Thursday, January 31, 2008


As any collector will attest, the hardest part of having a big fancy collection of anything is sharing it. In fact, there are two forms of sharing: (1) the "letting people look at your collection from a distance" sharing and (2) "feel free to play with my toys" sharing.

The "letting people look at your collection" sharing is easy. For example, if you collect art, it’s easy because you can hang it on your wall. In terms of fantastic art collections, you “share” it with a museum like the Met so lots and lots of people can look at it.

Now, for most readers of this blog, we collect comic books and action figures. Those types items are a little harder to share. You can’t really hang a comic book on a wall. That’s not true, you can but it’s really, really, really hard to do without it appearing silly. The "letting people look at your collection" form of sharing doesn't work all that well with comic books either.

You see, by sharing your comic books it really means you are letting a person touch your toys. You have to open the plastic bag, remove the comic book, and actually GIVE IT to another person to… *GASP* touch. Now, most readers will attest to how hard this actually is. Most, but not all of us, are complete anal retentives when it comes to the condition of our comic books. When someone asks to see our books the first question is "what if he/she damages it?" or "What if they crease the spine? The book will be ruined!" We pride ourselves on our 9.4 NM++ collection hermetically sealed in plastic so it can never be damaged yet we want to share it with our friends.

This problem is even worse for parents because we want to share our hobby with our kids. I want my children to love comic books as much as I do. I want them to read them. I want them to appreciate the art in them. Most of all I want them to enjoy them. BUT, I don't want them to destroy them.

I finally reached a compromise where I share my hardcovers with them. Not my super fancy ones. Not my really expensive ones. I share my DC Archives. Why? Because they are easily replaceable if I ever want to, AND, more importantly, nothing is more wholesome and kid friendly than silverage DC material. Girl loves the Black Canary and Hawkgirl and Boy loves it all. He frequently struggles between Kamandi, Captain Atom, Batman, and every other book on the shelf. There isn't a superhero he hasn't liked yet.

And, the kids are good with the books. They know they are Daddy's special books and take good care of them... for the most part. There was the time Girl fell asleep in the book and drooled up a storm. And, the more recent episode with boy when he asked to borrow my Superman book. It is an oversized hardcover that reprints Superman Sunday stories from the newspaper. It's very nice and a ton of fun to read. I loaned it to him and he seemed to enjoy it.

That night, as we were getting ready for bed, Boy came up to me.
"Daddy. I have to tell you something" he said.
"I ripped a page in your book Daddy." He stammered. But it wasn't just a stammer. It was more of a mixed sob, gasp, stammer with a heavy dose of 'I'm really sorry' underneath it all.

It just about killed me. Not for the book but because he was so upset over such a little thing.

I asked him if he remembered where. And, he knew the exact page. He showed it to me and it was a tiny rip near the spine. He said it was an accident and I reminded him that he was supposed to be turning pages from the outside and not the middle of the book. He nodded his head and it was obvious he couldn't speak.

Then I told him it was alright and accidents happen. But, I stressed, the most important thing was that he told the truth. Finally, I told him that I was really, really proud of him for telling me. It seemed to cheer him up some and he was happy with that.

My book may no longer have been perfect but my little boy seems that way to me. And, without a doubt, I'll share the book with him again this weekend if he asks for it.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Marvel Preview Review for April

Lee: Ahhh, another depressing month from Marvel. I wish I could say I’m excited but the Skrull thing is supposed to start soon and that will likely crush whatever momentum the Marvel U. had. Sooooo, I predict lots of snark on inability of artists to draw anything that begins to approach real anatomy.
Jim: After the whole $4 Iron Man book my excitement level for Marvel books is pretty much at a low point. Outside of a few series and the occasional hardcover collection I have limited enthusiasm for this line of books. The Skrull event is a little, OMG not another event, but I do see some potential to tell some fun stories.
Pencils and Cover by TOMMY OHTSUKA
Lee: Let’s see this is a standard sword and sorcery comic so let’s pull out the checklist. Big, cool looking dragon? Check. Brave hero with fancy armor and random scar (to show how tough he is!)? Check. Beautiful princess in fancy gown… with gnarly nasty hammer toes? Check! Eeeewwww. Ohtuska needs to learn how to draw feet. She could pick up a watermelon with those nasty, monkey toes.
Jim: Nothing wrong with long toes. I think this is another part of the Dabel Brotherts deal that Marvel ended up with.

ULTIMATES 3 #5 (of 5)
Written by JEPH LOEBArt & 50/50 Wraparound Covers by JOE MADUREIRA & CHRISTIAN LICHTNERThis is it, the ending you've been breathlessly waiting for! Who killed the Scarlet Witch -- and why? The answers will rock you as the Ultimate Universe is about to explode! Betrayals, secrets, and even another murder are all laid bare as superstars Jeph Loeb, Joe Madureira and Christian Lichtner conclude Volume 3! But the next big Ultimates story is just beginning, as right around the corner is...Ultimatum!32 PGS./Parental Advisory …$2.99
Lee: THE PAIN WILL END! One issue and it was categorically despised. Two issues and the masses started dropping it. And, this would be the end of the train wreck that no one cares about.
Jim: As with any train wreck you still can’t help but look. If you are buying this book and passing on something else, but the something else and pass on this book.

Written by ZEB WELLS, Pencils & Cover by CHRIS BACHALOMonth Four of Brand New Day is upon us and so is the worst blizzard in the history of New York City! It’s colder than an outdoor hockey game in January out there and your favorite Wall-Crawler (aided by his Avengers buddy, Wolverine) must find his way through the cold to rescue a doctor who may know the real secret behind the deadly storm.32 PGS./Rated A …$2.99
Lee: Oh look. A pointless Wolverine crossover. One of these months we are going to have to count how many titles he actually appears in. It’s gotta be HUGE.
Jim: Oh look, we do a crappy retro-con and then after promoting the ever living heck out of the book we are still so worried that we do a Wolverine guest starring bit to try and drive sales up.

Written by TOM DEFALCO, Pencils & Cover by RON FRENZ
Lee: A fine book. I just wish people would stop drawing Joe Q. Daredevil billy club lines all over the place. It looks ridiculous that there is 400 feet of cable flying all around at the same time.
Jim: Well you need a very long line to go from building to building sometimes.

Lee: Did anyone notice that Warlock now dresses like Lightning Lad from the LSH? I wonder if DC is going to sue for costume in fringement?
Jim: Look at his face, are you really going to sue Adam Warlock. Let’s see all the Flash’s have lighting bolts, Captain Marvel has it, Lighting Lad, Black Lighting, Blue Bolt – how many DC characters have lighting bolts on their costumes?

Written, Pencils & Cover by ALAN DAVIS
Lee: Is it ok for an artist to swipe himself? Does he get paid less because he traced the original cover? Excaliber #1 in case your wondering.
Jim: Swipe, he just cut and paste the old cover and added a character beneath them.

Written by ED BRUBAKER & ANDE PARKS Penciled by CHRIS SAMNEECover by MARKO DJURDJEVIC “Blood of the Tarantula” Carlos LaMuerto, a.k.a. Black Tarantula, is finally doing something good with his life. Well, at least it ain’t all bad. Lying low after getting out of prison and wiping out an entire gang, Carlos has become a low-key Robin Hood -- cleaning up the neighborhood he used to run as a gang lord. But he’s about to discover that leaving his past behind isn’t as simple as a change of attitude…as ghosts from his former life haunt him, Carlos turns to his friend/adversary, Matt Murdock. Now Black Tarantula and Daredevil must work together to save the streets of Hell’s Kitchen from a powerful new gang from Carlos’ homeland.48 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99
Lee: This sounds interested. It has good writers. Art is probably good. BUT, why is it here? I don’t understand.
Jim: Well let me explain Lee. A Daredevil Annual was recently done that introduced this concept of the Tarantula. So instead of trying to launch it as a mini-series or something on its it, we add Daredevil to the title to help to try and drive more traffic to the book.

Lee: Nothing looks better on a newsstand than a giant eyeball cover. If you look close you can Tony Stark didn’t wash his face that morning from the eye snot in the corner of his eye.
Jim: Nice Lee, very nice. As you may have noticed we have dropped a lot of the hype so Lee can be snarky about a lot of covers. I think he is staring at you.

Written by DAVID MICHELINIE Art & Cover by RON LIM & bob layton"A Knight in Hell" Dr. Doom returns to menace Iron Man in the chilling and long-awaited conclusion of The Camelot Trilogy! Mephisto has apparently found a way to bring about The End Of Days and Tony Stark and Victor Von Doom must form an uneasy alliance to try and stop him. But all may not be as it seems. And it takes a journey to Hell itself before the shocking truth is revealed! Iron Man legends David Michelinie and Bob Layton are joined by penciler supreme Ron Lim to bring you the first part of an epic literally decades in the making!32 PGS./Rated T+ …$2.99
Lee: Long Awaited??? Who are they kidding? The last Iron Man v Doom story was what…. 1987? Who has been waiting since 1987 for this?
Jim: Who remembers this story? Thankfully we get the reprint before hand so we have a clue about what is going on. What really scares me is this is the “first part”, but the conclusion of the trilogy? Time travel makes my head hurt.

Written by PAUL BENJAMINPenciled by STEVE SCOTTCover by SEAN GORDON MURPHYHe’s big. He’s angry... and he’s not green. He’s the unstoppable Juggernaut! Bruce Banner’s looking for the mystical amulet of Cyttorak, said to be capable of chaining a mighty behemoth. But Bruce doesn’t know that his guide is none other than the Juggernaut himself, out to destroy the artifact. What happens when an unstoppable force meets another unstoppable force? Do the words “Hulk smash!” mean anything to you?32 PGS./All Ages …$2.99
Lee: I really don’t want this to be a pick-on-bad covers review but sometimes it can’t be helped. I know that Manga creators work very hard to keep control of the images of their characters, so that no matter who draws Long Duk Dong he always looks like Long Duk Dong. But, American comics never did that so Batman drawn by Jim Aparo looks nothing like Batman drown by Norm Breyfogle or Jim Lee. But, you would think that American Editors might try to maintain some control. This has got to be the skinniest Hulk I have seen since Ditko drew him in the 60’s. If you were to put this cover next to a McGuinness’s Hulk cover you wouldn’t know they were the same character. There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just visually jarring.
Jim: Okay I have to laugh at Lee, he loves picking on bad covers. It is one skinny green guy.

Written by BRIAN MICHAEL BENDIS Penciled by LEINIL FRANCIS YU Cover by GABRIELE DELL’OTTO Variant cover by STEVE MCNIVENSECRET INVASION IS HERE!! Years in the making, months in the teasing...and it all STARTS HERE!! The shape-shifting alien race known as the Skrulls has secretly infiltrated every super-powered organization on Earth with one goal...full-scale invasion! In this DOUBLE-SIZED first issue, page after page unveils reveal after reveal and shocking moment after shocking moment! Brian Bendis and Leinil Francis Yu leap off the pages of mega-hit New Avengers and deliver a story that will change the Marvel Universe forever.THE MARVEL UNIVERSE WILL NEVER BE THE SAME!!48 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99 Blank Cover CONVENTION Variant also available!
Lee: Oh wheeee fun. Another giant crossover! BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE! It looks like Skrulls have replaced Zombies are the latest cover redux fad. Just wonderful, now that all the classic covers have been zombified I can go thru the entire process again with skrullified classic covers.
Jim: I more excited by the fact that Bendis and Yu are leaping off the pages. Here we are the first chapter. This has so much potential to be really interesting or just flat out the most horrible drek produced.

Very special guest artist Jimmy Cheung returns to the pages of New Avengers for this very important tie-in issue. Spinning right off of events in NEW AVENGERS: ILLUMINATI #1, find out exactly how the Skrull empire was able to infiltrate the Marvel Universe and who instigated the invasion and why.
The Eisner-award-winning team of Brian Bendis and Alex Maleev (NEW AVENGERS ILLUMINATI, HALO: UPRISING) reunite to answer the question that has been on every comic fan's mind for years...WHERE THE HELL HAS NICK FURY BEEN?? Rewinding the clock to Fury's time in SECRET WAR, follow Fury as he puts together the pieces of his life and starts finding clues to a Secret Invasion that makes him TARGET NUMBER ONE. A major Skrull reveal happens in these pages!
Lee: And, to prove my point, here’s the first of many more skrullified covers to come.
Jim: A very lazy effort. These could be covers for second prints, but using them now is just laziness. Why aren’t the ants skrulls? All that being said, I am curious as to where Nick Fury has been.

Written by ROY THOMASPenciled by SAL BUSCEMA, FRANK ROBBINS, ALEX SCHOMBURG, DON RICO, LEE ELIAS & LEE WEEKSCover by SAL BUSCEMAWhet your appetite for Alex Ross, Jim Krueger and Steve Sadowski’s 12-part AVENGERS/INVADERS maxi-series with these classic tales! Witness the Invaders’ first appearance in AVENGERS #71 (1969), as Earth’s Mightiest Heroes encounter the wartime Captain America, Human Torch and Sub-Mariner – and experience the story from the Invaders’ point of view in INVADERS ANNUAL #1 (1977). Finally, the Invaders thwart a Nazi assassination attempt on President Roosevelt and Winston Churchill in GIANT-SIZE INVADERS #2 (2005). Also featuring in-depth dossiers on both teams and AVENGERS/INVADERS preview pages!96 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99
Lee: Blah blah blah more reprint BUT did you see the small print about the Avengers/Invaders maxi series???? Maybe I have heard about it before and just blanked the pain out of my head but that sounds awful.
Jim: Marvel seems locked into this type of promotion for new series about old characters. They give a reprint to show you what they were about and then show you the updated versions. A good idea for fans who have no familiarity with these characters.

Written by JONATHAN LETHEM & KARL RUSNAK Art by FAREL DALRYMPLE, PAUL HORNSCHEMEIER & GARY PANTERCover by GARY PANTERYou know a super hero's in trouble when he resorts to drawing a comic book to try to solve his problems! Omega The Unknown #7, on top of the usual stellar array of talent, features special guest-star creator Gary Panter, known for his work on a legendary children's show, Frank Zappa's album covers, and RAW Magazine -- but he's never been between Marvel's covers before. Tune in!32 PGS./Rated T+ …$2.99
Lee: LOVE THIS COVER! Giant robots crushing the helpless masses with a big helping of the Kirby vibe. What’s not to like?
Jim: The series itself?

Written by Peter David Penciled by REILLY BROWN Cover by Mike Deodato “Here Today” Tracking down the mysterious bomber who attacked her in New York City, She-Hulk finds herself in prison – and the story of why she left her legal career behind finally begins to come to light. 32 PGS./Rated T+ …$2.99
Lee: Ahhh, She looks deformed. It appears she has another set of b**bs growing where her a** should be.
Jim: Wow that is just some bad drawing.

THE TWELVE #4 (of 12)
Written by J. MICHAEL STRACZYNSKIPenciled by CHRIS WESTONCover by KAARE ANDREWSAs the savage murders continue, and members of the Twelve come under a cloud of suspicion, tensions flare, and hero faces off against hero! Plus, the unbelievable origin of underground secret agent Rockman!32 PGS./Rated T+ …$2.99
Lee: Note to Editor’s everywhere. If you are going to commission an artist to do a cover maybe you should provide him a character reference sheet. In this case, maybe someone should have mentioned to Kaare Andrews that the characters mask is just that… a mask… with a smiley face. Not a scream or grunt or a groan. A smiley face. AND, if this is how Andrews smiles… eeewww that’s just scary.
Jim: Maybe the hero changed his m.o. and is now the shocked mask.

Written by JIM STARLIN, MIKE FRIEDRICH, STEVE ENGLEHART, GERRY CONWAY & MARV WOLFMANPenciled by JIM STARLIN & WAYNE BORINGCover by JIM STARLINHe’s back and better than ever – the hero that wouldn’t die, Captain Marvel! After a few years in hiatus, mighty Marvel’s space-born super hero returned, and under the aegis of writer/artist Jim Starlin, his story would achieve a scale never before imagined! Stripping the Kree Captain down to his very core and forcing him through a gauntlet of past opponents, Starlin then brought to the fore one of Marvel’s pre-eminent cosmic menaces for the very first time: the mad Titan, Thanos. With the stage set and the players from unearthly entity Eon to Drax the Destroyer and the mighty Avengers pulled into fray, the good Captain led the fight against Thanos and his Cosmic Cube in a confrontation that would redefine super-hero epics forever! Featuring an introduction by Jim Starlin and an extensive selection of bonuses, this Marvel Masterworks volume is the definitive collection of the creative arc that defined Captain Marvel! Collecting CAPTAIN MARVEL #22-33 and IRON MAN #55.288 PGS./Rated A …$54.99
Lee: It took long enough but finally the brilliant Thanos – Captain Marvel run by Starlin. I can’t wait.
Jim: I just recently re-read this material in the “Life of Captain Marvel” reprint mini-series done a long time ago. I’m really happy to have this in a Masterwork edition.

Written by WARREN ELLISPenciled by CARY NORDCover by CARY NORDIt’s the Ultimate war between the Hulk and Iron Man! Desperate for a cure to his dark disease, scientist Bruce Banner begs Tony Stark for a release from the curse of the Hulk! Stark agrees, but in the midst of the experimentation, something goes horribly wrong. And you know what happens next: man and monster collide! Be there as writer Warren Ellis (ULTIMATE GALACTUS) begins his next Ultimate epic –joined by amazing artist Cary Nord (Conan)! Collecting ULTIMATE HUMAN #1-4.96 PGS./Rated T+ …$19.99ISBN: 978-0-7851-2015-5Trim size: standard
Lee: Now that is sweet planning. The HC ships the same week as the final issue of the mini-series. We’ve talked about this ad nauseum but it seems that Marvel finds new ways all the time to surprise me.
Jim: Seems like selling the DVD as I leave the movie. It is too early for me to tell if this is a book that I would want for the ages. After reading issue #1 the answer is no, but Marvel wants it at book stores so when the Iron Man and Hulk movies hit they have a new product at book stores to sell the waiting public.

Written by PETER DAVIDPenciled by SHAWN MOLLCover by MIKE DEODATOIt's a new direction for the lean, green fighting machine as longtime HULK writer Peter David takes the helm of the world's most dangerous lawyer as she takes on the world's most dangerous job. Be here now…or She-Hulk Smash! Collecting SHE-HULK #22-27.144 PGS./Rated T+ …$19.99These SHE-HULK TRADE PAPERBACKS STILL AVAILABLE!SHE-HULK VOL. 1: SINGLE GREEN FEMALE…$14.99 (ISBN: 0-7851-1443-2)SHE-HULK VOL. 2: SUPERHUMAN LAW…$14.99 (ISBN: 0-7851-1570-6)SHE-HULK VOL. 3: TIME TRIALS…$14.99 (ISBN: 0-7851-1795-4)SHE-HULK VOL. 4: LAWS OF ATTRACTION…$19.99 (ISBN: 0-7851-2218-4)SHE-HULK VOL. 5: PLANET WITHOUT A HULK…$14.99 (ISBN: 978-0-7851-2399-6)
Lee: So, let me see if I understand this. The entire Dan Slott run is available in trade but ONLY the Peter David She-Hulk is available in HC?! Because PAD’s run has been oooohhhhh sssooo much better. A rare HC pass for me.
Jim: Insane. I love David’s work usually, but I dropped She Hulk after reading a couple issues of his take on the character. Slott's run was better and had better art, that deserves the hard cover.

Written by STEVEN GRANT & JO DUFFYPenciled by MIKE ZECK & MIKE VOSBURGCover by MIKE ZECKThe Punisher's in prison, but he can't the criminals have nowhere to run! But while he's in gray, his trademark black-and-white look's being used by an army out to wipe out the mob and anyone else in the way! Marvel's vicious veteran vigilante finds out who to kill and who to trust in his original miniseries! Collecting PUNISHER #1-5.144 PGS./Parental Advisory …$19.99 ISBN: 978-0-7851-2331-6Trim size: standardPUNISHER: CIRCLE OF BLOOD PREMIERE HC – VARIANT EDITION VOL. 11144 PGS./Parental Advisory …$19.99 ISBN: 978-0-7851-2668-3
Lee: I love how Marvel is putting some of it’s really good content back in print as HC’s. This was THE series that established the Punisher as a great character. An absolute classic.
Jim: TRUE!

Written by CHRIS CLAREMONTPenciled by BILL SIENKIEWICZ & BOB MCLEODCover by BILL SIENKIEWICZThe New Mutants face a demon menace and befriend an alien misfit! A rock concert pulls them into the orbit of a multi-galaxy music star, then the team, with Cloak and Dagger, is drawn into a deadly exchange program...of super-powers! Plus: Hellfire Club intrigue and early steps on the path of reformation by Magneto! Action, romance, family reunions and a fairy tale! Anything else? Oh, right, guest-starring the X-Men! Collecting NEW MUTANTS #18-25 and ANNUAL #1.256 PGS./Rated A …$24.99 ISBN: 978-0-7851-3119-9These NEW MUTANTS CLASSIC TRADE PAPERBACKS STILL AVAILABLE!NEW MUTANTS CLASSIC VOL. 1…$24.99 (ISBN: 0-7851-2194-3)NEW MUTANTS CLASSIC VOL. 2…$24.99 (ISBN: 0-7851-2195-1)
Lee: This is sooooo coming home. The classic Sienkiewicz run on New Mutants!!! And, if we’re lucky the books will be recolored to eliminate the hideously garish colors that were printed the first time around. No matter what this is coming home. I would like a nice hc more but I’ll take what I can get.
Jim: The story was not that strong in my memory and my book cases are getting to be stuffed to the gills, I will pass.

Written by FABIAN NICIEZA, ROB LIEFELD, MARK WAID & JOE KELLYPenciled by ROB LIEFELD, JOE MADUREIRA, IAN CHURCHILL, LEE WEEKS, KEN LASHLEY & ED MCGUINNESSCover by ROB LIEFELDHe's the Merc with a Mouth, the Assassin with Elan, the Wryest Wisecracker of the Weapon X Program, now in a collection of his earliest sagas! Deadpool, with sidekick Weasel in tow, sets out on a quest for romance, money and mayhem – not necessarily in that order – only to learn he's being hunted by an enemy he killed years before! As if that isn't enough, the Juggernaut crashes into the action, and it's the unstoppable vs. the un-shut-up-able! But all may not be lost if the sultry Siryn can inject a little sanity into the proceedings! Will Deadpool be steered toward a better life by his new heartthrob, or stay the chaotic course he's set for himself? The answer is Yes! Guest-starring the New Mutants, Banshee, Sasquatch and more! Collecting NEW MUTANTS #98, DEADPOOL: THE CIRCLE CHASE #1-4, DEADPOOL (1994) #1-4 and DEADPOOL (1997) #1.256 PGS./Rated A …$29.99 ISBN: 978-0-7851-3124-3CABLE CLASSIC VOL. 1 TPB STILL AVAILABLE!$29.99 (ISBN: 978-0-7851-3123-6)
Lee: Actually, this sounds like fun. Nicieza and Waid wrote some good miniseries for Deadpool. This is when Mad’s art was still good. AND, it’s got the first issue of Joe Kelly’s great run on Deadpool. This just might have to come home with me.
Jim: Deadpool is a character I have never loved, even as the comedic relief that he has become.

Lee: All the X-books listed as “*Solicit classified until 1/24/2008*” That’s just great. No covers. No input. No information. That’s really gonna help retailers order. BUT let’s speculate what might be happening… Kill Cyclops - Nope done that… several times
Kill Prof X – Nope done that… even more times than Cyclops
Prof X is in a wheelchair - done that and done that and back again!
Madrox is dead - Oh his dupes die all the time.
Beast gets even more beastial and he is eating out of a bowl. – Nope, done that.
Jean Grey comes back. – Never happen! There is still some integrity left in the X-books. Oh wait, last month we saw Cable had the baby as a shield so yeah she’s coming back again… and again…

How about you Jim? Any ideas?
Jim: No ideas here, none at all Lee. FYI – Lee took my ideas with permission and now the actual event that occurred was as lame as could be. Professor "X" is shot in the brain and now in in some sort of coma (yawn). How long does this last - 6 months, 1 year, 2 years or until the next big number issue is coming out.

Lee: Uuuummmm, as a Marvel Skrull (zombies are so passé) I have to say except for the shiney super expensive hc’s… I wasn’t all that impressed.
Jim: My favorite thing is once again a reprint of the old stuff (Starlin Captain Marvel). I think that after Secret Invasion Marvel needs to focus on telling good stories and forget events for a year or three.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Best to Worst of Last Week

This was a funny week in that I liked a fair amount of material, but instead of a bunch of books vying for my best of the week attention I had only a couple that made the cut and any could have been beaten out by my a book three to five spots down last week. The competition is the key in the week to week analysis and it is always hard to knock some books down, but also it is sometimes hard to push a book higher up. Still favorite series and favorite characters with a good story can always reach the top.

Blue Beetle #23 – Jamie is a full fledged hero in this issue as he decides to try and take the Reach down by himself. This book continues to show how a young man continues to grow up into a man and a hero all at the same time. I love that he realistically includes his friends and family in helping him deal with being Blue Beetle.
Crime Bible the Five Lessons of Blood #4 (of 5) – Greg Rucka and this chapter’s artist Diego Olmos continue their exploration of the new Question and her fight against the dark faith. This issue I do not believe the dark faith succeeded in corrupting her with the lesson of murder, but the overall story about Renee and her talking up the role of the Question has been well done. This book shows why it is better to move on to a new character under the mask, they just tell the same stories over and over again. Renee is a blank slate as the Question and her actions are not dictated but what has gone before.
Legion of Super Heroes #38 – Jim Shooter has really pulled it off as a writer returning home, but to a different Legion. He is remaining true to this version and at the same time infusing personality, politics and action into his story. This is a book that has me jazzed about the Legion like I have not been in years. I hope his run is a long one and that artist Francis Manapul stays on the series as he is a quality artist.
Frank Frazetta’s Death Dealer #6 (of 6) – Just a great ending to a wonderful series. This creative team took their inspiration from a Frazetta painting and then ran with it. Joshua Ortega told a great sword and sorcery type sage and Nat Jones’ art work brought it to glorious life. I enjoyed the entire series and would have considered the hard cover collection, but not at the solicited $50 price tag.
Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters #5 (of 8) – First off Renato Arlem’s art work is outstanding, his women are sexy without being bimbos, strong backgrounds and his facial expressions convey emotions well. The story by Palmiotti and Gray continues to be a strong story. The Red Bee is crazed and is trying to absorb people into the hive mind, we get the Human Bomb’s origin and Miss America apparently is killed. I really would love to see DC make this an ongoing series.
Hellbalzer #240 – Part One of the Laughing Magician story line by Andy Diggle and Leonardo Manco. This looks to be a big story for Diggle’s run on the book as John is being forced into fighting a war mage who is hunting John for reasons that are not clear at this time. Diggle’s run has brought this book back into top form.
JLA Classified #51 – Another solid issue. If Roger Stern, John Byrne and Mark Farmer want to do another arc or two on this book I’d let them. This issue we go back in time and met the villain who is beating up the current JLA as he did the original JLA.
X-Men First Class #8 – The best X-series has another winning issue. Jeff Parker (writer) has the X-Men meet the Man-Thing and three of them see “alternative versions” of themselves. The Beast is almost feral, Jean is Dark Phoenix and Bobby is a Frost Giant. Not sure is Jeff is showing how bad these “possible” futures are or is sad that two are the “real” futures for these characters. Eric Nguyen was the penciller and he does a fine job, but his versions of these characters are not as youthful as Roger Cruz’s work.
Gotham Underground #4 (of 9) – I have to give Frank Tieri (writer) credit for crafting a good story with multiple moving parts. We have almost all the Bat family involved and all sorts of stuff going in the criminal underworld. Kudos to Jim Califore for doing a nice job with the art. This is becoming a very good mini-series.
Dan Dare #3 (of 7) – Garth Ennis is telling such a great story about this old English comic character that I never knew about it makes me want to read his old adventures. Garth Ennis is a strong writer and this book is really coming to together well. The danger of Mekon controlling things in the background, Dan Dare and a group of soldiers about to be the next light brigade and learning the history of the alien Treen’s all in one issue. Also I have now become reacquainted with Gary Erskine’s art style and I’m enjoying it. I find with many artist that if their style is a departure from the norm it sometimes takes a little while to appreciated their strengths. Gary’s style is less fluid and more static, but is rich in detail.
Wonder Woman #16 – Okay I’m starting to get into Gail’s Wonder Woman. The Nazi’s, what is what with her Mom and how this fits into current DCU continuity – I don’t know and I just stopped caring. The actual battle scene was fun, especially with the Gorilla Army at her back, her warrior ways, mixed with compassion was also fantastic. Took three issues, but I’m now enjoying this book.
Authority Prime #4 (of 6) – This series has been a lot of fun. Not only do we get great battle scenes between the Authority and Stormwatch, but we have the team-up battling doppelganger menaces from Bendix. Christos Gage and Darrick Robertson are crafting one of the few Wildstorm projects worth reading.
Countdown to Final Crisis #14 – This book has actually been good lately. I enjoyed yet another issue of this book as we continue to have a focus only on the battle for Earth 51 between the Monitors and Monarch. Batman of Earth-51, turns Jason into Red Robin and they join the fray, Donna takes out a main bad guy and takes over an insect army and joins the fight. Monarch is about to go in and kick-a**, when Superman Prime shows up ready to level Monarch. The pure logic of everything is fast and loose, but Countdown is worth reading again.
Scream #3 (of 4) – Danny (The Scream) and Sian (a reporter) should make a good team in concluding this story. I have grown to enjoy this comic so much that I hate to see it end on issue #4. Danny is going after a killer of a girl whom he knows from the post office. The psychiatric hospital administrator is pursuing Danny as he is responsible for the Scream being created. Peter David has created a new kind of “Hulk”. Bart Sears’ art works for this kind of story, but I still not a fan of his style.
Teen Titans #55 – So Wonder Girl breaks up with Robin and possibly leaves the team, Supergirl quits over a fight with WG and Blue Beetle is a non-member recurring cast member. All in all it was a decent issue to establish a status quo and set-up the next big thing. As long as we are past the Connor stuff as the ramifications of his death have lingered in this book for way too long. Jamal Igle’s art looks great on this issue and he needs a regular title to be working on.
Superman / Batman #45 – Michael Green writes some strong stories for DC, but it seems his knowledge of the characters is either dated or just slightly askew (see Batman Confidential for his Joker story). I would think the editor would help out on that stuff, but I think the “talent” has a lot of power at companies lately. Still the story of gathering all the kryptonite is a good one and Shane Davis’ art is outstanding. The fight with Aquaman was nice. Faker #6 (of 6) – A good ending to this mini-series. The idea that your memories come to life with this liquid technology was interesting. Carey and Jock told a solid story that should read even better as a trade.
Countdown Lord Havok and the Extremists #4 (of 6) – This is really a good mini-series. The tie-in to Countdown is just an element of the comic, but not the central part of the story. Frank Tieri (writer) is crafting interesting backgrounds of characters on this DC version of the Marvel “U”. Liam Sharp provides good graphics.
Iron Man #25 – What a blatant rip off. For my full tirade see
here. The actual story was good. The Mandarin’s ultimate plan to remake humanity while killing 97% of the population has a Ras As Ghul feel to it, but he is willing to die himself as he knows he will die from releasing the extremis virus. Iron Man shows up on the last panel and the confrontation finally should be here next issue. I do not think the Knauf brothers (writers) are going to give us a cookie cutter ending.
Afterburn #1 (of 4) – Another good comic from Red 5. On the second reading I liked the story a little more. The artwork is well done and the story was a good read. I loved the fast set-up of how we got to this post apocalyptic world and then into the story of our main character being part of a group who will do treasure robbing from the scorched side of Earth or take any jobs requiring their skills. This can easily be a series of mini-series.
New World Order #1 - This was an interesting first issue. We learn that a character Max is part of the “Lonely Ones” a group who stands between good and evil. Max is also the head of a group called “The Third Army” who is fighting against the current world order. This book will need time to flesh out the concepts, but it has enough going for it for me to continue reading. A lot of secret society and conspiracy theory stuff is probably going to be the core of this book. The art work is competent. A fair number of artists seem to have a certain style that is good enough to convey a story and with high production values and coloring looks okay, just not knock your socks off talent at this point in their careers. This book was written by Gustavo Higuera and drawn by Giuseppe De Luca.
After The Cape II #3 (of 3) - A little bit of a disappointment as it is obvious that we are at the middle point of a story and not the end. Gravity’s wife dies as his old team mates are killed by the bad guys. Ethan (Gravity) checks into AA as he knows he has to kick the habit to take care of his kids, now that his wife is dead. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed these issues, it is just not really broken up in story arcs.
Countdown to Mystery #5 (of 8) – The Dr. Fate series is a good one by Steve Gerber (writer) and by multiple artists in this segment. Kent V. Nelson never wanted to be a hero and has to try and redeem himself in order to be able to learn how to be a hero. The Eclipso series took an unexpected turn as Bruce Gordon is again tied to Eclipso, but seems to have stronger control in trying to keep him in check. I’m curious to see how the whole Eclipso, Spectre and other elements play out.
Superman Confidential #11- The long awaited conclusion to issues #1- #5, wrapping up Darwyn Cooke’s and Tim Sale’s story of Superman’s first encounter with Kryptonite. The long delay has hurt the story for me, as while I still enjoyed the art, the story seemed to fall flat. A Watcher type character was trapped in the piece of Kryptonite and he imparts memories of Krypton to Superman in exchange for Superman freeing him from the kryptonite meteorite.
X-Men #207 - So the ending has Professor X shot in the head by Bishop. Then Cyclops gives the baby to Cable who can apparently jump around in time and he leaves. Rogue wakes up and absorbs Mystique not realizing the baby had cleaned the slate and she now has just her and Mystique in her head and she leaves. I guess we have to see how each book plays out. Still having Professor X being dead or brain dead or whatever is nothing that will not be cured in about two to three years. We have no clue what the baby is or what powers it has, powers seemed to be ill defined in today’s books. We have nothing that really feels that different yet. I will check out next month’s books, but have the feeling not much will make the cut for the long haul.
Grimm Fairy Tales #20 – This is a funny series as it has gone from being a series of one and done stories that reflect the Fairy Tales story against a modern day story to being a war between Sela (the good witch?) versus Belinda (the bad witch?) who use the stories as sources of inspiration. This issue the “Little Boy Who Cries Wolf” causes his foster parents to kill someone he said hurt him, then they realize that is all the boy will say is “the bad man hurt me”. We find out Belinda is his mentor in causing people this level of pain and the “fairy tale” had a parallel story.
Astonishing X-Men #24 – The long delays between issue causes me to forgot who the heck is who and what is the point of this long drawn out story. Added to that is the fact that we know have to wait for a Giant Sized Astonishing X-Men #1 and we have no clue when the story will end. John Cassady always does well with the art, but I rather see Planetary #27.
Atlantis Rising #3 (of 5) – The overall story is clear enough as Atlantis fights the surface world, it is the ancillary stories that I have gotten lost in what is happening and why they are important to the overall arc. The artwork is inconsistent. At times it is good at conveying some really big battle scenes and at times the characters are out of proportion and the art is over rendered at times.
Testament #22 – Last issue and it was a rush to get to the crux of what they wanted to tell in this comic. Overall an okay comic, but I was ready for it to end. I think this would have been better structured as a limited series.
Ghosting #4 (of 5) – This is still a so-so story. The delays between issues have felt long and with the amount I read I have only a slight remembrance of who is who. Still I want to see the end game to Ghosting and how they stop the ghost from killing more people.
Ultimates 3 #2 (of 5) – So all of these is building to “The Ultimatum”, Loeb’s big idea to blow up the Ultimate Universe. The art looked much better this issue. The actual issue we get seven pages of Hawkeye versus Spider-Man for essentially no reason, then the Brotherhood (Magneto and company) attacks the mansion and the story ends as Pietro takes the Scarlet Witch’s body and pulls everyone out of the mansion and apparently rejoins the Brotherhood. Wolverine shows up with an ominous announcement. Final score art better, story still a “what the heck is going on”.

Hopefully we should have our Marvel and DC Preview review up for the April listings this week and if you get the catalogue from the store we should almost be in synch with your own reviews of what you might get. Thoughts of April are nice as I sit in Baltimore and we go through the heart of winter.

Monday, January 28, 2008

What I’m Getting Wednesday

This week sees Marvel do a slight reversal of fortune as I have more Marvel books on my list then independents. I believe this should be an aberration but I do not keep that close of track of exactly what comes out when. I have a lot more independents on my list, it is just the sporadic publishing schedule of independents can play havoc with their timing. We also come to the conclusion of a five week month and we are off to the races with two four week months back to back.

Action #861 – Part 4 of the Legion of Super Heroes arc. Geoff Johns has done a job great of recreating an old time Legion of Super Heroes story and still make it modern. Gary Frank’s artwork is always strong and has developed a rougher edge to his look over the years. I will be curious to see if DC ever tries to explain away the different incarnations of the Legion and the actual continuity of Superman as he is shown today.

Batman #673 – As Batman lies in a coma and possibly dying Batman relieves his life defining moment and his recent life changing trip to Nanda Parbat (not the Ras thing, the 52 thing). I’m very curious to see where Grant Morrison (writer) is taking us with Batman. Grant’s work really grows as it continues, because he is usually laying groundwork for where his stories ultimately go. Tony Daniels continues to grow as the Batman artist and it is nice to see that he appears to be able to handle a monthly schedule.

Batman The Man Who Laughs Hardcover - This is one of the best Joker stories ever done. Brubaker (writer) and Mahnke (artist) had their “A” game on for this one-shot special. I decided this story is hard cover worthy, but the page count was low for a collection, so DC filled it out three part story from Detective #784-786. For $20 I can live with that compromise.

Black Adam : The Dark Age #6 (of 6) – I hate to see this series end as Peter Tomasi (writer) has continued what 52 started and that is to make Black Adam one of the best and most complex super villains in comics. Doug Mahnke has done beautiful artwork that has matched the script. Since Mary Marvel has renounced the power Adam gave her, maybe he has them back. DC needs to make his story a series of mini-series of a continuing series and have Peter Tomasi as the writer.

Countdown to Adventure #6 (of 8) – This series has almost flatlined. I love Animal Man and Adam Strange, but the story has dragged on way too long. The Forerunner story has gone off the rails and I’m not sure how it ties into what is happening to her in Countdown itself.

Countdown to Final Crisis #13 – We are at the final quarter mark for this series and every issue in January has been a revelation. The action and battle between the Monitors and Monarch has upped the quality in this book. I’m still more jazzed that anything is happening and the plot holes and/or continuity issues are huge, but the book has been fun to read.

Death of the New Gods #5 (of 8) – This series has had more happen in four issues then Countdown has had happen in 39 issues. My one problem with this book is the involvement of Superman. This is New Gods story and he should not be playing such a prominent role. Jim Starlin as writer and artist was perhaps the only choice to be able to tell this story.

Green Lantern #27 – Johns has made this one of DC’s most consistent series and one not to be missed. The “Alpha Lantern” story line is the focus at this point with the repercussions of the Sinestro War still (and rightfully so) playing havoc with the corps.

JSA Classified #34 – This should be a fun issue as we have the artwork of Freddie Williams II and a story that focuses on Hourman and Liberty Belle. I still want someone to tell the story of how these two got together, but they are a great married couple in the DCU. The writer is James Peaty whom I have not heard of, but always curious to read new people.

Spirit #13 – This is essentially a fill-in issue as we await the new creative team. Still it is suppose to focus on the female fatales and that could be fun.

Trails of Shazam #11 (of 12) – Freddy and Sabrina are at equal power levels and Freddy is now searching for Mercury. If at the end of this year long sage Freddy is not the new Captain Marvel and he does not start showing up in the DCU I will be disappointed. I have enjoyed this series as we create a new Captain for the new age of magic. I also have liked that his nemesis has been created side by side with him. I’m just worried that if Captain Marvel is not utilized more in the DCU all of this effort will be for naught.

Jack Of Fables #19 – Continuing on Jack’s quest for treasure and an examination of some of the fables from America. One of the funniest things in this book has been the single page of “Babe” the miniature blue ox. His internal dialogue is just laugh out loud funny.

Crossing Midnight #15 – The official hype :“Toshi has finally caught up with Kai, and, with complete amnesia, she's committed to fight him to the death. And regardless of the victor, one of the twins will cross a line from which there is no return.” This is one of the better series being published right now and you need to be reading it!

El Diablo Trade Paperback – I was going to pass on this reprint, but I never got the series and Brian Azzarello is a decent writer and Daniel Zezelj’s dark art style fits the El Diablo character. Add to that it is a western and that I have no Archive type book on my list this week and I succumbed to the temptation and have decided to buy it.

Fantastic Four #553 – Dwayne McDuffie and Paul Pelliter’s final issue. I have enjoyed most of this run, but the last arc has been the best. I’m looking forward to future FF and current FF getting together. Also dying to see what was Reed’s Civil War plan.

Captain America #34 – This issue Bucky becomes the new “Captain America”. A general point on Captain America and Ed Brubaker’s (writer) run on this book. First off it has been great work. Essentially we have been treated to one long story. Bucky is found, he is slowly redeemed, Cap is killed and Bucky takes up the mantle. I hope Steve does not come back, but I will bet he returns around issue #50. Anyway my point is that this is a great way to do a book that remains within its own continuity more or less. My problem is that the book has become endless since the Cap was killed. We have taken nine months to get to Bucky wearing the costume and had no real resolutions or end points within that story line. Everything can’t wait until the last chapter to happen. A good story has pay offs as the story progresses and the end is the big payoff. Hell I have been reading countdown for about eight months with no pay off and it sucked. While the underlying story is good, the execution of that story has slowed down way too much.

Daredevil #104 – Oh look it is Ed Brubaker week at Marvel and one reason so many Marvel books remain on my list. Again good story line, but taking way too long to tell.

Mighty Avengers #8 – This story has been decimated by lateness. If you follow Mighty Avengers, odds are you follow New Avengers and know what happens in this arc already. For the two fans that get just Mighty Avengers seeing a regular publishing schedule must be a treat.

House of “M” Avengers #4 (of 5) – Just a nice little alternative reality story. This series is again one of those books that has no “event” to offer its readers, and no continuing continuity, just a solid story by Christos Gage and solid artwork by Mike Perkins. If done well alternative reality stories are fun because we know almost anything can happen.

New Avengers Annual #1 – Oh look a larger issue of the Marvel book that I get to complain about and because it is a “key” book in the MU with Secret Invasion. I don’t want to abandon Marvel 100% so if I get the main mini-series and follow one or two key series I at least will have a clue of what some character refers to in their regular book. Anyway this issue wraps us the Hood arc and is suppose to tie into other “events” that have occurred as well as be a prelude to Secret Invasion. The more I type that the more worried I become about this major event. The Final Secret Invasion Crisis looms every closer.

Spider-Man: With Great Power #1 (of 5) – A popular gimmick within the MU is to explore small elements from the past of a character and flesh them out into a full blown story. This story is about Peter Parker going from the class nerd to suddenly having great powers and how he handles that in his day to day life. I assume the story ends with Peter becoming a hero. David Lapham is the writer and Tony Harris is the artist, this sounds like a commissioned story to put into book stores. Still I’ll check out issue #1.

Ultimate Spider-Man #118 – This could be a good concept or this could be a really lame concept. Apparently there was a cartoon called Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends and Bendis is writing an arc that mirrors that grouping of characters.

Zombie: Simon Garth #3 (of 4) – Continuing the exploits of our living zombie Simon Garth. Kyle Holtz is just having fun with the clichéd ridden story and some outlandish art. Kyle is in his element producing entertainment in his own inimitable style.

Proof #4 – This is a series more people should be trying out. Proof is about Ginger and Proof (a Bigfoot) who investigate “X-File” type cases. The book is full of energy and passion and the creators are pouring their heart and soul into the book and it shows. Every issue is an entertaining read and this book is moving up the list as one of the best series on the market.

Suburban Glamour #3 (of 4) – This book is so late, but the artwork by Jamie McKelvie is so well done I can forgive the lateness of the book. Still the overall story itself became a little too clichéd. Last issue we had the revelation that our main character is an other dimension princess.

Conan #48 – Just a good series from Dark Horse. The official hype “Conan finds himself embroiled in a political struggle turned bloody between a naive young prince and a sinister sorcerer who calls upon the god of the underworld to help aid him in building an army of demonic abominations, intent on conquering not just his own kingdom, but all of Hyboria! But that’s not the only danger that threatens to destroy Conan’s world. Little does he know, a piece of his past still follows him, stalking the Cimmerian with the patience of the grave. All roads lead to the doomed city of Yaralet in this stunning adaptation of Robert E. Howard’s lost fragment “The Hand of Nergal.”
Black Summer #5 (of 7) – This series by Warren Ellis and Juan Jose Ryp has so much potential to be more then just a blood and guts story. I think the underlying theme is interesting and what is says about our leaders and super heroes are thought provoking. That being said this cover indicates the story maybe degenerating into a kill everybody Warren Ellis ending, but I hope not.

Salem #0 (of 5) – A rare six part series from BOOM. This book is about Witches in colonial America and I have not had the time to read the advance peek of the book, but I trust BOOM studios to produce quality books. I may not like every story they produce but it is always going to be a professional effort. So far I have liked or loved almost everything they produce. Once you trust a publisher's ability in selecting material it is easier to order material and try out new series.

Wormwood Calamari Rising #1 – This is Ben Templesmith’s seminal creation. He may go on and do fantastic work (see Fell) and may do more artist/writer work that will also be great, but I think he will always be identified with Wormwood Gentleman Corpse the way Miller is with Daredevil and Leonard Nimoy is with Spock. When you do something right and nail it people remember forever. This is the next story arc about Wormwood and I for one cannot wait. An animated corpse, scary monsters, goth chicks and mechanical sidekicks and drinking lots of drinking. Not for the meek, but for everyone else, not to be missed.

The next chapter of the original Legion story in Action, Proof, Wormwood, the last issue of Black Adam and more should mean that this will have some heavy weight contenders for best book this week. Also coming up, the Super Bowl and my thought is the Patriots go 19-0 and the Giants just go home, but happy they made it that far. The Ravens will try and get them next year, but it looks to be a rebuilding year.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Marvel Vault – A Review

This was not a book I was actively seeking or deciding to buy, but I had put it on an Amazon wish list and my sister got it for me as a gift. My initial thought was that I would never actually buy this book, that it was a curiosity. When I got it as a gift, it was a pleasant surprise.

It is truly a coffee table book. One that you throw on the prerequisite coffee table and flip through it on occasion and friends and family pick it up and enjoy it when they visit. My only coffee table is on my third floor, so it will mainly be only myself getting a kick out of it.

The book is by Roy Thomas and Peter Sanderson, and is published by Running Press. It has a list price of $50 and Amazon is selling it for $30, but get your local store to order it and ask them to sell it for a discount and maybe they will work a deal and your store keeps your business.

Ostensibly you could call this book a history of Marvel Comics, but it barely skims the surface of that history and skips across it like a flat stone on a lake. As comics are a visual medium this book brings that history to us in all in glory with a wealth of pictures and covers with enough text to give you a good brief history all the eras of Marvel.

It contains pictures of artists hunched over drawing boards, covers blown up in great detail, interior art and sketches by the artists, information on the publisher and of course some material on Stan Lee.

The thing that really seals the deal and makes this such a fun book to own is the reproductions of what a fan may have collected over the years. We have sketch pages from the 40’s containing any type or hand written notes that may have been on the pages, postcards that Bill Everett drew and sent to his daughter, the synopsis for the first Fantastic Four issue, a Thing Christmas card, the Merry Marvel Marching Society welcoming kit, a Howard the Duck for President Campaign button, and more modern age material. All are wonderful reproductions that not only look authentic but they feel authentic also. Hopefully the pictures I have include do those reproductions some justice.

The book itself measures 10 1/2 “ x 13” and is one that does not easily fit on my bookcase, but it is a quality product and done with loving care. It is a volume that is well worth the money and should give you some history you did not know about and some great "collectibles" to look at and enjoy.

Guest Reviews by Shawn

Shawn is the official reviewer of Cosmic Comics. Due to a revamping of the website Shawn has been forced to keep his opinions to himself. So we let him borrow this site for some guest reviews .
EVERY ONCE IN WHILE…I like to Bogart someone else’s website and infect it with the things in my head.

So before we begin, you’re very welcome.

Thank you Jim for allowing me to guest post here and thereby not release those risqué pictures of you onto the internet.

Very brave of you, my good man.

Without further adieu, let’s review some mo’ fracking comics.


Vertigo Comics
Written by Brian Wood
Illustrated by Davide Gianfelice

The second issue of the new Vertigo book draws the reader into it even deeper and at least for this little freak right here, succeeded in finalizing that connection that guarantees me to stick around for the long haul. Rather than have more antics with Sven and his evil uncle, this issue finds our anti-hero meeting with some various locals as he decides how to proceed reclaiming his birthright from his villainous kin. There is an old man who knew Sven in his youth who fills him in on some information Sven had missed out on, while in his own self-imposed exile. There is the ‘Hunter’s Daughter’ who mistakes Sven for a Saxon and wounds him with bow and arrow. There is a battle with a man who loses his head, and Sven gets a visit from his Uncle’s woman, who offers more than a firm handshake to the rightful leader of the land.

I must say that the characterization really made the story breathe to me. I finally connect to Sven in a way that makes me want to see him better his Uncle. (I was not quite cheering him on in the first issue.)His standoff with the Hunter’s Daughter was well done and revealed an honorable side to Sven who had seemed like a murderous heathen up until now. And of course we get another head on a pike. Comics need more heads on pikes.

Gianfelice is a wonderful artist and his talent is even more apparent here. You can see growth in his storytelling from the first issue to the second. He clicks with the writer perfectly here as opposed to finding his way in the premiere issue. And of course there is that fabulous last page…

FINAL WORD: Dark Viking drama done right. What the hell are you waiting for? BUY IT.

76 #1(of 8)
Image Comics
By B. Clay Moore & Ed Tadem AND Seth Peck & Tigh Walker

Two different stories begin here. The first by Moore and Tadem finds us in 1976 New York City where the arrival of a criminal from the street’s past prompts Mr. Carmichael Attorney At Law to adopt his street Kung-Fu personality, JACKIE KARMA once again.

The second story finds us in L.A. circa 1976 with Pete and Leon who work for a Bail Bondsman and stumble onto a gig tracking a girl who witnessed a murder but is wanted by the mob for other reasons, all in a story called COOL.

I’m not one for seventies stories. Seems I’m getting enough of that in my Amazing Spider-Man nowadays. This book right here though I enjoyed quite a bit.

JACKIE KARMA seems like an interesting take on the 70’s Kung Fu stories like IRON FIST and POWERMAN though without a doubt being its own animal. It definitely speaks to the stories of the retired hero making a triumphant return, you dig? Karma was all set up though, so we’ll see where it goes from here.

COOL interested me a little more than Karma did, but that might just be because the opening sequence with Pete and Leon collecting on a Bail was perhaps the best introduction of a duo I’ve read in quite some time. Pete had me laughing falling out that window and Leon owned the scene. Plus in Cool we’re thrown into the deep end of the story as I can see some of the twists and turns the tale may take but we’re too busy staying afloat to have it register yet.

All in all a good first issue that shows a lot of promise.

FINAL WORD: Don’t be no Jive Turkey, its better than Disco.

Dark Horse Comics
Written by Gerald Way
Illustrated by Gabriel Ba

This book the progressive way I want superhero comics written for the 21st Century. It’s kooky, genuine, well written, well drawn, unique, and really feels like a step forward and not backward.

Here we find Number 5 (an adult man trapped inside the body of a child) revealing he may have stepped on some toes returning to his normal world and time. The opening scene with the waitress at the Diner is ridiculously cool as her description is better than seeing the scene unfold completely. Way knows exactly what to show and what to let our own little imaginations come up with. I also particularly liked how he worked in the title of this issue.

Meanwhile we have an unexpected Romance and a last minute visit from Vanya to showcase her new destructive powers, robbing the team and us readers of a very cool character, and proving as we enter the last issue of this mini-series, that no one is safe and it is all up for grabs.

Ba once again (as always) proves he is the king of style, storytelling, character expression, and action.

FINAL WORD: They need to make this an ongoing. Stat.

Vertigo Comics
Written by Andy Diggle
Illustrated by Leonardo Manco

They call this issue “Part One” by really it is a continuation of the story begun in issue #239. So I am not sure where they get that. The Hunter Magician was introduced in the last issue and that introduction (not the story in this issue) is what sets the character up as a horrific enemy for John Constantine to have to face off against.

Tying into some of Constantine’s history, John learns about the Hunter who is coming after him based on the memory imprinted on a stick brought all the way from Africa to Constantine’s doorstep.

The issue definitely gives us, at least thus far, a wonderful set-up befit a story of the Constantine Alan Moore used to write. For some reason this reminds me of the first time I ever read about the character, in an issue of SWAMP THING where John is conning Swamp Thing into going against vampires living in a flooded underground town that are eating the locals.

Diggle even works in one of the greatest Constantine quotes that was ever uttered. “I’ll tell you the ultimate secret of Magic. Any **** can do it.”

What you may not know is that it isn’t a quote from a story, but a quote from Alan Moore who claimed to have met the real John Constantine twice in his life. Moore claimed the second time Constantine approached him and said the above quote before disappearing.

The fact that Diggle used it made it that much more compelling, because this Constantine is the hardcore getting-it-done-no-matter-what bastard Moore introduced us to, plus it is a little love letter to longtime readers and crazy folks who knew throwaway information like I do.

Manco illustrates a grisly world full of real nightmares perfectly and together with Diggle they’re tearing Hellblazer up.

FINAL WORD: If you can’t tell already, I love it.

Image Comics (Shadowline)
By Ryan Rubio and Thomas Boatwright

Mortimer and Falstaff are just following Lear’s handbook, so we cannot hold them too accountable. Going from cemetery to cemetery and killing the undead takes a kind of toll on a fellow after all. Mr. Lear still tries to handle them though, even from the great beyond, and together the trio goes about doing their job.

Mortimer and Falstaff might get it wrong on occasion (stake the wrong corpse as one example or letting a vampire almost get away as another) but it’s nothing an apology or a hammer and a little elbow grease won’t cure.

After stumbling into a town to do some more hunting, Mortimer is able to get them some lodgings and alcohol (the only true payment these men of action need), and together with some locals go on a hunting expedition.

Unbeknownst to them however, the forces they are up against are a rather cheerless man who controls the animal spirits in the forest. Possessed animals, eh? No good can come of that I tell you.

Equal parts measured in humor and fun, this book had a unique soul to it. The art by Boatwright proves a perfect design for the tale and makes it the first black and white comic I’ve read in ages that NEEDS to be in Black and White.

I was not expecting much and it turned out we got a wonderful first issue for a series I will now be looking forward to all the time.

FINAL WORD: Lots of fun and worth a try.

And I leave you fine Heathens with the place much messier than I found it.

I swear I didn’t have sex in any of your beds.


Thanks Shawn for the reviews. Feel free to send more on if you feel the need. I would also like to add my two cents that each book Shawn reviewed I have also read and each one is worth checking out.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Dark Horse / Image Preview Review April

Jim: I’m always curious to see what these two publishers will bring us each month. Sometimes it is a plethora of new series and sometimes the focus is on the ongoing titles, but always there is something I really want to get.
Lee: I agree, while the material tends to be hit or miss it’s nice to be away from the world of mega-crossover.

We will start with Dark Horse this month.

CREEPY ARCHIVES Various (W/A) On sale June 18 b&w, 232 pages $49.95HC, 8 3/8" x 10 7/8" Gather up your wooden stakes, your blood-covered hatchets, and all the skeletons in the darkest depths of your closet, and prepare for a horrifying adventure into the darkest corners of comics history. Dark Horse Comics further corners the market on high quality horror storytelling with one of the most anticipated releases of the decade, a hardcover archive collection of legendary Creepy Magazine. This groundbreaking material turned the world of graphic storytelling on its head in the early 1960s, as phenomenal young artists like Bernie Wrightson and Neal Adams reached new artistic heights with their fascinating explorations of classic and modern horror stories. Brilliant, classic Creepy stories from 1964-1966 raised from the dead after twenty-five years. Featuring work by such comics luminaries as Joe Orlando, Al Williamson, Alex Toth, and Frank Frazetta. Archive editions of Creepy will be the cornerstone of any comic-book library. Volume One reprints the first five terrifying issues of the magazine’s original run, reprinted in the original magazine size!
Jim: This is something that I have been dying to see. I’m not sure if reprinting each and every issue is the way to go as not ever story was a winner, but there is some great work, but some real absolute comic greats in the Warren publications. Warren did not pay the same page rate, but he allowed creative freedom where the other publishers were more restrictive. Dark Horse does high quality reproductions and the archive will be in the original magazine size (which is (and I checked) 8 3/8” x 10 7/8”).
Lee: I am really, really looking forward to this because it is such great material. And I have to disagree, reprinting every single issue is absolutely the way to go. The early issues are so, so good that you have too. You don’t reprint 1/2 the EC material, you reprint it all so you can see what was there.

GRENDEL: GOD AND THE DEVIL Matt Wagner (W), John K. Snyder III (I/Cover), Tim Sale (P), Jay Geldhof (P/I), Bernie Mireault (I), and Jeromy Cox (C) On sale June 11 FC, 320 pages $29.95 TPB, 7" x 10" In the centuries since the mask of Grendel was last seen, humanity’s survived a third World War, the fall of Western Civilization, and the rise of an all-powerful church state. But when the depraved Pope Innocent XLII begins construction of a new church tower hiding a powerful and deadly secret, two men will rise against the church’s corruption. One is Orion Assante, a man determined to expose the Pope for who he really is. The other is a mysterious figure wearing the all-too-familiar face of Grendel!
Jim: I hope the hard cover is solicited next month as I want all of the Grendel material in hard cover format. Still I’m jazzed that Dark Horse is committed to reproducing all of the original Grendel material.
Lee: I can’t imagine the price on the HC but that’s what I am waiting for too.

PIGEONS FROM HELL #1 (of 4) Joe R. Lansdale (W), Nathan Fox (A), and Dave Stewart (C) On sale Apr 16 FC, 32 pages $2.99 Miniseries Joe R. Lansdale puts a new spin on an old classic with this four-part adaptation of master-storyteller Robert E. Howard’s classic tale of terror Pigeons from Hell. Set in the deep south, Pigeons tells the story of a damned house with a wicked past whose vile form casts a shadow of death on all who dare to enter. At dusk, as the sun slumps below the horizon, scores of pigeons can be seen flocking from the house in waning sunlight. The pigeons, they say, are the souls of the damned escaping from the very bowels of Hell itself.
Jim: Never heard or read this Robert E. Howard story, but it sounds interesting and Joe Lansdale is a decent writer and I do not know of Nathan Fox, but we have enough elements to sign up for issue #1.
Lee: I don’t know about this. I’ve never been sold on Lansdale as a great writer. I’ve read his comic book work and some of his prose novels and they always seem three-quarters complete. It’s almost as if that something that really pushes them over the top is missing. But, he is working from a Howard story so it might be good.

FEAR AGENT: HATCHET JOB VOL 4 Rick Remender (W), Jerome Opeña (A), and Michelle Madsen (C) On sale June 18 FC, 128 pages $14.95 TPB, 7" x 10" Abandoned in deep space, near death, and with no hope of rescue, Heath learns the cost of crossing the nefarious pirates of the Centurion Nebula. Back on the moon base a mysterious figure from Heath’s past arrives as a harbinger of more hard days for humanity. Combining the aesthetic elements of all three of the genres that made EC comics the high water mark of sequential storytelling: science fiction, war, and horror!
Jim: A book that I can not recommend highly enough. If you don’t buy the series pick up the trades and if nothing else get a treat from the artwork of Jerome Opena and the coloring of Michelle Marsden, beautiful work.
Lee: I agree the art is really good but the main character is sooooo unlikable that I have trouble getting past that. But, if you like drunk, obnoxious lead characters then this is a great book.

Onto Image Comics

THE WALKING DEAD #50 story ROBERT KIRKMAN art & cover CHARLIE ADLARD & CLIFF RATHBURN All alone now. For this landmark 50th issue we present a special stand-alone tale that will both warm your heart and chill you to the bone. APRIL 23 - 32 PAGES - BW - $2.99
Lee: Walking Dead reaches 50. An amazing accomplishment all while the maintaining creative excellence.
Jim: This is an amazing accomplishment. Kirkman is al least partially responsible with this title in creating the almost unending popularity of Zombies.

THE PERHAPANAUTS #1 story TODD DEZAGO art & cover CRAIG ROUSSEAU "TRIANGLE," Part One The official debut of the all-new on-going series from Image! A new storyline begins as the PERHAPANAUTS delve deeper into the Bermuda Triangle to rescue Karl from the Mothman Tribunal! As the team prepares to battle these Angels of Doom, they are separated and cast into the unpredictable and unfathomable Perhaps! Will they ever get out...?! Back at Bedlam, Arisa is confronted by her past and Choopie is crowned King of the Gremlins. Yes, really. APRIL 16 - 32 PAGES - FC - $3.50
Lee: This title has been around for awhile and seems to have a nice little cult following. I like Rousseau's art and a first issue make this a great jumping on point.
Jim: for someone like me having no familiarity with this material, it is a good starting point. I’m anxious to check it out.

FRANK FRAZETTA’S DARK KINGDOM, PART ONE story MARK KIDWELLart TIM VIGIL covers FRANK FRAZETTA, TIM VIGIL & NAT JONES The Frazetta tradition of epic dark fantasy continues as the masterpiece DARK KINGDOM roars to life from canvas to the comics page. From amid the clash of steel and decks stained red comes legendary sea raider RED MORDEN, battling his way through an ocean of horror to save the family he holds dear. For love and vengeance, he will face his greatest fears, both real and imagined as he stands alone against a kingdom of darkness. APRIL 2 - 32 PAGES - FC - $3.99
Lee: I don't know who Kidwell is but Vigil does some of the best barbarian art ever. Big muscles with a fine mix of blood and violence. Sign me up!
Jim: I love the idea of building stories off these great Frazetta covers. Who amongst his fan base has not either wondered what the story behind the character is or worried about the mind creating these pictures.

FRANK FRAZETTA’S DEATH DEALER, VOL. 1 DELUXE HC story JOSHUA ORTEGA art NAT JONES & JAY FOTOS cover FRANK FRAZETTA The iconic painting comes to life in this epic tale of dark fantasy and horror! The land of Iparsia is at war. Two kingdoms fight for survival as an ancient evil sweeps across the land. The Death Dealer returns to Iparsia, but will the dark ride bring an end to war... or will it he bring an end to Iparsia? Critically-acclaimed novelist and comics writer JOSHUA ORTEGA (The Necromancer) teams up with cult-favorite artists NAT JONES (Spawn: The Dark Ages) and JAY FOTOS (Spawn) to bring forth the first Death Dealer tale fully approved by FRANK FRAZETTA himself! APRIL 16 - 192 PAGES - FC - $49.99
Lee: WOW. $50 for the hc??? Was the story that good that it deserved a $50 hc? I might've been tempted at a $20 hc but $50? I think Image is going to hurt itself with this move.
Jim: My thoughts exactly. I was willing to even go to a $25 hard cover price as Nat Jones art was so nice and the story was good enough to make me want a hard cover, but at $50 it stays at the store and does not make the trip home.

ARCHIBALD SAVES EASTER (ONE-SHOT) story GRANT BOND & DWIGHT MACPHERSON art & cover GRANT BOND Following last year's critical success, Archibald turns his attention to Easter and the grotesque, ludicrous and bizarre! On furlough from the big city, Archibald must help his befuddled friends overcome their personal demons that are coming straight from hell! A carnival of carnage! A plastered plunge into purgatory! A roller coaster ride to redemption! APRIL 2 - 32 PAGES - 2C - $3.50
Jim: This pick is a no-brainer. I loved the Christmas special and hope all the holidays get the Archibald treatment. I think the best tag line is “Sin City meets Roger Rabbit”. Twisted fun as cartoon characters are caught up in a slasher story, with beautiful art by Grant Bond.
Lee: The Christmas story was good enough that I will give this a try. You can read our review of the original one shot here.

JACK STAFF #16 story PAUL GRIST art & cover PAUL GRIST NOW MONTHLY!It's Giant Robot Action as Tom Tom the Robot man has to bring in John (Jack Staff) Smith for armed robbery! Meanwhile, Vampire Hunter Albert Bramble comes face to face with his most fearsome foe - Albert Bramble the vampire! APRIL 9 - 32 PAGES - FC - $3.50

Lee: Jack Staff is back! This is/was a great series. It's well worth your time and money.
Jim: I may have to check this book out as I have enjoyed some of Paul Grist work on Kane, but have never tried out Jack Staff.

SCREAMLAND #2 (of 5) Story HAROLD SIPE art & cover HECTOR CASANOVA You thought you had trouble flying in a post 9/11 world? The Mummy returns home to Egypt and leaves no forwarding address. The search for him leads down a bad road of ill-advised sequels, banal TV shows and folk music nightmares. Should The Mummy be waterboarded for his terrible film career? Also, Frankenstein's Monster goes to therapy! APRIL 16 - 32 PAGES - FC - $2.99
Lee: Don’t' know anything about the book but the cover is really cool!
Jim: Well the first issue hasn’t come out let, so of course you don’t know the book yet. It does have a great premise and looks to be loads of fun.

SPAWN #181 story DAVID HINE art BRIAN HABERLINcover BRIAN HABERLIN & GEIRROD VAN DYKE Spawn battles his inner demon. Is he a force for Good or Evil? If Evil wins, Wanda dies. If Good triumphs, this is the end of Spawn. We mean it!
Lee: WOW! At 12 issues/year, 181 issues means Spawn has been around for approximately 15 years. That's really hard to believe. AND, this issue could be the "end of Spawn" which makes the 53rd time the hype has made that claim!
Jim: Spawn has never been anything in my opinion. Even with David Hine writing it, I have no interest in this book.

Witchblade/Devi #1
Lee: Well, there's something you don't see every month. A flaming bikini. I'm sure that's comfortable
Jim: Yes, I’m sure it is, I’ll set my wife’s bikini on fire when she is wearing it and ask her how it feels.

Jim: Hard to believe we are reviewing April already, when I’m typing this in January and today is a better a** cold day. This looks to another good month from these publishers with Creepy Archives being the most exciting new solicitation.
Lee: Some good stuff coming but the Creepy archives is by far and away the best new book. I can’t wait.