a huge event with plenty of books to sell you for a wedding. Nice to see the Black Canary is dressed like a hooker for her wedding day and apparently going to be handling Ollie. I don’t like this, as it feels like a backwards step for Canary. Still the solicitation gives me hope the wedding may not happen. If it does I hope next month we don’t have the wedding night and honeymoon specials.
Lee: Maybe this is on of DC’s attempts to woo back the female readership. It’s working well on Supergirl!

JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #13 Written by Dwayne McDuffie
Jim: Yeah, ya-hoo, yippee!
Lee: Finally, this may be worth reading again.

WONDER WOMAN ANNUAL #1 Written by Allan Heinberg Art by Terry Dodson & Rachel Dodson and Gary Frank & Jonathan Sibal Cover by Terry Dodson & Rachel Dodson At long last, the climactic, extra-length chapter of "Who is Wonder Woman?", the story that launched the WONDER WOMAN monthly! In this arc's conclusion, the combined forces of Wonder Woman's transformed rogues gallery declare an all-out war on the amazing Amazon, compelling Wonder Woman to mend fences and join forces with Donna Troy and Wonder Girl if she's going to survive to answer the question: "Who is Wonder Woman?" On sale September 26 o 48 pg, FC, $3.99
Jim: DC should be embarrassed to have to publish this. To me this was one of DC’s biggest mistakes out of One Year Later and to have to publish this to allow the fans to see how it ended is appropriate. Still this is a Wonder Woman chapter best swept under the carpet.
Lee: At least they are publishing it! How many series never get to see an end at all. But, you are correct, this is a huge black eye for DC.

SUICIDE SQUAD: RAISE THE FLAG #1 Written by John Ostrander Art by Javier Pina & Robin Riggs Cover by John K. Snyder When original Suicide Squad member Rick Flag Jr. returned from the dead in the pages of CHECKMATE, it blew open a brand-new espionage mystery for the DC Universe! In this eagerly awaited miniseries by legendary Squad writer John Ostrander (WORLD WAR III), it's revealed how Flag survived a nuclear blast while battling terrorism in Qurac - as his hard path home takes him from Skartaris to Dubai and into the hands of dueling commanders Amanda Waller and General Wade Eiling. Their power struggle reveals surprising secrets from their pasts - even as a new Suicide Squad is created to play a key role in the DCU's ever-evolving future! On sale September 12 o 1 of 8 o 32 pg, FC, $2.99
Jim: Very happy to see this book being solicited. John Ostrander wrote the entire run of Suicide Squad for around 66 issues back in the day. He dealt with the altering of people’s memories (ala Identity Crisis) and the bad guy being forced to be a good guys issue way before others ever did. The original run suffered from having a less then stellar art, but the stories were terrific. John Ostrander also invented Oracle in Suicide Squad. I very happy to see this book and to see Johnny O. back in the DCU.
Lee: I’m with you, I’ve always had a soft spot for the S. Squad. BUT, I am not sure this really looks all that interesting. Seriously, Rick Flag as the lead character? There squad members on the cover are either dead or in other books so there isn’t even a hint of who is on the team. This could be a tough sell to newer readers.

TALES OF THE SINESTRO CORPS PRESENTS PARALLAX #1 Written by Ron Marz Art by Adriana Melo & Marlo Alquiza Cover by Mike McKone & Andy Lanning Get ready for a new series of specials focusing on members of the Sinestro Corps and tying into the "Sinestro Corps War" crossover! In this initial installment, the writer who introduced Kyle, Ron Marz, dissects what led Kyle to his downfall and explains the Parallax entity.
Jim: I’m confused, Kyle is part of the group searching for Ray Palmer and now he is going the Parallax route. What the frell is going on. DC is mishandling Kyle if they take him down this road. Hopefully it has to do with the multi-verse.
Lee: Wow, does this not interest me at all. Are there that many GL fans out there to support this material?

UNCLE SAM AND THE FREEDOM FIGHTERS #1 Written by Justin Gray & Jimmy Palmiotti Art by Renato Arlem Cover by Dave Johnson
Jim: Happy to see this book back, unhappy that it is another mini-series. If the first one sold well enough to warrant a come back, why not as an unlimited monthly?
Lee: I thought I heard rumor that DC is no longer green lighting ongoning series. If a title sells well, then it will continue to be a collection of miniseries. Sooooo who thinks that’s a good idea? BUT on to Uncle Sam. I read the first series. It was good, straight forward superheroes. You really can’t go wrong with this.

THE FLASH #232 Written by Mark Waid Art & cover by Daniel Acuña What alien menace lies beneath the Flash's own home? And what's his dark, dark family secret - the one that's helping him keep the peace in Keystone? On sale September 19 o 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US
Jim: Weird and a little creepy and oddly disturbing cover on the new Flash book, which picks up with the numbering from the Wally West Flash book. Which kind of tells us who the new Flash is and it looks like Wally is back. Waid is writing, but still I’m a little shaky about this one.
Lee: Weird cover? Nothing weird about a big toothy, tentacled… monster. Yep, that’s one strange monster all right. When in doubt… “Hey Kids! This is a great jumping on point!”

ALL STAR BATMAN AND ROBIN, THE BOY WONDER #7 Written by Frank Miller Art and cover by Jim Lee & Scott Williams Retailers please note: This issue will feature two covers that may be ordered separately. For every 10 copies of the Standard Edition (with a cover by Jim Lee & Scott Williams), retailers may order one Variant Edition (featuring a cover by Frank Miller). Please see the Previews Order Form for more information.
Comment #1:Lee: OOOHHHHH. Another issue of All Star B&R. Scheduled for September! Bets if it actually comes out this year?.... I bet “no”
Jim: If they publish one more issue this year they will beat last year’s record.
Comment #2:Lee: I like the new marketing strategy too. The retailer doesn’t get any variant covers. They have to be ordered separately AFTER you order 10 copies of the regular cover. I always like new and creative ways to screw the retailer.
Jim: This is because of other issues and not about screwing the retailers. I’m as skeptical of big business as anyone, but this has to do with making sure the retailer is buying what he wants and not forcing variants on him.

SUPERMAN/BATMAN #40 Art and cover by Dustin Nguyen & Derek Fridolfs
Lee: This months “embarrassed to be a fanboy” cover award goes to this book. But, I must say, I may not like the rainbow guns but I can “appreciate” them.
Jim: I just keep thinking that Orion will kick Batman’s ass after seeing this set-up. It is really does win the award so far this month.

Off Preview Topic – On Fanboy Cover Topic
Lee: Even though S/B #40 won the award, honorable mention to goes to The Flash for the very subtle “that monster looks strangely familiar” cover and Gen 13’s “His third leg looks like a chicken foot” cover.
Jim: It is these type of covers which make it hard to defend our favorite hobby as more then low-brow entertainment.

Back to the regularly scheduled reviews….

52: THE COMPANION TP Written and illustrated by various Cover by J.G. Jones The super-powered stars of 52 are featured in this volume collecting the best of their solo stories. Included here are stories from MYSTERIOUS SUSPENSE #1, GOTHAM CENTRAL #40, ANIMAL MAN #16, DETECTIVE COMICS #350, METAL MEN #45, SUPERMAN: THE MAN OF STEEL #97, STRANGE ADVENTURES #226, RIP HUNTER: TIME MASTER #97, SECRET ORIGINS #35 and JSA: SAVAGE TIMES! Advance-solicited; on sale October 17 o 224 pg, FC, $19.99 US
Jim: Now this stuff just really getting me grinning from ear to ear. A lot of these stories will never see the light of day any other way and some are almost too recent. But this looks to be some fun stuff and an odd mix.
Lee: A very odd collection since this will have material from the silverage thru today. I imagine it will read very uneven. BUT, if you really liked 52, then this is a great collection.

THE QUESTION: ZEN AND VIOLENCE VOL. 1 TP Written by Dennis O'Neil Art by Denys Cowan & Rick Magyar Cover by Cowan & Bill Sienkiewicz A new trade paperback collecting the 1980s adventures of The Question, the faceless, morally conflicted avenger based in corrupt Hub City! A martial arts master, The Question delved into Eastern philosophy as he battled crime and the crooked politicians of his hometown. This volume, collecting issues #1-6, features appearances by Batman and many of DC's martial arts heroes. Advance-solicited; on sale October 3 o 176 pg, FC, $19.99 US
Jim: Love that this book is being reprinted, not happy that it is only 6 issues for $20. Still this was a great series and I definitely want this on my book case.
Lee: I am so looking forward to this. It’s a long time in coming. Yes, $20 is expensive but it beats trying to find the original issues.

SHOWCASE PRESENTS: THE GREAT DISASTER FEATURING THE ATOMIC KNIGHTS AND HERCULES VOL. 1 TP Written by John Broome, Gerry Conway, Jack Kirby and others Art by Murphy Anderson, Jack Kirby, Walter Simonson and others This thrilling volume collects futuristic tales from Strange Adventures, First Issue Special, Hercules Unbound, Kamandi, Weird War Tales, House of Mystery, Superman, Amazing World of DC Comics, and House of Secrets! Advance-solicited; on sale October 24 o 576 pg, B&W, $16.99 US
SHOWCASE PRESENTS: METAL MEN VOL. 1 TP Written by Robert Kanigher Art and cover by Ross Andru & Mike Esposito From the 1960s comes this volume collecting BRAVE AND THE BOLD #55, METAL MEN #1-16 and SHOWCASE #37-40, starring one of the strangest super-hero teams ever, now featured in a new miniseries! Created by Dr. Will Magnus, the team includes six robotic heroes: noble Gold, powerful Iron, loyal Lead, hot-headed Mercury, timid Tin and lovely Platinum! Advance-solicited; on sale October 10 o 528 pg, B&W, $16.99 US
Jim: I love the Showcase line, otherwise we would never see stuff like the Atomic Knights, Hercules Unbound and even more Metal Men then the Archives has in it. Fun stuff and the right price.
Lee: I agree! And this is even better for me because I am so unfamiliar with the DC line of books. It’s all new and exciting.

JLA/HITMAN #1 Written by Garth Ennis Art and Cover by John McCrea Tommy Monaghan, the long-lost hero of HITMAN, returns in part one of this two-issue miniseries! There's a problem on the JLA moonbase, and not even the World's Greatest Heroes can cope by themselves. Can Tommy help them out? Will he? Unpleasant secrets from the past return...on the Darkside. On sale September 19 o 1 of 2 o 48 pg, FC, $3.99 US
Jim: Hitman is back!!! – that book was so great and I hear DC will now finish doing the trades on the original series. Should be a fun 2 part series.
Lee: Hitman just needs a nice series of HC’s. But, I will take what I can get.

OUTSIDERS #50 Written by Tony Bedard Art by Matthew Clark Cover by Manuel Garcia A new era dawns for the Outsiders! Batman makes a stunning last-minute change to the Outsiders' new roster - but there's a bigger surprise in store as the team uncovers a worldwide upheaval within the supervillain community! On sale September 5 o 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US o FINAL ISSUE
Jim: The hype talks about surprise changes and this happening and that happening and yet it is the final issue. After the five part story where Batman comes in and takes control and now this wrapping it all up I’m thinking a relaunch is next month. I’m also thinking it is called Batman and the Outsiders. If not why do all this work just to end it.
Lee: I hadn’t noticed this was the last issue. But, lots of talk of change tends to mean relaunch. At some point this gets old. Green Arrow is going to be relaunched. Now Outsiders. Thank goodness Superman started in the 30’s otherwise they would relaunch that too! Oh wait, they already did that.

THE MAD ARCHIVES VOL. 2 HC Written by Harvey Kurtzman Art by Will Elder, John Severin, Kurtzman, Wallace Wood, Jack Davis, Basil Wolverton and Bernard Krigstein Cover by Kurtzman This second volume collecting the early issues of MAD COMICS features classic material from issues #7-12, including "Shermlock Sholmes," "Dragged Net," and "Little Orphan Melvin"! Advance-solicited; on sale November 28 o 224 pg, FC, $49.99 US
Jim: This is the stuff before Mad was the book you all may remember. Very different, but still some really terrific stuff in this book.
Lee: This is great, great stuff. Humor and satire but definitely not what you familiar with. I can’t wait to get it.

CAIRO HARDCOVER Written by G. Willow Wilson Art and cover by M.K. Perker Written by breakout talent G. Willow Wilson, a Cairo-based journalist, and drawn by renowned illustrator M.K. Perker, the original hardcover graphic novel CAIRO is action-adventure that brings the ancient and modern Middle East together with a Vertigo twist! A stolen hookah, a spiritual underworld, and a genie on the run change the lives of five strangers forever in this modern fable set on the streets of the Middle East's largest metropolis! This magical-realism thriller interweaves the fates of a drug runner, a down-on-his luck journalist, an American expatriate, a young activist, and an Israeli soldier as they race through bustling present-day Cairo to find an artifact of unimaginable power, one protected by a dignified jinn and sought by a wrathful gangster-magician. But the vastness of Africa's legendary City of Victory extends into a spiritual realm - the Undernile - and even darker powers lurk there? Advance-solicited; on sale November 7 o 7" x 9" o 160 pg, B&W, $24.99 US MATURE READERS
Jim: probably a pass for me, but I like that some really different stuff is coming out under the DC banner. I believe this is a Wildstorm book and kudos for them to do something different.
Lee: This is a pass for me too which leads to an interesting question. Who does read this? Every month we point these books out but don’t buy them. We like the diversity but don’t support it. I wonder what that says about you, Jim?
Jim: Lee I would disagree, you and I actually support diversity. You pick some of the oddest stuff and find great books like the Surrogates from Top Shelf. I talk up Alien Pig Farm, Left on Misson, Mr. Stuffins, Wasteland and others until people try them to shut me up. My thought process is “If you and I are both passing on this book and the cape only crowd won’t even read the solicitation who is the audience?” My guess is this is designed to sell in book stores and what ever they sell to the direct market is a bonus.

UNI-FORMZ: BATMAN (MODERN) DC Direct begins the vinylization of the DC Universe! BATMAN is the first in a new line of large format and stylized vinyl UNI-FORMZ? inspired by the red-hot "designer toy" phenomenon. DC Direct joined forces with a leader in the contemporary toy movement, Monster 5, to create this powerfully built and unique vision of Batman for the first time. This bold new take on Batman is a must-have for collectors of contemporary toy design as well as traditional fans of superheroes! Advance-solicited o On sale February 27, 2008 o Vinyl o $49.99 US
Jim: What the heck is this thing supposed to be?
Lee: I read it as designer toys = statue. It doesn’t appear to have any movable parts which makes it… a statue. It’s just a wild exaggeration for the manga crowd.

ROBIN 13" Deluxe Collector Figure
Robin, The Boy Wonder, is the newest addition to DC Direct's line of realistically proportioned, super-heroic 1:6 scale figures! This latest hero in the 1:6 scale figure line is the first of DC Direct's accurately scaled "teen" style figure, and has all the detail and articulation that collectors have come to expect. The ROBIN 13" DELUXE COLLECTOR FIGURE comes clothed in an authentically detailed fabric costume, includes a display stand and is packaged in a deluxe 4-color window box with a fifth panel. Advance-solicited; on sale February 6, 2008 o Collector figure o $69.99 US
Jim: Not only can’t they retro-con this costume away, they now have to embarrass Dick Grayson but making a large short pant figure. I want the short pants costume to go away in all future stories and in all future collectables.
Lee: What’s wrong with the short shorts? They’re classic! CLASSIC!!!! I wonder if he wears a thong so he doesn’t have a panty line.

Jim: A lot of stuff, but much of it is reprints and Vertigo and Wildstorm have almost no new projects. One month we should focus on the ongoing books a little more.
Lee: Maybe, but as a look ahead unless there is a creative change or new direction the ongoing books are what they are. If you like Superman, then you will like the on-going. And, I will say we always seem to make mention of the Zatanna crossovers when they occur!!!! See, we cater to all readers!