Friday, February 29, 2008

A Fistful of Reviews

A Pre-Review (this book comes out in March)

Atomic Robo #6 (Red 5 Comics)

Great ending to a great miniseries. I am so happy that Robo is becoming an ongoing book, it certainly deserves it!

The dialog between Robo and Helsingard was very well done, and the art was wonderful, as usual. As much as the previous issue was somewhat confusing at times, this issue brought everything home and was a strong finish for this story arc.

I have to say that despite Robo's status as main character you really get to know the supporting cast. I love the Action scientists. Especially Jenkins who is so hardcore as to be unbelievable, yet it still works for him. The supporting cast is done extremely well, and the very comic book ending to this issue made me smile.

Of course that's why I love this series, it makes me smile,laugh and just out and and have a good time. Thanks Red 5, for making this book ongoing!

Stuff I read this week:

The Flash #237 (DC)

This issue of the Flash really bothered me. It's not that it was awful, it was just... boring. And not terribly well done. The art doesn't work for me at all. It's too exaggerated and Linda looks like she has Angelina Jolie's lips - which is scary. I'm also tied of seeing male superheroes drawn so bulky that it looks like they shouldn't be able to move. It's one thing to draw Superman that way (despite the fact that it looks dumb) but the Flash isn't supposed to be a body builder. Maybe I missed something along the way, like Wally getting into steroids, but I don't think so.

The story was obviously a filler, which is understandable occasionally, but it wasn't even remotely interesting. Jai's little 'stealing is wrong' moral crisis was forced and fell rather flat. Also, someone needs to decide how Lois Lane actually looks these days and stick to it no matter what current continuity book she shows up in. Iris looked more like Lois from the Superman main books than Lois did.

Robin #171 (DC)

I really enjoy reading this comic. Robin, since OYL, has been consistently good.

The art is decent, and the story is solid. I am interested to find out more about this Violet character and Tim's staying awake during the day issues are entertaining and add more realism to the character.

Of course I am confused as to whether or not there are two different Robins in the DC universe. In his own book Tim still has some hangups about Spoiler and is trying to date Zoe. In Titans he had a whole thing going on with Cassie. Either he's learned too much of the playboy thing from Bruce or the two comics are pretty much pretending the other one doesn't exist.

I'm okay with his own book's seeming distance from Teen Titans though, as I like this version of Tim much better. I like his relationship with Bruce and I really enjoyed his conversation with Alfred. I hope I'll continue to enjoy this book every month, Tim has become a truly likable character and a hero in his own right.

JLA #18 (DC)

This book hasn't been terribly impressive since day one of its' relaunch (the Lightning Saga being the only exception) and this issue almost put me to sleep. Mostly because of the theme. I feel like I've read a thousand stories about mistreatment of criminals. Also, it seems to me that someone read Civil War and read about the awful villain prison and took it over to the JLA to put a different spin on it. Ugh. Somebody please find a writer to click with this team.

Shadowpact #22 (DC)

Good issue, however, I'm going to miss Nightmaster. Despite the fact that he has a silly costume and was a character I originally cared nothing about, I grew to really like him. Being a part of Shadowpact really allowed him to grow as a character and as a leader. He had a really good story and I suppose it was a kind of happy ending for him. Ending being a relative term in the comic book world of course.

I'm curious where this book is heading now that the roster has been shaken up.

I, of course, read other things this week, but mostly it's been King Lear and A Thousand Acres. I want to see a comic that manges to use the story of King Lear, that would be intriguing.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Dark Horse / Image Preview Review for May

Jim: This month will be a slight switch as Marvel and DC had a lot to talk about and Dark Horse and Image are a little quieter. Still you can’t be launching a lot of new stuff every month.
Lee: It does seem like a slow month for DH. But that’s good because if everyone had cool stuff every month my head would explode.

Let’s Start with Dark Horse

HARVEY CLASSICS LIBRARY VOL 4: BABY HUEY Jerry Beck (W) and Leslie Carbarga (A) On sale July 23 FC, 480 pages $19.95TPB, 7" x 10" “That’s some duck” for adventure, fun, misunderstandings and victories aplenty. Oversized, oblivious, and oh-so good-natured duckling Baby Huey first delighted audiences in 1949 when he appeared in the pages of Casper the Friendly Ghost, but quickly lumbered his way into the bigger world of cartoons and his own comic book series! Join Baby Huey, his lovingly baffled parents, and his duckling pals in this jumbo collection of classic stories.
• The lovable lug in king-sized diapers gets his own collection in Dark Horse’s Harvey Comics Classics series. • Collects over four hundred pages of long out-of-print Baby Huey stories from the Golden Age of comics. • Giant-sized laughs for all ages! Jim: the Harvey material has long been out of print and but fro Dark Horse it would never see the light of day. It is not stuff that I want in my personal collection, but it is fondly remembered from when I was very young.
Lee: Interestingly enough, this is one of the few Harvey books that I am thinking of skipping. Richie Rich, classic, Hot Stuff, classic, Baby Huey… not so much.

THE COMPLETE K CHRONICLES Keith Knight (W/A) On sale July 23 b&w, 500 pages $24.95TPB, 8 1/2" x 11" Here it is—the first comprehensive omnibus collection of rapper/cartoonist Keith Knight’s Harvey Award-winning, semi-autobiographical comic strip, the K Chronicles. An unabashedly provocative mix of political and social satire, it tackles such touchy subjects as racism, violence, and sex with a self-deprecating humor, personal honesty and light-hearted goofiness rarely found in a newspaper comic. The result is accessible yet subversive, compassionate and political, without being preachy. Reminiscent of Calvin and Hobbes, Knight’s drawing style is fluid and dynamic, and his great strength is the deftness of his wide-ranging wit–simultaneously light-hearted and wild, clever and conscious.
Jim: Dark Horse is really pushing the envelope for what they do as a publisher. After awhile you get known for what your niche is and Dark Horse is breaking out further and further into other areas of publishing that far removed from standard comic book fare.
Lee: The thing that I like is that it allows me access to things I might not normally find. And, this is a great example of things that I would never have found otherwise.

BETTIE PAGE 6" STATUE On sale June 18 6" tall (7" with base) $59.99 Our 13" Bettie Page statue sold out within weeks of solicitation and customers have been thrilled with the lifelike statue, which finally, truly captures the spirit of Bettie Page. We decided to offer a second, smaller version for the Bettie fans that missed out on the limited full-size statue. Measuring 6 inches (7” with base), this mini-statue captures the charm and sultriness of this real-life heroine in exacting, minute detail. Sexy yet tasteful, like Bettie herself, this item is a “must-have” for Bettie Page fans.
Jim: What is the never ending obsession with Bettie Page? I mean she is sexy and was a hot looking woman in her day, but that day was many, many, many years ago. Also it seems that she is an obsession for the comic book crowd the way Marilyn Monroe is for the movie crowd.
Lee: I think you said it perfectly, every geek crowd has their idol. Geeks love Bettie Page. AND, it’s all about her beauty. It has nothing to do with those “other” photos.

POSTAGE STAMP FUNNIES Shannon Wheeler (W/A) On sale July 2 B&w, 56 pages$9.95 HC, 3 ½" x 2" From the pages of The Onion and the wry mind of cartoonist Shannon Wheeler comes the silliest—and most charmingly packaged-collection of new comics you’ll see this year. For more than ten years Wheeler has cultivated a distinctly pointed and playful sense of humor in the pages of his independent comics, Too Much Coffee Man and How to Be Happy. Postage Stamp Funnies frames his wit with even more focus, as each cartoon delivers its punch in a single postage stamp-sized panel.
Jim: Again I admire Dark Horse really being more opened to bringing us humor and other properties that seems other publisher either stayed away from or were perhaps unwilling to promote.
Lee: So you admire all this but are you going to support any of it? And did you notice the size? 3.5” x 2”! That’s small.
Jim: It is called postage stamp funnies, small makes sense and no I'm supporting any of it at this time.

SCRAMBLED INK Dave Pimentel (W/A), JJ Villard (W/A), Dave Derrick (W/A), Jenny Lerew (W/A), Ken Morrissey (W/A), Keith Baxter (W), and Ennio Torresan (W/A) On sale July 9FC, 176 pages $19.95 HC, 6 5/8" x 10 1/4" Hollywood’s hardest-working animators bring their blockbuster talent to comics to tell stories too big for the silver screen in this jam-packed, jaw-dropping, just-plain-fun compendium of illustrated awesomeness! Hilarious and moving, undeniably innovative and stunningly beautiful, each tale transforms the page into a lushly realized world of imagination—a surefire prize for any fan of illustration or anyone looking for a great yarn spun in a whole new way. • The creators of Scrambled Ink are all animators at DreamWorks Studios with credits on such blockbuster films as Bee Movie, Shrek and Madagascar!
Jim: Finally this is another example of that new market Dark Horse is expanding into and of all their projects, this is my favorite one. The headache is these are books and collection I want to see first before buying and my store will not be stocking any of these for perusal.
Lee: It’s hard to stock all the material that outs there. That’s true… but then again you could take a chance on any one of these and be happily surprised.

Next up Image Comics.

FIREBREATHER #1 story PHIL HESTER art & cover ANDY KUHN Back by popular demand, the adventures of Firebreather continue in this all-new monthly title. High school is tough enough for normal kids, but when your Dad is a city-stomping giant monster who expects you to follow in his footsteps it gets even tougher. PHIL HESTER (THE DARKNESS, The Irredeemable Ant-Man) and ANDY KUHN (Blue Beetle, Marvel Team-Up) deliver the high octane action, drama, and humor. For fans of INVINCINBLE and Ultimate Spider-Man. MAY 14 • 32 PAGES • FC • $2.99
Jim: I have no clue about this property, but bring it up as Image is almost cultivating bringing back old independent books that have disappeared or been off the market for years. Not sure if it is a good thing or bad, but it is something that is happening with Youngblood, Scud, Perhapanauts and others that I can’t think of off the top of my head. Next they will bring back that god awful Spawn book.
Lee: Firebreather isn’t old enough to count as being “old”. It seems to me this is just a creator coming back to a pet project.

STUDIO SPACE TP – by JOEL MEADOWS & GARY MARSHALL From the creators of Tripwire comes a unique book that looks at the way that the world’s best comic book artists work, visiting their studios and getting into their mindset. Each chapter also looks at the creators’ big break and whether their working methods have changed over the years. Featuring a spectacular line-up including FRANK MILLER, MIKE MIGNOLA, JIM LEE, JOE KUBERT, TIM BRADSTREET, DUNCAN FEGREDO, WALTER SIMONSON, BRIAN BOLLAND, DAVE GIBBONS, TIM SALE and many more. MAY 29 • 320 PAGES • $29.99 TP/$49.99 HC
Jim: What a great idea for a book. It would also be a great book to have to take to conventions and get signed. I love this idea.
Lee: When I first read this I thought, “That’s dumb!” But as I’ve thought about it more it is really cool. This should be a really interesting look into the lives of creators. And what luck, another $50 hc.

GEMINI #1 (of 5) story JAY FAERBER art & cover JON SOMMARIVA & FCOLOR From the creator of DYNAMO 5 and NOBLE CAUSES comes Image’s newest superstar: Gemini, a super-hero whose identity is so secret, even he doesn’t know what it is! Dan Johnson is just a normal guy with a normal job… or so he thinks. What he doesn’t know is that a secret organization is using him as their weapon against crime. Dan Johnson is Gemini! MAY 7 • 32 PAGES • FC • $3.50
Jim: So Jay Faerber is starting his own line of books as Robert Kirkman seems to have done. I find it interesting that we are seeing the birth of a personal comic book lines. Dynamo 5 has been very good, so I will be giving this a try.
Lee: Faerber is on a roll right now! I really like this because he’s come so far from some of his initial work (which wasn’t all that good) to writing top notch comics.

PRETTY BABY MACHINE #1 (of 3) story CLARK WESTERMAN art & cover KODY CHAMBERLAIN PRETTY Boy Floyd, BABY Face Nelson and MACHINE Gun Kelly join forces when 1933’s mob-boss supreme, Al Capone, declares war on them! The most unexpected team-up in comics history told in a film noir style that will have fans of Road to Perdition and Batman: The Long Halloween screaming for more! MAY 7 • 32 PAGES • BW • $3.50
Jim: The oddest team-up book I have seen. This has potential.
Lee: I don’t know about this one. I like my historical fiction to be… I don’t know, semi accurate???? Then again I picked Helen Killer so maybe it’s just me.

PvP 10th ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL story SCOTT KURTZ art SCOTT KURTZ cover JEFF SMITH Celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Web's secnd most popular comic strip! Featuring stories, art and pin-ups by some of the industries greatest: CULLY HAMNER, JOSEPH MICHAEL LINSNER, JEFF PARKER, TODD DEZAGO & CRAIG ROUSSEAU, MARK BROOKS, BRANDON PETERSON, LEA HERNANDEZ, GABE & TYCHO, BRIAN DENHAM, RYAN OTTLEY, STEVE HAMAKER and more. Plus, an awesome cover by JEFF SMITH! MAY 29 • 48 PAGES • FC • $4.99
Jim: This book is for a friend and fellow bogger Ron. He is a huge fan of this material and you should check it out if like comic strip humor material.
Lee: I’ve never read it but I’ve always heard good things. Those that do read it seem to love it. Kudos to Kurtz for making it 10 years. That’s quite an achievement.

THE SAFEST PLACE OGN story STEVEN GRANT & VICTOR RICHES art & cover TOM MANDRAKE War photographer Matthew Castle suffered a brutal event in his past, closing him off emotionally, but granting him a special gift: He cannot feel physical pain. Allied with a beautiful but secretive news reporter, Matthew uses his unique ability to track down the kidnapped daughter of a wealthy San Francisco family. Forced to confront his past, not only is the kidnapped child’s safety at stake, but Matthew’s sanity as well. Featuring art by Tom Mandrake (THE SPECTRE) and a story by Victor Riches and Steven Grant (THE PUNISHER). MAY 14 • 112 PAGES • BW • $12.99
Jim: Years ago I had an idea for a person who was born without the ability to feel pain and because of that they grow up a very different type of person. My idea was more along the lines of structuring a story to mirror how this person had become against how our society had become. Still the premise and Steve Grant’s as the writer has me signing up for this book.
Lee: So, Steven Grant stole your idea? I’d sue!

PROOF, VOL. 1: GOATSUCKER TP story ALEX GRECIAN art & cover RILEY ROSSMO If you believe in monsters… Proof doesn’t leave urban legends where it finds them. Bigfoot wears a suit to the office. Fairies devour anyone in sight. A lonely monster wears human skins for company. The hit series starts here. Collects PROOF #1-5 MAY 7 • XXX PAGES • FC • $9.99
Jim: I bring this up for two reasons. First it is interesting to see Image has now jumped on the bandwagon and publishing trades as soon as the last issue of that book hits the stands. Second, this is a very good series and a lot of fun to read. $10 for five issues is a bargain.
Lee: I am all over this. I am glad to see Image getting on the bandwagon because I am ready, able, and willing to jump on! Wheeeeee bandwagons!!!!

Pilot Season: Twilight Guardian #1 (W) Troy Hickman (A) Reza (Cov) Hendry Prasetyo She’s the hero who could be you! Eisner-nominee Troy Hickman (Common Grounds) brings you more of his unique view of the superhero genre, with stunning artwork by Reza. Enter the world of the Twilight Guardian and the nine-block area she patrols each night, a world of everyday intrigue, brown and gree gargantuas, marital aids, and yes, donut shops. Superheroics meets slice-of-life as you’ve never seen before! Full Color 32 pages $3.99 pilot issue
Jim: I seldom pay attention to Top Cow, but the premise sounds like it could be very interesting and a different perspective on super-heroes or a rancid self-absorbed pseudo intellectual piece of crap.
Lee: WHOA! A… oh and let me quote… “a rancid self-absorbed pseudo intellectual piece of crap”. Ummm, hey there little fella how about you do reviews earlier in the day. The reviews tend to angrier as the night progresses. As for the book, we shall see. Since the show Heroes, there seems to be more and more of this material so there is plenty to chose from.

Jim: This month is definitely a flip month as Marvel and DC had better material for this post. I emphasize this point, because Dark Horse and Image have many wonderful ongoing series that just don’t get covered in our reviews of what is mainly about the shiny and new.
Lee: I think your right. There are lots of good on-going things from Image/DH but not a lot new this month. But that’s ok because it good to see the continuing series getting support and not just new material all the time.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Manga and ComicsAnd...

As a general rule, I don't read Manga. It’s partly the small size of the books. It’s partly the having to learn right-left reading. Mostly it’s unfamiliarity with it. This doesn’t mean I don’t browse Manga at the book store, it just means as a rule I don’t buy it. But, something totally unexpected happened the other day. I bought a brand new Manga book. In my defense, it was oversized like a Marvel Essential or DC Showcase and it was standard left-right reading. Basically, it was a Manga packaged and marketed for someone like me. The book in question was Tekkonkinkreet.

AND, this is really hard for me to say.... It was awesome!!!!!

The full title is Tekkonkinkreet: Black & White by Taiyo Matsumoto, published by Viz. Seriously, the only other Manga I’ve read is Gon, What’s Michael, and Akira (most of it). That’s my entire exposure to Manga so you know I don't go for this stuff... but Tekkonkinkreet was really, really, really worth it.

The art is amazing with all sorts of angles, panel layouts, fish-eye lens type stuff. And the story... it's in three parts but each one is distinctive. AND, it's almost Watchmen like with the amount of symbolic little details in panel.

For example, at one point three characters are talking about selling out the city and for 3/4 of the page they are people. But, in a series of three little closeup panels, they are shown with obvious animal symbolism. One as a rat (also his name), one as a pig (selling out the city), and one as a snake (the developer). It was a really nice touch to the story. And the whole book is loaded with sequences like this.

As for the story, change is a major theme, along with friendship, and growth, and all sorts of stuff that I realize now after I read it. It's super cool subtle stuff that really make this not only a good read but a visual masterpiece. It is crazy good.

In conjunction with my new found Manga, this week ComicsAnd… was deluged with emails wondering where we come up with daily ideas and how the team works together. Well, tonight I shall part the veil of secrecy and show you how the conversation regarding Tekkonkinkreet went.

It started with a rough draft of a review I sent to Jim...

Lee: Yadda yadda yadda. You should really buy it. You'll like it.
Jim: WTF - I don't think so - My favorite Manga of all time was Battle Angel - loved the art
Lee: Yeah, yeah, yeah but that's old stuff. This is new stuff. And it's really good. It's better than good... I would go so far as a masterpiece. There I said it. Masterpiece.

Jim: Then mail it to me to read, I don't want to buy it.
Lee: Why not? Afraid of something new?

Jim: No being frugal
Lee: WHAT? You buy 5k books a month. Skip two books one month and get this. You telling me Supergirl is a better read than this????

Jim: What a cheapskate, can't loan a book to a friend?
Lee: You haven't read the last books I loaned you!
Jim: One book, one book!

Jim: And yet I send you free books and you have held Revolution in Silver hostage also.
Lee: Damn... you might have me on that one. AND, I have Johnny Hart too.

Jim: True
Lee: So... ya gonna buy it.

Jim: Dork
Lee: Pinhead
We go on like this for awhile but you get the idea.

As you can see we have a simple, Older Brother - Younger, cuter, & smarter Brother relationship. Personally, I think it irritates Jim because I am right so much of the time.

BUT, back to Tekkonkinkreet. If you haven't read Manga this is a good place to start. And, for those of you who were wondering how things work here at ComicsAnd..., we tend to be obnoxious and call each other names. Just like family.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Best to Worst of Last Week

Each week almost always brings some comics that really surprise you. Which is as it should be in what would be the point in reading them. This week the Return to Wonderland conclusion was the most surprising book. Zenoscope has been known for the good girl cover art more then anything else, but slowly they have gotten stronger story content going in their comics and the conclusion to Wonderland was excellent.

Grimm Fairy Tales Return to Wonderland #6 (of 6) - Writer – Raven Gregory, Story – Raven Gregory, Ralph Tedesco & Joe Tyler, Art – Daniel Lester, Colors Nei Ruffino. The ending to this story was excellent. Calie is burying her Mom and trying to cope with everything. Her and her brother can see the dead white rabbit that stalks them. Her grandfather shows up and reveals that Wonderland is a place of madness and that their family has to sacrifice someone to it to keep the real world from going too insane. She runs back home and finds her brother has killed their father and he has obviously gone insane, she sacrifices him to Wonderland and takes off. She discovers she is pregnant by her boy-friend and realizes the cycle is not over and she may have to return to Wonderland herself as her mother did to save her. It was an unexpected ending and the writing was poignant. Slowly the Grimm Fairy Tales stories are moving up and past their good girl artwork. That artwork is still evident, but the interiors had none of it. This mini-series was great and the ending was outstanding.
Locke & Key #1 – Writer Joe Hill, Art Gabriel Rodriquez, Colors Jay Fotos – First off
it was 32 pages of story and art, so $4 cover price was worth it. More importantly what a great start to this horror/mystery story. After reading the first issue I knew that I had to be back for issue #2 and find out what is going on. The premise is that a family suffers an attack by two psychotic fellow students of the older son Tyler. Dad is killed and Tyler beats the living crap out of the one attacker who insinuates that Tyler had asked him to do it. You get the feeling that it was a teen-ager saying that he wishes his Dad wasn’t around as he always gets on his case, but nothing with any real intent. Mom buries a hatchet in the other attacker’s head (who had apparently raped her). After the funeral they all move to Keyhouse, with a relative Duncan. The Dad had always told the Mom to take the family there if anything ever happened. The house is in Lovecraft, Massachusetts so you know this story is just beginning. Gabriel Rodriquez has a great style that is full of detail, great angle shots, is realistic from the sense that his characters are proportioned correctly, but not in the Alex Ross type of super realism. It is a wonderful style that conveyed the story perfectly. This was a great start to a new series from IDW.
Catwoman #76 - Writer Will Pfeifer, Pencils David Lopez, Inks Alvaro Lopez, Colors Jeromy Cox. Will Pfeifer has taken what appears to be an editorially mandated change and turned it into one heck of a story. Catwoman is stuck on the Savaltion Run planet and last issue believes she jumped through a portal to Earth. The issue opens with Selina escaping Batman trying to kill her with a gun. She then runs into another version of herself, who is a killer and a true villain. She also notices that she may have super powers. She finally figures out she is on an alternative world and then the reveal that she is in the thrall of some unknown machine that is feeding her this reality as it is killing her. The art as always was very well done; David and Alvaro Lopez deliver top quality and do it each and every month. They can do it all, action, emotions and beautiful women.
Brave and Bold #10 – Writer Mark Waid, Pencils George Perez, Inks Bob Wiacek, Colors Tom Smith. This has been a very good to excellent book 10 out of 10 times. Mark Waid is writing some of the best super hero team-ups out there and is almost daring himself to try any crazy team-up he can. At the same time he is pulling his entire run together with the “Book of Destiny”. This issue we get Superman and the Silent Knight and a cute twist on history relating the two. Also we get Aquaman and the Teen Titans from the silver age. Add in the best super hero artist in the business and you have a winning book. Hate to see George Perez move on to other projects, but Jerry Ordway is a solid replacement.
Death of the New Gods #6 (of 8) – Writer and Pencils Jim Starlin, Inks Art Thibery, Jeromy Cox – Colors. This is an excellent series and I think it has more to do with Final Crisis then almost any other book. Orion’s death was well done. Orion would go out as a warrior and watching him call out his enemy and then realize that is power was nothing compared to it, but he continued on. I loved the bit with Darkseid staring at a wall that is monitoring everything and simply says soon. Jim Starlin has been at the top of his game and I have been very happy to see his work again on a consistent basis.
Grendel Behold the Devil #4 (of 8) – By Matt Wagner – Easiest credits in comics. Normally middle chapters are an annoyance to me, but Wagner makes each chapter count and this is no exception. True we are still awaiting what is eating at Grendel and what thing or person is stalking him, but this issue continues the build up with plenty of action. There is a terrific scene where Grendel jumps out a window to avoid an explosion and then pulls himself back in. In the bloody aftermath he discovers footprints where nothing should have survived. They look like an animal print, not human. One of the best series on the market and Wagner is at the top of his game.
Shadowpact #22 – Writer Matthew Sturges, Art Phil Winslade. Nightmaster stays in Myrra, the dimension where he got his sword. I like this character a lot and as he has been the leader of Shadowpact, so I was very surprised to see him left behind. It was a very good issue and I thought the way they defeated the unbound make comic book sense (my term for something that inside a comic makes sense, but try to explain to someone who never reads a comic and they will think you are nuts). They had done so much with his character and the budding relationship with him and Enchantress was getting going and then poof, he is written out of the book.
Birds of Prey #115 – Writer Sean McKeever, Pencils Nicola Scott, Inks Doug Hazelwood, Colors Hi-Fi. This book seems to bring out the best in whoever is writing it, but I believe Sean is leaving this book soon. Still a great issue with Huntress and Zinda off on their own adventure and we get to see Zinda at her craziest best. We also have Babs baby sitting trying to work with Black Alice and Misfit to solve the mystery of the giant robot that blew up in Metropolis. The art by Nicola Scott is always well done and this book is always one of my favorite series from DC.
Batman Confidential #13 – Writer Tony Bedard, Pencils Rags Morales, Inks Mark Farmer, Colors ILL. This arc is about the return of the Wrath. Now this character appears familiar but I can not place this story line from Batman’s past. It is a very good story of a cop-killer who dresses in a very Batman like costume. Apparently he deduced Batman’s identity and beat the crap out of Alfred in days past. Now he has returned and we are in the time-line of when Dick had just taken changed from Robin into Nightwing. Tony has built in tons of great character bits and the beginning of a good story. This story is so interesting I need to reread the original story (I think it was an Annual or something). Rags art is beautiful as always and Mark Farmer’s inks give Rags work a different feel then Michael Bair’s inks do in Nightwing, I think I like Farmer’s inks a tad better on Rags’ pencils, either way we are choosing from great artwork.
Umbrella Academy Apocalypse Suite #6 (of 6) – Writer Gerard Way, Art Gabriel Ba, Colors Dave Stewart. This was a good ending to a good mini-series and we have the promise of a second series coming later this year. It was an all out action issue with the big slam bang finish you would have expected. The actual Academy building was destroyed by the Eiffel Tower apparently getting tossed into it and a chunk of the moon came crashing into earth and on and on. I’m still having a hard time remembering all of the characters names and missed the little panel on the inside cover telling us who is who. I have enjoyed this quirky little series and it was a fun change of pace, but the trade will be staying at the book store.
Invincible #48 – Writer Robert Kirkman, Art Ryan Ottley, Colors Bill Crabtree. Doc Seismic calls on some underground creatures that capture all the heroes of the world except Invincible and Atom Eve. They go to save the day and Invincible gets beaten and is left at the feet of Doc Seismic. After a lot of build up in the last couple of issues this action episode was a pleasant surprise. It also included some great character bits between Invincible and Atom Eve. One think with Kirkman is that you can never be sure where he is going 100%, as I was not expecting this type of issue as he has been building to #50 and that is one of Invincible’s charms. Ryan Ottley and Bill Crabtree do the artwork, which will certainly not be nominated for best super-hero art ever, but it is Invincible’s signature style now and I think the book would suffer without them.
Ultimate Human #2 (of 4) – Writer Warren Ellis, Art Cary Nord, Colors Dave Stewart. This is a very good mini-series. In this issue we get the obligatory battle between the Hulk and Iron Man. A nice battle, especially well done as it doesn’t last long and the armor ends up overloading due to the beating it took. It felt logical within the internal logic of a comic. We then cut to Tony saying he has cured Bruce of Iron Man and states his nanobots are speaking to Bruce’s nanobots and they will control him from changing. Which sets up how they will escape the Leader, who captures them at the end of this issue. Cary Nord’s art is good, but felt like it weakened as we got deeper into the issue. Also Cary is not much for doing any details or backgrounds, but his figure work is very powerful.
Conan #49 – Writer Timothy Truman, Art Tomas Giorello, Colors Jose Villarrubia – This is a strong team on this book and I enjoying Conan again as much as I ever have in the past. Truman generates the right type of feeling for Conan with his few words and his actions. Tomas Giorello gets better with each issue depicting (in this issue) the aftermath of the battle as well as he did the battle last issue.

Iron Man #26 – Writers Daniel And Charles Knauf, Art Roberto De La Torre, Colors Dean White. Iron Man in his old armor confronts the Mandarin. This was a classic old time fight as the two go toe to toe, but Tony is hampered by having more limited capabilities. There is a great double page spread of Iron Man facing off against the Mandarin that was beautiful and classic stuff. The end of the story is Mandarin escapes with Maya, releases extremis enhance people to fight Tony and the virus is floating around in the air. Tony has Shield fire an impossible bomb that wipes out everything in a small radius and it ends with the cliff hanger that the bomb took Iron Man too, which is too stupid for words. Iron Man is in almost every Marvel book and Civil War and the Initiative centers on him, we know he is not dead. Also the Mandarin escapes and we almost have the same situation existing as it did when the book started. Still this book had a great battle with some wonderful art.
Superman / Batman #46 – Writer Michael Green & Mike Johnson, Pencils Shane Davis, Inks Matt Banning, Colors Alex Sinclair. In the middle of a multi-part story line a nice one and done issue that fits in as part of the story line, excellent story telling. As Superman and Batman are searching for Kryptonite, they find a new form that makes Superman act like a kid and be totally irresponsible. A nice touch is he sees his fellow JLA members as cartoon characters (ala Tiny Titans). What I thought was great was how self contained and how complete of a story this was, yet it was part of the greater story arc. Shane Davis gets better and better and he had a chance to stretch his artistic abilities by doing the dramatic stuff and the cartoon stuff.
Abyss #3 (of 4) – Writer – Kevin Rubio, Pencils Lucas Marangon, Inks – Nick Shhley, Colors Andrew Dalhouse. Each issue of this mini-series gets better and better. We have a great plot with a decent level of complexity, we have some action, some drama all played with a sense of humor. What I enjoy about the humor is that is situational (funny within the context of the story) without making fun of the characters themselves. You walk a fine line when you go for humor in a comic in that you make it so funny that it becomes a comedy and loses any dramatic tension you are trying to build. Abyss keeps you interested in the story and keeps you laughing as you read it.
Madame Mirage #5 (of 6) Writer Paul Dini, Art Kenneth Rocafort, Colors Imaginary Friends Studios – The best issue to date as Madam Mirage confronts Abraham in his own offices and then fight her way barely escaping with her life. Harper Temple goes back to lick her wounds and the imaging program that uses an over sexed version of her sister Angie starts to complain. It seems that the program is partially Angie and she is worried about her own artificial life. Next Harper tries to free her Dad from prison and is captured by the bad guys, setting up the finale of the first mini-series. The story is convoluted and trying to cram a lot into one issue, but I’m enjoying it. The artwork is solid and Kenneth can draw a great Madam Mirage, but when he tries to get fancy with his layouts the design of the page falls apart.
The Scream #4 (of 4) – Writer Peter David, Breakdowns Bart Sears, Finishes Randy Elliot, Colors Michelle Madsen. I enjoyed this series a lot. The Scream is a function of pheromones being generated by Danny. The government sponsored research to develop new ways of combating enemies and this process was tried on Danny who unleashed it (unknowingly) and escaped. Now with Sian (a report friend) Danny takes out another group of covert government types who were sent to kill or capture Danny. Danny has a monster that he can unleash, but it is a phantom that is generated by his pheromones. I hope that this continues as a series of mini-series because David left open many plot lines. I also hope Sears is off the book, as his style while over the top enough to help launch the Scream, is too garish at times for my taste.

Terror Inc #5 (of 5) – Writer David Lapham, Art Parick Zircher, Color June Chung. The art on this book is so gruesome, bloody and violent and it is ratcheted to an insane level. The story demands it and the artist delivers. The whole story is over the top, the character who can took other people’s body’s and attached them, the fight with his ex-girl friend of 1500 years ago, yet Lapham makes it all work and Zircher and Chung render some great art. Lapham told the biggest possible story you could with this character and that should be enough for this character. In other words, solid mini-series for those who think Ennis’ Punisher is a wimp book, but we don’t need more of this material. Good for a mini-series every once in a blue moon.
Spirit #14 – Writers Sergio Aragones & Mark Evanier, Pencils Mike Ploog, Inks Mark Farmer, Colors Dave Stewart. Stylistically this issue was a huge shift away from Darwyn Cooke and it took a few pages into it to get used to it. Since I’m a Mike Ploog fan it worked out fine, because he has a fluid feel to his work that actually suits the Spirit better then Cooke and both are master story tellers. The overall story was not as strong as Darwyn’s stories, but was a nice murder mystery. Nice to see Mike Ploog’s art work again.
Loveless #22 – Writer Brian Azzarello, Artist Daniel Zezelj, Colors Patricia Mulhill – Two escape prisoners are chained to each other and on the run from the law. One is white and one is black and there dislike of each other is palatable. They stumble onto the cave where Wes Cutter died and was buried and proceed to kill each other. The over riding narrative is Wes’ ghost or spirit or something talking about life and death and whether heaven is waiting for us or not. The time it is set in is 1927 and I not sure if that is even relevant to the story being told. I almost get the feeling that the whole point of this series is that people around Blackwater are just mean and cruel. The art work was excellent and fit the mood of the story perfectly. Loveless was a very different western and this follow up is also on the odd side. Still I enjoyed reading this issue.
Checkmate #23 – Writer Greg Rucka & Eric Trautmann, Pencils Joe Bennett, Inks Jack Jadson, Colors Santiago Arcas – The beginning of the Castling arc, which pays off on the long ago placing of pawn 502 inside of Kobra. I was shocked to see Checkmate pull in Superman to help extract the pawn as it was a little “deus ex machine” for this book. Ultimately I like how this story is playing out as Kobra has a plan to turn eight million people into weapons against the world. Pawn 502 paid with his life to get the information to Checkmate.
Perhapanauts Annual #1 – Writer – Todd Dezago, Art Craig Rousseau, Colors – Rico Renzi. I had never followed the Perhapanuats before, but I think the guys from Proof were fans of this material as I can see a ton of inspiration being drawn form this series to Proof. As an introduction book it was almost successful. After reading it I have a good foundation for who the group is and what their reason for being is and some insight in the character’s personalities. The art is solid and conveys the story well, but the actual story was building up to a crescendo and then the ending was there and wrapped up in zero time. The conclusion to this adventure left me flat. Ultimately the book did its job as I want to try out the ongoing series. The other flaw I saw in the writing was a tendency to over explain stuff, but I’m guessing that was a function of trying to introduce new readers. In reviewing the credits, what I missed was seeing anyone listed as an editor. I think that many independent books hurt themselves but not having an editor. I find many creators do not want to hear any negative remarks about their books and don’t reign in personal excesses and an editor could be a help with making their work better.
Countdown to Final Crisis #10 – Head Writer Paul Dini with Justin Gray & Jimmy Palmiotti, Story Consultant Keith Giffen, Art Scott Kolins, Colors Tom Chu. This issue had some nice moments in it that I really enjoyed and none more then Mary Marvel getting her regular powers back. As much as the black outfit played to some schoolboy fantasies about Mary, she belongs on the side of light and it was good to see her back in the white costume with her powers restored by the gods. It was also a nice idea that the gods were being held captive on Apokolips. The ending with Brother Eye taking over Apololips was also a stunner out of left field move, but I’m still tired of OMACs. Scott Kolins work had a different feel to it with moments of brilliance and moments of looking rushed. All in all I always like Scott’s work. Also this book must be a b***h to draw with so many characters running around in it.
Grimm Fairy Tales #21 – Story – Ralph Tedesco & Joe Tyler, Writer - Raven Gregory, Art Eric J., Colors Nei Ruffino. I have to laugh at myself as I read this book because it is so centered on the good girl art, that the fact that it is often a decent one and done story could be missed. As a male fan of comics, I can’t say that I mind the “t&a” aspect of the series. I’m also amazed how many solid artists who can draw women this well Zenoscope finds. Eric J. and Nei Ruffino put a lot of Marvel and DC art work to shame with the quality of their work. The actual story is more or less an origin story for Belinda. I wonder if we will get Sela’s origin in the near term future. A very solid issue in a series that I often enjoy more then I ever thought I would.
Robin #171 – Writer Chuck Dixon, Pencils Chris Batista, Inks Cam Smith and Rick Ketcham, Colors Guy Major. Chuck Dixon is building up this book with a wide cast of characters. We have Violet as a new vigilante, Spoiler in the shadows, personal issues with Zoanne and his friend Ives. This issue we move along some of the plot points and see Robin work with Alfred to try and deduce Violet’s pattern of operations. Overall the series just feels right under Chuck Dixon’s pen. Another note I like that in all the Bat books the relationship between Bruce, Dick and Tim are positive again.
Justice League of America #18 – Sanctuary by Writer Alan Burnett, Pencils Ed Benes, Inks Sandra Hope with Ed Benes, Colors Peter Pantazis. Breaking the JLA into two stories seems to be a little lame, as with a huge cast telling a story in even 22 pages is a pain. Still this story was about the JLA granting sanctuary to a group of villains trying to escape being sent to the prison planet. It was a decent issue and Ed Benes is proving himself to be a top notch artists. The backup story was Meanwhile, Back at Owl Creek Bridge by Writer Dwayne McDuffie, Pencils Jon Boy Meyers, Inks Mark Irwin, Colors Pete Pantazis. This story was about the Red Tornado and his decision to get back into a body, as there is a danger it could fail and he may die. The art was okay but was more on the cartoony side and paled compared to Ed Benes. The story was yet another story where the Red Tornado struggles with what is life, very melodramatic and has been done to death.
Mighty Avengers #9 – Writer Brian Bendis, Pencils Mark Bagley, Inks Danny Miki, Crime Lab Studios, Allen Martinez & Victor Olazaba, Art for pages 2-4 Mark Djurdjevic, Colors Justin Ponsor – If Bendis wanted to write Iron Man why doesn’t he just say so and I’m sure Quesada will let him have that book. This is the second arc of this new series and again it seems to focus heavily on Iron Man as he, Doom and Sentry are thrown back in time. One nice thing was Mark Bagley being given three double page spreads to show a fight scene between the Avengers and the Doombots, very nice. Otherwise the story was Avengers attack Doom, time machine blows up and three guys are lost in time.
Drafted #5 – Writer Mark Powers, Art Chris Lie, Colors Joseph Baker. The war moves forward. This issue we see more of the aliens who have come to Earth and train us to help in their fight. We also see the “worms” that destroyed their planet and are now in the process of attacking Earth. This series is starting to loss me a little bit. The internal logic is breaking down as to why they need our help and if these worms are the true threat and how did they find Earth. Another plot point that continues to bug me is why they choose some of the people they did as defenders. I’m not ready to dump this series yet, but it needs to start explaining what is going on a little better and soon.
Flash #237 – Writer Keith Champagne, Pencils Koi Turnbull, Inks Art Thibert, Colors Tanya and Richard Horie. Loved the opening panel with Wally yawning in the morning the way I sometimes do, so big a small bird could fly in your mouth. The actual issue was a total fill-in issue that was about the kids learning how to cooperate better in a field test. A nice one and done story, but what this book shows is that having a wife and a family does not have to be boring it can be exciting and you can say things you can’t with other super-hero books. One simple line from Wally shows what being a parent does to your world view when he says “Nothing’s quite as cool unless you share it with your kids.” So can Marvel please explain to me again why married Spider-Man is a bore, because marriages are boring or unimaginative writing?
Batman and the Outsiders #4 – Writer Chuck Dixon, Pencils Julian Lopez, Inks Bit, Colors Marta Martinez. This series is taking way too long to come together and I was close to dropping this book, but this issue saved it till issue #5. Green Arrow apparently shows up during the mission and was a non-rooster invitee. The problem is the mission. Everything is ill-defined; they are stopping this guy from launching some genetically enhanced material into outer space. What the bad guy is doing and why it is so bad has not been made clear to me. What is holding me in is Chuck Dixon, solid art and a cast of characters that for the most part I enjoy. Let’s see if Chuck can make this work.
Willow Creek #0 – Created By Denny Williams, Josh Medors & Christian Beranek, Story by Denny Williams & Christian Beranek, Art Josh Medors. The credits in comics have become more like movie credits as you need a scorecard to know all the players. This was a 75 cent zero issue, that only contained 5 pages of the actual feature and the rest was advertising other Zenoscope books. I did not get my monies worth, but I liked the five pages enough to hang with the series. An investigator looking for Big Foot (he is Proof over at Image) is last heard screaming for help via a walkie-talkie. Cut to the last panel and we see a werewolf creature with huge fangs and a bloody tongue starting out at us. Nice opening segment and the art was strong. The art reminded me of Ben Templesmith a little bit, but not like they were copying Ben, just some line work similarities.
Immortal Iron Fist : Orson Randall and The Green Mist of Death – Writer Matt Fraction, Art Nick Dragotta, Mike and Laura Allred, Russ Heath, Lewis LaRosa, Stefano Gaudiano & Matt Hollingsworth and Mitch Breitweiser – Note includes colors with this artists grouping as different chapters different artists. Trying to retro-con a “golden age” hero and then turning him into a poor man’s Doc Savage is just lame. The book had some beautiful artwork, but Orson Randall and his Confederates of the Curious is just simple minded. The constant trying to be hokey and imitative of golden age stuff came across as boring or just bad writing. Fantastic Comics took true golden age heroes and made new adventures of those characters and that was a “golden age” done right, this was lame and uninspired. The story had little meaning to the regular Iron Fist story line, but the story was made better by the art, that was inspired in some chapters and merely very good in other chapters. I do not like the “Golden Age” adventures of Orson Randall, but the art kept it from being a total waste.
Ultimates #3 (of 5) – Writer – Jeph Loeb, Art Joe Madureira, Digital Paints Christian Lichtner. I’m actually starting to not hate this book. It is not really that good of a story. Basically this issue Wolverine shows up and tells the Avengers that maybe he was the father of the Scarlet Witch as he was doing her Mom when Magneto showed up and tossed his a** out the window. Then later Wolverine is with the Brotherhood and is suppose to kill Wanda, stabs Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch pulls dinosaurs from the past in to kill Wolverine. To find her body the Avengers split up and half fly to the Savage Land and the other half stay home. The home team sees Iron Man fly in and announce the bullet was made by Stark Enterprises, and then he reveals himself as an android and tries to kill the wasp. Plus they keep highlighting the love of Pietro and Wanda and it feels creepy just typing about brother/sister love (I hear banjoes). Still the story actually flows in a madcap way and Joe. M. has some incredible artwork in this book. The colors are done right as opposed to that washed out special effect they did in issue #1. Of course if this book was drawn by a less talented artist and/or a normal color production was used on it, the book would tank. Strip away the look and you have this really inane story that has little logic to it.
Ghosting #5 (of 5) – Writer Fred Van Lente, Art Charles Carvalho, Colors Tom Smith. Well I followed this book to the bitter end and I should not have bothered. One thing that really annoyed me is that Maggie (our main heroine) has blonde streaks in her hair for about the first three pages and then they disappear. The art suffered from a drop in quality after the first three pages also. The characters at times looked half drawn and if not for the coloring, they would have been indistinguishable blobs. The actual story had a logical wrap up to a supernatural menace and I think the overall story itself was not that bad, the art really dragged it down. Finally this could have been four parts and been a tighter book.
Atlantis Rising #4 (of 5) – Writer Scott O. Brown, Art Tim Irwin, Colors Andrew Elder – I try to give a lot of leeway to smaller press books and I even interviewed the writer Scott O.
Brown about this series and his writing. I will complete this series, but bottom line this book has gone off the rails. I’m blaming the artist and colorist as the book is hard to read. The anatomy is often extremely skewed and not in a comic book way in a “I can’t draw way”, from panel to panel you are not even sure if it is the same character and the coloring is so dark and muddied as to further blur what is actually happening. The overall story of Atlantis and the surface world fighting is still clear, but the side stories have become confused in my mind. Platinum Studios has really failed to impress and often been underwhelming. When BOOM, Red 5 and some others publishers have a new series I can often order issue #1 without knowing much else as they make strong decisions on what they will publish. Platinum Studios comes across as just a few steps above a group of young friends making up their own comics.
Incredible Hercules #114 – Writers Greg Pak & Fred Van Lente, Pencils Khoi Pham, Inks Paul Neary, Colors Stephane Peru. This book is a drop from my list. I tried to follow it and take an active interest in this story, but ultimately I was never interested in a Hercules series. Marvel did a nice job trying to draw you into this series, but it is about Amadeus Cho and Hercules and I just can’t get that worked up about them. The writing has been good and to their credit with flashing back to the Hercules myths it almost kept me into the story. The art has also been strong and I would look forward to seeing Pham and Neary on any other project, but it is about Cho going after Sheild and Hercules versus Ares and it is not why I was buying this book. Planet Hulk got me back into reading the Hulk and WW Hulk had some interesting moments and I want to see more of the repercussions of WW Hulk and how it impacted Bruce, but we got Incredible Hercules and Red Hulk and me skipping both after a short try out. I actually feel cheated as I was again interested in the Hulk and this stuff derailed my interest.
Superman Confidential #12 – Writer B. Clay Moore, Pencils Phil Hester, Insk Andre Parks, Colors Pere Pantazis.
This story is about why Superman got Jimmy Olsen a signal watch. Personally Jimmy was so annoying and getting himself so far over his head I can’t believe Superman enabled the kid so much. The story was well done, the art by Hester and Parks was very nice, but I realized that I’m not as big a Superman fan as I am of Batman and I have enough material with Superman in it. Also I signed up for the book because of the Cooke/Sale team on the Kryptonite arc that started the series. All which led me to cutting this book from my list.
Wildstorm Revelations #4 (of 6) – Writers Scott Beatty & Christos Gage, Art Wes Craig, Colors Jonny Rench.
This book has dragged on and on and on. First we had all those Armageddon books, now this series and next up Number of the Beast another mini-series. This stuff is going nowhere and I’m sick and tired of it. I kept reading and reading hoping that something happens, BUT IT NEVER DOES. I want to follow the Wildstorm Universe, but this stuff is killing it. I have to drop this book and I’m not bothering with Number of the Beast. One thing I will miss is Wes Craig’s art. He has a fine line, a nice fluid feel to his art and his art has great energy.
Hulk #2 – Writer Jeph Loeb, Pencils Ed McGuiness, Inks Dexter Vines, Colors Jason Keith. The first issue was a waste of paper and to be fair this issue got a little better, but I’m done with it. In this issue the perspective of size of the “Red Hulk” went up and down like a yo-yo. In one panel his hands were big enough to actually pick up She-Hulk like a rag doll. Then he can pick up a jet fighter by wrapping his hands around the nose cone of a plane. Other times he seemed maybe twice up a normal person’s size. This book is all about the mystery as apparently this Hulk wiped out all of Shield’s files on the Hulk (they don’t have offsite back-up?) and is going after all of these other gamma spawned monsters. For me, I liked where we were going with the Hulk before and this direction is a bad tangent. Also I’m sick of Iron Man being everywhere in every Marvel book. Third I’m tired of endless mysteries only being slowly revealed in absence of just telling a good damn story. Plus all the double panel spreads make this book a two minute read at best. One thing I will say is that I’m not an Ed McGuiness fan, but this book plays to his artist strengths and he does what he does well. If it gets raves and everyone tells me I missed the best Hulk story ever I can always get the trade. Cancelled.
The Programme #8 (of 12) – Writer – Peter Milligan, art CP Smith – This book went off the tracks, into the woods and crashed and burned. I keep trying to appreciate this book, but the story started to add in a race war and well as the cold war themes and fifty different characters who are all indistinguishable from each other due to heavy handed coloring. I thought long and hard saying only four more issue to go, but then said the heck with it. It is too much of a morass and just seemed to take a detour this issue that no longer kept me interested.

In dropping five titles this week I think part of it has to be that my patience has worn thin. Having “mysteries” that you reveal just a little here and there is masquerading for story telling(Hulk/Wildstorm Revelations). Don’t get me wrong, I’m enjoying the king of that stuff, the TV show Lost, but even that show gives you some reveals every once in awhile. Still even “bad” books have a level of professionalism and quality in them and I applaud the creators’ efforts, but have to damn the story telling. Also with a list that is as overwhelming large as mine culling it every week is a necessary evil.

Monday, February 25, 2008

What I’m Getting Wednesday

Can you say, what a ridiculous big a** week’s worth of books you are getting this week, Jim. Sure you can, I knew you could. When I walk in to buy my pile of books my store owner will be thinking it is a wonderful day in the neighborhood. This is one of the dangers of the extremely high number of books that I have on my list is that the confluence of events comes together and slams me with some massive weeks sometimes. It is usually the last week of the month and when all the small press guys have gathered enough funds to print their books. If they formed a co-op would they get better rates at the printers? Anyway it is just a continued call to arms for me to continue culling from my list. This week the independent books rule the market share report with 19 titles (40%), followed closely by DC with 18 (37%) and Marvel with 11 books (23%). My favorite cover image this week is the Wormwood take on the Star Wars scene.

Mouse Guard 1152 #3 (of 6) – This is a truly wonderful series. What I enjoy about is the characters are so real and they look so much like mice and not cartoon figures. Since I will also buy the hard cover collections it is a story that can be on my bookshelf forever and is something I can loan to anyone. A newly created fairy tale that is timeless as any other.

Grimm Fairy Tales #22 – This is some odd timing as issue #21 came out just last week. I’m not sure of the benefit of releasing two issues back to back that way. I can only guess it is a catch up thing or lack of planning.

Shark-Man #2 – Every week I have a book that is on my short list to be canned, this is one such book. The first issue was a little convoluted and almost madcap, but had an ending that held me in. So this issue the book still has to prove itself to me.

The Many Adventures of Miranda Mercury #295 (of 300) – If you have noticed no real rhyme or reason to the order I’m listing the books this week, there is a reason. I only use a cover for every third book in the list. I have often let that be an almost random event as to who gets a cover, this week I’m targeting certain books to give the cover treatment to with the independents. Click here for the full fledge preview from Archaia. This books sounds like a lot of fun as we start her book deep into her career (#295) as she is in the midst of her greatest battle leading up to a milestone event of issue #300. Check out the first issue and see if it is as much fun as it looks.

Fall of Cthulhu #10 – The over looked horror series from BOOM studios. It frustrates me to no end that I’m the only person at my store buying this book, which means no extra copies are around for anyone to even look at. This is a very well done horror book that is creepy on a visceral level and on just pure shock and gore level.

Fallen Angel #24 – Continuing Peter David’s great book about a Fallen Angel and what she does now that she is back on Earth. Just the fact that this book is two years in as a series from IDW after running for a little while as a DC series should tell you there is a great story here about heaven, hell, and earth and Bette Noir, the city that shapes the world.

Wormwood Gentleman Corpse #10 – Calamari Rising #2 (of 4) – First off it is Ben Templesmith as the writer. This guy is smoking some terrific stuff to have all of these incredibly insane and funny as all hell stuff in his stories. Still without the artist that can deliver his crazed visions the book would be nothing and he is lucky to have Ben Templesmith as his artist. Ben can do some wacky Calamari and do it better then any other artist on earth. If that does not sell you (and the feint of heart need not buy this book), look at the cover and tell me how can you not laugh and want to buy this book.

Stranded #2 – The second issue in this sci-fi adventure by Mike Carey from Virgin comics. The first issue was a mixed bag as sleeper aliens who had been living as humans were being taken out and a protector was starting to notice their race may not be hidden well enough.

Project Superpowers #1 (of 6)- This book has to recover from their issue #0, which was pretty much a bore. It gave you a lot for your dollar in terms of pages and lots of text to set things up, but ultimately it was unexciting. Using public domain “golden age” characters is a fun idea, but it needs to be executed against. The Twelve has trumped this series and issue #1 needs to be strong for me to want to continue this book.

Neozoic #3 – For those of you who follow this blog if you are shocked that this is a favorite book of this blog, than you need to read more of the blog. Gwen’s has interviewed the entire creative team on this book and that has enhanced her enjoyment of the series. I just love seeing this book hit the stands as I have often read an advanced peek of the book I still love reading the actual comic itself. Dinosaurs, hot woman with big swords, political intrigue, a good story and art that gets better with each issue. This book has it all.

Secret History Book Five – This book follows four immortals as they wind their way through many of the major moments of the history of Western Civilization. Actually it gets into the details of certain events way more then I can remember from my Western Civilization classes and then adds the fantasy elements of the immortals.

Savage Sword of Conan Trade – Volume 2 – Another collection from Dark Horse of the magazine stories of Conan published by Marvel comics. I have one more trade of the Marvel comics series to get and then I have plenty of old Conan material to peruse at my leisure.

Proof #5 – I have just loved this series and believe I have found where some of their inspiration came from when I read the Perhapanauts Annual. The official hype “"MOTHER'S DAY" Hundreds of babies die! Elvis fights a half-naked old lady! Fairies are murdered! And El Chupacabra brings Joy to the world! All that, plus four extra story pages, in the conclusion to "Goatsucker." This may be the strangest comic book you'll read all year.” What’s not to love!

Lazarus #3 (of 3) – This is another Shadowline book under the Image imprint and while it says #3 (of 3) it was reading more like a story that has a lot more to tell. The “After The Cape” series has been 3 issue mini-series, but after 3 issues it is like the story just stops while the artist and writer take a hiatus. I understand marketing ideas, but if a series is to be a series of mini-series, have each mini-series tell a complete story. I could be damning this series with criticism it has not earned yet, but we will see Wednesday.

Circle #4 – Since my store was shorted on issue #3 and it was delayed a week, it feels like issue #4 came out very fast. Last issue was a let down as the series had set a really high bar and issue #3 felt like nothing happened to advance the story. With comics costing $3 at a minimum I think we should always have the story moving forward. I do not like buying middle chapters that pad out the anticipate trade. I’m not saying this series did that last issue, it just felt like more needed to happen.

Urban Monsters #1- I was going to pass on this book, but the cover just keep telling me to buy and try issue #1. It just looks like it could be a lot of fun. Since I read so much, often I see too many of the same themes and the humor element that is evident from the cover seemed very familiar. I have read a few books with the outrageous supernatural elements being treated with humor, but I try to judge each on its own merits.

Deadrider #2 (of 4) – This book was due in November. Seldom is Dark Horse involved in series that are so late. They are hyping the writer/artist as stylistically in the Frazzeta/Wrightson mold, but boys does it kill a book, especially a mini-series to be this late.

Gravel #1 – The combat magician series from Avatar by Warren Ellis. I heard the early material about this character was not well done, but this latest try had a decent zero issue, so let’s see what issue #1 does.

Dan Dare #4 (of 7) – This revival of a British comic character I knew nothing about has been very enjoyable. Ennis knows has to write and a good comic and he has introduced this character and his obvious history and started the new story all at the same time and it never felt liked I had to read a 5 page back story to enjoy this story.

Action Comics #862 – I mean this book needs no hype for me as it is the Legion of Super Heroes arc (the original Legion) and Superman in the 31st Century battling against over whelming odds. Add in Geoff Johns (writer) and Gary Frank (art) and you have a book to look forward to.

All Star Batman and Robin #9 – Appears this is the first issue that the Boy Wonder gets into the action. I went from wondering what this books was to just enjoying every panel and every new twist and turn Frank Miller and Jim Lee do on this book. I just want at least 4 issues a year.

Batman #674 – The first three books from DC are all very strong titles and make this week an easy one to anticipate from DC. Morrison is setting the stage for where he is planning to take Batman for the next few months. I feel like Morrison is just now starting to hit his stride with his Batman run. Tony Daniel is doing a great job on the art and is getting his name to the top of comic artists.

Blue Beetle #24 – Four for four in series that are just at the top of their game. The official hype for this issue is “Lost in space! The Reach brings its Scarab home — and Jaime Reyes is about to die far from his, while knowing that his family and allies will be next. His salvation lies deep within the Blue Beetle legacy; it'll take a hero's efforts to find it. Don't miss the shocking ending to this issue!” Jamie is the best new hero in the DCU.

Countdown to Final Crisis #9 – We are down to single digits and I’m anticipating the end of this series so I can finally stop having to write about it. While the ending has not been as bad as the first 35 issues, it hasn’t made up for the first 35 issues. Also once you set the bar low, it becomes easy to exceed expectations.
Crime Bible: The Five Lessons of Blood #5 (of 5) – The conclusion of this mini-series that is exploring the new Question. Greg Rucka (writer) has given us a second generation Question that keeps elements of the original character and also incorporates an established character (Renee Montoya) into the hero role, giving us a fresh look at a hero that is both old and new. DC does this better then Marvel (who almost never does it). I think having a new person take up the mantle is very important to keep the stories feeling new and to allow heroes to change how they act because it is not the same person. This has been a very good series and I’m looking forward to the conclusion.

JSA Classified #35 – This begins a three part adventure featuring Wildcat. This book proves categorically that the favorite JSA member of most writers, editors and this fan is Wildcat. I recall that this series has had more issues focused on Wildcat then any other member. The idea of Wildcat is just so simple it is hard to resist. An ex-heavyweight boxer goes out and fights crime. The only concession from Ted Grant being 100% normal is the magical spell that was placed on him that has kept him younger then his 80 plus years would normally make him (hey maybe he is taking HGH).

JLA Classified #53 – This has been a very entertaining arc by Roger Stern, John Byrne and Mark Farmer. The story is a solid adventure of the JLA that shows two battles against the same foe, but with two different JLA teams fighting the bad guy. I hope we see more from this “classic” team of creators.

Justice Society of America #13 – This is a funny comic for me, as I love this book and look forward to it each and every month. The flip side is they keep adding cast members and may soon put the Legion of Super Heroes to shame. What is so frustrating is that I like so many members of the cast I always want more spotlight and character development to be given to them and with a huge cast each member gets less face time. The Kingdom come story line is building very slowly, but I trust Geoff Johns and Alex Ross to come up with a good story that pays off. Also with art by Dale Eaglesham (who is now in the top ten of best super hero artists in the business) the book is always great to look at.

Legion of Super Heroes #39 – This book has gotten a lot better since Jim Shooter took over and it was already a good book. Shooter has given this book a solid focus and he has done the Legion the right way, by focusing on smaller groups in every story and having multiple story lines within every issue. This allows anywhere from eight to ten members to be spotlighted and still move the overall story forward. I also feel he has a long range plan for this book and he is laying the foundation as we go, while building on what has already been established. This issue Princess Projectra is no longer a princess or wealthy, how will she cope with her new station in life?

Showcase Presents: The Superman Family Volume 2 – More of the silver age adventures of Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen, stories that do not stand the test of time, but have often become hilarious because of that fact. Hard to believe the level of talent that was devoted to those books at that time (Otto Binder, Curt Swan, Wayne Boring and more).

Teen Titans #56 – Sean McKeever has failed to really make this book one that I look forward to seeing month after month. It is not a bad book, it is just missing having that extra spark.

Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters #6 (of 8) – I love this series and will have to buy the trade when it comes out. The official hype “Red Bee's amped-up powers are tearing the Freedom Fighters apart. Will the reappearance of a long-forgotten hero be enough to fix things? Meanwhile, the plan to return Doll Man to human size is set in motion...too bad the process has some deadly consequences!”

Authority Prime #5 (of 6) – This is one of the last Wildstorm books that I still get and enjoy. Actually in reviewing what books are WU books that come out they are down to only two ongoing titles (Midnighter and Gen13). I think we can officially call the last re-launch of the WU a colossal failure. Still this series by Gage and Robertson has been a very good series and is worth you $3.

Crossing Midnight #16 – This is a breather issue where Kai has to reassess his quest and determine how he will continue form here. This book has what I would call a lyrical quality. It is a terrific horror/fantasy novel with pictures.

Fables #70 – This is also a breather issue by a guest artist as we look at what decisions were made by the farm fables after Flycatcher offered them sanctuary in haven. If I didn’t already love this series the cover alone would make me want to buy this book.

Hellblazer #241 – We continue with the “Laughing Magician” story line. Constantine will try to call on old allies to fight off Mako. As John is quite the bastard, many of these allies no longer care about what happens to John. Andy Diggle (writer) has really made this a must read series again.

Jack of Fables #20 – Oh heck the official hype is so great that it’s tongue in cheek style does it better then I could “We don't want to alarm you, but this issue of Jack of Fables is so explosive, so astonishing, and SO DAMN SEXY, that it may not be appropriate for pregnant women or those with fragile constitutions. This issue contains violent death, hot sex, heartbreak and betrayal, astonishing revelations, and delusional oxen. It's the dramatic, heart-stopping, pulse-pounding conclusion to the "Americana" storyline.”

Captain America #35 – I still believe Steve Rogers comes back as Captain America and probably around issue #50. Nick Fury and Cap have been doing something covert together. I could be wrong, but I will not believe Steve is dead unless we pass issue #50 and there is no hint he is coming back. In the interim Bucky is playing Cap and it should be a good story, but I’m concerned that it will be way too long. Regardless Captain America has been a better read under Ed Brubaker (writer) then it has been for years. And I for one would be happy to let Bucky be Captain America for the next 20 years.

Criminal 2 #1 – I was shocked that this series had been re-launched already. I wonder if it was sales or some other reason. It is supposed to be longer stories; expanded back section material and the first three issues are stand alone books. In the genre of crime fiction I believe Scalped is the better book, but not by much. Criminal deserves a bigger audience and I implore your to pick up Ed Brubaker (writer) and Sean Phillips (artist) top notch series.

Daredevil #103 – Rounding out Ed Brubaker (writer) week from Marvel. If Uncanny X-Men was coming out we could complete the list of all regular Marvel titles penned by Brubaker. This is a decent series, but as with Captain America it is written as a long form story with too little happening in the middle chapters. Also, regardless of how Marvel breaks it into six part arcs, it has been one long story for over a year now.

Marvel Masterworks Volume 92 – Atlas Heroes – Collecting MEN'S ADVENTURES #27-28, CAPTAIN AMERICA #76-78, HUMAN TORCH #36-38 and MARVEL SUPER-HEROES #16. What is a nice touch is the house ads are also part of the package.

House of M Avengers #5 (of 5) – The conclusion of this alternative world story, that has been a decent read. Not really worth the price of admission.

Thunderbolts International Incident – I think there have been more one-shots (which act as fill-in issues) on this series then actual comic book itself. I was enjoying Ellis run on this book, but the big time lag between issues is killing the flow on this book. It maybe time to switch to trades on Thunderbolts and drop the regular series and all the fill-ins – I mean one-shot specials.

Thor #6 – The first arc comes to an end as the new status quo for Thor is set. I have complained a lot about JMS’ slow story pacing, but all in all I think Thor is moving along, slower then I would like, but still moving along. The lag time between issues does not help the flow, but that is an artist thing I believe. Thor is a book worth reading again and I believe Marvel did a good thing but letting Thor be off the stands for a decent amount of time (now if they could do that with Iron Man).

Ultimate Spider-Man #119 – This is Bendis best book. Some issues are better then others, but essentially Bendis does better with a more narrow focus (i.e. solo books versus group books). Add in having first Bagley and then Immonen as artist and it is hard to go wrong. This issue Magneto stops by Spidey’s school to say hello.

X-Men First Class #9 – This issue the Scarlet Witch thinks about joining the X-Men or Shield. I wander when Jeff Parker (writer) can just say the heck with established continuity and do what he wants with this series. This story line sounds close to that being the case. Side note – on Marvel’s website where they list what is coming out on what week, they do not list the creators. I find this appalling as it was Marvel that really pushed listing who does what on a comic in the first place.

X-Men Legacy #208 – Read the official hype “The X-Men’s past becomes the present as Xavier fights the greatest battle of his life. With his mind hanging in the balance, one false move can cause irreversible damage. Help arrives from an unlikely source, but in the world post-Messiah Complex, sometimes your enemies are the only people you can trust.” I have to read it, but the X-verse just sounds lame. It maybe time to abandon all of it but X-Factor and X-Men First Class.

Zombie: Simon Garth #4 (of 4) – Some mindless Zombie fun brought to us by Kyle Holtz. If they do another mini-series on Simon Garth I may skip it. It is a fun book, but at $4 a crack for some very derivative material I can only go so far.

I’d be surprised if anyone actually read the entire post word for word, as I know it takes me a long time to pull this post together when the list is 48 items long. This looks to be a terrific week of books and I can envision having a very hard time in determining next week’s #1 book.