Thursday, July 31, 2008

Indies Preview Review for September Part 3 of 3

Part 3 – A little preamble – click on the link’s Lee has provided as it helps you decide if the material is of interest for you or not. Lee is costing me a bundle, but our art form has so much to offer and these books really explore it well.

Forever Nuts Presents: Happy Hooligan HC By Frederick Burr Opper
Opper was already a quite successful cartoonist/illustrator for the prestigious Puck magazine when William Randolph Hearst lured him out to create a comic strip for the New York Journal. While a step down from (relatively) high to low brow, Opper jumped at the chance and out came Happy Hooligan, an un-heroized vagrant who ends up very badly at the end of each strip, no matter how much good he might mean. His perennial demise surely went on to inspire Wile E. Coyote or Mr. O, especially as his own cowardice and unworthiness contributes to his hilarious woes. This second entry in Forever Nuts, a series showcasing early strips so ingeniously nutty they're forever fresh and off-the-wall, presents here a collection of the better early full-color Sunday strips.
Pages: 112, 7x11, FC, $24.95
More information on Hooligan here and here
Lee: I’m a big fan of early comic strips and I’m looking forward to this too. These strips were published sometime between 1910-1930 and give a wonderful look into life at the time. It’s different. It’s not what you’re used too. But it will certainly be enjoyable.
Jim: Yeah, I understand the interest in this material, but Lee is more of a historian then I am. I go back to Buck Rogers and Prince Valiant, but Lee loves all of it.

:01 First Second
Slow Storm GN By Danica Novgorodoff

When an illegal immigrant and a firefighter are thrown together by a thunderstorm, their lives begin to change. This literary graphic novel is a story of homesickness, horses, storms, and saints, told in watercolors by an exciting new talent. Danica's first comic, A Late Freeze, was the winner of the Isotope Award for Excellence in Mini-Comics, and subsequently nominated for an Eisner Award for Best Single Issue. A mini-comic excerpt of Slow Storm was on the Best American Comics list of top 100 comics for 2007.
Pages: 176, 6x9, SC, FC, $17.95
Visit Danica here
Lee: I love Danica’s art. It’s got that certain expressiveness that is needed for this kind of story. You can find previews at the link and get a great feel for the story. The preview is almost wordless but the storytelling is so good that you are drawn into instantly.
Jim: The artwork has merit, but it is a different style, both expressive and simple. This looks to be a good story and one worth checking out.

Pantheon Books
My Brain Is Hanging Upside Down HC By David Heatley
What if you wrote and drew a comic strip that honestly depicted every sexual experience you ever had, from 3rd grade to last week? It would force you to re-examine your life in ways that would make your shrink blush. In 2004, that's exactly what David Heatley did, and called it My Sexual History. And what else to follow that up with than Black History, which chronicles every African-American he ever encountered, whether it was Lennie from daycare or the artist's impression of Michael Jackson's Thriller. So make no mistake - David Heatley is anything but withholding. Quite the opposite. But the great surprise is that he's not playing for shock effect, either. He's just trying to tell you what happened as succinctly and colorfully as he can. My Brain is Hanging Upside Down, its title taken from a Ramones lyric, marks the start of a brilliant cartooning career.
Pages: 128, 8x12, FC, $24.95
Visit Heatley’s blog here (with lots of art) and sketchbook here (with lots more art)
Lee: Now this takes the term “life as an open book” to a whole new level. I get the feeling that Heatley isn’t going to hold anything back and that should make for an interesting read. With the kind of openness that he has, it would be interesting to see how his life compares to the rest of us.
Jim: Conceptually it does sound interesting, but not something that I want to read.

Pure Imagination Publishing
Alex Toth: Edge of Genius Vol. 02 SC By Alex Toth

The year 1953 marked a turning point in Toth's career, and the change is represented in thirty stories from that year. Be it horror, war, romance, or science fiction, here is where Alex decided on his style. See why all of his peers stood up and paid attention. Much of this volume is shot from Toth's original art work, the rest is Theakstonized for maximum clarity.
Pages: 160, SC, B&W, $25.00
Lee: Yet another publisher that I buy just about everything they produce. I love PI and it’s books with ultrahigh production values. If you are looking for some of the best collections focused on classic artists then you should always start here.
Jim: See this is where Lee costs me money. There is no way I can pass up on this type of book once Lee says the production values are top notch. Plus Alex Toth is one of the true masters of the craft and has influenced a ton of artist talents in the field.

Walt Kelly Reader Vol. 01 SC By Walt Kelly
Featuring 160 pages from the brilliant creator of Pogo! Included here are stories from Raggedy Ann and Andy, Fairy Tale Parade, Christmas with Mother Goose, Easter with Mother Goose, The Brownies, and Peter Wheat. All of the material is Theakstonized for superior reproduction.
Pages: 160, SC, B&W, $25.00
Just in case you’ve lived under a rock forever…. Some info on Kelly here
Lee: And, while Toth’s greatness goes without say, sometimes people forget how great Kelly was too. Even though he was predominantly a newpaper artist he did spend time in comics too. As I’ve said, this is a great way to see art and stories by the absolute masters of the medium.
Jim: Yeah, yeah, yeah, but I was never enthralled with Kelly.

Complete Ace Trucking Vol. 01 SC By Wagner, Grant, Belardinelli & Gibson

Join Ace Garp and his outrageous alien crew on the spaceship Speedo Ghost as they ply their trade on the galaxy's highways and byways. This rabble of misfits are unlike anything you'll have encountered before. Meet huge bodyguard GBH, the skeletal Feek the Freek, and sarcastic ship's computer Ghost as they try to earn an honest living against insufferable odds. Collected together for the very first time in graphic novel format, this is a 2000 AD classic every comic fan will want to check out!
Pages: 320, B&W, $30.50
Some information on Belardinelli here, and a wiki writeup here
Lee: I’m not a fan of wiki writeups but if it’s real then this sounds like a great little series. I love the old 2000AD series just because so many of the creators came to the states later. This is pricey but the only way I’ll ever see the material so I’m sure I’ll get it.
Jim: Wikipedia the made up encyclopedia that apparently even tries to push it’s own views. Do not get me started on wiki.

Seven Seas Entertainment LLC
Afro Samurai Vol. 01 SC By Takashi Okazaki
It's all about revenge - Nothing personal. In the bleak world of the swordsman, it is said that he who becomes the Number 1 samurai shall rule the world. And only Number 2 is allowed to challenge Number 1. Afro Samurai has assumed the mantle of Number 2, seeking vengeance against Number1, a gunman who killed his father years ago. But assassins lurk at every corner, seeking to rob Afro Samurai of the title of Number 2. Can Afro survive long enough to exact his revenge?
Pages: 176, 5x7, #1 of 2, FC, $10.99
Who knew but there’s an official Afro website here
Lee: I’m sorry but this is just too hyped up for me not to try it. Lots of pointless violence, buckets of blood and Samuel L. Jackson! What more could a person ask for? Granted Jackson won’t be reading the story to me but one of the original creators will be involved in this. It’s worth checking out the site just for fun.
Jim: The trailer for the cartoon is great. It does seem very cool.

Silent Devil Productions
Division 18: Union of Novelty Costumed Performers GN By Matt Bergin & Jeremy Donelson

Costumed entertainment can be a tough racket, and sometimes it takes more than cartwheels or balloon animals to make it in Division 18 of the Union of Novelty Costumed Performers. Catch up with Jimmy the Snake, Fat Louie, and the rest of the mascot mafia, as they confront everything from scabs to furries to human resources. This special edition includes the acclaimed D18 debut, Five Hunnies; two never-before-published stories, White Collar Crooks and The Union Files; and a slew of extras.
Pages: 96, SC, B&W, $9.99
The story at Comicon with links and art previews here and the official blog here
Lee: I’m always up for a good satire or humor story and this appears to fit the bill. I’m not sure there will be lots of redeeming qualities here but I sense a good laugh.
Jim: Still a little steep for me in the price department for what it is, if that makes any sense. The preview has promise, but I still want to flip through the whole book before I would commit.

Sofawolf Press
Digger Vol. 01 GN By Ursula Vernon
A no-nonsense wombat becomes trapped in a Wonderland-like country where nonsense is the specialty. After meeting a talking statue of a god, a childlike shadow-demon, and an oracular slug, all she wants is to get back to her safe and sane Warren. Unfortunately, not only is there a distressing lack of signposts, but several creatures keep trying to kill her, and all she has to fight them with is her knowledge of rocks and digging, her stoic wit, and a formidable right hook. Digger Volume 1 collects the first two chapters of the award winning webcomic (no longer accessible on the website), along with an all-new six page comic revealing the origin of the talking statue of Ganesh. Pages: 132, 7x10, SC, B&W, $18.95
Visit Ursula here
Lee: WOW ! Check out the hype from Vernon’s website “Digger has been the winner of the Web Cartoonists' Choice Awards in the categories of Outstanding Black and White Art (2005, 2006), Outstanding Anthropomorphic Comic (2006), and in 2006 was nominated for a Will Eisner Comics Industry Award in the category of Talent Deserving of Wider Recognition.” I for one am a fan of the awards. It exponentially increases the chances that I am going to get something good. Besides that I am all about whimsy so I’m sold.
Jim: See I’m not sold by a lot of awards. I find that all critics (myself included) often get too close to material to have an objective viewpoint. I read a book that was highly touted by some respected creators in the industry and thought it was crap, so I rather check out the preview and try to judge for myself. As a critic I just hope to make someone maybe try something they otherwise would have missed or at least give them a different viewpoint.

Spark Unlimited Inc
Legendary GN By Mark Waid & Martin Montiel
Legendary tells the story of Charles Deckard, an art thief who is duped into stealing Pandora's Box. When he inadvertently opens it, he releases hordes of beasts thought to be fictional - such as werewolves and griffons - into an unprepared modern world. A full-scale war between man and myth begins, and it is quickly complicated by the actions of powerful secret societies. As the person responsible for releasing this terror, Deckard's unwittingly becomes the only person capable of containing it once more and saving civilization from being destroyed by the terrifying creatures of legend. Written by Mark Waid, this original graphic novel, based on the Legendary video game by Spark Unlimited, Inc. and penciled by Martin Montiel, is a thrill-ride of mythical proportions. Featuring an original 96-page story as well as extras from the game and the Legendary universe, comic fans and gamers of all kinds will not be able to put it down!
Pages: 112, SC, FC, $14.99
Lee: Huuummmm. I’m not sure what to make of Waid writing a comic book in support of a video game. Waid always turns in a good story but it’s about a video game. And about characters/concepts he most likely has little or no interest in. It could be good but I bet it’s just average.
Jim: With that write-up I’m surprised you even included this as a pick. This is a book I will pass on.

Sparkplug Comic Books
Mine Tonight GN By Trevor Alixopulos

Stylish, violent, and sordid, Mine Tonight is a story of individuals with high ideals but few scruples. Lukas is an amoral gun-for-hire who finds himself embroiled in the corrupt 2004 Presidential Election. Pulp noir blurs with autobiography as the lives of Lukas and Alixopulos intersect, from the heady chaos of 1999's WTO protest in Seattle to the moral fog of post-9/11 New York. The tricks of memory and the ambiguity of politics leaven the intrigue in a tale both intensely personal and as immediate as breaking news. Deftly mixing reality and fiction, love and blood, Mine Tonight paints a jittery portrait of our time. Pages: 104, 6x9, SC, B&W, $10.00
Visit Trevor here or follow the link to his sketch blog here and his online comix here
Lee: Just from the online material, Trevor’s art seems well suited for this type of story. I don’t have much to say other than it just sounds interesting.
Jim: Come on his “art” is weak, very weak It is something that has no appeal at all to me.

Th3rd World Studios
Creature Features By Various Do you remember when your local drive-in was rocking on a Friday nightand all of the monsters were the result of nuclear waste and government conspiracies? Creature Feature is your chance to relive your youth or visit a joyous time of cinematic insanity done right for the first time. Welcome back to the 70s and 80s because the first Triple and a half CreatureFeature of the new millennium is set to begin!This issue features three and a half scintillating tales of monsterous horror done right - over the top and gratuitous with a super-cool soundtrack. (Readersare responsible for providing their own tunes.) Grab a date, leave the kids at home,andstuff as many friends in your trunkas possiblefor out of this world terrorin Abducted by Chris Yost, hot girls andfeathery friends inHooters by CB Cebulski, creepy crawlies in Why Did It Have To Be Spiders? by Andy Schmidt, and the firsthalf of therocktacular Rockenstein byBrian Smith, a tale so dementedthe drive-in is only willing to screen the first half of it lest they get shut down altogether for public indecency!Pages: 48, B&W, $4.50
Jim: See my review here. This is a fun book and delivers what it promises.
Lee: It looks great. Read Jim’s review to see more.

Titan Publishing
Cream of Tank Girl HC By Alan Martin & Jamie Hewlett

Celebrate the 20th anniversary of Alan Martin and Jamie Hewlett's foul-mouthed, anarchic creation with this essential guide to the art of Tank Girl! Bask in the glory of exclusive new commentary from writer Alan Martin! Shiver with pleasure at the sight of rarely seen drawings by genius Gorillaz artist Jamie Hewlett! Have a nice cup of tea whilst studying the recipe page! Verily, The Cream of Tank Girl is a smorgasbord of Tank Girl-osity. Boasting tons of unseen artwork, rarely seen comic strips, every Jamie Hewlett Tank Girl cover ever, publicity posters, script samples and more besides; this is the ultimate guide to Tank Girl and her world! Pages: 176, 9X12, PC, $29.95
Lee: Now this is how I want to read Tank Girl. I’ve always wanted to sample her but the trades were just to uneven for me to get through. But, a good old best-of with tons of extras I can get into. Give me the cream of the Tank Girl crop and I can say I’ve been there, done that.
Jim: The double entrees are just all over the place and some are so bad, that I will pass on any comments.

Marshall Law Origins SC By Pat Mills & Kevin O’Neill
From the creative team of Pat Mills (Charley's War) and Kevin O'Neill (The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen) comes a new kind of law enforcement for a dark and dystopian future - Marshal Law! When one of San Futuro's leading sex queen hostesses turns up dead in what appears to be a bizarre suicide, it seems clear that there is more to this insidious situation than meets the eye. It's time for Marshal Law to dish out the pain! Also featuring the classic stories Cloak of Evil and Day of the Dead, this brand-new and fully-illustrated novel includes an introduction and commentary by Pat Mills, all-new digital cover art by Nick Percival, and hordes of unseen artwork by award-winning artist O'Neill! Pages: 240, 5x8, $12.95
Lee: Behind this awful cover is a really good comic book. This was published long ago in the 90’s and is probably one of the first real deconstructionist superhero stories. The good guys were bad but the bad guys were worse. It’s a great story with great art that’s way over the top. Certainly not for the kiddies though.
Jim: Agreed. Marshall Law was almost ahead of its time.

Watching the Watchmen HC By Dave Gibbons, Chip Kidd & Mike Essl
Watchmen is one of the biggest-selling graphic novels ever. It has stayed constantly in print since 1987, remains a bestseller, and the film adaptation arrives in theaters in March 2009. Acclaimed as one of Time Magazine's 100 best English-language novels since 1923, Watchmen is widely considered to be the greatest graphic novel ever. In Watching the Watchmen, artist Dave Gibbons gives his own account of the genesis of Watchmen, opening his archives to reveal the secrets behind the book's creation with a stunning array of previously unpublished sketches, early script extracts, and exclusive photographs. Featuring the breathtaking design of Chip Kidd and Mike Essl, Watching the Watchmen is both a major art book and the definitive companion to the graphic novel that changed an industry. This special edition will feature an exclusive variant cover, a signature page from Dave Gibbons featuring unseen archive art, and a set of eight wrapped art cards drawn from Gibbons's Watchmen archive.
Pages: 256, 9x12, FC, $50.00
Lee: Obviously Watchmen is a comic book icon. So now we have a book about the book. This is very expensive but I’m really interested in what Gibbons has to say.
Jim: I agree and hope Lee will loan this to me or at least favor the blog with a review of the book. A $50 price tag is too high for this type of material.

Top Shelf Productions
From Shadow of Northern Lights SC By Edited by Johannes Klenell
Inspired by the work of Robert Crumb, the comical aspect of MAD and the storytelling of the director Ingmar Bergman, the Swedish magazine Galago began as a publication of political satire during the late 70s. In the three decades since, it has grown to become the flagship of the Swedish alternative comics scene. From The Shadow Of The Northern Lights, gathers 200 pages of some of the finest comic artists Galago and Sweden has to offer, including contributions from David Liljemark, Marcus Ivarsson, Mats Jonsson, Knut Larsson, Kolbeinn Karlsson, Liv Strömquist, and Loka Kanarp. The Swedish comics community has developed into one of the most important comics scenes in the EU, on par with the indy scenes in the U.S. and France.
Pages: 200, $19.95
Lee: If it isn’t obvious, I really love the indies scene here in America. And that love of small press comics has led to a love of Euro comics too. This looks to be a great way to see a lot of different artists and styles in one package.
Jim: What I have been learning that the age of American and Euro comics is fast disappearing. We have interviewed creators that live in the Philippines, Spain and China. The internet is allowing creators to work together who never would have had the chance to do so before, so I believe that the only thing we are seeing from the Euro material are just other good stories.

That Salty Air GN By Tim Sievert
Hugh is a fisherman with a special relationship to the sea; a relationship based on respect and reverence. But when Hugh feels that the sea has betrayed him, his whole existence is thrown out of whack. Hell-bent on settling the score, Hugh takes his revenge to the extreme, jeopardizing not only himself, but his family in the process, becoming a story about change, and learning the price for trifling with the natural progression of things. SC graphic novel, $10.00
Visit the Top Shelf page with previews here
Lee: I recently read the Essex County trilogy from Top Shelf and I loved it. It was emotional and very well done. When I look at this book I see that same kind of quality. Between Blankets & Essex County, Top Shelf has found a great niche as a publisher of great human interest stories. This is an older offering but it’s worth looking at.
Jim: Rerun pick. I think there should be a moratorium on rerun picks.

Valiant Entertainment LLC
Archer & Armstrong: First Impressions HC By Jim Shooter, Barry Windsor-Smith & Bob Layton
The most unlikely traveling companions are back! This Valiant special edition hardcover collects the full Archer & Armstrong origin story from issues #0-6 for the first time ever, digitally recolored and including the all-new story, Formation of the Sect, detailing how the secret organization came to power, by legendary creator Jim Shooter, illustrators Sal Velluto and Bob Almond, and with an all-new cover by legendary artist Michael Golden! When Archer's preacher parents betray and try to murder him, he goes in search of enlightenment, returning years later seeking revenge as the world's greatest hand-to-hand fighter. However, instead of revenge he finds Armstrong, the centuries-old immortal wanderer who spends his time drinking, fighting and spinning tales of his hedonistic adventures throughout history! When a ruthless cult and its bumbling agents try to enlist Archer to kill Armstrong (the one they believe to be the Devil), the two most unlikely traveling companions turn the tables and team up to face down the threat that could destroy the world!
Pages: 168, 7x10, FC, $24.95
Lee: I really want to enjoy this but the last couple of Valiant hc’s have not only had bad production but so-so stories too. This was written in the boom period of the early 90’s which should tell the entire story. Another problem is that I don’t remember the story being all the good to begin with. I’m afraid I’m going to pass on this one.
Jim: Agreed. A story that was weak if memory serves and lower production values, makes this an easy pass.

Villard Books
American Widow HC By Alissa R. Torres & Choi
Alissa and Eddie Torres met in New York City, fell in love, and married in a whirlwind romance. Eddie had come to the United States as an illegal alien from Columbia and gradually worked his way up from a series of jobs in the garment district to become a high-paid currency broker, eventually landing his dream job at Cantor Fitzgerald in the World Trade Center. His first day of work was September 10, 2001. The next day he died in the World Trade Center attacks. Pregnant with their first child, Alissa found herself cast into the role of terrorist widow. Forced to deal with unimaginable challenges, she found herself tossed into a storm of bureaucracy, politics, patriotism, mourning, consolation, and motherhood. Ultimately, she succeeded in taking hold of the forces about her to set off toward a brighter future. Told with the intimacy only a graphic novel can convey, American Widow offers a universal message of hope and redemption.
Pages: 208, 6x9, B&W, $22.00
Lee: WOW! Does this look depressing. Don’t get me wrong, it looks like a very moving story but talk about sad ending. Other than that, I’m really glad this is out there because it’s something that I can give to my “literary” friends and show them there’s more to comic books than superheroes.
Jim: This does look depressing. Sometimes reading this material is cathartic, but I will pass on this book. Lee's literary friend is the guy at the corner Wa-Wa.

OH OH OH The late add…
Houghton Mifflin Company
Tamara Drewe GN By Posy Simmonds
Like her acclaimed Gemma Bovery, Posy Simmonds' Tamara Drewe is a funny and wise original novel in graphic form, with a delightfully sly nod to a literary classic as well as to contemporary mores. An aspiring American novelist, Glen Larson, is returning to a crime writer's retreat in the English countryside, run by long-suffering Beth Hardiman and her husband, Nicholas, a charismatic detective novelist. Into their midst arrives newspaper columnist Tamara Drewe, whose recent nose job has given her a newfound confidence. Aware of her powers over men, Tamara little suspects that local teens Casey and Jody keep tabs on her every move, including her torrid affair with Nicholas. Snooping in Tamara's house, Casey and Jody soon begin sending e-mails from her computer - with unexpectedly dark consequences.
Pages: 136, 9x10, HC, FC, $16.95
More on Posey here and one page preview here
Lee: As I was wrapping this up I scrolled through all the indies one more time and I found this. I didn’t want to add any more books but I went to the one page preview and I was sold! I usually need more than one page to sell me on a story but this one page was very good. I liked the art. You could sense the tension between the characters on the page. It was very good and now I’m doing a late add at my comic store. Sheesh.
Jim: I thought I had reached the end of the list and then the surprise add on. Lee scours the listings and finds all sorts of stuff, but he saves us from having to look at every listing and gives us some great highlights.

Lee: As always a lot to choose from with the indies selection. Slowly but surely, my indies purchases are overtaking purchases from the big two. And, I have to stop looking at the indies section because I keep adding things…. Like Tamara Drewe.
Jim: Very nice list. Lee takes the lead for this post and I occasionally find one or two he missed, but Lee scans everything in detail. So much to choose from and such variety, it shows the unlimited nature of the graphic art form.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Indies Preview Review for September Part 2 of 3

Continuing our three part Indies Review.

See Part 1 here.

Bluewater Productions
Bartholomew of the Scissors #1 By Chad Helder & Daniel Crosier
Spectral Phantasms have invaded our world. These ghostly creatures from another dimension occupy the human brain and endow their host with spectacular paranormal abilities. Private investigator Gordon Watt, long-aware of the spectral phantasms, investigates a bizarre series of scissor-murders. With the help of a powerful psychic named Jessica, Gordon soon discovers a connection between the phantasms and the mystery of a vengeful, undead boy named Bartholomew. But humanity faces a greater threat - the White Blob emerges from the abyss to colonize pockets of human society. Gordon and Jessica must enlist the help of Bartholomew and the hideous power of his Scissor Swarm or face assimilation by the growing colony of the White Blob!
Pages: 32, FC, $3.99
Visit Dan Crosier here
Lee: Assimilation by the White Blob…. These guys might have to work on Names for their bad guys because I’m just not scared of a White Blob. Other than a silly name it sounds interesting enough and the link has some preview art. It’s worth at least the first issue.
Jim: The mood and the coloring of the art work is great in the preview pages, but the actual artwork is still very early looking in his career. This is a book I would need to read the first issue before committing to buying it.

Desperado Publishing
Negative Burn: Very Best from 1993-1998 SC By Various
Negative Burn was an anomaly, merging together genres, pushing boundaries and allowing the top comic book talent in the world an opportunity to experiment and tell stories that they wanted to tell. The biggest stars in the industry (Neil Gaiman, Brian Bolland, Alan Moore, Warren Ellis, Moebius, P. Craig Russell, etc.) co-existed side-by-side with the next wave of superstars (Brian Michael Bendis, David Mack, Paul Pope, Jon Cassaday, Frank Quitely, Jeff Smith, Terry Moore, Paul Jenkins, Mike Wieringo, etc.) to produce perhaps the most eccentric anthology title in the history of comics. This volume takes the very best from the first 50 issues of this prestigious anthology and presents them all together here for the first time.
Pages: 200, 7x10, B&W, $19.95
Lee: Negative Burn was one of the great anthology titles of the 90’s. It’s certainly one of the few ever to be around as long as it was. This is a good way to get lots of stories by big name authors-artists trying something new.
Jim: Now this looks to be a hell of a good project. Anthologies by their very nature have strong and weak stories, so a compilation of the best work should be well worth the price of entry.

Disney Press
El Cazador Vol. 01 SC By Chuck Dixon & Steve Epting
In 1687 the pirate captain Blackjack Tom lays siege to a Spanish galleon. All the Spaniards are killed in his broadsides - all save one: the beautiful, aristocratic Donessa. She seizes control of one of Blackjack Tom's ships and rechristens herself Lady Sin, the most bloodthirsty - and comeliest - lady pirate on the high seas! Lady Sin sets sail to rescue her kidnapped mother and brother and searches the seven seas on her quest for vengeance. Collects all six issues of the CrossGen series.
Pages: 144, 7x10, FC, $12.99
Lee: This is a reorder that I know Jim missed. And, I told him it was great and he ignored me. Now I’m telling everyone this is great. This is a fantastic story about pirates. Dixon is a proven author and Epting is one of the best in the industry. A tour-de-force you’ll kick yourself for missing. Or hit yourself with your cane in Jim’s case.
Jim: Yes, Lee likes to be funny. If he is half the man I am at my advanced age, he’ll be twice the man he is now. Wow that was a convoluted insult. It is pretty much a no brainer, Dixon/Epting/Pirates, what’s not to love. How did Disney end up with Cross Gen publishing rights?

Drawn & Quarterly
Burma Chronicles HC By Guy Delisle

After developing his acclaimed style of firsthand reporting with his bestselling graphic novels Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea and Shenzhen: A Travelogue from China, Guy Delisle is back with The Burma Chronicles. In this country notorious for its use of concealment and isolation as social control - where scissors-wielding censors monitor the papers, the de facto leader of the opposition has been under decade-long house arrest, insurgent-controlled regions are effectively cut off from the world, and rumor is the most reliable source of current information - he turns his gaze to the everyday for a sense of the big picture. Delisle's renderings take note of almsgiving rituals, daylong power outages, and rampant heroin use in outlying regions, where catastrophic mismanagement and ironhanded rule come up against profound resilience of spirit, and nongovernmental organizations struggle with the risk of co-option by the military junta. The Burma Chronicles is drawn with a minimal line, and interspersed with wordless vignettes and moments of Delisle's distinctive slapstick humor.
Pages: 280, 6x8, B&W, $19.95
Previews here
Lee: Delisle’s other books are very well respected and reviewed so it might be time for me to jump on the band wagon. I’m always curious about life in other countries and this sounds very different from my life now. Most likely after reading this I’ll be glad for the things I have.
Jim: Let me know what you think about it, because the premise sounds great, but the art that I checked out turned me off on the book.

Pohadky GN By Pat Shewchuk & Marek Colek
Translated as folk tales or storybook, Pohadky provides a tapestry of interwoven fables and morose, allegorical iconography, bringing a harsh light to the greed, loss, and submission that marks the origins of so many cultural folk tales and legends. Heavily influenced by their respective cultural backgrounds - Colek fascinated with the artistic and narrative elements in the folklore of the Czech Republic, and Shewchuk immersed in the investigation of the symbols and pictography of pre-Christian Ukrainian decorative folk arts - the artists have created a work that balances delicate, richly detailed characters and a sharp but muted visual style, and in the process have created a title that exists as so much more than mere fairy tales.
Pages: 128, 5x8, SC, FC, $12.95
More about the creators at their animation homepage here
Lee: Out of all the books listed this month, I think I’m looking forward to this the most. My grandparents emigrated from eastern block countries so this gives me a chance to hear some of the stories I’m sure they heard growing up. And the art just blows me away.
Jim: Wow, this sounds really fascinating, if you no longer want to use Ambien to go to sleep at night. Okay, I’m being sarcastic, but this is a little too far a field for me and sounds a little on the artsy fartsy side of things.

Exhibit A Press
Tales of Supernatural Law SC By Batton Lash
These trade paperbacks reprint various issues of Wolff & Byrd, Counselors of the Macabre, and other works by Batton Lash. Tales of Supernatural Law has "remastered" pages for several long out-of-print issues. In Sonofawitch, attorneys Alanna Wolff and Jeff Byrd handle cases for a young man accused of 'hexual harassment,' and an assortment of other supernaturally afflicted clients. Mr. Negativity & Other Tales Of Supernatural Law collects Supernatural Law #31-36 and Mavis #3. Vampire Brat collects eight comics: Mavis #2, Wolff & Byrd, Counselors of the Macabre #23, and Supernatural Law #24-29.
Pages: 180, 7x10, B&W, $16.95 Visit the official site here
Lee: ToSL reminds me of Usagi Yojimbo is so many ways. It’s a great story that has a cult following that for some inexplicable reason never makes it mainstream. I have this trade and several of the others and I love them all. They are great, humorous send ups of the superheroes we all know and love.
Jim: As much as I kid Lee, he always finds different things to read and many of them, when I give them a chance are very good.

Fantagraphics Books
Petey & Pussy HC By John Kerschbaum

Petey and Pussy, John Kerschbaum's new graphic novel, reads very much like a Loony Tunes cartoon - if all of the anthropomorphic animals were kvetching, balding, foul-mouthed misanthropes. Each character is articulate (and, in fact, can speak directly to humans, well enough to order a beer) but still recognizably have the traits associated with their respective species: Pete, the dog, is happy-go-lucky; Pussy, the cat, is self-centered; and Bernie, the bird, is high-strung and constantly a-twitter. Together, they are the pets of a sweet old lady whose obliviousness to the lunacy unfolding around her is second only to her own hygienic repugnance. The Sisyphean struggles of the characters is brought to the fore - the cat is compelled to try and catch the mouse, the bird struggles to escape his cage - as the trio engage in slapstick adventures that are simultaneously given an edge and made hilarious by a twisted combination of mundane realism and insouciant gross-out humor. Kerschbaum cheerfully includes all the blood and guts that are left out of the cartoons, and lovingly renders his motley crew in a densely textured urban setting. And like the animated cartoons it echoes in an oddly surreal way, when the mayhem dies down, the characters come to the realization that their identities' are defined by the way they relate to the others, and that one's opponent might be one's truest friend when both face a true threat.
Pages: 128, 6 x 9, B&W, $19.99
Previews can be found here and take note, it is foul mouthed so not necessarily for kids.
Lee: Well, there’s not much to say here besides the description “anthropomorphic animals were kvetching, balding, foul-mouthed misanthropes” is pretty accurate. I suggest the previews and you’ll quickly know if this is for you. Oh yeah, I’m getting it.
Jim: Very funny. Not for the sensitive souls among you. But the previews and website shows it to be very funny.

Gemstone Publishing
Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck Vol. 01 SC By Don Rosa
All twelve chapters of Don Rosa's celebrated Eisner Award-winning The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck series, detailing the biography of the World's Richest Duck, are presented in an affordable trade paperback edition! Also available is The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck Companion, presenting the pre-chapters and in-between chapters of Rosa's sprawling epic!
Pages: 256, 7x10, FC, $17.99
Lee: JUST GET IT ALREADY JIM!!!!!!! It’s better written, better structured, and a more entertaining story than both Stupid Invasion and Insane Crisis!
Jim: I understand all of that, but I have enough to read, without getting into the duck stuff.

Hermes Press
Buck Rogers in 25th Century Dailies Vol. 01: 1929-1931 HC By Philip Francis Nowlan & Dick
Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, the first, best, and original science-fiction newspaper strip, has it all - space ships, anti-gravity belts, space pirates, invaders from other worlds, nefarious villains, and, of course, heroes. Comic strip historian Maurice Horn notes that Buck Rogers in the 25th Century "introduced most of the staples of science-fiction plotting" to the American public - as well as to everyone else in the world who read it. Beginning in September 2008, Hermes Press will begin a complete reprint of the ground-breaking newspaper strip in a 9 x 12 landscape format, 2 strips per page. Reprinting over 900 strips, 2 years of the daily strip are presented in Volume One, beginning with the first strip dated January 7, 1929. A special 16-page color section contains an essay on the strip by a leading science-fiction author to place the series in historical perspective together with documentary materials and production artwork. See and experience the thrill and awe of the precursor of Star Trek, Star Wars, and every other science-fiction story to come after!
Pages: 336, 9x12, PC, $39.99
Visit Hermes Press here
Lee: I really, really want this but Hermes Press Star Hawks book was sooooo bad art reproduction wise that I am gun shy. Someone’s going to have to get it and tell me it’s good before I make the plunge.
Jim: See that is a bitter, bitter disappointment, as I really wanted this book. After reading Lee’s remark I will have to hold the book in my hands and check it out before laying down $40 bucks.

IDW Publishing
Locke & Key HC By Joe Hill (W); Gabriel Rodriguez (A & C)
Acclaimed suspense novelist and New York Times best-selling author Joe Hill (Heart-Shaped Box) creates an all-new story of dark fantasy and wonder: Locke & Key. Written by Hill and featuring astounding artwork from Gabriel Rodriguez, Locke & Key tells of Keyhouse, an unlikely New England mansion, with fantastic doors that transform all who dare to walk through them... and home to a hate-filled and relentless creature that will not rest until it forces open the most terrible door of them all... Locke & Key creator Hill has received the Bram Stoker Award for Best Fiction Collection, the British Fantasy Award for Best Collection and Best Short Story, and the Sydney J. Bounds Best Newcomer Award-2007, among his growing collection of critical accolades. This collection of Locke & Key, in development as a major motion picture by Dimension Films, features an introduction by Robert Crais, author of the best-selling Elvis Cole novels.
Pages: 152, 6.625 x 10.187, FC, $24.99
Lee: This has been a great series so far so I’m sold on adding it to my collection as a hardcover. If you haven’t been reading all along then you get this so you can see what you are missing.
Jim: This is an easy book to order. This has been one of the best written comic books on the market. Both a horror story and a story about a family. Excellent.

Silent Hill Omnibus SC By Scott Ciencin (W) Aadi Salman, Nick Stakal, Ben Templesmith, Shaun Thomas (A) Ashley Wood (C)
Discover the Silent Hill Omnibus, which collects over 400 pages of IDW Silent Hill comic books into one volume. This collection includes Silent Hill: Dying Inside, Silent Hill: Three Bloody Tales, and Silent Hill: Dead/Alive, all written by novelist Scott Ciencin and featuring art by Ben Templesmith (30 Days of Night) and more!
Pages: 432, 6 x 9, FC, $24.95
Lee: I am really on the fence with this collection. On one hand it’s got great creators but on the other hand I know nothing about the story. It should be a great horror collection but that’s a lot of money if I’m wrong.
Jim: Cheap, cheap, cheap. Go ahead and try it. Then could you loan it to me. Thanks buddy !

Knockabout Comics
Freak Brothers Omnibus SC By Gilbert Shelton
Presenting the definitive collection of the classic underground comic strip that has been published in 15 languages, inspired countless items of merchandise, and racked up worldwide sales of over 40 million copies! The Freak Brothers are timeless clowns, and it's Shelton's mastery of satire and slapstick, silly punchlines, and the traditional simple forms of humor at the heart of these tripped-out cartoons which have kept them fresh and mirthful for 40 years. Soon to be an animated feature film! Pages: 224, 7x10, FC, $35.00
You can get a jist of what it’s like here Only a jist because you can’t reprint much more than that because of content.
Lee: Oh boy oh boy oh boy is this great. If you’ve never read any Underground Comix then you need to start here. These stories are absolutely hilarious. These are as adult as you can get with lots (and lots, and lots more) references to drugs and sex. I already have these reprints once but I’ve long since worn them out so I’ll be getting this.
Jim: Lee’s description is dead on, for whatever reason this material never appealed to me. I will have to revisit it now that I’m older and see if it appeals to me now.

Werewolves: Dead Moon Rising SC By Various

The blood will run red in the dead of night as both horror-fiction and comic book writers alike unite to bring you an unlucky 13 chilling tales of howling horror, just in time for Halloween! With stories by Elaine Bergstrom, Tom DeFalco, Dave Dorman, Clay Griffith, William R. Halliar, C.J. Henderson, David Michelinie, Christopher Mills, Mike Reynolds, Beau Smith, Paul D, Storrie, Dave Ulanski, and Fred Van Lente, and interior illustrations by Ken Wolak and a fang-tastic cover by fan-favorite Dave Dorman, this chilling collection of short stories will keep you cringing under the covers all night long!
Pages: 192, 6x9, B&W, $14.95
Lee: I haven’t read alot of books from Moonstone but this looks like a great anthology. The writers are certainly top notch, hopefully the artists are too. It just makes me wonder when there isn’t a laundry list of artists to match the long list of writers.
Jim: Great looking cover.

Part 3 will be on Thursday if all goes as planned.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Best to Worst of Last Week

This week had a couple of strong books, but one really was heads and tails above the rest. At one point during the week I thought I would never get everything I wanted to get done for the posts. Monday and Tuesday posts are always done by Sunday night, but this week it was a push.

Madame Xanadu #2 – Writer Matt Wagner, Artist Amy Reeder Hadley, Colors Guy Major. WOW. This is just an incredible book. The first thing that just amazes me is the art. Amy is an outstanding talent. Her artwork has a fluid touch to it; a very clean and fine line, realistic proportions, strong expressions, excellent page design and she can do both bright and dark work with equal ease. Wagner’s story is also a great story as we appear to be seeing how Nimue goes from being a powerful and magical wood nymph of an elder race into a tarot card reader of nebulous power levels. In this issue we see the fall of Camelot, the Phantom Stranger telling Nimue to stop Merlin, we see the Demon Etrigan and Morgana and Modred go off the finish Arthur. At the end Nimue captures Merlin, but he exacts revenge by taking away her magic. It remains a Vertigo book that is firmly inside the DCU. This series is already challenging to be a top ten of all the books on the stands.
Black Summer #7 ( of 7) – Writer Warren Ellis, Art Juan Jose Ryp, Colors Greg Waller. I love it
when the end of the series delivers on the promise of the series. I had wanted more philosophical views of what was going on and Warren Ellis delivers and Ryp’s art backs it up. I have already put in my order for the hardcover version of this story. We all knew that Tom wasn’t dead, but when he shows up during the face off between John and Frank it was great. Plus Warren lays it all out about what heroes are and what they cannot be and then settles the whole situation with Tom killing all three of them. Warren opened this story with the question “That if you are a super hero and you believe in justice and if the President is guilty of crimes what would you do? John’s answer was to kill him and to try and start over. Frank was the flip side of the super hero coin, a hero that sells out to the government and works to ensure they can stop super heroes. Tom tells them they are both wrong. John is the bad guy, once you shot the President you are Lee Harvey Oswald and a bad guy, end of story. Frank is a bad guy for wanting to help create a better tomorrow by killing his friends and then Tom kills himself and takes John and Frank with him. The best examination of what it means to be a super hero in the “real world” I have ever read. Ellis gives everyone lots to think about and Ryp does a great job in bringing it to life.
Daredevil #109 – Writers Ed Brubaker and Greg Rucka, Artist Michael Lark and Stefano Gaudino, Colors Matt Hollingsworth. This issue we see Dakota get warned off the case by her estranged father, telling her it is a National Security issue. Big Ben is in the prison hospital and is scared when Matt Murdock shows up to talk to him. A connection is made to a retired mobster Eric Slaughter and DD goes off to question him. As DD is talking to Slaughter we see the red mark as a laser pointer hit his chest. Dakota is running down another lead and as she leaves the home of Big Ben’s son she gets shot in the back. Only one more issue to wind this story up, but it has been a great ride so far.
Ambush Bug Year None #1 (of 6) – Writer/Artist/Script/Colors Wonder Chick. This was such a fun book. Giffen and Fleming are willing to skewer anything and willing to do some of the worst (i.e. best) puns ever. Jokes about appliances that only come with dead bodies in them, doing Chicago jokes with the song lyrics from the group Chicago, ripping on Jean Loring’s killing of Sue Dibny, Cheeks is back, Jonni DC’s killed, go-go checks return, it was all great fun. Another element that is so great about this book is that there are so many sight gags on each page you have to look it over twice to catch all of the little jokes. In super hero universes that are grim and dark, where Civil Wars, Secret Invasions and Crisis abound, we have one little corner of the world having fun. Finally my favorite part is the fact that Jonni DC was the continuity cop of the DCU and now she is dead, so all the convoluted crap in DC is explained without need of a retro-con. There is no continuity.
Batman Gotham After Midnite #3 (of 12) – Writer Steve Niles, Art Kelly Jones, Colors Michelle Marsden. This book is so crazy and unreal, that it should have been classified as an Elseworlds book. This issue Midnite recruits Clayface to instead of his normal crime spree; to eat people and make them part of him. After a while Clayface is a Godzilla sized monster terrorizing Gotham. At the end we see Batman show up in a giant robot ready to take down Clayface. It is pure and unadulterated madness, but being brought to life so wonderfully by Kelly Jones, that I have just have a blast reading each issue. Niles is writing a good story, but I personally do not think this story works unless it is Kelly Jones drawing it. This is not your normal Bat book, but it is great comics!
Sparks #2 (of 6) – Writer Christopher Folino, Art JM Ringuet. I have nothing but praise for this book. It is such a great character study of one man’s rise and fall. Golden Age Super Heroics meet film noir. See the full review here.
Proof #10 – by Alex Grecian and Riley Rossmo, Colors
Adam Guzowski. This was another wonderful issue of Proof. In this issue Proof saves a young boy from a giant bird, but is then captured by the child’ mother thinking he is a demon. The boy is ill and as Proof breaks out from the woman’s makeshift prison to take him to a hospital he falls ill himself. Of course plot points like the woman leaving her son with what she thinks is a demon is unexplained, but it is only Part 1 of the new arc. At the same time Ginger and Elvis go to New York to help her pack. We meet Ginger’s boy friend who proposes to her. We also meet the man who recruited Ginger and he is now asking for her help in finding his lost golem. Personally I hate when I misplace a golem, never a good thing. The book was a fast pace and easy read, yet still conveyed a lot of story and moved all the plot lines along. An enjoyable series and one that more should be buying.
Dan Dare #7 (of 7) – Writer Garth Ennis, Art Gary Erskine, Colors A. Thiruneelakandan & I. Jeyabalan. This was a satisfying end to a great tale. It made me feel like I knew all the old Dan Dare material and this was a final battle that he had to have with his old nemesis. Unfortunately his old nemesis brought a black hole and a space armada to crush the Earth. Heroics, sacrifices, characters who you wanted to live dying, great space battles, politics; it was all here and all well done. I would love to see this story adapted and done as a movie, it was so well done.
Invincible #51 – Writer Robert Kirkman, Art Ryan Ottley, Colors FCO Plascencia. This was a great issue to set-up new plot threads and set the stage for what is to come. Invincible takes to training his younger brother. Mark takes him to the super hero tailor who also gives Mark a new costume. A prison break out occurs and Invincible and his brother as Kid Omni-Man go to stop it. The kid screws up; Mark saves the day, but scolds his kid brother. Other things are going on, but I do not think for one minute Kirkman is going to take us down the path of a kid sidekick. Mark’s brother is growing at an accelerated rate and should be older then Mark soon. Plus in interviews Kirkman has promised to keep making things happen with his series to move it forward and not let it drag like it do through the last few months before 50. This series has stepped it back up and is again a top series.
Brave and Bold #15 – Writer Mark Waid, Art Scott Kolins, Colors Rob Schwager. First off I have to thank Mark Waid for writing Nightwing so much better then almost anyone has every written him before. Waid’s Nightwing is smart, analytical, respected and a gifted gymnast. Peter Tomasi is doing a very good job with Nightwing, but if he steps aside I would vote for Waid to write his book. Scott Kolins has really being playing with his style and I’m enjoying his work a lot. He draws great action and has beautiful layouts. His line work is a lot different that it used to be and is tighter at times and looser other times, but I’m happy to see his name as the artist. It seems like Scott fits better at DC then Marvel as he never seem to get assignments that I noticed or were high profile enough to me. Overall this was a nice wrap-up to the two part story and Waid seamlessly made Nightwing and Hawkman the stars of the second half while still keeping Deadman and Green Arrow as co-stars. I know Brave and Bold did not have the numbers DC was hoping for, but I have really enjoyed this series so far.
Green Lantern Corps #26 – Writer Peter Tomasi, Pencils Patrick Gleason, Inks Drew Geraci with Prentis Rollins, Colors Guy Major. I loved the final showdown with Mongul. The team of Green Lanterns all fighting against the powerful Mongul, made even more powerful by the Sinestro Corps power rings was a heck of foe for them to fight. The ending was very heroic as we see Bzzd sacrifice himself to save the day. Another nice touch was seeing Mother Mercy be given both a yellow and green ring and choosing to be a Green Lantern. There are so many stories to tell with the corps, that DC could easily expand this into another series.
Exterminators #30 – Writer Simon Oliver, Pencils Tony Moore, Inker John Lucas, Colrs Brian Buccellato. This was the final issue of a series that was a very enjoyable ride. The story of Henry and all the rest of the cast went out with a really big bang as Saloth brought his redemption by blowing up the bugs with a small nuclear device. There was tons of action and the story moved at a breakneck pace as Oliver was making sure we finalized events and still had time for a little epilogue. This was a very consistent series, always a very good read and had some great characters. I will certainly miss this series, but given how off the beaten path it was, I’m glad we got 30 issues out it.
X-Men Legacy #214 – Writer Mike Carey, Pencils Scot Eaton with Ken Lashley, Inks Andrew Hennessy with Paul Neary, Colors Frank D’Armate with Edgar Delgado. This series has won me over. Charles Xavier’s tour of the X-verse to learn who he is again has been very interesting. This issue concluded the Mr. Sinister arc, where Gambit and Sebastian Shaw take apart the machinery that Sinister had built to allow him to continue after his death while Charles and Sinister fought on the mindscape. Again it was an interesting concept about identity, which has been a consistent theme in this book. Mr. Sinister has wrote some of his DNA into Shaw and Xavier when they where children, it was his contention that he would then own their bodies down the road. Sinister contends Xavier is fated to be Sinister, and Xavier quotes Nietzsche saying “Fate is the word cowards use to describe things they are too weak to change”, nice, very nice. The introduction at the end of the book of Miss Sinister, an apparently female version of Mr. Sinister, without his memories was a little odd. We now have Loki and Mr. Sinister dealing with gender dysphoria issues. So does this mean Miss Sinister and Loki are an X-Men?
Fallen Angel #28 – Writer Peter David, Art JK Woodward. This series is always interesting and a lot of fun. The sarcasm in this book is my favorite part. Black Mariah and Fallen Angel are helping each other to try and find the City of Life in order to save Bete Noire. The adventures they are having trying to find the city with Jude, so he can try and retake his place, is like a road trip movie, only with higher stakes. Moloch seems to be in firm control of the Bete Noire and I wander how much the effects of his rule will be seen in the real world in issues to come. This has been a series that I have enjoyed, but it has moved up a notch or two in my book recently.
Legion of Super Heroes #44 – Writer Jim Shooter, Pencils Sanford Greene, Inks Nathan Massengill, Colors Jo Smith. This was another good issue of the Legion that was almost taken down by the artwork. Sanford Greene’s animated type style was a horrible fit for this book. Shooter is telling such a strong story, that while the fill-in artist was a jarring change; it still managed to be a good issue. I love how some kid has come in and bailed out the Legion from all of their financial and political woes. The fact that he sold the flight ring technology makes sense as that would be worth trillions of credits. Shooter has made Ultra Boy a favorite legionnaire for me again. Invisible Kid showed off his brains and yet another crisis looms at the end of this issue. Shooter deftly weaves multiple story lines and characters, while still moving the main plot line forward. This has been an extremely ambitious and impressive story that Shooter is producing. One of the best Legion stories in a long time.
Secret History of the Authority: Hawksmoor #5 (of 6) – Writer Mike Costa, Art Fiona Staples. Poor Jack. Last issue it appears the girl he has fallen for is from the far future and she has turned on him. Instead we find out she was actually on Jack’s side but had to betray him to keep up appearances. Jack and Julie defeat the bad guys and Jack’s power levels are upped so he can go out and save the world from all the bombs placed in 17 different major cities by the guys from the future. The book ends with Jack dead tired and one of the seven “future city gods” shows up and tells Jack to let’s talk about what he just did. You get the feeling that maybe Jack has been played yet again. This has been a very entertaining series.
Fall of Cthulhu #14 – Writer Michel Alan Nelson, Art Mateus Santolouco, Colors Eduardo Medeiros. So I was little confused as I thought the sheriff had a price to pay to the harlot, but I never saw one if he did. I liked the solution was the Gray Man gets his knife back, but he is trapped in a box the girl Lucifer stole from the Harlot. Looks like that ends this series as it moves into a mini-series called Godwar. I hopes that method draws in some new readers as I have been enjoying this book and want to see it continue.
Immortal Iron Fist #17 – Writer Duane Swierczynski, Art Travel Foreman & Russ Heath, Colors Matt Milla. We open 10 years in the future. It stats with a nine year old boy in K’un-Lun runs up to Misty Knight asking about how his father really died. Then we flash back to the present day and flashback to 1878 for a previous Iron Fist. The current and previous Iron Fist are both facing off against the servant of Ch’i-Lin, the one who kills the Iron Fist. Obviously the guy from 1878 will be killed, but we have to assume Danny survives or the series if quickly over. As for the future, it could be explained away in many ways. The artwork is a big shift from what we had, but still decent. The story is okay, but it feels like killing the hero in the first issue. No Danny is not shown killed, but the future glimpse is locking his death in place and the servant says he is the weakest Iron Fist he has ever faced. I’m on the fence with this series, but my love for the character will keep me around for at least one more issue.
Straw Men #1 (of 12) – Adapted by Joe Brusha, Art Brett Weldele. I never read the source material, so I was a little lost after reading this book. It starts off with a killing spree in a small town McDonald’s where two killers shoot everyone, and then one of the killer’s drops his hands so the other guy can shoot him. We switch to a funeral where a young man who seems to be somewhat of a loser is burying his parents who were killed in a car accident. He discovers a note going through things in his parents’ house that tells him they are not dead. We then switch to a young girl whose father is picking her up from a girl’s night out and his is a rather unpleasant sort. We finally cut to an alleyway where wee see a man whose face is covered by shadow or blanked out except for a smile, he has designs on the young woman. How all this pulls together I don’t know, but I’ll be back for issue #2.
Superman #678 – Writer James Robinson, Pencils Renato Guedes, Inks Wilson Magalhaes, Colors Hi-Fi. Last issue was James Robinson setting up his view of Superman and the new Metropolis Science Police, this issue we get origin story of Atlas. I have to say that I enjoyed the artist doing the flashback by aping Jack Kirby’s style; it really works for the story. Unfortunately I have two major complaints with the Superman series at this time. Renato Guedes is a very good artist, but stylistically he does not fit this book. I may be willing to eat my words down the road, but his style is not working for me right now. My second and lesser complaint is the pacing on the story feels a little slow. Since it is James Robinson he has a lot of credit with me, so I will let him ease into writing Superman.
Justice League of America #23 – Writer Dwayne McDuffie, Art Ed Benes, Colors Pete Pantazis. Is it just me noticing it or a lot more artists doing more and more of their own inking? Ed Benes has no inker credited again. His art has a grittier feel to it with Sandra Hope not inking him. It is still great looking super hero art. I really enjoy Ed’s work and this issue is no exception. I would like the companies to stop the blurry effect as half the time it makes me think I need a new prescription for my progressive lenses. I’m enjoying this story arc in spite of it being yet another Amazo story line. At the same time we have the Amazo story line we also have more being revealed about why Vixen’s powers are screwed up. As the story ends the story lines come together and we end with Vixen being unable to stop Amazo this time and he is about to kill her as the issue ends. Another well done face paced story of the JLA. I’m glad DC is keeping their “big event” more self contained and allowing the regular series to do their own thing for the most part.
Gravel #3 (of 7) – Story/Script Warren Ellis, Script Mike Wolfer, Artwork Oscar Jimenez, Colors Juanmar. At least this time Gravel did not kill the next member of the minor seven. We also got a glimpse of Gravel’s past and since I never read any of his other stories it was helpful to learn a little bit of back story on the character. This member of the minor seven is the one who recruited Gravel. He insults Gravel and basically says Gravel has no clue about what is going on. He does give us the back story on this book and why it is so dangerous. At the end he hands Gravel his segment of the book to avoid Gravel killing him.
Trinity #8 – Main Story Writer Kurt Busiek, Pencils Mark Bagley, Inks Art Thinert, Colors Pete Pantazis. Back-up Story Kurt Busiek and Fabian Nicieza, Artist Scott McDaniel & Andy Owens, Colors Allen Passalaqua. The story is moving along, but it really has a feeling of being stretched out to make it last as a year long novel. This issue is relatively quite as our Trinity are back to their normal lives. We see more exposition about how the three are viewed by people and this has been beat to death already. Then we see Batman attacked while he is Bruce Wayne by a group of Beasts that are looking to mark him as Diana has already been marked. The back-up has the evil trinity working to create four “dreambound” super powered beings via the cosmic egg. Morgana also has Tarot as a prisoner and is using her to forecast the future.

New Avengers #43 – Writer Brian Bendis, Pencils Billy Tan, Inks Danny Miki, Colors Jason Keith. – This issue was another weak issue. First the main series has gone off the rails and now the supporting series are now starting to come undone. The entire issue tells the story of why a group of skrulls were made into various super heroes to the point of them believing they were the people they had been changed into. The whole purpose was to sow the seeds of distrust among the heroes. Seems like a bad plan, especially if the ship crash lands after the invasion had already begun. The whole plot is starting to unravel and what started out as a great popcorn flick is turning into a movie that should have ended 45 minutes after it started.
Robin #175 – Writer Fabian Nicieza, Pencils Joe Bennett, Inks Jack Jadson, Colors Guy Major. The Robin story joins the RIP story line and in a big way. Tim with Stephanie’s help and others is trying to determine if Bruce has gone crazy. His goal is to figure out exactly what has happened to Bruce and if he is crazy to take him down. While that phrase sounds dramatic and all, let’s hope Tim is looking to help Bruce and not beat him up because he has had a breakdown. This issue was all set-up and was a late issue, which begs the question of what happened to Chuck Dixon and did he write his own version of issue #175. I have a feeling it is a question that will remained unanswered for a long time as Chuck Dixon is too professional to answer that and I’m sure DC will no comment it to death.
War Heroes #1 (of 6) – Writer Mark Millar, Pencils Tony Harris, Inks Cliff Rathburn, Colors JD Mettler. This was an uninspired first issue in my view. The story line has all sorts of terrorist attacks happening in the US, but support for all of the foreign wars is still at an all time low and recruitment never gets enough men into the service. In the back of my mind, knowing how Millar will take the simple approach to his story telling if the US is not behind these attacks to try and manipulate public opinion, I will be surprised. Anyway, the Army develops super hero pills that give you different powers for 24 hours. This is only as old as the Hourman character; just extended out a little bit and I believe Mark has done this concept of a super powered army in the Authority and Ultimates. If he makes this more about the brothers Jay and Calvin Pierce and has a good story to tell with them, the all the over simplified story telling to set up the premise can be forgiven.
Thunderbolts #122 – Writer Christos Gage, Art Fernando Blanco, Colors Frank Martin. This issue was a let down after Ellis’ run. Not that it was a horrible story it just did not gel as well as Ellis’ issues or even Gage’s other fill-ins. I think it is due to it being tied into Secret Invasion. I really dislike editorially mandated books and this reeks of it. The Swordsman’s sister shows up and she is obviously a skrull and we know Captain Marvel is a skrull, who has decided he will be Captain Marvel. Why he is attacking the Thunderbolts has never been clear to me. Anyway he mops the floor with the Thunderbolts and Norman at the end is offering Captain a drink while they talk about things.
Two Face Year One #1 (of 2) – Writer Mark Sable, Pencils Jesus Saiz, Inks Jimmy Palmiotti, Flashback Sequence Jeremy Haun, Colors Chris Chuckry. By all rights I should not even bother to finish this two part mini-series, but I will. It is a basic re-telling of the Harvey Dent story with little to shed any new light on the character or give us a different viewpoint of him. Competent work and for the uninitiated a good re-telling.
Glamourpuss #2 – By Dave Sim – I have not completed reading this as it is not a short read. I have to really wonder how many issues of this book I want to get. It has some moments of humor and has a little art history, but I feel like I’m paying Sim to learn how to draw in a photorealistic style.
Uncanny X-Men #500 – Writers Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction, Pencils Terry Dodson and Greg Land, Inkers Jay Leisten & Rachel Dodson, Colors Justin Ponsor. This was a bitter disappointment as I have loved the X-Men at various times, but now it is time for me to leave this series behind. Cancelled. See my full review here.
Grimm Fairy Tales Piper #4 (of 4) – Story Mike Kalvoda, Joe Brusha & Ralph Tedesco, Pencils Alex Medellin Machain, Colors Garry Henderson. This series really fell flat for me. The Piper is defeated, but then the boy who defeats him decides to try and play the music from the book and is killed and swallowed by the book itself. If you missed this series, you did the right thing.
Joker’s Asylum Scarecrow – Writer Joe Harris, Art Juan Doe. First off the animated art style was a really bad call for a comic about one of the darker and more frightening villains in Batman’s rogue gallery. Then the story itself was also very boring as it did absolutely nothing to define Scarecrow or even define Batman and Scarecrow’s dynamic. While the first two books in this mini-series felt like worthwhile one shots, the last two have been ho-hum and a waste of my money.

That what I thought of this week’s books. We have the rest of the Indies preview reviews coming up Wednesday and Thursday, then more interviews with the creator and scripter of Trials of Penance and then Dark Horse, Image, DC and Marvel October Preview Reviews.

Monday, July 28, 2008

What I’m Getting Wednesday

There was lots of news coming out of San Diego over the week-end. In fact there is so much news that it is a little overwhelming. Also I have hardly seen any announcements from the smaller press companies. I really believe some sort of co-op or some level of joint venture for promotion and such needs to be pulled together because some of these companies get overshadowed during these events. As always these projects being announced are so far out in the future as to be almost meaningless. That’s why this weekly post has strong relevance as these books are on the stands in two days.

Blue Beetle #26 – The hype “New series writer Matthew Sturges (JACK OF FABLES, HOUSE OF MYSTERY) comes aboard to kick off "Boundaries," with returning series artist Rafael Albuquerque! As Blue Beetle struggles to establish himself as the protector of El Paso and Cuidad Juarez, he finds himself thrown into the heart of the immigration struggle, made all the more complicated by the involvement of Intergang — and another, more mysterious, figure. Coming at you straight outta Texas, Sturges takes our hero into new territory as Beetle works out his responsibilities as both a hero in the DC Universe and a citizen of a border town.” I’m looking forward to Matt Sturges take on the Blue Beetle as I have enjoyed his solo work on other DC books. This was a good choice for a writer to take over this book.

Catwoman #81 – This is sadly the penultimate issue of this book. I love this series and know the sales numbers are okay, so I hate seeing this series go. The word “Catwoman's on the run in Gotham City once more. Can she stay one step ahead of Batman while trying to turn the tables on the man who's destroyed her life?”

Doom Patrol Archives Volume #5 - I know DC is stopping the Archives program, but I was very happy to see that they are finishing out the silver age run of the Doom Patrol. This was one of the great all time series, in retrospect, from the silver age. What’s inside “Written by Arnold Drake; Art and Cover by Bruno Premiani. In the final volume in the DOOM PATROL series, featuring issues #114-121, the team battles the Mutant Master, the Galactic Gladiator, the Black Vulture, and more before meeting one of the strangest ends any super-team has ever experienced!"

Green Lantern #33 – This is continuing Johns’ updating of Hal’s origin. This has been very well done. The company line “"GREEN LANTERN: SECRET ORIGIN" Part 5 of 6! Hal and Sinestro continue to battle Abin Sur's killer, but will these two Green Lanterns become enemies before they become friends? And what strange secrets within Abin Sur's power ring concern the massacre of Space Sector 666?”

Joker’s Asylum Two-Face – After the last two issues of this series of one shots, I cannot honestly say that I’m looking forward to this. In fact I would probably like to just pass on this book altogether, but the book is written by David Hine with art by Andy Clarke, so I will be getting it due to the strong creative talent they have on this book. No copied hype as DC just has a lame a** blurb for this series.

Justice Society of America Annual #1 – This is the issue of the week for me from an anticipation standpoint. I loved Earth-2 and seeing that Power Girl is sent back to it will have to be a very heart wrenching story. The hype “"Welcome to Earth-2!" Power Girl has made a life for herself on our world, as a member and chairwoman of the Justice Society of America and as a hero in her own right. But she's never stopped dreaming of one day returning to her Earth — the parallel world where the members of the Justice Society were the only heroes. Where her best friend was Helena Wayne, the daughter of Batman. And where evil was a little easier to fight…wasn't it? As her greatest wish comes true, Power Girl's about to find herself back on Earth-2, surrounded by friends she thought she'd lost forever.”

Northlanders #8 – The final issue in the first arc of this really well done and enjoyable comic depicting the life of Vikings. I worry this series may not be widely enough read to last long, but give it a try. The word “Concluding "Sven The Returned." With the great battle for Orkney settled, Sven now must decide what he must do with his enemies, his allies and — most important — his birthright.”

Reign in Hell #1 (of 6) – If Keith Giffen wasn’t writing this I would probably give this book a pass. I like the premise, but in less capable hands I think this book could be a clean miss. The official hype “It's all-out war for control of hell! This is the major event that changes the status quo for DC"s infernal realm as Lord Satanus sets out to dethrone Neron at all costs. As the battle begins, various parties are drafted into service — but will they choose to stand with the devil they know or a new and possibly worse evil? Friendships will be ruined, lives will be lost and allegiances will be forever changed. Plus, a backup feature starring Dr. Occult, who receives a shocking visitation on the eve of the war in hell!”

Superman/Batman #50 – I don’t think anything that happens in this series impacts regular DC continuity at all and I don’t care as the last few arcs have been so well done. The company line “Celebrate fifty blockbuster issues with this extra-sized extravaganza as we reveal the untold tale of Thomas Wayne's meeting with Jor-El and how it shaped Gotham City's future! You don't dare miss this one! The past was just prologue for this latest adventure of the World's Finest duo as an ancient Kryptonian artifact is uncovered, unleashing past and present dangers that may alter the duo's future. Not even the guest-starring Titans will be able to save them!”

Teen Titans #61 – I have been enjoying Sean McKeever’s run on this book, but it still is not a top tier series from DC. It is enjoyable and a good read, just not upper echelon and I know that DC would love for it to be a franchise player. What’s inside “Kid Devil's out to prove himself, but that won't stop the latest object of his contempt from getting in the way! In the tradition of Tango and Cash, Starsky and Hutch, and Turner and Hooch comes this instant buddy classic! You've already read "The Blue and The Gold" — Is the world ready for — "The Red and the Blue"?”

Trinity #9 – There is nothing wrong with this book. It is a solid and entertaining read each and every week. Busiek and Bagley (who I credit with making this book so rock solid) are doing a really nice job telling this drawn out tale. The problem is that I had higher expectations for this book and so far it has not hit that mark. It is almost unfair to saddle a book with expectations before reading it, but it happens. No quoted company babble as it has nothing to say about the individual issue.

Wildcats #1 – So I have heard Number of the Beast set a new status quo by creating untold havoc on Earth and apparently only 10% of the population is left. I was also told it was a convoluted story, so I’m just jumping on with this latest re-launch of Wildcats. The company line “After the shattering conclusion of NUMBER OF THE BEAST, a jaw-dropping new status quo will be established in the WildStorm Universe — and it begins now! Christos Gage (WILDSTORM: ARMAGEDDON, THE AUTHORITY: PRIME) and Neil Googe (WELCOME TO TRANQUILITY, MAJESTIC) bring a unique new vision to the classic Wildcats team, reuniting the classic team with some surprising new members. Also, a new monthly backup story begins, kicked off with the return of John Lynch by Gage and X-Men: Deadly Genesis artist Trevor Hairsine!”

Dynamo 5 #15 – I like Scrap a lot. In many ways she is my favorite member of this group. The official hype “Scrap is left to defend Tower City by herself when the rest of the team is busy attending to more important matters. But what’s more important than defending Tower City?” So an issue that appears to focus heavily on her, should be good.

Frank Frazetta’s Creatures #1 – These books based on Frazetta’s art have been great entertainment and fun reads. This issue is written by Rick Remender, so that is almost a guaranteed great read. The word “Acclaimed writer RICK REMENDER (The Atom, Punisher War Journal) spins the untold adventures of Teddy Roosevelt, Rough Rider, President of the United States and paranormal investigator as he uncovers a plot concocted by a band of nefarious aliens in cahoots with a malevolent ancient Mayan demon to eradicate humanity and claim Earth for their own purposes. A merging of The X-Files, Ghostbusters, and Indiana Jones, Creatures promises high-adventure starting one of America’s greatest heroes of the early twentieth century brought to glorious four-color life by Swedish superstar PETER BERGTING.”

Pigeons from Hell #4 (of 4) – This has been an enjoyable horror story (sounds like an oxy-moron). If I really learned what I was doing I would have a pigeon sound effect when ever the mouse rolled over this title. The company line “Shaken by strange old Alcebee's mysterious portents and horrifying stories, Claire and Janet return to the crumbling Blassenville Mansion anyway, to confront the hideous thing that drove them out and possibly killed their friends--and to find a way to put an end to the curse that hangs over the estate. When Griswell left the Blassenville Mansion those many years ago, he couldn't have imagined the horrors that would eclipse the ones he saw then--but there's far more to fear in the darkness of this twisted old house than ominous, shape-shifting shadows and zombies!”

1001 Arabian Knights The Adventures of Sinbad #2 – This series has not stuck with me that well. Last issue I remember stuff with the Queen of the Island and not much else. I’ll have to see if issue #2 grabs my interest any better. The hype “Samelia has been left behind with the Witch Queen Alorana while Sinbad and the rest of his crew journeys to Ka'tan in search of half of the magical Sunfury Amulet. But unfortunately for Sinbad, the Queen failed to mention the terrifying dragon that awaits his arrival.”

Beyond Wonderland #1 (of 6) – Of all the Zenoscope books this one I have high hopes for as I enjoyed the return to Wonderland series. Most of the Zenoscope books are just okay stories, but Wonderland was solid. The company word “Months have passed since Calie Liddle returned from the terror that is Wonderland, months since that world took so much from her. Now jaded and bitter, Calie has moved far away from her hometown, attempting to lead a more normal existence in the city that never sleeps. With a different name and a new identity, Calie is just beginning to adjust to another life. But not every story has a happy ending as she soon realizes that things in her new life are not going to stay normal for very long! Something from Wonderland has found its way out and Calie knows that she could very well be the only one who has a chance to send it back to where it belongs. The much anticipated sequel to the smash hit series arrives this summer and this time around madness will reach well Beyond Wonderland!”

Caliber #4 (of 5) – The Arthurian Legend merged with the American west continues. Radical comics has really come out of the gate with two strong books. The hype “Talbot is determined to crush the revolution stirring in Telacoma and sets things in motion aimed to bring about Arthur's death. Finding events unfolding beyond his control, Whitefeather himself triggers the beginning of the end when he makes a fatal mistake.”

Contract #1 (of 3) – The company line “"In a capitalist world’s dark future, Mercenary is no longer just a soldier for hire. It’s a way of life. Law is enforced by cyber-powered Mercs and life or death is decided by the lowest bidder. There is no right or wrong beyond the price in hard currency. Jessie Garrett, however, is everything most Mercs are not: honest, selfless and determined to bring order to greed-hardened worlds, driven mad by money. But when a corporate kidnapping goes wrong, Jessie, and fellow Mercs, Panzer and Tsumi, get in over their heads. Strip clubs, black-market organ dealers, cyber-enhanced soldiers and the life of one young girl collide in Contract’s first 3-part mini-series, and no one can predict the cost." You can read my review here.

Hercules The Thracian Wars #4 (of 5) – This series has been picked up to be turned into a movie. It apparently has a producer and a screenplay is being commissioned and hopefully it will make it to the silver screen. I have to think the success of “The 300” has helped getting people to put money into this series. The word “Hercules and his fellow mercenaries have led the armies of King Cotys to a bloody victory that welds the local tribes into a single nation, only to find themselves betrayed and imprisoned by the very man they served. Now, with Greece itself under threat, only a daring scheme can save the band from imminent torture and death , a scheme which can only lead to bloodshed on a massive scale!”

Grimm Fairy Tales #29 – I keep saying that I’m done with this series and I keep picking it up. Needless to say, this is not a highly anticipated book for me. The company line “Grimm Fairy Tales continues to rewrite history when the story of the good and humble King Midas is retold in horrifying fashion. The king makes a wish to appease his daughter's greed only to find that the best intentions are not always paved with gold. In a shocking and twisted case of reversal of fortune, the king learns that while the gold piles high, true treasure is where the heart lies and that all the riches in the world mean nothing if the price you pay is the one thing you care about most.”

Locke & Key #6 – This is the end of this arc and I hope that the series itself is not over, but simply on hiatus until the next arc can be written. A truly top notch and well written series. The hype “Sam Lesser has promised to kill each of the Locke children, one at a time, if he doesn't get what he wants: the key to anywhere, and the key to the black door. Six-year-old Bode, though, has made a desperate bargain with the creature in the wellhouse... set her free, and she'll stop Sam herself.”

Zombie Tales #3 – BOOM continues to swim upstream and try out anthology books. I have enjoyed the first two issues of this series. The company line “Experience the fatal finale of Joe R. Lansdale's zombie-battlefield epic, 'The War At Home!' Plus, what's hungrier after the apocalypse than a zombie? Writer Karl Kesel (Fantastic Four) is more than happy to show you - at your own risk! Zombie Tales - bringing out your undead every month!”

Essential Fantastic Four Volume #7 – This is when you know you have an addiction issue. I have all the Masterworks of the FF, all the John Byrne run in trades and yet I’m still picking this up and will probably never get around to reading it. The contents “Written by GERRY CONWAY, TONY ISABELLA, LEN WEIN, STAN LEE, ROY THOMAS, MARV WOLFMAN, CHRIS CLAREMONT & STEVE ENGLEHARTPenciled by JOHN BUSCEMA, JOE SINNOTT, RICH BUCKLER, ROSS ANDRU, BOB BROWN, DICK AYERS & JOE STATON Cover by GIL KANE Miracles, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, the end of time - when the world nears its end, the Fantastic Four's day has just begun! The world's greatest super-team faces enemies from the future, the past, the Earth's four corners and the Fifth Dimension! Doctor Doom, Annihilus, Ultron and the world-changing wedding that united Inhuman and mutant, FFer and Avenger! Guest-starring Namor the Sub-Mariner, the Silver Surfer, the Inhumans and more from the circle of friends of Marvel's foremost family! Plus: the first appearance of X-Factor's Madrox the Multiple Man! You've come a long way, Jamie! Collecting FANTASTIC FOUR #138-159, GIANT-SIZE SUPER-STARS #1, GIANT-SIZE FANTASTIC FOUR #2-4 and AVENGERS #127.”

Haunt of Horror Lovecraft #2 (of 3) – The first issue was okay, but I really get it for Corben’s art more then anything else. The hype “Horror comics legend RICHARD CORBEN brings you a new 3-issue limited series that offers eerie new spins on the poems and short stories of H.P. Lovecraft. Each issue features three adaptations -- beautifully rendered in black and white with gray tones as only Corben can do it -- along with a printing of the original source text by H.P. Lovecraft. In this second issue, Corben brings you “The Music of Eric Zann,” “The Canal,” and “The Lamp.” It’s classic Lovecraft with a new twist!”

Marvel Masterworks The Defenders Volume 1 – Masterworks #100 – That means I have 100 Marvel Masterworks in my collection and I have more DC archives then that. Way too many hard covers. The contents “Written by ROY THOMAS & STEVE ENGLEHART Penciled by ROSS ANDRU & SAL BUSCEMA Cover by NEAL ADAMS Leap into the adventures of the dynamic Defenders, comics’ greatest non-team! Bonded in a mutual mission are the mightiest misfits in the Marvel U.: the Incredible Hulk, the Sub-Mariner and the Silver Surfer. But these warriors three don’t rest on bylaws and butlers; they - along with the Master of the Mystic Arts, Dr. Strange, and the defiant Valkyrie - come together only in moments of utmost crisis. Facing enemies from across the incomprehensible divide, the Defenders square off against Dormammu; the Nameless One; the Enchantress; and a dark menace from Dr. Strange’s past, the sorcerer Cyrus Black. It’s not just baddies they do battle with, though. In a prelude to the epic Avengers/Defenders War, Hulk, Namor and the Silver Surfer go head-to-head with the mighty Avengers in a fight that pits hero against hero like none other! Collecting SUB-MARINER #34-35, MARVEL FEATURE #1-3 and THE DEFENDERS #1-6.”

NewUniversal 1959 – The hype “This is a story about killing the future. 1959 is the dawn of the new age of superheroics -- the so-called “Fireworks” have granted superhuman powers to three Americans, and set the world on a collision-course with destiny. But it’s a destiny Philip Voight must prevent at any cost. The first newuniversal one-shot expands the mythos of this world, thanks to writer KIERON GILLEN (Phonogram), hand-picked by newuniversal’s Warren Ellis, and the brilliant art of GREG SCOTT shows us the world, like it never was…in 1959.” At least in this one shot we could see a complete story as the mini-series has been one prolonged set-up.

Skarr Son of Hulk #2 – This seems like it has been a long time between issues. #1 barely keep me in for issue #2, so I hope it picks up. The company line “Whose terrible stride shakes the war-torn wastelands of Sakaar? Whose blind Shadow Priest calls for the blood of babes? Whose barbarian horde rides monsters through your nightmares? Behold and lament, my beautiful son, for the Axeman Cometh!”

Thor #10 – This has to be one of my favorite series from Marvel right now. Each and every issue has been a great rebuilding of the Marvel Thor mythos. The word “J. Michael Straczynski and Olivier Coipel’s unstoppable new vision of Thor barrels on stronger than ever! As the Asgardians returned to this life and Thor returned to Midgard, so came the ills that have plagued the gods and man for millennia. Now for the first time since their rebirth, Thor and his fellow hero-gods are venturing forth from the Shining City to confront the growing evils that amass on their horizon…and within their walls…”

Ultimate Spider-Man #124 – The only Spider-Man book I get anymore. This issue we see Venom’s return continue. The company line ““War of the Symbiotes” rages on - as the Ultimate Beetle takes flight! Deep inside the corporate headquarters of Roxxon lies a vial containing the creepy black symbiote substance…or at least it did, until the Beetle stole it! Can Spider-Man capture this bug thug before disaster strikes, and what is Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D.’s interest in the stolen material?”

Wolverine #67 – The second part of the “Old Man Logan” story. As many know I’m not a huge fan of Millar, but the first issue of this book, while inane, had enough moments to make it a decent read. What’s inside “Logan owes the Hulk Gang. He owes them big, and they’re not the kind to let a debt slide, even for the guy who -- 50 years ago -- called himself Wolverine. So Logan’s agreed to a crazy ride across America with the blind archer, Hawkeye, to deliver a package to the East Coast. First stop: San Francisco…but only if Logan and Hawkeye can make it past -- the GHOST RIDERS.”

X-Men First Class #14 – It is always a breath of fresh air reading this book. Truly a fun and delightful look back at the early years of the X-Men as they never were. The hype “The X-Men's new friend Aaron isn't acting quite right. As it turns out, neither are the rest of the X-Series androids back at his secret facility. You might even say they're starting to become... murderously unstable.”

Another decent size week’s worth of books. After reading all the news of the “big” events coming out of San Diego, I almost need to do this post so I can look forward for what is coming out in days and not in month, weeks or years from now.