Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Marvel Digital Comics - Please Stop

Listen digital comics are coming and they will reduce the print version, but I’ll be there Marvel when I’m ready and trying to force me to be there will just make me go away from your product.

See I’m getting real tired of Marvel trying to shove digital comics down my throat. I’m all for digital comics and everything, but this crap is getting ridiculous. The War of Kings has exclusive digital content; Captain America Reborn has some exclusive crap on Marvel’s site (a prequel http://www.marvel.com/reborn/ ) which at least was free and well done. The problem is until I have a digital comic reader that I can hold in my hand that is close to comic book size, I do not want to read my comics on my computer.

Marvel is pushing so hard to get people signed up on their digital comics that I would not be surprised to see them raise prices higher and higher to try and get people to move to digital. (Memo to retailers: Marvel comics is not your friend, they want to be your competitor.) Until I have a tablet size comic reader that does color well, I will stick with the printed page version. I review PDF file comics and have read some stuff online, but it is not a comfortable read for me. I still prefer to sit in a nice chair and read a comic. When that experience can be replicated with something akin to the larger kindle reader out there for comics, then I will switch.

I know at my age I’m not their target audience anyway, but I’m more on the internet and up to date then at least half of their crowd, so maybe I should be part of that target audience.

With the exclusive digital stuff and prequels Marvel is not making the statement that unless you go online with them you are missing out on parts of the story. Hey if you want to add stuff online, add scripts, add pages showing the artist process from pencils to inks to colors. Have interviews with the creators talking about what went into this book and how many iterations it took to get it right. Background type of material is fine to add as exclusive content, but a policy of exclusion or making the print reader into a second class citizen I think is the wrong way to go. If the only way I can get the whole story is to go online, then I will walk away from Marvel and all of their products no matter how much I enjoy many of their books. The reason is that if I have to do something besides be a loyal fan and buy their books to be taken into consideration, then I say farewell.

In some ways it reminds me of why JMS is leaving Thor. He has no problem with Marvel doing a major event with Thor; it is just something he does not need to be part of at this point in his career. I sensed no hard feelings, just JMS doing what was right for him.

So if I leave Marvel, no real hard feelings, I just don’t want to feel like a second class citizen and unworthy of getting the whole story because I’m not a digital subscriber. Reading comics on a computer (after I spend my working day staring at one) is not how I wish to enjoy my hobby. Right now what Marvel is doing now is borderline pissing me off, but if they push it too far I will save some bucks in the future.

Now when a tablet size comic reader is the norm, I may well be back and will sign up for digital books or maybe by then my interest for Marvel will have waned to a point I no longer care.

So Marvel please let the print readers be included and let your digital subscribers get exclusive behind the scenes contents. Just because we remain loyal print people should not make us second class citizens.

Existence 2.0 - Interview with Writer Nick Spencer

Every once in a while you come across a comic and you think that wow, this is a great book and the creators seem to know what they are doing. Well Existence 2.0 is one of those books and I have to say that in doing the interview with writer Nick Spencer sealed the deal for me with a copy of his answers. Number one the book is a complete story. I hate the three issue mini-series that have come out on occasion where they were the opening chapter in a premise. It was like they think they are going to have a series of mini-series like BPRD or something. Tell me a complete story and let the story end. No harm in leaving room for more, but tell a complete story. Nick tells me this is exactly that. Also Nick tells me his Dad passed on his love of comics to him and Nick is in his late 20’s, Gwen is the same age bracket and guess where she picked up her passion for comics. Love the generational stuff.

Existence 2.0 #1 – Arrives at comic stores tomorrow July 1 from Image Comics.

Jim: Who is Nick Spencer and how did he break into comics? (It is the secret origin question we all love).
Nick: I don't know if my story is too exciting. I'd been trying to sneak into the industry for years, ever since my college days. Bottom line is, I really owe everything to Kris Simon and Jim Valentino at Image Shadowline. I got to know Kris through their "Who Wants To Create A Super-Heroine" contest at Newsarama, and even though I didn't make the cut there, she apparently saw some potential in my work and encouraged me to keep going. I sent several pitches their way, but finally, when Ron came on board with EXISTENCE 2.0, everything just seemed to click.

So, I guess if I have any advice for anyone trying to get in, it's to look at Image Shadowline. It's run by good folks who care deeply about developing and helping new talent, and working with them has been amazing.

Oh, that, and follow the submissions guidelines :)

Jim: Existence 2.0 appears to have some deeper background to it (with the ideas you have thrown out) then will be touched on in the series. How much research did you put into these ideas or are they more off the cuff stuff?
Nick: Yeah, I've done a lot of research on various theories of consciousness and especially the idea of quantum mind. But really, the fastest way to put the brakes on a good action story is to get bogged down in physics lectures. So I use that stuff myself and it's nice for me to know the 'rules' of the transfer, but I don't burden the reader with it too much. In #3, though, we do touch on it a bit in a couple places and I think, for people who are into that kind of thing, it'll make the book a little more fulfilling.

Jim: Making the main character an SOB is a tough choice as it is hard to root for him, did you consider making him a good guy? What was the thought process behind Sylvester?
Nick: I really enjoy the challenge of getting the audience to invest in characters they don't necessarily approve of. To me, it's very easy to just put forward a likable, heroic character who does all the right things from the start. It's more fun to bring the reader in slowly with a protagonist they're not quite sure about, or one they almost pull for in spite of themselves. The key is providing that glimmer of hope that maybe he's not so bad after all, or just making him entertaining enough that they don't care. I think secretly, most of us are drawn to the characters who aren't so nice. It's like that classic line from Vince Vaughn in Swingers-- where he talks about not being 'the guy in the PG movie everyone hopes really makes it happen... they want you to be like the guy in the Rated R movie.' Lotta truth in that!

Jim: This is being sold as a three part series. I have seen too many three part series that just start a series as opposed to telling a complete story. Is this a complete story or the start of a longer story?
Nick: This is a complete story-- beginning, middle, and end. Can we come back to this world and this concept? Yes. But it would definitely be as a sequel. Without giving anything away, one thing I'm proud of with this series is that the ending can be taken as final, or as a springboard to more stories. I think you can enjoy it equally either way.

Jim: Are all three issues completed? I ask because often investing as a reader in a new series gets iffy since you are worried it will not be completed.
Nick: Issue 3 is in production now. The book will definitely be finished, no question about that.

Jim: How did you get together with Ron Salas and what is his background?
Nick: Ron and I met through a mutual friend, Jef Burandt-- who is himself, one hell of a writer; he does a really fun book about his band, called AMERICANS UK-- definitely worth checking out. Jef thought Ron would be a great fit for this book, and boy, was he right. Ron is just so immensely talented, and very dedicated. I really believe he's going to be a big name in this industry in the years to come. It's very rare to encounter someone with that great mix of talent, professionalism, and friendliness.

Jim: The concept certainly lends itself to more then one story. Do you have more Sylvester stories or more stories about mind transference that you can do if this is the smash success it should be?
Nick: I would definitely love to re-visit this world, for sure. As soon as I finished the script for the third issue, my mind was just flooded with ideas for a follow up. There's a lot to explore here and a lot of fun places to take these characters. So hopefully, the audience will respond and demand more.

Jim: I love hearing about the process. Did you do a full script for Ron or a looser outline?
Nick: I did full script, but I tend to keep my panel descriptions pretty brief and not micromanage every camera angle or shot. Being a process junkie as well, I read plenty of scripts, and a lot of times they seem so bogged down in details and so specific in their demands, that I can't help but feel bad for the artist. It's like it robs them of creative input. A good sequential artist will understand how to create an exciting visual better than a writer can in most cases. With this book, Ron's a pro and a very gifted storyteller, so working with him really made it that much easier for me.

Jim: I have never known a writer to have only one story idea. What other ideas do you have in the works (if you can talk about them)?
Nick: Yeah, I'm already starting to develop sympathy pains for editors at SDCC. One of the nice things about the positive buzz on EXISTENCE 2.0 is that it's opened the door to a lot of new collaborations, stuff I'm really excited about. I think it's gonna be a big year, and I can't wait to share some of these other stories and help introduce some amazing new artists. Should be a lot of fun, so stay tuned! I wish I could be more specific, but I will say I'm very passionate about not getting locked into one style or genre, so I think some of the upcoming stuff will surprise people.

Jim: What got you into comic books?
Nick: I was raised on comics. I had them in my crib. My dad loved them, and he passed that on to me. I never drifted away from the medium or took a break, I've been a hardcore reader my entire life. They're my favorite form of entertainment by a mile, and I never want to write anything else. I still can't believe I'm getting this opportunity, and I want to do everything I can to make sure it lasts.

Jim: If the big two come knocking on your door and ask you what character you want to write, who is it and why?
Nick: I'm not gonna lie, I've been a big fan of both companies my whole life, so obviously it would be a lot of fun to play in those sandboxes at least a little. Specific characters? This might come as a surprise, but I've always desperately wanted to do an out of continuity Babs Gordon Batgirl series-- sort of Veronica Mars in the DCU, if you will. That would be a lot of fun. Over on the Marvel side, I'd love to do something with The Inhumans, or something street level with The Black Cat, or something really out there with Deathlok... it's a long list, I guess.

But at the same time, I should be really clear: I love working on my own stories and characters so much. A lot of my heroes, guys like Brian Wood, Brian K. Vaughan, and Robert Kirkman, really spend all of their time and energy on their own properties, and I'd be perfectly happy with going down that road as well. I'm part of a generation that's grown up with Image, so being here is a dream come true for me, and I hope to stick around with them for a long time.

At the end of the day, who knows what the future holds? I just try to tell the best stories I can regardless, and hopefully they find an audience.

Jim: Where can we look for Nick and Ron in the future?
Nick: With this being our first book, I think both of us have really just been focused on making EXISTENCE 2.0 as successful as we can. But I really have enjoyed working with him, and hopefully, we can stick together as a team, either with more EXISTENCE stories or on something else. And that goes for the rest of our amazing creative team as well: Frank Bravo, our colorist, John Lowe, our letterer, and Tim Daniel, who designed those great covers. I definitely hope to continue working with all of those guys.

Tomorrow run down to your comic store and buy this book. This book should be a sell out and we should have protestors demanding more copies of this book. I’m only half kidding. I have not seen such great praise from so many for what are basically new creators hitting the scene. Both of these guys are names we are going to be hearing from and if DC is smart they will sign this guy up right now so Marvel does not steal him like they have wrapped us Jason Aaron, Rick Remender and Andy Diggle. I think Nick Spencer and Ron Salas well be a names we will be looking for in 2010 and beyond.

Best and Worst of Last Week

For whatever reason, I always feel compelled to do some sort of introduction piece and some sort of exit remarks to most posts. Gwen has complained that sometimes in the DC Preview Review she does not know what to say, personally I usually always have some sort of remark to make (shocking I know). Still this week is sort of a blank page for more as I did a fair amount of yard work this week-end and as I type this I’m still recovering from all of a sudden getting in a lot of physical labor on two hot days. At times when I’m mentally exhausted I find I’m physically tired and vice versa.


Detective Comics #854 – Batwoman: Writer Greg Rucka, Art JH Williams III, Colors Dave Stewart. The Question: Writer Greg Rucka, Art Cully Hamner, Colors Laura Martin. There are a lot of things to like about this new series and first and foremost I like that DC took Detective Comics and gave it to a different character as the star. Sure it is Batwoman and therefore automatically part of the Batverse, but Kate Kane is essentially still pretty much a blank slate. I also like that DC respects the numbering of books and we did not get a new #1, but instead have #854. Additionally I think it was an excellent choice to give us the back-up feature as the Question, since Greg Rucka has been shepherding these characters in the DCU since he introduced both of them in 52. Finally what an artist to start out this series with JH Williams III is an amazing artist and is unlike anyone else in the field. For anyone who thinks DC does not have top artistic talent on their side, they need to look at this book. As comics are a visual medium, I have to give it to JH Williams III as he did an outstanding job this issue, From the dark heavily inked scenes when it was Batwoman, to the light lined and less shaded work when she was Kate, the book had a distinctive feel for both halves of the character and by one artist. Dave Stewart matched Williams work with coloring to keep both sides perfect. Add into that JH’s innovative layouts and page design and you have a book that is dynamic and draws you in right from the beginning. Not since Neal Adams has an artist managed to do such innovative page designs and not hurt the storytelling or flow of the book. Many artists will try different layouts and such, but they usually screw up how the hell you are supposed to read the page. Instead of being innovative they hurt the book and the storytelling. Mr. Williams designs work beautifully. Your eye flows from panel to panel and the design of the page enhances the story telling and heightens dramatic moments. See my full review here.

Daredevil #119 – Writer Ed Brubaker, Art Michael Lark & Stefano Gaudiano, Colors Matt Hollingsworth. If you are going to have to leave something you should leave on a high note and that is what Brubaker is doing with DD. Next issue is his last and the set-up to get there is well done. Too often sports stars and people hang on too long or play one season too many and risk tainting the legends, but fortunately we usually only remember the best of their work (Michael Jordan, Johnny Unitas and Stan Lee come to mind as going that one step too far, but we remember their glory). Brubaker appears to be being going out right on top. This issue we find out that Foggy Nelson has been targeted to be killed and as Brubaker’s series started with the faked death of Foggy Nelson, you have some real fear this could happen again. Daredevil is obviously off his game, the Kingpin is off of his game, but Lady Bullseye seems to be pulling all the right strings. The sense of foreboding and the real felling that almost anything can happen is what makes this book such an exciting one. The wrap-up comes up next issue which jumps back to some old numbering and is apparently issue #500 (although I’m starting to think Marvel makes up their numbering out of whole cloth anymore), but numbers don’t matter and stories do and the “Return of the King” has been well done. I had reservations because every writer goes back to Frank Miller’s work on DD, but this is being done so well, that I think it was the right choice at this moment in time. Diggle will have some big shoes to fill when he takes over.

Madame Xanadu #12 – Writer Matt Wagner, Artist Michael Wm. Kaluta, Colors Dave Stewart. I think I may have chosen this book as a best of the week, every time the book is published. I love how Matt Wagner has brought Madame Xanadu up and into the 1940’s and at the same time is using her long life for flashbacks to gives us a richer story. The back story of the Spanish Inquisition and the current story line of the gentleman and his black dog right now feels worlds apart, but I trust that Matt will bring them together. Furthermore in this issue the modern storyline has Dian Belmont, the girl friend of the Golden Age Sandman playing a role in the story. This is another part of the richness that Matt is bringing to this story, but utilizing all of the vast history of the DCU, but telling a more mature story since it is a Vertigo book. Of course we again have Kaluta’s interiors and the amount of line work that he does is tremendous and I can only hope he has art assistants or I fear he will never be able to complete three more issues. Mike’s strong suit has never been monthly comics, so I do worry that he may have to rush some work to make it happen, but he has all the prerequisite skills to be able to tell a comic book story and this period piece fits the strength of his illustrator style. Great story telling and wonderful art, Madame Xanadu is easily one of the best series on the stands.

Northlanders #18 – Writer Brian Wood, Art Daniel Zezelj, Colors Dave McCaig. Daniel Zezelj is an artist whose work I look for and this issue he delivered once again with some absolutely breathtaking work. His work has an almost etched feeling to it and it carries a lot of weight and power. The muted coloring gives the book a black and white feel to it. This is part one of a two part story about three Viking women (Shield Maidens) who are stuck in a castle that is surrounded by tidal waters and they have to defend themselves from a group of Saxons who would like to rape and kill them. One of the geniuses of this book is that Wood crafts different tales of the Vikings from different parts of the history and lets the story dictate the length as opposed to writing for a trade. Also we have not seen the same artist yet and that has allowed each story to have its own mood.


Dark Avengers Uncanny X-Men Utopia #1 - Overall Grade D – To think that this is the best job Marvel could do with a major cross-over between the two big franchises they have, it is embarrassing. Thankfully they have plenty of good books out there as this stuff was just a waste of paper. See my full review here.

New Avengers #54 – Jericho Drum – Brother Voodoo is new Sorcerer Supreme as apparently Dr. Strange got tired of doing it. The whole reason Stephen Strange is not the Sorcerer Supreme is lame in the nth degree. And as much as I like different people taking on the identity of a hero, it needs to make sense and this did not. Let’s face the magical side of Marvel (and DC) has lain dormant for years. The recent revival of Dr. Strange only to have him kick to the curb is annoying beyond annoying. Still I will follow the new Sorcerer Supreme series and Dr. Strange’s mini-series as I want to see what the writers do with them. A bad beginning with poor logic does not mean it won’t work out in the long run. Otherwise this book is suffering from a severe lack of cohesiveness and characters that sound more like the “Seinfeld Show” then Avengers. Plus the Hood gets trounced and is immediately revived by Loki. Okay, but why? If it is so easy to create such a powerful and terrible creature why stop with one hood, why not 100? Even comics need to have internal logic. Bendis seems to think anything goes because its comics and if the reader thinks it makes no sense, who cares the sales numbers support that it works.

Cleaners #4 (of 4) - I was very impressed with the first issue and by the time the series finished
instead of being a neat new series about Trauma Scene Restoration, it turned out to be a vampire tale. Also the bi-monthly schedule really slowed down this story and I lost so many parts of the stories between issues that it did not hang together well for me. As a trade this will work much better. At this time it appears The Cleaners was a one and done as the sales on this mini did not set the world on fire.

Quick Hits

Gotham City Sirens #1 - Writer Paul Dini, Artist Guillem March, Colors Jose Villarrubia. I would like to say that I saved the best for last, but that would be a lie, but I did save the oddest premise for last. I can’t help but to see this as the replacement book for Birds of Prey and instead of good guys we get the semi-bad girl team-up. I wonder if Paul Dini pitched this idea or if Dan Didio wanted some sort of book like this and they kicked stuff around and came up with this or what. Since this odd grouping came out of the blue, Paul had to focus on the why. Why would they team-up? From that standpoint I think Paul found enough of a little hook to make it work. It is a thin premise to be sure and I’m not quite sure it all hangs together, but at least there is a logical reason. The book starts with Selina recounting all that has happened to her lately and she still does not feel 100%. It is because of her fatigue that she is getting beaten up by a third rate hood and Ivy comes around to her rescue. Catwoman is taking to Ivy and Harley happens to be living with Ivy. Now since Harley is nuts, her wanting to live with Ivy makes as much sense as anything with Harley. See my full review here.

Justice League of America #34 – So ends Dwayne McDuffie’s run on JLA and he gives us an explanation of why the Milestone heroes are now part of the DCU. He also gives us an out to pull them out of the DCU in the future. This leads me to guess that the Milestone deal is a limited time deal and comes up for renewal every so often. I hope DC launches two series with back up features (like they have with the Red Circle stuff) as the Milestone heroes should not be introduced and they left to languish in the backgrounds of the DCU. This book was an obvious jam session and rush job, but I see in Dwayne’s run what could have been a great one on this book if it had been left alone to be its own thing. One thing that is a little annoying with Dwayne’s material is the heavy use of almost all minority characters. Changing things up a little is nice, but it seems that Dwayne is often kicking almost every regular DCU JL member to the curb for much of his run.

Dark Reign Elektra #4 (of 5) – This has been an entertaining series and I’m looking forward to its conclusion, but what made me mention this issue is the Electra / Bullseye fight – round 2. Electra wins this one – very well done.

Justice Society of America #28– Jerry Ordway is a very good artist and many of the books he
writes are well done, but I never find his writing to have that certain edge to it that pulls me into a story. I did appreciate that we see the second generation Spectre in this book and it reemphasized for me how important it is to have generational heroes. The second generation of the heroes is what keeps DC fresher to me then the stale characters Marvel has, as they never move onto the next generation.

Literals #3 (of 3) – I’m not sure if I liked this mini-event or not. It ended in only one of two ways it could have ended which is with a deus ex machina or the idea a story can out live its creation. The deus ex machina solution was fine and wrapped up the Literals tale, which was needed. At this point I will be dropping Jack of Fables and look forward to Fables getting back to its storyline and I will have to decide another day if this story was worth it or a meaningless interruption of Fables.

Superman #689 – This book used what has become a comic book convention that for the most part I have grown to dislike. We were treated to page after page of Mon-el’s adventures on earth, with each adventure only taking a panel or two. The idea that we no longer care about the battles with super villains and we only see the opening blow and then we move on is annoying. I still enjoy a well choreographed battle (see Invincible). Still this book has gotten good with Mon-el dying and John Henry under attack from Atlas. Superman without Superman is slowly growing on me.

Ms. Marvel #40 - I like this series and I’m enjoying Moonstone as Ms. Marvel, but why is every comic in Marvel now bringing in Deadpool. The character is stupid and not really funny at all to me. Maybe this is just something I don’t get, but no more Deadpool please. He will soon have two ongoings and another mini-series wasting talent.

Teen Titans #72 – This book makes the cut once more. We apparently have a new writer and he
immediately gave this book more direction then it has had in a couple of years. Wonder Girl is touring Alcatraz and the metas all break out and take her down. The villain behind it the Calculator who blames them for what happened to his kids Wendy and Marvin. The back up with Ravager had a good start and I find that she is becoming one of my favorite characters in the DCU. This book went from endangered species list to back in my good graces. The one thing I thought was lacking was solid art, Joe Bennett’s work is usually much better and it felt a little flat this issue. One other note to the writer, stop the Matt Fraction like captions introducing the heroes or I will can this book.

Secret Warriors #5 – This book is an excellent read and is giving me a book that I have wanted from Marvel for a long time, a Nick Fury book. I still laugh that all the Howling Commandoes seem to be around (maybe they are all the grandsons of the guys from WWII). At least Nick Fury was known to be drinking an immortality serum. Bottom line this book had good battle scenes and some great strategic back and forth between the good guys and the bad guys.

Wonder Woman #33 – Somewhere along the way I lost what the heck is going on with this series. We reached the conclusion of an eight issue story and the final chapter of the battle with the main bad guy was handled as a flashback. Wonder Woman now quits being an Amazon because Zeus is running things and has made a race of man to take over the island and the Amazons are going to be part of that group or something. Genocide was Wonder Woman’s corpse from the future or something. I think Wonder Woman no longer has a secret identity and all of that is my problem. Too much going on and the interweaving of all those stories did not hang together very well. Wonder Woman is better then it was, but it still needs help. Maybe next issue I will understand the new status quo for this book.

What is really cool about comics right now is how excited I am about each week again. It just seems that between some great story telling and my recent purge of my list that even the bad books are at least interesting. Many of the books I did not comment on had pluses also, but after awhile I only comment when the mood strikes me on books that don’t make the best or the worst.

Monday, June 29, 2009

What I’m Getting Wednesday July 1

We are so screwed. Maryland is a one party state and a couple years ago they passed the biggest tax increase in state history in the face of an impending economic downturn. Obviously this did not help matters. Now the US is under one party rule (as it was for a couple of years under “W” and we are saw how that turned out) and we are now screwed again. I would like to apologize to my children and any future grandchildren I may have. My parents built a great country and my generation and the one in-between mine and yours is in the process of screwing it up horribly. This new environmental bill is just icing on the cake of a country that has nationalized it auto industry, bailed out its cronies on wall street and has now fallen prey to the pseudo-religious belief that man is responsible for global warming (now called climate change). Newsflash ice ages come and go like clockwork, one volcano can do more then a billion cars and what we are doing is not that big of a deal and has no basis in science. It is all based on computer projections. The same people who can't tell you when it will rain in the next seven days you are now accepting as gospel. An old computer saying is “garbage in, garbage out”. This bill if finally passed (which is inevitable at this point) is a tax bill and will cost everyone a ton of money and will not help with carbon emissions at all. I really want to find a rationale country and leave the United States, but they are all working on a world government so we are screwed no matter where we go. My hope for the future is faded and where I used to be able to see where things are going I no longer have a vision of what tomorrow will be. I hope I’m wrong and we are all skipping to work with bright sunny days in our solar powered cars and the Federation or United Planets has made money and want obsolete.

The books I’m looking forward to most this week are:

Batman and Robin #2 – The whole Batverse is a great place to be and for me this is the premier book of the group. I’m looking forward to how the whole battle with the Circus of the Strange will play out. The hype “Written by Grant Morrison; Art and Cover by Frank Quitely. "Batman Reborn" continues with the reteaming of Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely (ALL-STAR SUPERMAN, WE3, New X-Men)! In a blazing Gotham City police department, the new Batman and Robin face the bizarre, fighting freakshow that is the Circus of Strange and find that they don't make as good a team as Batman had hoped! Meanwhile, the mysterious Sasha escapes from Professor Pyg and vows vengeance on the people who killed her father.”

Captain America Reborn #1 (of 5) – I’m a sucker for this type of event. Green Lantern and Flash Rebirth are series I followed or I am following and seeing the return of Steve Rogers should be interesting. Marvel even pulled Hitch away from Millar to do this book and left someone else to finish up the FF run, so you know Marvel has high hopes for this book. The company line “Following the events of Captain America #600, Steve Rogers’ closest friends and allies may have found a way to bring back the original Captain America. Or is what they found something more sinister? The Red Skull’s greatest plan to destroy Captain America has been in motion and its completion is almost at hand. Will Captain America be lost forever or will he be REBORN?”

Chew #2 – This book is like the E-bay phenomenon (as was Mouse Guard). When a small book gets a lot of positive press the demand outstrips the actual product very fast. Of course when 3,000 copies might have been printed and you have 3,500 people wanting it, it can get out of hand very fast. Bottom line, the first issue was great and the word for issue two is “It's Tony Chu's first day on the job as a federal agent for the FDA, the most powerful law-enforcement agency on the planet. He's got a new partner who thinks he knows everything, a boss who hates his guts for no good reason, and his first order of business is to eat a decomposing finger found in a fast food cheeseburger. By the end of the day, Tony will ingest rancid sushi, face Yakuza assassins and meet the girl of his dreams. It's all in a day's work for Tony Chu, in the latest chapter of "Chew," a deliciously unsettling new comic about cops, crooks, cooks, cannibal and clairvoyants."

Existence 2.0 #1 (of 3) – I guess I’m no longer officially looking forward to it, but you can; see my review here and my interview with the writer Nick Spencer will be posted Tueday afternoon. The solicitation copy “Self-absorbed physicist Sylvester Baladine finds his consciousness transferred into the body of the hitman who just killed him! Things don’t seem too bad until his daughter is kidnapped by the same people who "killed" him." Don't be the person who missed out - pick this book up!

Irredeemable #4 – I love that BOOM is offering the trade of the first four issues for $10 and issue #5 for $1 to help people jump on this train. So far this has been one of Mark Waid’s all time best efforts. What’s inside “What if the world's greatest hero decided to become the world's greatest villain? The Plutonian's deadly rampage continues. His former comrades-turned-victims are beaten, tired, and searching for hope. A 'twilight of the superheroes'-style story that examines super-villains from the writer of Kingdom Come and Empire!”

Justice League Cry for Justice #1 (of 7) – The new Justice League series that became a mini-series and then the writer of this was named the new JLA series writer going forward. Sounds like a lot of convoluted screw ups at the DC back office again, but still I’m happy to see this book. The marketing pitch “Written by James Robinson; Art and covers Mauro Cascioli. What brings a team together? Justice! Batman and Martian Manhunter have been slaughtered. But he's not the only hero to fall at the hands of villains. The murder has to stop, and it's time to take the fight to the bad guys! Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Supergirl, Atom, Shazam, Congorilla and Starman unite in a cry for justice! This 6-part miniseries from James Robinson (STARMAN, SUPERMAN) and rising star artist Mauro Cascioli (TRIALS OF SHAZAM) pushes our heroes to the brink and beyond as evil can no longer be tolerated to win. But when Prometheus plans his revenge on not only the heroes, but on the very places they call home, will this new team be ready to pay the cost for the justice they seek? This time it's personal – and it'll only get bloodier before it's over!”

The Mighty #6 – I’m always amused that this book and Irredeemable come out at the same time as they have similar themes. Alpha is getting really creepy and the Captain of his support team is very suspicious at this point. DC says “Written by Peter J. Tomasi and Keith Champagne; Art by Chris Samnee; Cover by Dave Johnson. Being the commander of Section Omega has its perks — like a free trip to Earth orbit, courtesy of Alpha One! It may be a beautiful view, but Gabriel Cole had better hope it doesn't turn into a one-way trip! After all, he's beginning to understand just why he's had so many predecessors in his job – and why so few have lived to tell about it!”

Witchfinder in the Service of Angels #1 (of 5) – Another chapter in the Mignolaverse. My one problem with Dark Horse is they are not producing the hard cover collects of Mike’s stuff fast enough. Dark Horse tells us this issue contains “Witchfinder: In the Service of Angels chronicles one of Edward Grey's first cases as an agent of the queen, which takes Grey from the sparkling echelons of Victorian London to its dark underbelly in his first clash with the city's most infamous secret society: The Heliopic Brotherhood of Ra. Mike Mignola teams up with artist Ben Stenbeck (B.P.R.D.: The Ectoplasmic Man) for a look into one of the Hellboy universe's greatest enigmas: nineteenth-century occult investigator Edward Grey!”

The rest of the list:

Agents of Atlas #7Journey to the Deep!! The Agents and the Sub-Mariner face not only a deadly attack beneath the ocean, but Namor and Namora’s budding relationship is hit with some ugly facts of Atlantean history. Also: what does a Lung Dragon dream? Peer into the most treacherous space imaginable, the ancient and diabolical mind of Mr. Lao!

Astounding Wolf-Man #17 - “LOCKDOWN,” Part Three Stronghold prison is under attack! Wolf-Man must now face his most deadly adversary yet! Everything changes as we enter the next stage in Wolf-Man’s life – leading up to the monumental issue 25! That is, if Wolf-Man survives the battle.

Astro City the Dark Age Book Three #3 (of 4) - Written by Kurt Busiek; Art by Brent Anderson; Cover by Alex Ross. The secrets of the Apollo Eleven! The inner workings of PYRAMID! An assault on the First Family! The return of the Silver Agent! A game of Jarts! Charles and Royal get dragged deeper and deeper into the darkness and turmoil of Astro City in the early '80s – only to come face-to-face with the cosmic threat of the Incarnate!

The Authority #12 - Written by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning; Art by Simon Coleby and Cliff Rathburn; Cover by Simon Coleby. The horrifying secret behind the Warhol Infection is finally revealed. And it just happens to coincide with Apollo's return to the Carrier! But it's not the reunion anyone was expecting!

Batman Confidential #31- Written by Peter Milligan; Art by Andy Clarke ; Cover by Guillem March. A new five-part arc begins with an international bang! When a powerful Russian mobster sets his sights on Gotham City, Batman thinks he's ready. But this isn't any ordinary mobster, and he's bringing backup in the form of...a bear? These unexpected foes might just be able to take control of the Gotham underworld – and then the whole city. Can Batman stop them?

Crossed #6 (of 9) - Garth Ennis takes no prisoners and offers no hope in the most intense book of his career! Cindy's patience is tested by her own group as some horrific truths about who they were before the Crossed appeared is unveiled. How evil can people really be? Nothing is going right, but this is no fairy tale - there are no magic cures on the horizon. When civilization crumbles in one terrifying moment; when people are gleefully breaking into unthinkable acts of violence all around you; when everyone you love has died screaming in agony: What do you do? There is no help. There is no hope. There is no escape. There are only the Crossed. This stomach-churning vision is brought to vivid (and more than a little disturbing) life by his partner in crime Jacen Burrows.

Dead Run #2 (of 4) - America has become a wasteland, leaving the few cities that remain transformed into impenetrable fortresses. Nick Masters is a driver, the best there is. If you need something picked-up, delivered, or disposed of, Nick's your man. But when he fails to deliver all hell breaks loose. From the writer of Hexed, Michael Alan Nelson, collaborating for the first time with Eureka creator Andrew Cosby!

Echo #13 - The Army has intensified its search for Julie Martin, and the scientists at HeNRI warn it's only a matter of time before the liquid metal remnants of the Beta Suit she's wearing explode with the power of a hydrogen bomb. Running for her life, Julie desperately seeks a way to remove the metal, only now she faces a new problem: the metal is growing. The Beta Suit is regenerating!

Escape from Wonderland #0 (of 6) - The beginning of the end is here. The final piece to the Wonderland trilogy brings the powerful story of Calie Liddle full circle. Her infant daughter was taken from her arms and brought into the realm of madness. Now Calie must re-enter the one place she has tried for so long to escape. The moment of truth has arrived as the girl who became a woman now sets out to become a hero. The one person who can prevent pure insanity from escaping into this world must now find a way to defeat madness itself. The final chapter of the most intense, riveting and addictive comic book series you have read in years has arrived and this time around there may be no escaping Wonderland.

Farscape Strange Detractors #4 (of 4) - Farscape creator Rockne O'Bannon is back! TV's science fiction masterpiece Farscape continues with the same hit writing team from the first sold out mini-series! Crichton has discovered the cause of why everyone on Moya is out for each other. To cure them, he must shrink down and embark on a fantastic voyage you will never forget!

Final Crisis Aftermath Run #3 (of 6) - Written by Matthew Sturges; Art by Freddie E. Williams II; Cover by Kako. Everything you've come to love about RUN! is on display this month: beatings, fire, explosions, guns, jokes at the expense of the less fortunate, stupid costumes and stupid people. You get all this entertainment plus the shocking chain of events that leads to the Human Flame getting a new girlfriend. It's all downhill from here…

Gravel #12 - Combat Magician William Gravel is playing with powers far beyond his own in this second story arc of his ongoing series! The nature of the game William Gravel's playing is revealed. He has a process for discovering who killed Avalon Lake, and it's as brutally logical as you'd expect from an SAS man. The problem is that all the members of the Major Seven are more powerful than him and have been magicians for a lot longer. How does one man affect a group who are more numerous and more deadly? Well, that's pretty much what the SAS was invented for!

Greek Street #1 - Written by Peter Milligan; Art by Davide Gianfelice; Cover by Kako. You're a boy from the hood. You're brought up rough in a children's home, trying to stay out of trouble but usually failing. Then at 18 you decide to track down your mother. Within hours of finding her, she's lying naked and dead at your feet. So you run to Greek Street. And that's when your troubles really begin… Boasting a cast of sexy strippers, murderous gangsters, body-snatching mad women and a disturbed young girl who can see the future, GREEK STREET is Peter Milligan's reimagining of those brutal and visceral tragedies that graced the Theater of Dionysus in Ancient Greece – bloody tales about incest, homicide, beautiful oracles, all-knowing choruses, kings, monsters and gods – played out on the mean streets of modern-day Red-Light London. Milligan – best known for his super-smart Vertigo work like SHADE THE CHANGING MAN, HUMAN TARGET and now HELLBLAZER– joins forces with illustrator Davide Gianfelice (NORTHLANDERS) to create an epic ongoing series that's both familiar yet completely new and always with the bloody, visceral edge that makes it a Vertigo book. Take a trip to GREEK STREET where the old stories are not through with us yet.

Green Lantern Corps #38 - Written by Peter J. Tomasi; Art and cover by Patrick Gleason and Rebecca Buchman. "Emerald Eclipse" hits its shocking conclusion leading directly into BLACKEST NIGHT. The sciencell riot causes a new law to be doctored into the Book of Oa as Kyle and Guy fight against it. What fate awaits the honor guards, and who will be left standing from the riot that shook Oa to its core?

Invincible Iron Man #15 - Eisner nominee for Best New Series! Tony's on the run and turns to an old foe for friendship. Maria Hill is out of her mind on hunting her prey in the streets of New York City. And Pepper Potts flies in the face of Norman Osborn and all the horrible things he stands for. Oh, but don't fret for Norman, dear readers -- he's got some more horrible things up his sleeve that Tony and the gang won't even see coming. Guest stars and gut shots galore!

Jonah Hex #45 - Written by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray; Art and Cover by Cristiano Cucina. The "Six Gun War" epic continues in part 2 of 6! Jonah Hex recruits another soldier in his war against El Papagayo, and this time it's Blue Eagle! But Hex must hurry, as El Papagayo is preparing to execute his prisoners, Bat Lash and Tallulah Black!

Locke & Key Head Games #6 (of 6) - 'Backstory.' Ellie Whedon is many things: loyal mother, tough coach, embittered daughter, lost soul, Dodge's prisoner and unwilling accomplice. But above all she's a threat to Dodge's safety, the one person who knows the truth about him, and it's time for him to do something about it. Step into Ellie Whedon's tormented memories, and find out how Dodge wound up in that well, in the shattering final issue of the Head Games arc!

Mr. Stuffins #3 (of 3) - 'My teddy bear's a secret agent!' This is it! What everyone's been waiting for: a teddy bear vs. the huge military robot smackdown! The fate of the Tyler family rests in Mr. Stuffins hands err, paws. Paws of fury that is!

Secret Six #11 - Written by Gail Simone; Art by Nicola Scott and Doug Hazlewood; Cover by Daniel LuVisi. A former Wonder Woman is now a slave? That's just the first shock as the Secret Six face a new enemy with a heart of ice and an entire country at his command! All this plus the return of Mockingbird! It's all heading towards a confrontation against one of DC's biggest powerhouses, and the Six don't stand a chance…

Strange Adventures #5 (of 8) - Written by Jim Starlin; Art by Jim Starlin and Al Milgrom and Michael Shoykhet; Cover by Jim Starlin and Rob Hunter. An army of Weird duplicates attacks Adam Strange, Comet and company! Another member of the mysterious Aberrant Six stands revealed – who it is will shock you! And Lady Styx makes her next move!

The Sword #18 - Dara’s battle with the earth-god Knossos finally comes to an end, but in a way she and even Knossos never expected.

Uncanny X-Men #513 - “UTOPIA: CHAPTER 2” WHO ARE THE DARK X-MEN? He has his own Avengers team and now Norman Osborn has his own X-Men team. The other shoe has finally dropped and Emma Frost has betrayed Cyclops and the rest of the X-Men. And that’s just one of the huge surprises in “UTOPIA”. Is that Namor? Cloak and Dagger? Professor X?! The thing that you aren’t ready for is that Osborn is right.

USA Comics 70th Anniversary Special - Marvel continues its historic anniversary celebration – by unleashing the Mighty Destroyer! Before the Punisher there was another one-man army with a skull on his chest! Travel back with us to the desperate days of World War II, when the mystery-shrouded, merciless man with no face struck at the heart of Nazi Germany, deep behind enemy lines! Who is the Destroyer? What is his secret mission? And what does he want with a heavily defended train…and the simple journalist who rides in it? Find out as writer John Arcudi (B.P.R.D.) and artist Steve Ellis (High Moon) unite to shine a cold, hard light on the unstoppable weapon of vengeance! Plus: A classic Mighty Destroyer reprint from ALL WINNERS #3!

War of Kings #5 (of 6) - The high impact, critically acclaimed sci-fi epic rages towards its explosive climax! Last issue’s jaw-dropping cliffhanger has everyone scrambling! Vulcan’s once unbeatable and vast war machine is grinding to a halt! Black Bolt’s forces are struggling to survive! It’s all coming down to the final clash, king vs. king! But where will the other power players place their loyalty, and can anyone imagine a solution as extreme as the one Medusa is proposing? The Universe is about to change forever.

July has so many great things happening, with the continuation of the Batman stuff, Captain America Reborn, Blackest Night and my favorite new project Wednesday Comics. I’m almost giddy in my anticipation of all of these events and to top it off we have our blow out cook out on July 11 (in the area e-mail and come on by) which will be attended by both of my daughters who will be visiting from Florida. Now if the Orioles can have a winning record and someone can stop this train wreck of a US government I’d be slap happy.