Sunday, August 31, 2008

A New Player Has Arrived

By Thomm aka Red Dog

Don't get excited if you think I'm going to add to Gwen's realm of game playing. That's not my thing. No, I'm just a new voice in this already voiciferous bunch. Some of you may have noticed me chiming in on comments from time to time, sans nickname. As I'll mostly be writing about comics related topics, I'll limit my background info here to a list of my top comics reads, with a little as to why on each. I'm mostly a followers of authors rather than artists, so that's really the core of each of these selections, unless otherwise noted. In most of my selections, if the art doesn't distract or detract from the flow of the story, that's good enough for me.

1. Sandman by Neil Gaiman. It's not the first book I read, but it's the first I ever read that felt like literature. Some of the other things below I'd read first, but this took it to a whole different level. The cultural references, the depth of the plotting and the scope of the vision. Even the little side stories that didn't have any bearing on the overall story were so well told that they could have their own spots on this list, though that would make it even longer than it already is.

2. Fables by Bill Willingham. A lot like Sandman in the literary quality of the writing. Similar, too, in the size of the cast, but without the single central character to tie it all together, though Snow White and Bigbe come pretty close. Better still, this one's still going strong.

3. Sin City by Frank Miller. All of them. This one's the exception to the rule. This one's more about the art than the stories. Not that the stories aren't good, but the use of black and white to such effect is a phenomenon unto itself. Not for the squeamish or easily offended.

4. Miracleman by Alan Moore. Even less for the squeamish. Wholesale slaughter in central London is only one of the events that grab your attention. This was particularly interesting to me because I went into it without much knowledge of the Captain Marvel stories upon which the original English Marvelman, later Miracleman, was based. Moore took the book from being a rip off of an American title aimed at a young audience and turned it into a philosophical exploration of the effect of near absolute power in the hands of a few, slapped into the "real world". It was certainly no Clark Kent experience. Pretty much the foundation for all the alternate views of superheroes today.

5. Watchmen, another Alan Moore entry. Like Miracleman, it went into a darker place at a time when most superhero books still were not. Unlike a lot of later imitators, it was fresh, well written, explored its characters in depth and with sympathy. It also took a character with absolute power into a different direction than Miracleman. The darkest character turned out to be not the guy with the most power but the guy with the most brains, though both were entirely removed from their own humanity, while the man most in touch with humanity was also insane.

6. Swamp Thing, again by Alan Moore. A bit of a trend here. I had a bit of bad luck on this one, as I had started with the first dozen or so issues of this re-launch of the title, but dropped it and didn't find out about Moore's work until a couple years later. What can I say? It was a pre-internet time and I didn't spend a lot of time reading industry publications. Plus, I hadn't heard of Moore at that point. Once again, Moore took a known concept and took it in a different direction. While this had its dark moments, it was more spiritual in its environmentalism. It also retained a high level of quality after Moore left, under the excellent writing of Rick Veitch, Doug Wheeler, Nancy A Collins, Grant Morrison and Mark Millar. It's low point during that run was DC's failure to stand by its writer in a story involving the crucifixtion of Jesus. But, that helped lead to Vertigo, so I guess it wasn't all bad.

7. Scout by Tim Truman. Funny enough, I had started reading this book while I was in college and Truman lived in the area. He guest lectured an English class that a friend was taking, so I sat in. Not only an excellent writer, but an engaging speaker, too. And his birthday is the same day as mine. Anyway, a post apocolyptic tale of an Apache kid forced into Army service and trained at the old Carlisle Indian School was interesting enough. Incorporating the Apache origin myth into the initial arc only added to its appeal. As a part time student of religion who believes in none of them, particularly while I was in college taking various religion courses, I had a great time wtih this. It's held up over the years, too.

8. The Question by Dennis O'Neil. Like Batman, stories involving guys going around as superheroes but not having any actual powers is a great appeal to me. Better yet, this was the first Zen superhero. And, in this case, the art was a great element in advancing the story in and of itself. I was glad to see the charachter back in 52, even if it was to hand over the role to a new person. I like the new Question, too, but this one was a different direction that stuck with me. Too brief a run, though.

9. Maus: A Survivor's Tale by Art Spiegelman. The only autobiographical tale you'll find in here. Here the art made it easy to tell the ethnicities of the different characters, but it was the story that carried the day. Of course, when your source material is your family's own story, the drama isn't hard to find, but conveying it so well is not easy. The banality of evil hidden in funny animal art. Well deserved in its recognition as a landmark.

10. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller. Ok, there's more on this list where the art is a factor than I expected. Of course, two of them are Frank Miller books. This was not only a great story of the exit of Bruce Wayne as Batman, at the top of his game rather than on the orders of the government, but also was Everyman's dream of the average guy kicking the strongest guy on the block and knocking him down but good. Besides, it did what Jim has advocated for some time and handed the baton from the original to a new player or, in this case, players.

11. The Uncanny X-Men by Chris Claremont. Not the more recent stuff. The stuff back in the '70s. I got on board late with this one too, but it was still going strong at 122 when I started and kept going until Claremont left. I've tried to get back on board with the X-Men at various times since, but it hasn't been the same. Convoluted mess comes to mind. Anyway, Claremont took a second rate, little read superhero team and turned them into the most popular Marvel team out there. It's still riding on the coat tails of those glory years.

12. Sandman Mystery Theatre by Matt Wagner & Steven T Seagle. I loved the feel of this book as much as the actual stories. Noir meets nebbish. Neither the lead nor his sidekick and girlfriend were svelte or muscular. They didn't have any super powers, either. But they got the job done in style and with unwavering loyalty to each other. I'd put a cover shot up, but I told myself the top 10 was enough. Still, the covers on this series were tough to beat, too.

13. Promethea by Alan Moore. Heeee's back. This was an entirely different direction. It made my head hurt trying to read it sometimes, particularly the spiral presentation of the levels of heaven, but no one else has ever presented a gnostic outlook in a comic book. Hell, almost no one knows who the gnostics were at this point, but they were an important voice in early Christianity that was pushed aside, pushed down and more or less forgotten after the first couple centuries. If not for the discovery of some ancient texts, and the sort of gnostic trappings of such groups as the Free Masons, they'd have been forgotten altogether. Moore's story lays out much of the philosophical underpinnings of gnostic thought in a quasi-superhero tale. The traditional superheroics get forgotten pretty early on, though.

14. The Mighty Thor by Walt Simonson. Like Tim Truman's use of Apache myth in Scout, the run of Thor under the pen of Simonson hued closer to Norse myth than the book had before. It was somewhat limited by its superhero mileu, but it really brought Norse myth in as much as possible. It seems to be a guiding element in the current incarnation of Thor, too. And it's hard not to like a character called Beta Ray Bill whose not even from this planet or Asgard.

15. Xenozoic Tales by Mark Schultz. This book didn't have a long enough run to really explore its topic, but I rank it highly nonetheless. It had reprintings as Cadillacs and Dinosaurs, too, that I believe were in color, as the original was black and white. A post apocolyptic story of humans and dinosaurs co-existing, though nowhere near in harmony. No fossil fuels in this one, which I suppose might be a harbinger of things to come. Excellent character development and the shapings of a world that could have been explored for years.

16. Omaha the Cat Dancer by Kate Worley and Reed Waller. Something I've never seen before or since. Graphic sex, in any medium, with characters and a plot that would be worth staying around for even without the sex. In other words, porn with a brain. It had too short a run, too, and ended up with the final plot thread just dangling. I've seen some indication that it might be concluded, though Kate Worley has since died, but I'll believe it when I see it.

17. Concrete by Paul Chadwick. The third black and white in a row. This went through a number of tellings, much like BPRD is doing now, as a series of mini-series or one shots. Mostly it was excellent work, telling the story of a geek speech writer kidnapped by aliens, whose brain is placed in an artificial body that is best described as humanoid concrete. No other super sorts in sight in this one. More of a science fiction tale, actually. He's under governmental authority after he escapes the aliens, leaving a similarly situated friend behind, but has independence to appear in public, collect art and lust after one of his keepers. The only time it went off the rails, in my opinion, was in celebrating Earth Day. Too preachy.

18. The 'Nam by Doug Murray. I originally had this higher, but it kept falling as I went through other titles. It broke ground in telling its story in real time, in that each month between issues was also a month during the war. It told the stories from the POV of the soldiers and didn't get into the politics behind the war. One of the best issues was based on a compilation of several real people who were Kit Carson Scouts, or former Viet Cong who changed sides to fight with the US forces. Talk about backing the wrong horse. Hopefully the real Kit Carson Scouts were ferried out in '75 or earlier.

19. Wonder Woman by George Perez. This had both art and story. Like the Simonson Thor and Truman's Scout, it used the myths its character derived from to good advantage. More of the Greek myths were brought into the stories, though Wonder Woman's cast of villians from her earlier incarnations were not abandoned. Kind of ran out of gas after the first 50 issues, but that's a damn fine run. From all I've seen, no one's been able to bring the character back to anything approaching this level since.

20. Captain Confederacy by Will Shetterly and Vince Stone. This was an alternate Earth setting where the CSA won the war and the breakaway states stayed independent. It also lead to independence among some of the Western territories, so that California and Utah, among others, were their own sovereign nations. Sort of a Balkanization of North America, though I think one of my favorite little details is that Cuba is a CSA state and Castro a minor threat easily disposed. Told in black and white, and featuring some fairly weak art, it had great background details and a lot of intrigue amongst the superheroes from the various North American nations, but primarily focused on the story of its eponymous hero. Though slavery is gone, the CSA still maintains a strict class system. Superheroes and supervillians have been created by the CSA for the pursose of propaganda stories, with the blonde male and female reprsenatives of the CSA fighting black villians. Both of the super blondes end up abandoning the CSA cause and fighting alongside the black "villians". A sequel involving a black female Captain Confederacy, who had been the lover of the original in the first tale, left a lot to be desired.

All right. That's 20. I could go on, and I do give honorable mention to The New Teen Titans by Marv Wolfman and George Perez, Proof by Alex Grecian and Riley Rossmo, Atomic Robo by Brian Clevinger and Scott Wegener, Invincible by Robert Kirkman, The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman, Scalped by Jason Aaron, and Animal Man by Grant Morrison. Most of these are too new to move up higher yet, while The New Teen Titans and Animal Man were just victims of an arbitrary number.

I've committed to Jim to contribute on a monthly basis, but I'm going to try to get something in every Sunday. Don't tell Jim, though.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Spotlight Review Guerillas #1 (of 9)

Guerillas #1

Publisher: Image Comics

By Brahm Revel

49 Pages of Story and Art in B&W

Cover Price $5.99

I always kid around saying how my tour in the Nam really changed me, but since among many of my friends am I the only one old enough to have had an outside chance of serving I can at least get a double take from the person. I did know a lot of guys who served and each one who talked about it had a vastly different experience. So a comic that starts in the rice paddies of Viet Nam in the middle of the war (1970) does bring back a time and place for me.

I have always enjoyed war comics and was especially impressed with Garth Ennis’ work in that genre. Also the more I learn about the various wars we have been in, the more you have to appreciated what those who served have gone through. Not that I can do anymore then empathize, but the more I learn the more I can understand a little.

Add to that my affection for chimpanzees and a war comic set in Viet Nam about a group of trained Chimpanzees being involved and I had to check it out.

The beginning of the story made me forget the premise all together. We meet John Clayton a young man on his first patrol and it is apparent that he has no clue what he has gotten himself into. As the patrol moves forward John starts to flash back in time and we find out he is the child of a classic baby boom family. His Dad was a WWII veteran and John was just sort of drifting through his life. He decides that maybe the army could help him grow up and his Dad seems proud of his decision.

At the same time we see the patrol is taking casualties and a Sergeant takes John under his wing to try and protect him. The patrol continues and we see glimpses of some of the horrors of fighting a war where the enemy is not wearing a uniform to distinguish them as the enemy.

The company digs in with foxholes and are attacked. It is a massacre and John due to his own fear and circumstances ends up being the only survivor. When it looks like he will be killed also the enemy is attacked. John cannot see who is doing it, but they are swift, strong and merciless. John is shot during the fight and holding his side he calls out to the men who have saved him. When they get close John sees it is a group of chimpanzees.

The art is a minimalist style that is in the cartoon realism class, where minimal line work is used, but people are portrayed without cartoon exaggeration. It is a very easy book to follow visually as it is laid out well and I enjoyed the art.

Bottom line is I’m sold on this story. It is both realistic and the absurd blended together and in same ways that is what the Viet Nam era itself was all about. Plus I like John Clayton and I’m curious to see him grow and adapt over the course of this series. I’m also a sucker for homages and having the boy being helped by Chimpanzees being John Clayton is a great tribute to Edgar Rice Burroughs Tarzan character.

Overall Grade A

Tagline: Guerillas has the making of a great graphic novel and is worth a few bananas.

Hairstyles of the Geeky and Foolish

You would think after being married for a bunch of years I would know better than to discuss things I know nothing about with my wife. Don’t get me wrong, I know not to discuss cars, or house maintenance with her because she doesn’t care about such things. Wait, let me clarify that, my wife doesn’t care about what size roller I use to paint the wall, but she cares about the color. And, I have learned that I don’t care about the shade of color, but I care about the base color. I’ve learned that when it comes to red, Terra Cotta is fine, hot pink is not.

But the other night I made a rookie mistake. I discussed my wife’s hair style.


It started simple enough. Almost too simple like she was lying in wait to pounce on me.
Wife: I’m bored with my hairstyle. I want something new.

See, simple enough. I could have gone with the *grunt* acknowledgment but I decided to try and actively participate in the conversation. Lately, Wife has been on a tear with the “What not to Wear” show and I’ve sat through a couple of them with her. With my newfound fashion knowledge, I figured I could fake my way through the conversation. So I waded right in.

Lee: Really? Are you thinking longer?
Wife: No, longer doesn’t look good on me.

I should mention that my wife is petite, with narrow features, and very skinny. Add very fine, very very straight hair (no body) and even by her own admission, there isn’t much she can do with it.

Lee:What about going shorter? Do you notice at this point I’m still in the clear. I’ve made some good comments. I went with the simple long-short discussion. I was still safe. I could have stopped and gotten out but I was feeling brave.

Wife: I already have short hair. I want something different.

Lee: Well how about going real short? You can do something like that crazy lady who dated Stallone in the 90’s.
Wife: Bridgette Neilson? The crazy chick with the bleach blond hair?
Lee: Yeah yeah that’s her. Don’t do the bleach but you could go with that style.
Wife: It’s a crew cut! I am not doing a crew cut.

Lee: I’m just saying. Work with me, it’s different that what you have.
Wife: If you aren’t going to make reasonable suggestions then you shouldn’t try to “help” as you call it.
Here was the out. I was given a chance to run. In fact, I should have run but I felt like I was doing so well I couldn't quit.

Lee: Ok. Then how about short on the sides and back, like mine but just a shade longer.
Wife: Are you serious? Do you even know what you are suggesting?
Lee: What? I working with you. You’re being finicky.
Wife: Again, are you serious? You just suggested that I get a hair cut like your mother's!

YOW!!!! I knew I was in trouble, so discretion being the better part of valor, I quickly retreated.

Lee: You know what, I don’t know a lot about hair but I know I love you even if you decide to go bald.

I would have been fine if I hadn’t said bald.

Friday, August 29, 2008

What I read...

This past week I read Three Shadows from :01 Second Press....

I highly recommended it.

To read more about the book and what I thought about it go here.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

A Fistful of Reviews

There's not a whole lot or reviews this week as school started and I am swamped with work.

Air #1 (Vertigo)

I'm not to thrilled with the art as it's somewhat inconsistent, however the story was interesting enough that I'd like to read more. It was really the love story that kept me intrigued though as the plane plot (while it has potential) was very confusing. I guess I'll have to see where it goes.

Tangent: Superman's Reign #6 (DC)

I've been enjoying this little off world/dimension story. I think this issue was the best so far as it's always fun to revisit how cool Batman is. Also, I like the Green Lantern tangent origin stories.

Robin #177 (DC)

This was a confusing issue as I still need to catch up a bit on the Batman RIP stuff (which I was having a hard time following anyway). I'm really sad Chuck Dixon is gone and wonder where the new writer is headed with this series - and with the Spoiler character.

Flash #243 (DC)

I'm glad the Iris and Jai story seems to be somewhat resolved as it will allow the new team to experiment with their own direction with the book. Still this book has been bounced between writers a lot and it's made the book choppy and hard to get into. I like Wally's kids, but I hope now they can do a little more with them now that they're 'cured'. I did feel the cure was a rather quick fix after all the build up though.

Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds #1 (DC)

Wow! Excellent start! I'm so excited about this mini-series and I'm glad the first issue really provided a window for non Legion-fanatics (such as myself) to get into both the story and the characters. RJ's death was really harsh though and made me pretty upset - also, I thought RJ had lost the ability to shift? So I'm confused as to how he reverted back to his 'natural' (which wasn't a normal Durlan form by the way) state. Beyond that I enjoyed this issue immensely.

The Brave and the Bold #16

As much as I'm not thrilled by the artwork I'm still enjoying the stories and team-ups in these books. This was a cute story and I love how Catwoman manages to manipulate Superman to an extent - even though he sort of wins in the end.

Birds of Prey #121 (DC)

The Platinum Flats story is kind of annoying me on some levels, I have to admit. I'm not even sure what it is that's annoying me *sigh* I did like the Misfit goes to school interlude, although Black Alice being back is strange (though it could be fun at the same time). Misfits quickly becoming my favorite character in BoP. I think Babs should just adopt her.

A Tale of Two Cities - Charles Dickens

Yes, this was my first time reading this novel. I LOVED it. I was a bit hard to get into right at the start, but once the pre-story is over it's difficult to put down. I know that this is a classic that everyone raves about but honestly I haven't enjoyed every classic novel I've read. This was a wonderful story and I'm glad I finally read it.

A Very Long Engagement

So my sister made me watch this movie. It was in French and since I need new glasses subtitles give me a headache. This was a loooong depressing epic love story. There were good parts to the story and the acting and directing was phenomenal. Still, the ending let me down a bit as I came to empathize with the main character and felt her reward for all her faith and work fell short. I think I would have enjoyed this more in theaters. It was a well done and interesting movie, I just wouldn't want to watch it again any time soon.

These reviews will probably continue to be shorter while I'm in school seeing how busy I am for the time being. I get my books Weds so only have a small window of time to read some for review. Sorry!

Spotlight Review Space Doubles the Trade Paperback


Publisher Th3rd World Studios

Creator / Executive Producer : Scott Closter

Th3rd World Studios allowed me to review the entire Space Doubles Trade. For your $20 you are getting one hell of a ride. From the first story to the last you are getting more bang for your buck that at least 75% of the books on the market. If you are a science fiction fan that this is a must read book for you. If you like me are a science fiction and a comic book fan, then the only question you have to ask yourself is when can I buy this book.

This is a FIVE STAR / A +++ / book.

First off let’s back up and talk about what is Space Doubles. Space Doubles is a sixties science fiction feast for the eyes and the mind. So much of what is classified as science fiction today is either pure space opera or good solid soap operas on a space ship (or station) with very little of actual science fiction that I grew up on. This is the Outer Limits packaged as a handy book to read and peruse at your leisure. With 12 stories you can read one with your morning coffee and another while you are on a lunch break.

As an anthology book you always have fears that half the material will be good and the rest is less than good. If you are like me you do compare story to story as you read along and think that I liked story “A” better then story “B”. What does not happen when you are reading this is that you think any of the stories are not well worth reading and a few of them I read a second time so I would slow done a little and enjoy the art. One story I was forced to “google” the name of the doctor because the name was too odd to not be purposeful and I learned something that made that story even better. Finite was a wonderful end of the human race story and one that is new to this trade. Rehab was out and out funny and just plan amusement and another new story for this trade.

I guess what I like best about Space Doubles is that when I read the stories they make me smile. I’m a science fiction fan and grew up loving Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein and other authors. I have enjoyed Farscape, Star Trek and their ilk, but I have missed having a show like the Outer Limits, that was often one part science fiction and one part horror if science or other things go wrong.

Comics are a wonderful medium that is too often self limiting to being too much about super heroes. It is a medium which can tell stories in any genre and since the end of the sixties we have not seen anything like “Weird Science” or even “Mystery in Space”. What Space Doubles does is give us a wonderful science fiction anthology that is fascinating, scary and at times thought provoking and remains FUN! To me one of the best parts is the flip format of the book, where you read one half then flip the book and read the other half.

12 Stories for $20 and look at the writers you are getting: Mike Raicht ("/Exiles/: Days of Then and Now"), Leah Moore and John Reppion ("Witchblade – Shades of Gray"), Jason Hall (/"Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures" and "Hellboy Animated"/), Justin Robinson ("Heavy Metal's Fluorescent Black"), Mark Andrew Smith ("Amazing Joy Buzzards") and Scott Closter ("Eskimo Dave"). This collection also features 4 never before seen tales by Mike Baron ("Nexus"), Dwight L. Macpherson ("Surreal Adventures of Edgar Allan Poo"), Ben Raab and Deric Hughs ("Living in Infamy") and Andrew Dabb ("Atomika").

Instead of reviewing each and every story let me direct you to the complete review of Space Doubles #1 here. Which as you can see was round robin approach the Lee, Gwen and I took and unfortunately we are not able to do these as often as we would like as our real lives keep us too busy to do it right.

The second issue was reviewed by just Gwen and I and it can be seen here.

The third review was a solo review by just me and can be seen here.

We never got issues #4 and #5, but they are all packed into this trade.

Space Doubles is a high quality graphic science fiction anthology that is really worth your hard earned money. Tell your comic shop to order it today.

Or order it from Amazon here.

Tagline: Space Doubles like Doublemint Gum doubles your pleasure and doubles your fun.

Interview with Mike Raicht - Creature Feature's Executive Producer

Well we have found someone else who was willing to subject themselves to questioning. Mike consented after I promised not to post certain pictures I have. Actually I'm just a little jealous as Mike is the editorial force behind Th3rd World Studio's newest gem Creature Feature. I think it was a ploy to get co-eds to try out for parts in his venture.

Jim: Who is Mike Raicht? Cosmic radiation, alien from another planet, super genius or obsessed crime fighter?
Mike: Mike Raicht is pretty much just a kid who sadly absorbed a little too much TV radiation while being bombarded by horrific monster movie images at an age when most kids were laughing and playing outside on their swing sets. These images warped his brain a bit and led him down this very sick path. Not healthy. I'm not used to talking about myself in 3rd person. It makes me fee l a bit weird.

Jim: Creature Features appears to be your baby. Walk us though the process of idea to actually realization? How long did it take? How did you get the talent?
Mike: Well, I think Creature Feature started to take shape about a year ago... maybe longer... following Th3rd World's release of Space Doubles, which was their sci-fi book. Th3rd World's publishers, Devito and Conkling had approached me to do my own type of book. I suggested a horror book. They said sure and I pitched them on the idea of going back and doing a bunch of late 70s and early 80s horror inspired tales. We wrapped the 1st issue a few weeks ago. Just finished up some tweaks. Issue 2 is a little over half way done so it will definitely be ready for a November release.

As far as the talent goes, I approached a lot of people whose work I enjoyed and that I knew personally. Especially with the writers. I was Brian Smith's intern at Marvel and we still work together on stuff every day. We just optioned a kid's property and we actually have another fantasy type tale coming out through Th3rd World that we've been co-writing. Like I said, we do a lot of stuff together. CB Cebulski, Stuart Moore and Andy Schmidt were all people I worked with at Marvel during my time as an editor whose writing work I enjoy. They are all really talented. Chris Yost was someone who was co-writing New X-Men when I believe it was at it's height. Mike D. had his contact and luckily he was very interested. Leah Moore and John Reppion are two writers who I've been lucky enough to appear with in multiple titles. We're kind of like comic writer family at this point. We were paired together in the inaugural issue of Space Doubles and also in Savage Tales from Dynamite. I wouldn't dream of putting out a book like this without contacting them as well.

The artists came to us in very different ways and we were lucky to have all of them. I only can really claim to have brought a few of them in myself. Shaun "Artchild" Turnbull who worked on Hooters was discovered in CB's art search. He had a space in his schedule and made Hooters kick butt. CB is the best in the business at helping young talent get work out there. Jon Reed won Comic Book Idol. We were really lucky to get him. Joe Lalich is a very talented artist who was working with Andy Schmidt in his Comics Experience class. Inker Jon Czop is someone I actually worked with at Marvel who came on and really nailed the inks on Joe's story. Brian Smith is currently working on the young readers book Loud Boy for Penguin. I actually forced him to be involved. He had no choice.

For the second book we have Alberto Ponticelli, who I actually met in San Diego close to 10 years ago. He is a friend and very talented guy who was nice enough to take time out of his schedule to work on the book. Although I know he was exctied to work on Stuart Moore's tale. Alberto is currently working on Unknown Soldier for Vertigo. PJ Holden was busy doing work for Image and 2000AD. John and Leah had always wanted to work with him so they made that happen. Jacob Chabot has exactly 13 days free between projects and for some reason he has decided to work on my script. I met Jacob at Marvel when he worked in the Bullpen. Since then he's won a contest at Dark Horse that produced his Mighty Skullboy Army book. That was nominated for an Eisner, so he's kind of slumming with me. The final artist of our group is TL Collins. Tim, as I call him, and I are from the same high school and have spent years watching some very poorly done horror movies together. I asked him if he'd like to try to create something for the book. He did a very funny strip of me, which we'll probably use in the trade. We then had the idea to have an introduction to each tale that he would draw. I think he did a great job, and unfortunately, nailed my likeness.

Jim: So small press publishing is like being Rodney Dangerfield, what are you doing to get notice and hopefully orders?
Mike: It is a ridiculous tough road. I think the first thing you have to make sure of is that you are doing something you love. Because while we'd all love to have huge sales it always isn't possible. The second thing is to just hustle your butt off. Devito and Conkling have been working the phone lines and getting the word out. Great web sites like yours have been gracious enough to run reviews of the book. Will this help sales? We hope. Everyone wants that break out hit, but it can be tough. Hopefully we'll do well enough to put a little money in all of the creator's pockets. Beyond that, we just hope whatever our numbers are that we sell out and get a little buzz. Anyone reading this, if this book is your cup of tea, go to your local comic shop and order it. Every order for a book like this is a huge help. Getting noticed is the beginning for a book like this. And if you like it, tell your friends and comic shop owner. Maybe they'll think twice about ordering the next issue, or reordering some copies for other people with your taste. It's never too late for everyone to give a book like Creature Feature a chance.

Jim: Two issue mini-series, why not go straight to a one shot, like Crecy from Avatar?
Mike: We had 96 pages of material. And with the talent we had brought on board we felt it could sell. We also feel two 48 pages issues at $4.50 a piece gives us a chance to get the book out there at a reasonable price as well as turn a profit. We will be releasing a trade at some point but it will have additional stories attached.

Jim: What is your role as part of Th3rd World Studios?
Mike: I do whatever they need me to do. I have some experience with editing and writing. I like to think they use me as a resource for both. We really have hit it off and I think as a group we want to create very cool comics and beyond. I know we are working on some things beyond just comics which we are really excited about.

Jim: Did you actually pose for the pieces of art for Creature Feature or hire Uncle Creepy?
Mike: Tim Collins has spent thousands of hours, much to the chagrin of my wife, playing Halo 2 and 3 with me and even more time watching thousands of hours of horrible movies. He could probably draw me in his sleep if he needed to. My dream, and probably Tim's nightmare, is for him to have to draw sketches of me at conventions. Probably posing with Robin or Wonder Woman. That would be good stuff.

Jim: The first issue was excellent and it really hit the nail exactly on the head. You are listed as the editor; do you help to craft the stories to be so dead on to your concept?
Mike: These writers are all terrific. I sent out a little mission statement letting people know the vibe I was looking for and everyone came back with something fun and exciting. All I tried to make sure was that everyone at least attacked something different. I didn't want to have any repeats. Nobody disappointed.

Jim: Did you solicit full scripts and then find an artist or were there collaborative efforts?
Mike: For the most part the scripts were completed and then artists were brought in. Naturally, since the artists bring so much to the table, they are going to influence the final product. So at the end of the day I think they are all collaborative efforts. Even with the Drive-In interludes, Tim Collins and I would discuss the story immediately before it and try to bring that stories vibe into the Drive-In. I think it was pretty effective. Tim really nailed it.

Jim: Are you considering releasing one full story on the web for free to generate interest?
Mike: I know that's something we've talked about. You'd have to talk to Devito and Conkling about that.

Jim: What are you doing to promote the book with retailers? I think getting stores to try and carry a few copies is always problematic.
Mike: It is tough. This is a small book, but it has some amazing talent on it. Beyond the fact that Devito and Conkling have both been working the phones calling retailers and CB Cebulski has been posting places and trying to get the word out. To me, this is the type of book someone should take a chance on. We have some pretty major writers on this puppy. Yost is currently writing X-Force and a Secret Invasion Runaways/Young Avengers book. It was just announced that CB is writing the return of Magik. How cool is that. Stuart Moore is in the middle of an arc on IRON MAN. He's done some of the coolest WOLVERINE and PUNISHER one shots around. Andy Schmidt spearheaded the ANNIHILATION series which was pretty darn amazing. John Reppion and Leah Moore are doing very cool stuff over at Dynamite including RAISE THE DEAD which is out in hardcover now. And all of these are just the things I'm coming up with off the top of my head. Think of how many cool books these guys have been involved in.You would have to believe a line up like that would beg for people to take a chance on it. It has some of the most talented writers in comics working on a very cool horror book. If you're a retailer and you are reading this, give it a chance. Your customers will dig it.

Jim: What are your short term goals with comics?
Mike: To keep working on great projects like this one and to always have something on the shelves every month that I've been working on in some capacity whether it's editing or writing.

Jim: What would be your dream project?
Mike: I kind of got to do it. I wrote an issue of Exiles called EXILES: DAYS OF THEN AND NOW. I'd love to go back and do some more work on that book. It's something I helped to develop with Mike Marts when I was his assistant and I eventually had the opportunity to edit it on my own which was a blast. Otherwise, I'd like to be writing issue #13 of a book I've had a hand in creating. To have a book be successful enough to reach year two would be amazing.

I want to thank Mike for taking the time to talk o us and have fun with it, because that is what this series is all about. I have been lucky enough to read issue #1 and you can see that review here. Also see Newsarama’s article on the book here.

Last but not least I want each and every person out there to go out and order this book. If this book was in Marvel or DC’s solicitations you would give it more of a chance, it is human nature, but this book is worth your time, but your retailer will be reluctant to take a chance, so go and order it. If you don’t get a few laughs or are not entertained by this comic, please ask your spouse, significant other or pet to check you for a heartbeat.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Indies Preview Review for October Part 3 of 3

Wrapping up the Indies Preview Review for October!

IDW Publishing
Richard Matheson's Hell House SC By Richard Matheson, Ian Edginton (W) Simon Fraser (A & C)
To help Rudolph Deutsch forestall his death and learn the secrets of the afterlife, a team of experts must survive a night in Belasco House, or as the locals call it, Hell House. Exerting its dark influence on the group as they unearth the wretched secrets from within its walls, will the house ever let them leave? Pages: 200, 6.625 x 10.187, B&W, $19.99
Visit Fraser here with some previews here
Lee: The original book by Matheson is outstanding and well worth the effort to find and read. It doesn’t contain pictures so it may take more than 10 minutes to get through but it’s worth it. And, in case you still aren’t sold, there are the two or three movies you can rent based upon the story. Or, just buy this excellent adaptation of a classic haunted house story.
Jim: Now I’m torn, do I find the book, rent the movie, get the comic or buy all three.

Steve Niles Omnibus SC By Steve Niles (W) Breehn Burns, Hector Casanova, Chuck BB, Chee, Milx (A) / Milx (C)
This HUGE collection of Steve Niles' graphic novels includes Aleister Arcane, The Lurkers, Secret Skull, and Wake the Dead (recently optioned by Holding Pictures). Niles' 30 Days of Night came to life last year on the big screen, and now fans have the chance to collect more of the dark fiction he's made a name for himself creating. Pages: 416, 6x9, FC, $24.99
Lee: The only other omnibus dedicated to a single person is the Fred Hembeck omnibus. I wonder if Niles realizes that Hembeck beat him to the punch..
Jim: Steve Niles is everywhere. He has been an extremely prolific writer and the vast majority of his material is very good. I often wonder how some writer don’t burn out.

Insight Editions
Will Eisner's The Spirit: A Pop-Up Graphic Novel By Will Eisner
On the dead body of a police officer the Spirit discovers a note with the name Sand Saref, his lost childhood sweetheart. Saref has come to Central City peddling a deadly Nazi virus on the black market, but plans go awry when she is double-crossed by a scoundrel bent on destruction. In a twisted tale of betrayal, the remorseful Spirit must bring his long-lost love to justice and find the virus before it's too late! Born from shadow and mystery, Will Eisner's deathless hero returns in a recreation of The Spirit's final two issues. Coinciding with Frank Miller's upcoming film, Will Eisner's The Spirit: A Pop-Up Graphic Novel spins a noir tale of blackmail, murder, and espionage innovatively crafted into seven full-color pop-up spreads. Reborn, The Spirit breaks out of the conventional comic book frame, animating the vigor and dynamism of Eisner's original vision. Designed by renowned paper engineer Bruce Foster, Will Eisner's The Spirit: A Pop-Up Graphic Novel comes alive with expansive panoramic cityscapes, three-dimensional action sequence pop-outs, frame-by-frame expanding mini-booklets, and scene change pullouts. From the noir aficionado to the comic zealot, fans will celebrate this renaissance of Eisner's masterpiece, heralding the interactive ingenuity of a new format for sequential art. Pages: 16, 6x10, HC, PC, $34.95
Lee: Huh? A 16 page Spirit pop up book? And who is this for? Certainly not me. And it’s $35 to boot. Maybe Jim will get it.
Jim: Not unless I’m spending your money. It is one of those ideas that sounded great after a night of drinking, but once executed you probably wonder why you did it. Plus Spirit Pop Up sounds a little pornographic.

Knockabout Comics
Yesterday's Tomorrows GN By Grant Morrison, Tom Dehaven & Rian Hughes
Rian Hughes, acclaimed as an illustrator and designer, collects some of his groundbreaking comics artwork in this remarkable collection. Writer Grant Morrison reworks of the classic British comics character, Dan Dare, set in a mass unemployment 1980's in which Dare is no longer sure of his place in the England around him. Science Service, co-written with John Freeman, allows Hughes full rein for his retro style. For Raymond Chandler's Goldfish, adapted by Tom DeHaven, he captures the noir shadows in a clever use of 2-color artwork. Also in the book are Really & Truly, also by Grant Morrison, from 2000 AD, and a selection of sketchbook pages. Pages: 256, HC, FC, $47.50
Lee: Interesting! Grant Morrison’s early 2000 AD work collected into a fancy hardcover. I want to say no. I’m trying to say no. But, I can’t help myself I’m going to end up getting this. Early Morrison is a real treat and I can’t miss the opportunity for a fancy hc of British comics.
Jim: $50 bucks is a big amount for early Morrison. If you get it, give us a review.

Nocturnal Conspiracies: Nineteen Dreams GN By David B.
The best-selling author of Epileptic and one of Europe's new generation of comics artists invites readers to experience nineteen of the most imaginative dreams he has ever experienced! Strange, scary, beautiful, funny, and with a sense all their own, these are the private tales of the inner psyche.
Pages: 128, 6x9, SC, PC, $14.95 Previews and art samples of Epileptic here
Lee: Epileptic was a great read so this easily is added to the must read pile. David B’s art is great and I imagine his dreams are quite strange. I can’t wait to experience them.
Jim: I had a dream also – do you want to hear about my dreams. You never ask about me, don’t you care?

New England Comics
Tick: The Complete Edlund SC By Ben Edlund
All 12 issues of Ben Edlund's original classic comic book series are collected in The Tick: The Complete Edlund, plus as a bonus the 13th Pseudo-Tick, what-might-have-been final issue! Extra materials include the first Tick story from the NEC Newsletter, rarely-seen backup stories, pin-ups, and original commentary by Edlund! Pages: 416, B&W, $35.00
Lee: If you haven’t read the Tick then you really are doing yourself an injustice. The Tick is a hilarious parody of superheroes! Done in the late 80’s/early 90’s the material is just as good today as it was then. This is highly recommended.
Jim: The Tick was extremely funny. It really was the best long term parody comic done.

ONI Press Inc.
Labor Days Vol. 01 GN By Philip Gelatt & Rick Lacy
Benton Bags Bagswell is doing nothing with his life. He runs a chores-for-hire business in London - and that's about it. That is, until the day his girlfriend dumps him, and he finds himself in possession of a mysterious videotape. Thrust into a dangerous world of deceit and betrayal, it's up to Bags to pack up his suitcase and hit the road in search of the truth! It's globe-trotting hijinks as the unlikely hero tries to grow out of his slacker lifestyle and bring some New World style to Old World Europe, all the while digging deeper into the enigma that's blown up his former existence! Pages: 128, 6x9, B&W, $11.95
Visit Lacy here
Lee: All I can say is the art intrigues me. It’s got a really nice feel to it and appears to be different enough to be entertaining. And, Oni is pretty discriminating about what it publishes so I’ll probably try this.
Jim: The premise sounds great and Oni is a solid publisher. Queen and Country is a favorite of mine and I missed it when it first came out. This is one to try.

Scott Pilgrim Vol. 02: Vs. the World GN By Bryan Lee O’Malley
Scott's life has taken a bit of a detour, but he's going to take steps to get everything back under control. There's Knives Chau, there's Ramona Flowers, there's his band, there's six or seven evil ex-boyfriends floating around, and there's a couple little things from out of Scott's past that might end up seeming a lot more important really soon! Pages: 200, SC, B&W, $11.95
Lee: I haven’t caused trouble in awhile so I’m feeling the itch. But, it’s not an overwhelming itch yet. If it was overwhelming I might say something like “Scott Pilgrim? No one reads this because it pointless drivel!” just to rile up the masses. But I don’t feel like causing that much trouble so I’ll just say it’s drivel.
Jim: Scott Pilgrim does have its fans and those who love it say it is the best thing since sliced bread. Let’s see if you rile up any of his fans. I have never read it and it does not interest me.

Pantheon Books
I Live Here HC By Mia Kershner, J.B. Mackinnon & Various
There are places on Earth where it is already too late. This book began with a desire to see more, to tell stories that have gone untold. Traveling to crisis zones around the globe, I Live Here bears witness to four different kinds of displacement - war in Chechnya, ethnic cleansing in Burma, globalization in Mexico, and AIDS in Malawi. A cut-and-paste documentary, I Live Here is a portrait of human crisis that is both global and as personal as young love, a lost pet, or an adolescent mistake that cannot be erased. The voices are those of the displaced, in their own words or in stories shared with and told by noted writers, artists, photographers, and graphics novelists. Through these stories we come to see that, in between the chaos of war, famine, and displacement, life continues. We begin to understand the ways in which we are all the same.
Pages: 240, 7x10, FC, $ 29.95
Lee: If you’re interested in events around the world then this is the book for you. I am sure the art is of varying quality but this book isn’t about the art. It’s about learning how others live and maybe appreciating how lucky you are to be able to read about it.
Jim:If well written this could be an excellent book and a real eye opener. I would love to see one of these stories released for free and then if I liked that I would get the book.

Radical Comics
City of Dust #1 By Steve Niles & Zid
From the dark mind of Steve Niles comes a story set in the aftermath of our world's collapse. This chilling vision of the future unveils a world where the police patrol for crimes of the imagination. Religious beliefs, along with any tales of false heroes, idols, or gods, are illegal. Detective Philip Khrome doesn't enforce Imagination, he works Homicide. That's where the action is, and he's seen it all before. But criminals evolve, and the world is forever changing. When a killing spree hits his city sector, Khrome finds himself face-to-face with killers born of grim reality with Old World superstition - and everything is not as it seems! $3.99
Jim: A total no-brainer for me. Steve Niles – great writer, Radical comics quality publisher, great concept and I’m sold.
Lee: Yahoo! More Steve Niles. If I can’t pick the same books for six months in a row then we need to limit the “written by Steve Niles” picks too. Sheesh.

ABC Warriors: The Third Element - Robot War! SC By Mills, Walker, Flint, Sharp, McMahon & Cook
Mars itself has risen up against the human colonists, with earthquakes and storms attempting to rid the surface of the pestilence that has ravaged it. The Martians struggle against their human oppressors and, on their side, an unstoppable ally - the ABC Warriors! Pages: 112, B&W, $18.99
Lee: I love ABC Warriors! They have been a 2000AD standard for years and have only gotten better. In case you don’t know, the ABC Warriors are a group of super destructive robots that go where humans can’t. It’s all about robots and destruction. And with art by Liam Sharp I am sold!
Jim: THE ABC Warriors are massive amounts of carnage and fun. If you like Robots and carnage this is for you. Great stuff!

SAF Comics
Slum Nation Vol. 02: Crazy of Love HC By Zalozabal
Doug wanders from one shady clinic to another, trying to recover his lost arm after he was left with only a cheap prosthesis. Then, Doug hears from a former Secret Service agent he thought was dead. Now she works for the new government, and she needs Doug's help in infiltrating the organ trade black market. But why is she so interested in something as ordinary as organ trading? And how come Doug smelled T.O.T. on her - a drug with dangerous psychotic side effects? Realizing he doesn't care and has nothing to lose, Doug agrees to help - until he discovers that she isn't interested in organ trafficking, it's nuclear weapons she wants! Pages: 48, 9 x 12, FC, $12.95
Nothing in English but go here
Lee: I have some books by SAF and the material is always good if the translation is sometimes weak. This is a nice, over sized book with really good art.
Jim: What an outlandish premise.

Top Shelf Productions
Essex County Vol. 03: Country Nurse SC By Jeff Lemire
The Country Nurse is the final volume in the critically acclaimed and award-winning Essex County trilogy of graphic novels, set in a fictionalized version of Lemire's hometown in Ontario, Canada. Follow a day in the life of Anne Morgan, the peculiar farming community's traveling nurse. As Anne checks in on her favorite patients, the story delves deeper into Essex County's mythology and past, and finally reveals how all three volumes stitch together to quilt a portrait of how loss and regret push and pull at the fabric of family in small town life. An amazing finish to the trilogy, and a story in its own right. Pages: 96, 6x9, B&W, $9.95
Lee: Last month Jim said I couldn’t pick the same books over and over and over again. So this month I pick VOL 3 of the Essex county trilogy. Which is completely different from the first book in the trilogy which I have picked many times before, so this is ok.
Jim: FOUL! FOUL! Come on ref, throw the flag. It is still a penalty! Instant replay!

Tundra Books
Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde GN By Adapted by Alan Grant & Cam Kennedy
Good and evil, right and wrong. Both are seen through the eyes of John Utterson, a lawyer and friend of the scientist Dr. Henry Jekyll. After hearing the alarming account of the horrendous trampling of a small girl "like some damned juggernaut" by a violent man named Mr. Edward Hyde, who also holds a connection to the lawyer's dear friend, Utterson's curiosity gets the better of him and he begins to investigate. As he probes further into the events and the hidden life of Mr. Hyde, Utterson slowly uncovers a terrifying and ghastly story. Pages: 48, 7x10, SC, FC, $11.95
Lee: Please note THIS IS AN ART BOOK! There is no other reason to buy this. But, I love Kennedy’s art and there is precious little of it out there so I’ll be getting this. Probably never read it but I’ll look at it a lot.
Jim: Why is this only an art book? Alan Grant is a very good writer and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a classic story.

Twomorrows Publishing
Hawkman Companion SC By Doug Zawisza
Instantly recognizable among comic fans, Hawkman is one of the most iconic heroes ever created. Inspired by tales as old as mankind and those much more recent, this four-color legend has left an indelible mark upon the comic industry. Behind a fabulous Cliff Chiang cover, this collection contains interviews and commentary from many who have helped Hawkman soar through the ages, including Joe Kubert, Geoff Johns, Shelly Moldoff, Timothy Truman, Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti, Rags Morales, Stephen Sadowski, Don Kramer, Ben Raab, Tony Isabella, Dan Jurgens, Roy Thomas, Steve Lieber, Murphy Anderson, and many other top comics creators. Also included is a copious image parade, profiles on the Hawks through the ages, as well as their allies and adversaries, and a timeline of Hawkman's storied existence throughout the DC Comics Universe. With insight into the character and the creators who made him what he is, The Hawkman Companion is certain to please any Hawkfan. Pages: 208, 8x11, B&W, $24.95
Lee: If Doug whos-z-name can accurately explain Hawkman continuity then I will be amazed. Honestly, I don’t think it’s possible anymore. But this should be informative no matter what.
Jim: I could probably explain Hawkman’s continuity right up until he had none. Hawkworld blew it up and the Zero Hour really screwed it up, then Johns tried to fix it, then Rann-Thanagar War screwed it up again and now Starlin was told to put it into the Bass-o-matic and see what we get.

Viper Comics
Attack of the Killer Tomatoes #1 By Dale Mettam & Erich Owen
Not since the super-secret invasion of Canada has military operative Mason Dixon faced such a grave challenge! They're red. They're high in lycopene. They are most certainly lethal - and they are already among us! Dixon and his team of highly trained specialists are all that stand between humanity and The Attack of the Killer Tomatoes! LS #1 of 3, Pages: 32, FC, $3.25
Visit Erich here
Lee: A classic B- movie goes from the big screen to the comic book. I love it!!! The movie was so bad it was good so I can only hope that the comic can capture the same pointless stupidity that is Killer Tomatoes!
Jim: This will be a incredibly tough job to make this concept into a comic.

Alter Ego #81
Get ready for Alter Ego's ever-haunted Halloween issue! Behind a new Frank Brunner Man-Thing cover, Richard Arndt throws a spooky spotlight on the late-'60s black-&-white horror comic Web of Horror that featured early work by Brunner, Bernie Wrightson, Jeffrey Jones, Barry Windsor-Smith, Walter Simonson, Dave Cockrum, and Howard Chaykin - plus an interview with Web of Horror editor and award-winning science fiction writer Terry Bisson! Then, an amazing interview by Jim Amash with comics and fine artist Everett Raymond Kintsler! Plus, Roy Thomas' 1971 origin synopsis for the first Man-Thing story, and more of Bob Rozakis on "The Secret History of All-American Comics, Inc." $6.95
Lee: Alter Ego does one of the best Halloween issues in all of fandom! They are always great and a nice long article on the horror comic “Web of Horror” is fantastic. WoH was an independently published magazine to rival Eerie and Creepy and boasted one of the greatest collection of artists since EC. This should be great.
Jim: Lee is much more of a historian then I am, but I’m sure this material is interesting.

Lee: Another good month for Indies. I wish I was able to find some more previews but there are lots and lots to choose from. Happy hunting!
Jim: Always something different and something else to look at with the indies.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Best to Worst of Last Week

This was a slow week for comics. One thing that slowed it down for me is the first book that I read ended up being the book of the week. While this makes the start of my stack of books great, it leaves less and less to anticipate. What I really enjoy about this hobby is even a week that is more towards the average side has a lot of entertainment value.

Final Crisis Legion of Three Worlds #1 (of 5) – Writer Geoff Johns, Pencils George Perez, Inks Scott Koblish, Colors Hi-Fi. You can see my entire review here. What I can also say is that it is nice to see the Legion can such a high profile project during their 50th Anniversary. Jim Shooter is doing a wonderful job on the current title and this series looks like it will be a great addition to all the great Legion stories that have come out over the years. If you are a fan of the Legion at all and not getting this series, you are missing out. See my full review here.

Killer #8 (of 10) – Writer Matz, Illustrator Luc Jacamon, translated by Matz and Edward Gauvin. This is such an excellent series. This issue the danger and problems surrounding our killer get deeper and deeper. He does get the chance to take out the men who hurt his girl friend and torched his house and instead of his dispassionate self; he takes out a knife and tears them apart. With Mariano he goes out on a job hoping to find out who ordered those men to go after him, it is a trap and Mariano and he barely escape with their lives. The cop, who has become the killer’s friend, has figured out most of what is going on, but is not turning him in. We have only two more issues to go and I can’t believe it will be over. What a well drawn and well written portrait of this character. One of the most compelling reads on the stands.

Brave and Bold #16 – Writer Mark Waid, Art Scott Kolins, Colors Rob Schwager. LOL – What a wonderful and fun story. From the opening shot of Superman answering the Bat signal to the closing panel of Superman zapping the clayface water this was a great read and really well done art. Scott Kolins style has changed over the years and I’m enjoying this version of his work a lot. He had some many wonderful camera angles and shots in this book that it was a joy to look at. Mark Waid on his swan song on this title was also at the top of his game, playing this for some light hearted laughs and telling a solid story bringing Catwoman and Superman together. A wonderful one and done story and a lesson for how to tell a great super hero team up story.

Fear Agent #23 I against I (Part 2 of 6) – Writer Rick Remender, Art Tony Moore, Colors Lee Loughridge. Back-up Writer Rick Spears, Art James Callahan. The story ultimately appears as if it will be Heath versus some other version of Heath, but before we get there Heath escapes from his captors and goes to Heaven. That is the town of Heaven and he is mended back to health by Charlotte who followed him to the other side of perhaps another Universe, but arrived two years before Heath. I know it makes my head hurt t0o. Fear Agent is a well written often “tongue in cheek”, often pure comedy and often real drama set against a space opera type setting. It is a book that I enjoy a lot, but I have a complaint, the main story was only sixteen pages and while the eight page back up was amusing, I wanted more of the main story.

DC Wildstorm Dreamwar #5 (of 6) – Writer Keith Giffen, Art Lee Garbett and Trevor Scott, Colors Gabe Eltaeb & Randy Mayor. This issue we see that the manifested heroes of the DCU have asserted their heroism and essentially escaped the control of Chimera who dreamed them into existence. So he dreams the villains from the DCU into the WU and now the heroes from both sides have their hands full keeping all the villains in check. The Doctor can’t find Chimera to shut him down and Chimera is apparently sending the moon into the Earth. This is one of the most entertaining mini-series in a long time. It takes the fan fiction type story of DCU versus WU and gives it an excellent story and has terrific artwork. I’m looking for to see how this series concludes.

Birds of Prey #121 – Writer Tony Bedard, Pencils Michael O’Hare, Inks John Floyd, Colors Hi-Fi. This series just continues to roll along in great fashion. In this issue we see Infinity (a new character) is apparently being added to the cast. The Joker is joining up with the villains group that Oracle is trying to take down. Misfit is being forced to go to school and Black Alice makes a surprise appearance as she is also going to school as a new student. We have adult and teen super heroes, plot development and a little teen-age drama and angst all working together. I think DC needs to put more effort into this series and start doing some mini-series on these characters as this is a great book and Tony Bedard has done a great job taking over as the full time writer.

Superman Batman #51 – Writers Michael Green & Mike Johnson, Pencils Rafael Albuquerque, Colors Cris Peter. This issue is so much fun. We have the Lil’ Justice League showing up in the “real” DCU. Batman and Superman are trying to figure out what the heck is going on as the Lil’ League is just still trying to be the heroes they are. The origins of the Lil’ League Batman and Superman are hilarious and the entire book is a real treat. To give you an example Lil’ Batman was created when his parents were both shoved to the ground. This is just a wonderful farce and I’m looking forward to next issue.

Trinity #12 – Front Story Writer Kurt Busiek, Pencils Mark Bagley, Inks Art Thibert, Colors Pete Pantazis. Back Story Writers Kurt Busiek & Fabian Nicieza, Pnecils Mike Norton, Inks karl Kesel, Colors Allen Passalaqua. The front and back of this book are telling two different stories, but the stories seem to seamlessly work together, with the back story filling in gaps and lying hints of things to come. The front story this issue is about the JLA versus the CSA. While the bulk of the group is following the now hot headed Superman, GL, Firestorm and Red Tornado go to the CSA headquarters. GL morphs into some sort of robotic gun machine and has lost control of his body maybe to some techno-organic virus. Between the front and back stories very strong hints are laid out that the character Enigma is in fact the Riddler from the CSA world, which means he could be a good guy. Trinity is moving up the charts as it continues. This is just a very good book that is a good read and has rock solid art work.

X-Men First Class #15 – Writer Jeff parker, Pencils Karl Kesel, Inks Val Staples, Colors Nathan Cosby. This book is really such a fun well written and executed book, that I under stand why Marvel is trying to copy its success with calling other x-books “First Class”, but the other books make no sense calling them that as you can only have one first. This issue Medusa is escaping the Frightful Four and runs into the X-Men. They think she could be a mutant, but are not sure. Professor X can’t unlock her memories. The Wizard shows up and attacks the X-Men and sends Bobby, Marvel Girl and Beast into the air via anti-gravity discs. Cyclops and Professor X arrive back to save the day and find a mind control device on the back of Medusa and she runs off back into sixties FF continuity. The Angel returns and allows his friends to rip off the anti-gravity pods and not drop to Earth. If you want to read a comic that echoes older times, but still is a modern book, this is it.


Scalped #20 –Writer Jason Aaron, Davide Furno, Colors Giulia Brusco. I was close to making this one of the top candidates for best of the week and then I talked to a friend of mine about the issue and it will not be my number one book or even in the running. This two issues arc is about Dash and his f**k buddy Carol. Carol is Red Horse’s daughter and she smokes heroin to try and live with what has happened to her in her life. She was pregnant when she was shot by her father’s men who were unaware she was in the car they were chasing. Her husband had stolen drugs from Red Crow and was going to use that as a stake to get off the reservation. Carol lost the child and her husband died. Dash meanwhile is confronted by the Aunt of the young boy he tried to help during the “Dead Mothers” arc. She accuses Dash of being responsible for his death. Dash drinks, goes home, almost shoots himself and then goes to see Carol. After sex he is looking for a beer and since she has none decides to join in her drug of choice. The artwork is weaker then the regular artist and that is one strike against this issue. The other was pointed out to me that Dash was far enough down, making him into a drug addict maybe going too far. In retrospect I have to agree and hope that in addition to everything else Dash is not a drug addict. Drinking to excess on occasion is one thing a drug addict is another. Still Scalped is a hard book and a very dark book. I look forward to this book more then many, many series, but this issue may have gone too far, let’s see what happens next.

Captain America #41- Writer Ed Brubaker, Pencils Steve Epting, Inks Rick Magyar & Steve Epting, Colors Frank D’Armata. This issue the story line really made some steps forward. Captain (Bucky) America and Shield join forces to take down the Red Skull and also foil his plan to make his Presidential candidate a hero. The Red Skull is planning to make a new body for himself so he no longer has to share Lukin’s body. What did not make sense was the whole reason any of this worked out was Dr. Faustus has apparently betrayed the Red Skull and set him up. Where did that betrayal come from? A minor point I just noticed the Black Widow is being called Natalia and not Natasha and I read somewhere this is some sort of retro-con and the entire history and the Black Widow has been altered. PLEASE STOP THIS! Just make a new version of the character and leave the old one alone. Every character does not have to constantly change. It makes it impossible to not be occasionally taken out of a story because what you thought was familiar is not. Finally this story is just taking so long, that even decent chapters feel dragged out because you want a resolution of a plot line, any plot line, even a small sub-plot resolution would be welcomed.

Stormwatch PHD #13 – Writer Ian Edginton, Pencils Leandro Ferandez, Inks Francisco Paronzini, Colors Carrie Strachan. Back Up Writer Christos Gage, Art Trevor Hairsine, Colors Jonny Rench. This was another good re-launch of the Wildstorm Universe, only Gen 13 failed to utilize this opportunity to its fullest. Stormwatch is now in an orbiting platform above the Earth. Jackson King is the Weatherman and he has a full beard and seems older. He sends a team down to Earth to help out some survivors who are being used as slave labor by another group of survivors. A nice little surprise is Deathblow is now part of his team. This issue establishes the new status quo right away, gives us a quick mission and has you looking forward to the next issue. The back-up story is moving along well, but I still would prefer this as a separate mini-series or what ever as opposed to marketing device trying to hold the four WU books together.

Rann Thanagar Holy War #4 (of 8) – Writer Jim Starlin, Pencils Ron Lim. Starlin is packing a lot into each of every issue. This issue we see Synnar be revived from the dead and as he is an alpha class villain this group is over matched. On the bad guy side we have Lady Styx, Synnar, The Eternal Light Corporation, the Deacon and Adam’s crazed father in law Sardath. On the good guy side we have Adam Strange, Comet, Bizzaro, Starman, Hawkman, Starfire, The Weird and Animal Man. A lot of moving parts and we have multiple planets we are on and yet Starlin is making it work. Bottom line is the series is worth the effort to keep up with everything and is a nice solid adventure that is its own corner of the DCU.

Ghost Rider #26 - Writer Jason Aaron, Art Tan Eng Huat, Colors Jose Villarrubia. This issue was okay, but I’m not a fan of Tan Eng Huat’s art. He makes some very strange choices for camera angles and switched our perspective from panel to panel with no real story telling need to do so. Also his Danny Ketch is far away from any resemblance to the character I once knew. This issue sees the return of Danny Ketch into the Ghost Rider book and it feels like it is very heavy with past continuity. Since I have not followed Ghost Rider for years it could have been a problem, but I was okay with the back story material and the way it was explained. Johnny Blaze was hardly in this book. The issue itself was all to set-up the next story line.

Flash #243 – Writer Tom Peyer, Art Freddie Williams II, Colors Tanya and Richard Horie. Tom Peyer’s too short run on this book was a little uneven, but pulled together by a wonderful ending. Wally figures out what is wrong with Jai and Iris and pulls them into the speed force. He pulls out some metaphysical dark force out of their bodies and it appears that the kids while not de-aged, will be safe from anymore rapid aging. Next issue another new creative team. DC is putting out some strong books and also putting out some books that are constantly being re-tooled and the Flash was the hero that re-launched the silver age. This book needs to be gotten back on track again (pun intended). I thought Tom Peyer was getting there, but one arc and done will not get a book set in any real direction.

X-Factor Special Layla Miller – Writer Peter David, Pencils Valentine De Landro, Finishes Andrew Hennessy, Inks Craig Yeung, Colors Jeromy Cox. When the Layla Miller character was introduced I really thought she was lame, but Peter David ahs turned her into one of my favorite characters. She is stuck in the future of Bishop. Since she knows things she stands in the perfect spot to not be hit by a falling satellite and escapes prison. She eventually meets up with Cyclops and his daughter (another child by this guy) called Ruby. Layla helps her to start a revolt against the fascist government that the US is, err has become in the future. At the end Layla is still stuck in the future and I’m now stuck waiting for her story line to continue somewhere.

Tangent Superman’s Reign #6 (of 12) – Writer Dan Jurgens, Pencils Jamal Igle, Inks Robin Riggs, Colors Kanilla Tripp. Back Up Story – Writer Ron Marz, Pencils Fernando Pasarin, Inks Mark McKenna, Colors Dom Regan. The good part of this series is that we are continuing to build up what is going on and moving the plot line forward. The bad news is that the amount of information you need is so dense that I think it is impossible to jump on this series in the middle of it. Also by having our Earth’s heroes and the Tangent heroes both being featured we have too many characters with the same name. If I had been editing this series I would have limited to one or two of our Earth’s guest starts. This issue we learn more about how Superman became Earth’s ruler and we also see more of the underground looking to bring Superman down.

Moon Knight #21 – Writer Mike Benson, Art Mark Texeira, Layouts Javier Saltares, Colors Dan Brown. Okay so Mike Deodato was just on as artist for one issue to suck in people like me to try Moon Knight again, good job, it worked. This issue we start the “Death of Marc Spector” arc and since Moon Knight has always had multiple identities I’m not sure how much that matters. What we do have is Shield and Tony Stark is after him and since they have failed, now the Thunderbolts are being brought in to bring him in. While I feel like I have missed a little about why Moon Knight is where he is, I’m curious to see if this is a true deconstruction of the main character (which was how this series started) or is this just the loose cannon anti-hero fighting the loose cannon villains that are supposedly heroes. I’m hoping for the latter.

Justice League of America #24 – Writer Dwayne McDuffie, Pencils Allan Goldman, Inks Prentis Rollins, Rodney Ramos & Derek Fridolfs, Colors Pete Pantazis. This issue we wrapped up the battle against Amazo and then moved on to our next story line without taking a breath. I enjoyed the way Amazo was beaten and find it amusing that no matter how much Black Canary is in charge Batman really runs things. I did not like the characterization that Black Canary just delegated to Batman the grunt job of fixing their headquarters, totally out of character (and Batman would not have accepted). Red Tornado’s resurrection seem to get short shrift as we jumped into the next storyline head first as Vixen and Animal Man are both dealing with how their powers work. For a fill-in artist I think Allan Goldman did a decent job, my complaint would be if they know Ed Benes needs to be spelled, let him have the end chapter and spell him in the middle chapter of the story line.

Robin #177 – Writer Fabian Nicieza, Art Freddie Williams II, Colors Guy Major. This issue is rather interesting as it is no longer counted as a RIP tie in and it appears that this time line is now after Batman is gone. Jason Todd is back and he is taking over the gangs of Gotham. Tim and Stephanie’s relationship seems to be at an end. We see Tim and Jason have a confrontation. Tim assumed Jason had bad intent, but in fact he says he was consolidating the gangs and was going to use them to help Gotham by pitting two sides of bad guys against each other. In the background there is someone roaming around in the Red Robin costume. Who is in that costume is not even hinted at in this issue. At the end we see Spoiler hiring an assassin to kill Robin. Since I’m not obsessively following every comic I read the reveal of who Spoiler is hiring is lost on me as the assassin states she has killed one Robin already (and it obviously didn’t take per Spoiler). All in all this was an interesting issue as we see they seem to be dancing around RIP and still try to lay out a new story line for Robin.

Guardians of the Galaxy #4 – Writers Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning, Pencils Paul Pelletier, Inks Rick Magyar, Colors Guru EFX. I hate these forced cross-overs. GOTG was doing fine without shoving a “Secret Invasion” mandate down its throat. Instead of having another off world adventure all the intrigue takes place on Nowhere as the central cortex is blown up. All signs are pointing to Drax as he maybe a skrull. The main plot line and the story about the original GOTG has slowed to a crawl. I know sales may jump for these issues, but as a fan of the series it causes me to rethink staying on long term or not. I feel like I’m being forced to follow the book through these cross-overs and waste my money.

Batgirl #2 (of 6) - Writer – Adam Beechen, Pencils Jim Califore, Inks Jack Purcell, Colors Nathan Eyring. I think my favorite part of this series is Jim Califore’s art. He has a nice clean style that works well with the Bat books. So often people get exclusives and you never see much work from them, Jim’s work has been out there consistently. The story is okay as we expand the background on Batgirl, give her a “sister” and have them facing off against Deathstroke and David Cain. This seems to be an okay mini-series, but when this type of series is green lighted it should have a purpose for it as a far as character development. I’m guessing this is re-establishing Batgirl as part of the Bat-family. What happened to the new Batwoman?


Casey Blue Beyond Tomorrow #4 (of 6) – Writer B. Clay Moore, Pencils Carlo Barberi, Inks Jacob Eguren, Colors Carrie Stracham & Darlene Royer. So this series is getting stranger and stranger and I know that they want us to feel like what the frell is going on just like Casey, but still. Angela is trying to train Casey and tells her to let go and her abilities will just come to her. Angela also says she comes from the future and she is here to help Casey through her early days and Casey will save the world. The bad guys are looking to stop Casey. Casey is having waking dreams about some weird futuristic type of place. That is only half of what is going on and we only have two issues left to pull this together and have it make some sense. The ending will make or break this series. I’m following this one to the end, but my expectations are not that high.

Conan the Cimmerian #2 – Writer Timothy Truman, Artists Tomas Giorelloe & Richard Corben, Colors Jose Villarrubia. This was an okay story, but Conan was a framing device to tell a story about his grand father and that story could have been anyone. The actual story about his grand father was interesting, but nothing to really do with the Conan story and a horrible way to re-launch Conan as he moves to the next phase of his life. I have no clue why Dark Horse did this, but I think it killed any chance of grabbing new readers to be interested in Conan and may have pissed off some regular readers who spend six bucks and have yet to get a new Conan story.

Air #1 – Writer G. Willow Wilson, Art M. K. Perker, Colors Chris Chuckry. This was an interesting launch of a new Vertigo book. Of the last four new series I dropped Young Liars immediately, love House of Mystery and love Madam Xanadu. Air is a work in progress. The issue starts towards the end of the opening story for two pages, then jumps to current time for two pages, then flashes back to how the story started works back to where the comic started, goes a little further in the opening story and jumps back to the current time frame. All of this is done with no real device to tell us that we are jumping all around in the main character’s (Blythe) story. The entire story appears to have taken place within about a week. Blythe is an airline stewardess who is afraid of flying or as she puts it afraid of falling. We have a sort of terrorist threat and a hero type who is extremely mysterious as to who he is and who he works for. I’m definitely back for next issue, but I’m not sold 100% on this series yet. I think it would have benefited from a more straightforward story to start and sacrificed the dramatic opening page.

Batman and the Outsiders #10 – Writer Chuck Dixon, Pencils Ryan Benjamin, Inks Saleem Crawford, Colors Tom Chu. – So this series is very weird. Chuck Dixon is one of the cleanest and most concise writers in the business and his stories always make sense. This book is all over the map and I have no clue what is going on from issue to issue. We have had rotating cast members and it seems like we never get one mission completed and something else is going on. I know that editorial mandates have constantly created problems for this book and it has obviously affected the ability to write this comic. It just seems to be a poor decision to continue publishing a book that has no direction. I will hang out until RIP has impacted this book and then if it is not going anywhere this book gets kicked to the curb.

Iron Man Director of Shield #32 – Writer Stuart Moore, Pnecils Carlo Pagulayan & Steve Kurth, Inks Jeffrey Huet & Andrew Hennessy Colors Joel Seguin. This was a well written and well executed story line that also was a totally forgettable story. After reading it I did not get around to starting writing a mini-review of the book until two days later and had totally forgotten how it ended. This book is now on an official death watch. Next issue has to be decent for me to want to hang on. Big plus on the art was finding the Steve Kurth tilted head pages.

Young X-Men #5 – Writer Marc Guggenheim, Pencils Yanick Paquette, Inks Ray Snyder, Colors Rob Schwager. Another book that is an easy cancellation and one I really hung onto for too long. The art felt rushed and the story was all over the place. When the death scene occurred I still didn’t care enough about the character for it to have an impact. Let’s see I have dropped X-Factor, Uncanny and now this. That leaves Astonishing which is close to being dropped, Wolverine during the Old Man Logan story which is failing to impress, Legacy which I like and X-Men 1st Class which I love. Cancelled.

Squadron Supreme 2 #2 – Writer Howard Chaykin, Art Marco Turini, Colors Guru eFx. Well this book was an easy drop. They are recreating another Fantastic Four and the old Squadron is gone for all intents and purposes. I wanted the Squadron Supreme and instead I’m getting a bunch of new characters. Plus I get Chaykin doing a little moralizing in the beginning of this book and his world view if full of crap. Cancelled.

As I said at the beginning this is an average week for comics but still a lot of entertainment. My number 2 book for the week is Killer and I hope that Archaia Studios does a hard cover collection all ten issues.