Monday, November 30, 2009

What I’m Getting Thursday December 3

December is a great month for many reasons, not the least is that we get Christmas. Of course I get Christmas almost every week with the presents that the comic companies bring to us. This week the Thanksgiving holiday has pushed comic book day to Thursday, but that just means only six days to wait until next weeks books arrive.

This week we have two series coming out that are easily top ten series for 2009. Now I’m in the midst of writing a multi-post summary of 2009 and I’m avoiding a true ranking, but I’m mentioning what I think are the best of the best and Scalped and Echo make the cut. Scalped #33 from Vertigo is out this week and while the publishing schedule has been a little slower then normal, this arc is where it all hits the fan. Hard core, raw and uncut emotions and violence spill out from this book. Echo #17 is simply the best science fiction novel I have read in a while and also happens to be a graphic novel. It is also a great book about relationships and how those relationships can change over even a short time. This is Terry Moore’s magnum opus in the making. Also we are getting Sweet Tooth #4 from Vertigo which is fighting its way into a best series type category.

On the flip side of the coin there are also a few series that I’m wondering about continuing. Not hard core make it or break it issues, just series that need to up the wow factor for me. In that group we have Authority #17 out from Wildstorm, The Great Ten #2 (of 10) from DC, Thor #604 from Marvel and Strange #2 (of 4) from Marvel. Nothing is really wrong with these books per say, just that the each book has to do something a little extra to keep me handing on.

This is a surprising light Batman family week with only Batman Confidential #38 and Batman The Unseen #5 (of 5) hitting the stands. I liked that The Unseen was released every other week as it really kept the pace of the story up. Doug Moench on Unseen shows that he can still write a great comic and with so many creators from years back showing up, Doug is one who I’d be happy to see on a full time basis.

Blackest Night is well represented this week with Blackest NightThe Flash #1 (of 3) and Blackest Night Wonder Woman #1 (of 3). DC has made this the best event to be done in comics in a very, very long time. I usually get tired of all of the events and mini-events, but when done right they can be a lot of fun and garner some excitement. Blackest Night has been the rare event to do that for me.

Marvel has some heavy hitters coming out this week also, with Siege The Cabal One Shot being the biggest. I hope this signals the end of Norman and Dark Reign. It is apparent that the original Thor, Captain America and Iron Man are all coming together after each one experienced a death and rebirth of sorts and they will form the core that wins back the day. I just hoe this is done by April. I think you have to count Marvel Projects #4 (of 8) as another big book, but that has sort of been a quite mini-series. Finally Dark Avengers Annual #1 has to be considered a major piece of the Dark Reign / Seige turning point and could be very interesting.

I’m bouncing all over the place this week so to round out Marvel is Nova #32, part of the Realm of Kings and Spider-Man Noir Eyes without a Face #1 (of 4). The last Spider-Man noir series was my favorite, so I will try out part one of the sequel.

The indys have some good books coming out this week. Absolution #4 (of 6) from Avatar continues Chris Gage’s examination of how far will a hero go to stop the bad guys. From Image we have Atom Eve and Rex Splode #2 (of 3) the excellent back story of Atom Eve continues. Image also serves up Sword #20; the concluding arc is this saga of power and revenge. Rounding out the indy side of the triangle is Supergod #2 (of 5), Ellis view of what would happen if nations could create their own super heroes and Grimjack Manx Cat #5 (of 6) from IDW, which is printing the web comic of Grimjack and giving me a chance to read another John Ostrander and Tim Truman production. Finally we have Existence 3.0 #1 (of 4) a follow up to Existence 2.0.

Vertigo has two other books coming out this week with House of Mystery #20 and Cinderella From Fabletown with Love #2 (of 6). The first issue of Cindy was good and I’m looking forward to more of the same and House of Mystery is a good book, it just never hits any home runs for me. It’s is funny with HOM, because I don’t want to drop it, it is just never highly anticipated.

To wrap up the week DC is giving us Jonah Hex #50, JSA All Stars #1, The Mighty #11 and Superman World of New Krypton #10 (of 12). JSA All Stars should be a good book. The JSA is a favorite group of mine and I think the team needs space to give us more about the different members. By splitting them into two groups and having a writing team (Willingham and Sturges) each guide one book it should be easy to keep the books working with each other.

That’s it for what I’m getting this Thursday, come back next Monday we will do this again next week.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

New Isn't Always Better

Not a comics review today, but at least it was tangentially tied to comics, as I see that the 2009 version of The Prisoner was promoted at both the 2008 and 2009 San Diego ComiCon.

My exposure to the original British series from 1967 is limited to snippets here and there. My first exposure to the show was through Iron Maiden's song about the show, metal head that I was as a teen. "We want...information," and "You are the new Number 6", taken from the show's disembodied voice, in classic British accents, made for a great lead in to the song. Having read a little on the series, I see it didn't last much more than the 6 hours the new mini-series runs. At 17 episodes, this high concept didn't go very far, but had a lasting impact.

What I'm saying is that coming in to the 2009 version of The Prisoner, I'm coming into it fresh, with only the ambiance of the original having any influence on my view of the new version. No nostalgia for the original. No longing for an unfinished story of 42 years gone by. Good thing, too, as the new series had little to do with the original.

AMC, along with British ITV (the original station of the original show), created this new version. AMC showed all 6 hours over 3 consecutive nights from November 15-17. If you missed it, don't sweat it (presuming you want to see it after reading this). It's basic cable. It's bound to be on repeatedly, not to mention going to DVD lickety-split.
While the original show starred a British spy who resigned and was taken as a prisoner to a mysterious Village of unknown location, the new show stars American Jim Caviezel (Jesus in Mel Gibson's gory tale of the crucifixtion) as a corporate employee in NYC who resigns, ostentatiously, from his job somehow related to security or intelligence. I suppose it's supposed to be a Halliburton stand in or some such. Like any good tale of mystery, it starts with its star arriving at his unknown prison. Sort of. He actually shows up in the desert around the prison, waking up lying on the ground just in time to see an old man being chased and shot at by armed men. The soon to be Number 6 is a distance away from both the old man and the chasers, so he works his way toward the old man while seeking cover. He comes upon the old man in a small cave, and the chasers are unexplainedly gone.

The old man tells him to seek a number, I don't recall which now and am not going to hunt for it. I know the number is the designation for a waitress in The Village, but she becomes of little import as the show wears on, so I don't know why the old man thought it important to find her. Anyway, the old man, whose number I also don't recall, dies shortly after 6 finds him. Six then buries him and continues walking until he finds the Village, where all the residential structures are identical, triangular and pink. They're also neatly arranged. To my mind the Village brought recollection of the planned Florida town used as the setting in The Truman Show, a much better telling of manipulation by unseen forces and the struggle for self determination.

The main problem with The Prisoner is that it's so damn obtuse. It's much enamored of flash backs and non-linear story presentation, as well as hefty doses of self absorbed symbolism. I have no idea what 6's motivation is. We don't know why he quit, other than that he discovered some sort of information on another, secretive floor at his employer. He apparently seizes that as an opportunity to buy a six pack and get drunk but picks up a hot stranger on his way home. In fact, said hot stranger is the high point of the show. Lucy/415 is played by Hayley Atwell, a British actress playing an American who is, in my opinion, the hottest actress I've seen since Catherine Zeta-Jones or Salma Hayek. She doesn't get naked for this show, but according to several web sites she's not shy about shedding her garb, so I'm looking forward to catching the full glory of Hayley Atwell some time in the future. The more coy viewing of Atwell certainly gets the imagination going.

Which is probably just about the only time the imagination is stirred in The Prisoner. Othrwise, you're left spending all your time trying to figure out where this mess is going, and even when you get to the end you're thinking "How the hell did we wind up here?" Ian Mckellan, who gets to keep his British accent, plays Number 2, the chief adversary to 6. Ruth Wilson, who also gets to keep her British accent, is Number 313, and the Village's doctor. She's of torn loyalty to both whatever organization 2 represents and 6, who she loves. Why she loves 6, or why 6 has any feelings for her is beyond me. Six has a passionate night with Lucy/415 before he disappears to the Village. That night involves both passionate sex and passionate discussion about what turns out to be their mutual employer, a fact she knew when they met. The next morning, while 6 is buying oranges (which reminded me of "A Clockwork Orange," another superior tale of manipulation by powerful, mysterious forces), Lucy/415 appears to be killed when 6's apartment explodes. So, when the same woman is found in the Village, and 6 rekindles his relationship with her, even though she's now pretending to be blind and without any recollection of their past relationship, it's totally without internal logic, to me, that 6 would abandon his marriage to 415 when 313 kisses him outside the church. Furthermore, 415 runs off, and, after some supposedly deep conversation with 6, throws herself into one of many holes the ground that lead one knows not where.

There's also a bizarre plot thread involving the son of 2, 11-12, who has a gay relationship with 2's top internal spy on dwellers of the Village, which leads to the young man killing his middle aged lover, with the lover's approval. Young 11-12 also eventually hangs himself, which again occurs without any internal logic. The killing of the lover is supposed to have something to do with 2 finding out about the relationship and the suicide has to do with 11-12 waking his mother from a sort of waking dream state that 2 keeps her in with some unknown pills administered daily.

Most confusingly, the entire reality of the Village turns out to be due to this woman being in this fugue. Her waking is causing the holes to nowhere that swallowed 414 and the child of a cab driver who befriended 6. The holes are coming more frequently and threaten to envelop all of the Village. There's interal strife in this otherwise Stepford village, much machination between 2 and 313, and eventually 313 assumes the role of 2's wife as the dreamer who sustains the Village and 6 becomes 2.

I so don't get what was the point of this series. It seemed much enamored of obfuscation. Rather than telling a story creatively and illustrative of whatever point its creators wanted to make, it relied on gimmickry and artistry, in the most negative of senses, to make a pretty picture at the expense of story. While bizarre or muddle created for whatever interpretation a viewer reaches is heralded in the worlds of painting and sculpture, though not to my general taste, it totally defeats the purpose in a medium like TV or film, European existential filmakers notwithstanding. Besides, The Prisoner doesn't seem to have a point, story or not.

Initially it seems to resemble its progenitor in being about self determination. Is the end saying that there is no self determination? Is it saying that sacrifice of free will for the greater good is more important than self determination? If so, why would 6 sacrifice himself or allow 313, who he's supposed to love, allow herself to sacrifice for the preservation of the Village? Up until the end 6 is all about trying to escape the Village to return to NYC. He loathes the Village and its sameness and conformity, as well as the manipulation by 2. Why would he want to save that and become 2? Why not allow the holes to swallow the Village? What little point I can ascertain is not logical to the lead's character. Of course, for a time in the story 6 also works with 2's spy, installing spying equipment on suspect members of the Village, which makes no sense, either.

In some respects The Prisonr reminded me of "The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind", but at least the latter was striving to show the fragility of memory. I don't know what The Prisoner was trying to demonstrate.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Indies Preview Review for January 2010 Part 3 of 3

IDW Publishing
Ghoul #2 by (W) Steve Niles (A) Bernie Wrightson
The Ghoul arrives in Los Angeles and quickly learns that there's more to Hollywood than glitz and glamour-there are also demons invading Griffith Park and a cop named Klimpt, who is convinced an aging starlet is a blood-sucking freak of her own creation. It's the Ghoul versus Demons in this knockdown, drag-out melee of monstrous behemoths! $3.99

Lee: I don’t remember picking issue number 1 which is surprising. But, it’s already been released. So either, the book is bi-monthly or IDW is listing things closer to actual release. I hope it’s the later because a bi-monthly publishing schedule will kill this book. Other than that, Jim says it’s good.
Jim: This was an excellent first issue. I don't think bi-monthly will hurt this book because the mini-series is just underwriting the hard cover and the trade. I just hope this is the first in a series of mini-series as Niles and Wrightson have done two prior series that never went any further but should have.

King Aroo Vol. 01 HC by (W/A) Jack Kent
The Library of American Comics proudly presents a long-neglected classic-King Aroo! Lauded by critics in the pantheon of great strips such as Krazy Kat, Pogo, and Barnaby, Jack Kent's brilliantly conceived world brought smiles to young and old alike with its fanciful array of clever puns, visual humor, and good old slapstick. Includes a text feature by Bruce Canwell, and an introduction by Sergio Aragones. Volume One celebrates the strip's 60th anniversary by presenting every daily and Sunday strip from the beginning in 1950 through 1952. $39.99
Lee: Aroo is a classic daily strip that ran from 1950 through 1964. It’s revered among the strip enthusiasts and from the examples I’ve seen, I agree. It a very fun read, and another case study in how to create art from the simplest of lines. I’m looking forward to this.
Jim: This is one where Lee and I will have to part company. I have any so much of my budget and time I'm willing to put into strip material and this does not make the cut.

Veil Vol. 01 SC by (W) El Torres (A) Gabriel Hernandez
Meet Chris Luna, a cheap private eye with a client list of the dearly departed. Chris has the unique ability to sometimes pierce through The Veil between our realm and the unknown beyond. Unfortunately, it doesn't really pay the rent. Now Chris is broke and has to return home to Maine... and face the darkness that now lurks beneath the surface of her quiet hometown. Includes bonus materials and an Ashley Wood cover gallery. $17.99
Lee: IDW continues to publish one great story after another. Hernandez is a great artist and the premise sounds awesome, so I’m sold.
Jim: IDW is a publisher that you can trust. That doesn't mean every book they do will suit your taste, just that you can take a gamble with less then you might for other publishers.

Wizard's Tale Vol. 01 HC (W) Kurt Busiek (A) David Wenzel
A magical story of redemption! The Wizard's Tale is the story of the aged Bafflerog Rumplewhisker and his young companion, Muddle, the woodcutter's son, as they embark on a quest to retrieve the magical Book of Worse-a tome that will ensure the land of Ever-Night remains as it is, a dark and gloomy realm of evil. But old Rumplewhisker's heart slowly warms on their journey, and a chance to restore a semblance of goodness to Ever-Night is possible-If he and his young charge can dare face the challenges ahead. 136 pgs. $24.99 See Wenzel’s art here.
Lee: I really interested in this but I believe it’s a book with spot illustrations. I say that because, while a great artist, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a sequential page by Wenzel. It seems like a great story ala Asprin’s Myth Series. This falls into the ‘maybe, if I have extra money’ pile.
Jim: This falls into when "hell freezes over" pile for me. This is just not my type of material.

Krazy & Ignatz: Tiger Tea HC (W/A) George Herriman
Krazy Kat's most surreal adventures were the famed Tiger Tea sequence where Krazy Kat imbibed a psychedelia-inducing substance. This is George Herriman at his best in the only full-length Krazy Kat adventure story of his career presented in the same era as Terry and the Pirates and Captain Easy. Krazy & Ignatz in Tiger Tea showcases a rare photo of Herriman sporting a Mexican sombrero and smoking a funny looking cigarette, a perfect addition to this fun, classic trip down memory lane. $12.99
Lee: This is perfect for me! Somewhere along the way I missed Krazy Kat. The entire run has been reprinted but I don’t have any of it. At this point, I really just need a ‘best of’ collection, and this appears to be it. If I like this, I can go get the other material but this is good for now.
Jim: I agree! Krazy Kat is a strip I have wanted to read, but never was willing to jump all in, this is a nice way to see a section of the work and determine if I want more or not.

Last Gasp
Town of Evening: Calm Country of Cherry Blossoms HC by (W/A) Fumiyo Kouno
What impact did World War II and the atomic bomb have on the common people of Japan? Through the eyes of an average woman living in 1955, Japanese artist Fumiyo Kouno answers these questions. Her light, free style of drawing evokes this difficult period in Hiroshima's postwar past. As the characters continue with everyday life, the shadow of the war and the atomic bombing linger ghostlike in the background. A best seller in Japan, Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms is the winner of several prestigious awards and much acclaim. Kouno's beautiful storytelling touches the reader's heart but is never overly sentimental. $14.95
Lee: Last Gasp is certainly not the publisher that I ever thought would handle this kind of material. I always see them as more of an online head shop. Anyway, this looks to be some great historical fiction. The story is actually made up of short interconnected tales which should add lots of perspective. Another book loaded with awards means I’m sold!
Jim: It is an odd choice of publisher for this work, but I have grown to love seeing history through the eyes of people who actually lived it.

Back Issue #38
Back Issue spotlights an in-depth look at John Byrne's influential, much-reprinted work on Fantastic Four - featuring a Norman Rockwell-inspired Thing and Franklin Richards cover by Byrne! Plus, Louise Simonson, June Brigman, and Jon Bogdanove go Pro2Pro on Power Pack, Paul Levitz and Joe Staton reflect upon the Huntress, and art and artist's commentary from the likes of Rich Buckler, Kurt Busiek, and others. $6.95
Lee: If you have any interest in older comics, or if you grew up with comics in the 70’s and 80’s, then this is the magazine for you. I remember reading Byrne’s run on FF as it came out every month, and it still brings back fond memories. Even though I’m pretty sure I’ve read every interview Byrne regarding the FF I’m still getting this. This is just a great magazine.
Jim: The few issues of this mag I have read have been decent, but I find that it has to be a subject I have a deeper interest in then Byrne's FF run.

Juxtapoz: Dark Arts HC
This collection of works compiled by Juxtapoz features today's most talented dark artists, all of whom create a certain mood or emotion in their work that is uniquely theirs. $29.95 Visit the Juxtapoz here
Lee: If you like media arts then this is a great magazine. It isn’t comics but it’s some amazing commercial art. This collection is a best of, so it’s a great introduction. You’d be amazed at the artists who appeared here first and then suddenly starting doing covers for comics. Good stuff.
Jim: I'm sure.

Lee: As I said a couple of days ago, this was a good month. In other words, it's gonna be expensive when it all comes in!
Jim: Expensive seems to be our middle name. Thankfully we have a retailer who gives a discount or we would be holding cardboard signs out on street corners. "Need money for comic collections."

Friday, November 27, 2009


A belated Thanksgiving post. I'm still sticking with my primary topic, but it's a little more melancholy today, as a close friend of my father-in-law, going all the way back to childhood in rural NC, died yesterday. We didn't find out until after we'd returned home from Thanksgiving dinner at my brother-in-law's house across town, but it made the evening more somber, something not alleviated by the Giants losing to the Broncos, the high point of yesterday's football games.

The thrust of my post is thanks. Even before the occasion, it was brought to the forefront of my mind when I took my 10 year old daughter to see Michael Jackson's This Is It. Long ago and far away I had been as much a fan of the Jackson 5 and Michael Jackson as most people my age. The Satuday morning cartoon through Thriller were fun, but after those years his talent was lost in the morass that was his freakishness. His musical ability and just outright entertainment skill was subsumed by the plastic surgeries, the arrested development, and the questionable source of his children, not to mention the one dangled over a balcony.

This Is It was as poignant a film as I've seen in a long while. It wasn't intended to be melancholy or maudlin, but watching the man so adeptly work to create a stage show for the ages caused two reactions for me. First, the man was an entertainer par excellance. He had a vision for the shows in his head and knew his catalog better than anyone. Any song, he knew the rhythm so well as to spot any deviation by his musicians that detracted from the show.

Watching the film, I couldn't help but think that if only the man's entire life had only been on stage, he'd have been so much more the better off for it. If he hadn't had to deal with his father's rants and shortcomings, perhaps his life off stage could have been more balanced, but with the life he did have, life on stage seemed like the best place for him. There he shone.

That led to the second reaction, which was just sadness. Sad without even considering his family, particularly his kids. Sad for the lost opportunities of a longer life. Sad for the loss to all of us in what we could have seen from him. To my daughter, the film was just a nice showing of what would have been in the concerts, but she's not old enough, nor has she experienced enough, to have any more sadness than she first had when he died in June.

So, that experience set me in the mood of thinking how thankful I am to my parents and family for where I am in life, a life of balance and happiness. Even with the loss of those in my parents' generation, becoming more frequent now, as well as the general economic distress of the time, it's a good life and a good time.

Indies Preview Review for January 2010 Part 2 of 3

:01 First Second
Olympians Vol. 01: Zeus King of the Gods HC by (W/A) George O’Connor
This isn't your grandmother's Greek mythology. Myth meets marvel in George OConnor's new series of graphic novels, Olympians, a superhero-sized account of gods and goddesses. Zeus, King of the Gods tells the story of the ruler of the Greek pantheon, from his boyhood to his ascendance to supreme power. Available in Softcover, 9.99 and Hardcover editions. $16.99 Visit George here

Lee: This appeals to me because I love the old greek myths. It doesn’t hurt that O’Conner has published several other books so he’s at least a proven commodity in that sense. And, the fact that :01 First Second is a really picky publisher so the material should be good helps too.
Jim: Well this is just another darn book that Lee is making me buy. I think fans of super hero comics are naturally going to like the old myths as super heroes are a modern myth.

Lee: GOOD FRIGGIN’ LORD does Fantagraphics write long solicitations! I try to cut out some of the fluff but it’s almost impossible because they put very little fluff in there. I’m just venting and WWAAAYYYY down below are Jim's and my comments.

Fantagraphics Books
Almost Silent HC by (W/A) Jason
A DELUXE, HARDCOVER COLLECTION OF FOUR JASON CLASSICS Almost silent packages four original Jason graphic novels - three of them out of print since mid-2008 - into one compact, hardcover omnibus collection. (As the title indicates, this volume favors Jason's pantomime works.) You Can't Get There From Here, the longest story of the book (and the only one to be printed in color - well, a color), tells the tale of a love trian gle involving Frankenstein, Frankenstein's Monster, and The Monster's Bride: Jason cleverly alternates between totally silent sequences involving the three characters and scenes in which Frankenstein's hunchbacked assistant discusses the day's events with a fellow hunchbacked assistant to another mad scientist. (You didn't know they had a union?) Tell Me Something is a brisk (271 panels), near-totally-silent (just a few intertitles) graphic novelette about love lost and found again, told with a tricky mixture of forward- and back-flashing narrative. Meow, Baby is a collection of Jason's short stories and gags, and finally, The Living and the Dead is a hilariously deadpan (and gory) take on the traditional Romero-style zombie thriller. All of these yarns star Jason's patented cast of tight-lipped (or -beaked) bird-, dog-, cat- and wolf-people, and show off his compassion and wry wit. Almost silent is a perfect starting point for a new reader wanting to know what the fuss is all about, and a handsome, handy, inexpensive collection for the committed Jason fan. $24.99

Lee: This is semi-odd choice for me. A while back I picked up another Jason collection called "Pocket Full of Rain and other stories." Did not like it at all, but my store said that I'd picked the worst Jason book of the bunch. So I'm willing to try again. I picked this because it was a collection of older, more established work by Jason. He's a great writer & artist and this is a good way to sample his material.
Jim: See that same store owner loaned a couple of Jason books to me and I really enjoyed his work. Yet I'm voting for Low Moon with my dollars.

Low Moon HC by (W/A) Jason
The acclaimed graphic novelist Jason returns with his most eagerly awaited book yet, thanks to the inclusion of the title story, the world's first (and likely last) chess western. Originally serialized in 2008 to a huge (and hugely delighted) audience in the New York Times Sunday Magazine Funny Pages section, Low Moon made Jason's 2008 appearance at the MoCCA Arts Festival in Manhattan the talk of the prestigious show, catapulting the Norwegian star to an even new level of mass appeal. This 216-page hardcover book features five yarns - all brand new with the exception of the aforementioned Low Moon, which is collected into book form for the first time. The new stories lead off with Emily Says Hello, a typically deadpan Jason tale of murder, revenge and sexual domination. Then, the wordless & tells two tales at once: one about a skinny guy trying to steal enough money to save his ill mother, and the other about a fat guy murderously trying to woo his true love. The reason we follow these two parallel stories becomes obvious only on the very last page, in Jason's inimitable genre-mashing style. Early Film Noir can best be described as The Postman Always Rings Twice meets Groundhog Day. But starring cavemen. And finally, You Are Here features alien kidnappings, space travel, and the pain and confusion of family ties, culminating in an enigmatic finale that rivals Jason's greatest twists. Funny, poignant, and wry, Low Moon shows one of the world's most acclaimed graphic novelists at the absolute peak of his powers. $24.99

Jim: I became a fan of Jason's work via books loaned to me by Rusty, my comic book dealer. Like a drug dealer the first couple are free and then you are hooked. Since this contains four new stories and Fantagraphics always produces quality books this was an easy one to choose. Jason's work borders on the sublime, but his work always entertains.
Lee: It's funny, Jim and I almost never pick the same books. So what are the chances that we would pick two books by the same author in the same month. Odds are pretty low. In this case, I still think the older material is the better way to go. But, as my pick was mostly silent, if you want dialogue, I would get this.

King of Flies Vol. 01 HC by (W) Pirus (A) Mezzo
SUBURBAN HORROR DELINEATED IN A LUSH NOIR STYLE Set in a suburb that is both nowhere and everywhere, King of the Flies is a glorious bastard, combining the intricacy and subtlety of the best European graphic novels with a hyperdetailed, controlled noir style derived from the finest American cartoonists. Mezzo and Pirus, previously best known in Europe for a series of cynical, brutal gangster stories, have abandoned their guns and gals for this cycle of suburban stories, but in King of the Flies the violence has just (for the most part) been interiorized. King of the Flies first appears to be a series of unrelated short stories, each starring (and narrated by) a different protagonist, but it soon becomes obvious that these seemingly disparate episodes weave together to form a single complex narrative, with events that are only glimpsed (or even referred to) revisited from different perspectives - revolving around Eric, a neer-do-well, drug-taking teenager at war with his stepfather and, apparently, the whole world. (He is the titular King.) King of the Flies is designed as a trilogy of albums, which will combine to form a single graphic novel of stunning intricacy and intensity. (Vol. 2, The Beginning of All Things, will be released by Fantagraphics in the Summer of 2010.) $18.99

Lee: Fantagraphics has started reprinting some excellent Euro crime fiction. We recommended West Coast Blue a couple of months ago and it's was great. This looks to be more of the same. If you like crime, don't miss this.
Jim: See I really want to get this, but even I limit my budget. I'm started to feel that it maybe time to cut back on regular comics and head into this material even more.

Unloveable Vol. 01 HC by (W/A) Esther Pearl Watson
Hardcover (pink cloth with sparkly blue glitter) 416 pages / two-color / 5.75 x 5.75 A SOON-TO-BE TEEN CLASSIC Loosely based on a teenager's diary from the 1980s found in a gas-station bathroom, Unlovable is the remarkable story of Tammy Pierce, as filtered through the pen of Los Angeles artist Esther Pearl Watson. This remarkably touching and funny graphic novel tells the first-person account of Tammy's sophomore year in 1985, from the first day of school to winter break. Though building a devoted following over the last several years in the pages of Bust magazine, where Unlovable continues to be serialized, this is the first-ever collection of Unlovable and Watson has created over 100 new pages for the book, which details the sometimes ordinary, sometimes humiliating, often poignant and frequently hilarious exploits of underdog Tammy Pierce. Her hopes, dreams, agonies and defeats are brought to vivid, comedic life by Watson's lovingly grotesque drawings, filled with all the eighties essentials - too much mascara, leg warmers with heels and huge hair - as well as timeless teen concerns like acne, dandruff, and the opposite sex (or same sex, in some cases).Unlovable is about the rawness of trying to figure out who you are in a very public and humiliating way. I have always found teen coming of age stories to be from a male point of view, says Watson. Growing up, I always wanted to be a tomboy so I could relate to characters on TV and in the movies, like Batman or Ferris Bueller. But in high school a lot of life as a girl was confusing and went un-addressed. Unlovable addresses these mysteries through Tammy's naievete; girls and women in particular will find much that resonates.In the epic saga that is Unlovable, Tammy finds herself dealing with: tampons, teasing, crushes, The Smiths, tube socks, facial hair, lice, celibacy, fantasy dream proms, gym showers, skid marks, a secret admirer, prank calls, backstabbers, winter ball, barfing, narcs, breakdancing, hot wheels, glamour shots, roller coasters, Halloween costumes, boogers, boys, boy crazy feelings, biker babes, and even some butt cracks. Tammy's life isn't pretty, but it is endlessly charming and hilarious.Unlovable will be handsomely packaged in a unique hardcover format with sparkly blue glitter that would make Tammy proud. $22.99 See Unloveable here

Lee: And now for something completely different. I'm not sure it's for me but I can think of lots of people that would really enjoy this. If I was younger, or my girls were just a wee bit older, I might get it just so I could have a clue as to how a female teenagers mind works.
Jim: I'm sure as hell not the target audience either. PASS!

Kazu Kibuishi’s Copper HC by (W/A) Kazu Kibuishi

Copper is curious, Fred is fearful. Together, boy and dog are off on a series of adventures through marvelous worlds, powered by Copper's limitless enthusiasm and imagination. Each story in this collection is a complete vignette, filled with richly detailed settings and told with a wry sense of humor. These two enormously likable characters build ships and planes to travel to surprising destinations and have a knack for getting into all sorts of odd situations. :This definitive collection of the popular webcomic includes all-new comics and stories, and a special section on the making of Copper. Available in Softcover, $12.99 and Hardcover. $21.99 You can see Copper pages here

Lee: I picked this last year (year before?) because it looked really cool. I didn’t get it at the time but I’m getting it now! Why the change? I’m a sucker for a hc. The story and art still look great and it’s got rave reviews all over so I’m sold.
Jim: It looks amusing, but this is another pass. If I dropped comics all together and spent like a drunken sailor I might be buying this.

Hermes Press
Land of the Giants Complete Series HC by (W) Irwin Allen (A) Tom Gill
Based on the classic Irwin Allen television series, the Land of the Giants comic, originally published by Gold Key comics, returns in a single volume. The series features stunning artwork by Lone Ranger artist Tom Gill. In addition to the complete reprint of all five issues, the collection features essays about the show, behind-the-scenes and never-before published documentary photos, blue-prints, models, design artwork, and more! $39.99

Lee: Wow. This is for the series comic diehards. I’d wager that our readers under 30 have NO CLUE what this is about. Even at my ripe old age of… older than Gwen, younger than Jim… I have nothing more than a passing notion of the original television show. Add to it that Tom Gill was basically a Charlton artist and this has a very limited target market. Let me know how it is.
Jim: And if you saw the show and still wanted to read more about it, you would be a moron. Maybe a little harsh but this show was cheesy and part of an era that did not age well.

IDW Publishing
Adventures of Simone & Ajax GN by (W/A) Andrew Pepoy
Mix: one wacky girl with one tiny dinosaur; Result: Big Fun! Presenting three full-color, zany tales of Simone & Ajax: The Case of the Maltese Duck, A Christmas Caper, and Simone, Queen of the Jungle. Also includes extras by Eisner-winning Andrew Pepoy (Fables, The Simpsons) Try it, and join the adventure! $19.99 Read Simone & Ajax here

Lee: And yet another webcomic get the paper treatment. Simone & Ajax originally ran at Comic Mix and you can still read several issues there. In the trade they’re adding color which is good. Overall, Pepoy is a proven artists and the stories are pretty funny. This is worth checking out.
Jim: It is nice to see these webcomics generate collections that are being published. The biggest post we ever had was Gwen's interview of a webcomic producer.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Superman Secret Origins #3 - A Review

Superman Secret Origins #3 (of 6)

Publisher DC Comics

Writer Geoff Johns

Pencils Gary Frank

Inks Jon Sibal

Colors Brad Anderson

Price #3.99

Format : 30 Pages of Story and Art

Not only is the actual issue itself well done, the story beats and the structure of the entire mini-series is also well done. If the complaint before was the first two issues were too much a reflection of the Smallville show, then the complaint this issue is it was too much like the first Superman movie with Christopher Reeves.

The comparisons are inevitable as Johns and Frank are obviously paying tribute to that movie and incorporating the Clark as the clumsy nerd persona into Clark moving to Metropolis and getting a job with the daily planet. In addition to that Frank has used Reeves as his model for Superman and manages to pull off the classic Superman looks along with the essence of Chris Reeves’ Clark Kent and make it work.

Let’s start with the cover of this issue, which throws me off as we have Clark, Lois, Perry and Jimmy all on the cover with the Daily Planet globe as the backdrop. A perfect cover to tell us what part of Superman’s life we are focusing on here, but the look in Jimmy’s eyes as he looks at Clark should be either reserved for Superman or Jimmy is no longer straight and he has a crush on Clark. Not a big deal, it was just a small thing that threw me off as I started to read the book.

Johns starts off with Clark looking on the sidewalk in Metropolis in awe of all the big buildings and the farm boy is dazzled by the big city. Having visited and then worked in New York City for a little while, Johns captures the essence of the jaded nature of the citizens and the awe of the tourist. We also get a clear picture of how important Lex Luthor has become as apparently he chooses one person a day to fix their life. This has become a lottery and a mass of humanity is awaiting Luthor’s grand entrance into his building everyday. I thought this was great as it plays into what type of ego Luthor has that would want him to have his subjects hailing his name everyday. He is a King, but one that has to be brought and paid for, great stuff. It packs in tons of characterization without doing it as exposition and it is part of the narrative form of the story. Johns is growing more and more and his writing ability is now extremely strong.

The next segment of the story is also done to a “T” as we get to see the Daily Planet. It is a down on its luck paper that has apparently lost the war against Lex Luthor and has been emasculated by its publisher. We get to meet Lois Lane, Perry White, Steve Lombard, Cat Grant and Jimmy Olsen. All much younger then they are now and all trying to survive against the odds. Jimmy is an intern working for no pay trying to become a photographer and we learn he has dropped out of school. Perry is the editor who knows his business, but was the one who went after Luthor trying to expose him and lost, causing his paper to now be playing it too safe. We still see how smart he is as he is trying to mold Lois into the journalist he knows she can be. This Lois is a cynical woman, who has no objectivity when it comes to her reporting and Perry points that out as a problem. Without ever having to actually say it we can see where this is going. When Superman appears the Planet’s coverage of him will save the paper. Lois will lose her cynicism, but keep her skepticism, Jimmy will get the pictures of Superman in action to help him become the newspaper photographer that he wants to be. None of these points are stated at this time and since this is a “not so secret origin” it does not matter if certain things are telegraphed as we already know where some things are going. What we did not know is where each character was in their life when Clark first comes to Metropolis.

The final story beat involves Lois grabbing Clark and dragging him into a harebrained scheme of hers to get into a press conference held by Lex Luthor. The Daily Planet has been banned from covering them so she uses Clark as a distraction as she tries to get into the conference. Clark is stuck on the ground below as Lois is at the rooftop press conference. The security team identifies her and then through a series of mishaps Lois falls off the side of the building. This leads to Clark going into the alley and the classic opening his shirt to see the Superman costume underneath. He of course saves Lois and now the world knows we have a Superman. The story ends with Clark remembering advice from his Dad that once he reveals himself to the world he can’t take it back and Clark is worried he may have made a mistake.

Another nice touch was never once seeing Lex in the book. He is a presence and a major element of everything that is happening, but we never actually see him. Also the big invention is a suit of armor made of metallo and the armor has both purple and green in its color mix. I loved all of these little things that foreshadow other parts of Superman’s history that we know are coming into Superman’s life down the line.

The artwork is again outstanding. Gary Frank has eliminated his penchant in making his woman a little garish and Lois looks great. He spots some great one page panels and mixes in some wonderful sight gags. Gary Frank, along with inker Jon Sibal, has elevated their game with this series. Gary has always been on the photorealistic side of things, but the depth of detail in this book is amazing. The layouts are spot on, the character designs are all wonderful, he makes everyone age appropriate also, which is difficult to make someone look in their 20’s but not too young or too old. Also his expressions are so well done that often words are superfluous and to Johns’ credit are kept to a minimal as he knows when to let Frank tell the story. Finally Brad Anderson’s coloring is beautiful. It is the super hero palette but the color intensity level has been turned down a few notches keeping it a little more real and enhancing the book and never overwhelming the art.

Overall Grade – A. This was a wonderful re-telling of a tale well known to all, but since continuity has been a fluctuating element for Superman, a needed one to let us know what is “in continuity” and what is not. Johns continues to grow as a writer and Frank is matching Johns’ script.

Happy Thanksgiving

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Giant Size Thor Finale One Shot – A Review

Giant Size Thor Finale One Shot
Publisher Marvel

Writer J. Michael Stracynski
Pencils Marko Djurdjevic

Inks Danny Miki with Allen Martinez & Marko Djurdjevic

Colors Christina Strain

Price $3.99

Format 23 New Pages Story & Art, 6 Page Preview of the next regular issue of Thor and 13 Page re-colored reprint of Lee and Kirby’s first Thor story.

Ok let me first say this was a great comic and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I was reading it and enjoyed the beginning, the middle and the ending, which felt a little rushed. Then we get the couple page preview of the new team on the book and then we were given a reprint of the first appearance of Thor, which was re-colored in the modern way and then I said “WAIT A MINUTE” what the frell was this? The actual story was only 23 pages long and was essentially just another regular issue of Thor. I loved this book and the story, but I feel like Marvel just F*&% me again by charging $4 for a regular issue and calling it a Giant Size book making me think JMS was getting some extra pages to go out with a bang. Instead it was a marketing grab by Marvel to take an extra buck out of my pocket and make feel like I was someone’s girl friend in prison. It just sucks that Marvel has to taint my enjoyment of what was a good issue and a nice way for JMS to leave the book being on top of his game.

The story opens where the last issue left off. William, the mortal love of the Asgardian Kelda, is dying after being attacked. Balder comes in and after being informed by William of what Loki and Doom are doing begins to fight off the Asgardian henchmen of the evil duo. Balder appears to be almost beaten when William makes a heroic effort with his dying strength to save Balder. Balder is now aware of Loki and Doom’s machinations and is alerted that he has led his people the wrong way.

We also see the showdown between the enhanced Doombots and Thor. The Warriors Three and the Lady Sif defend Dr. Blake as the Doombots strike. We get to see one of my all time favorite scenes as Volstagg takes on the Doombots and is shown as a hero. He loses his clothes and we are given some great humor as Sif comments on other attributes of Volstagg that have increased his legendary status.

From there Donald Blake finds his cane, but before he strikes it, the a Doombot shoots a bolt of enjoy and wounds Blake’s back. He succeeds in changing and Thor dispatches the robot and then checks Donald Blake into a hospital and we find that the injury will cause him to have a bad leg for the rest of his life, which brings Thor back full circle as his human side is the lame Dr. Donald Blake and his god side is Thor.

This story had so many elements that were good in it, but it was still a little rushed. I can’t believe that JMS was moving the story as fast as he did this issue and therefore the pacing was off kilter. Still we saw a lot of important story beats and he left a lot of fertile ground for other writers to plow. The preview scared me a little as Kelda was seemly dispatched by Doom pretty easily and this is a character that JMS had been slowly building. Time will tell how this will work out for the series, I’m in no rush to prejudge it.

Marko Djurdjevic did a beautiful job on the art. This guy’s art work doesn’t take a back seat to anyone. Every time I see his art in Thor I’m impressed, in other books his work is a miss at times and I’m yet to fully understand that, unless inking is saving or killing him.

I will continue to follow Thor as my interest level in the character is at all time high, but I can’t help but to think where JMS would have taken this book if Marvel did not feel a need to interfere and bring Thor into the MU. If the sales were off on the book I could understand it, but JMS’s Thor was a top seller, why mess with success.

Overall Grade A, I almost gave it a “B” since price and format account for part of the calculation of how I grade a book, but the book was very well done.

Indies Preview Review for January 2010 Part 1 of 3

Lee: Another month, another big selection of indies. Lots of good stuff this month between the older, getting reprinted again material I missed the first time and new stuff. Not to mention, a fair amount of stupidity that's easy to ridicule. A glorious month indeed.
Jim: The indie material is always a little odd because the market does constantly push older books or will re-release older material. Also many of the publisher's websites make it difficult to even know what is coming out or when.

Meanwhile: Pick Any Path 3856 Story Possibilities by (W/A) Jason Shiga
Follow the tabs to create your own story in this innovative interactive graphic novel! Chocolate or vanilla? This simple choice is all it takes to get started with Meanwhile, the wildly inventive creation of comics mastermind Jason Shiga. Jimmy, whose every move is under your control, finds himself in a mad scientist's lab, where he's given a choice between three amazing objects: a mind-reading device, a time-travel machine, or the Killitron 3000 (which is as ominous as it sounds) Down each of these paths there are puzzles, mysterious clues, and shocking revelations. It's up to the reader to lead Jimmy to success or disaster. Each read creates a new adventure! $15.95 You can visit Jason here and see lots of examples, even read entire books on his site.
Lee: This works for me on two levels. The first: I love create a path books. They were always fun… except for that one in fourth grade. No matter what I did I always ended up in the maze and could never get out. That book sucked. ANYWAY, how can this book not be fun with a Killitron 3000. After that, it works because I bet that Shiga has loaded this thing with adult humor. After reading a couple of books on his site, his is a very twisted sense of humor that matches Johnny Ryan’s worst excesses.
Jim: Yeah, if I was in fourth grade maybe this would sound like fun. No matter how twisted his humor this concept is not getting me to even consider a buy order.

Amaze Ink/Slave Labor Graphics
Widgey Q Butterfluff Vol. 01 GN by (W/A) Steph Cherrywell
Widgey Q. Butterfluff is the most sickeningly cute person in the Snugglepump Valley, a place that has been stuck on Saturday Morning for over 20 years. With little more than a sunny personality, the titular heroine takes on the full range of kiddy-cartoon villains, from teenaged ennui to armored skeletons to timeslot-appropriate drug metaphors. This original graphic novel introduces us to a cast of characters to appeal to the cartoon-junkie in all of us. $9.95 Previews here
Lee: And here we have another book that just appears to be for kids. The cover may look kiddie but the story is pure high school giggles. And I mean that in a positive way. The preview provides a great sense of what this is about.
Jim: Has all the earmarks of a great satire and is poking fun at some stuff which begs to be ridiculed.

Antarctic Press
President Evil: Yes We Cannibal #4 by (W/A) David Hutchison
Washington, D.C. is now completely overrun with the undead. While it's an option he never wanted to employ, Ba-rot has no choice but to wall up the zombie-infested city! The embattled President then makes his way to the nation's new capital in...Honolulu!? $3.99
Lee: This is just ridiculous. I’m not sure if I made fun of this before or not but everytime I think we’ve reached a new low… someone goes lower.
Jim: This is the dark side of reaching super popularity with a certain set of people. Of course that Spider-Man issue selling a million copies doomed poor Barack to being featured in a lot of comics he will never see or read.

Archaia Entertainment LLC
Tumor w/Dust Jacket HC by (W) Joshua Hale Fialkov (A) Noel Tuazon

Frank Armstrong has an inoperable brain tumor that's killing him. In his final days, with his body, senses, and mind failing him, he's going to do the one thing that he's never been able to do before - save the girl. After debuting on the Amazon Kindle and holding the #1 spot on the Kindle Graphic Novel Bestseller list for over two months, Archaia is pleased to bring this acclaimed graphic novel to print! $14.95 There's a preview of the first chapter here
Jim: Joshua Fialkov has done some good work with the couple stories of his I have read and this has a great premise. Since I don't have a Kindle I will happily settle for actual paper.
Lee: The book sounded interesting but the "biggest Kindle Seller" sounded forced and hokey so this was going to be a pass for me. Then I realized that Fialkov did 'Elk's Run' which I loved. (NOTE: Go find a copy Elk's Run... it's very good.) Then I found the previews, read the first chapter and now I'm sold. The arts a little coarser than my normal tastes but it works.

Avatar Press Inc
Absolution #1 (Big Apple edition)

The perfect place to jump aboard Absolution as Paul Duffield delivers this new cover that was previously only available at Big Apple Comic-con! This special edition first printing is limited to just 1500 copies and available for the original cover price! $3.99
Lee: And here I thought Marvel had cornered the market on gore. Avatar takes tasteless to a whole new level with a bloody upskirt shot. Yeah. This is great!
Jim: Avatar and bloody almost soft porn cover shot, sounds like Avatar of old. They have grown past this and doing even a special edition cover like this sets back their new reputation they had been building.

Bluewater Productions
Logan's Run #1 by
(W) Paul Salamoff (A) Daniel Gete
Logan has been trained to kill; born and bred from conception to be the best of the best, but his time is short, he's nearing the end of his life. Age 21, when every citizen reports for Deep Sleep. But before his life ends he's got one final mission: Find and destroy Sanctuary, a fabled haven for those that chose to defy the system. William F. Nolan's masterpiece of dystopian future once again races into the 23rd Century with this all-new adaptation of Logan's Run. $3.99
Jim: I can't believe someone wants to try and trot this concept out again. It was a fun and different movie for its time, but that time has long since past. Plus all the people who said don't trust anyone over 30 are now in their fifties and sixties. Some concepts fit in a time and place, and Logan's Run is one of those.
Lee: I was wondering where you would go with this. I loved LR as a kid. To this day, I still force my wife to watch it every time it comes on. I think the concept is still very good, just not for us. Probably because we're both over 30. My only concern is can it live up to the old Marvel series. Which while possessing over writing typical of the 70's, the Marvel series had great art by Perez and Golden.

Boom! Studios
Donald Duck Classics Vol. 01: Quack Up HC by (W/A) Carl Barks
Whether it's finding gold, journeying in the Klondike, or fighting ghosts, Donald will always have help with Huey, Dewey, Louie, his much more prepared nephews, by his side! Carl Barks brought Donald to prominence, and it's only fair to start off the series with some of his most influential stories! $24.99
Lee: This is pure Duck loving excitement. I hope that Boom does more and more Duck hc’s so I can talk about them every month. If you (Jim) haven’t read them yet you should!
Jim: This is a shocker, Lee picking Duck books. Thankfully Boom picked up the rights to this material or Lee would have been duckless.

Dingo #2 by (W) Michael Alan Nelson (A) Francesco Biagini
Dingo thought all his problems were behind him. Sure, his brother asked an impossible favor. Yes, a gigantic, feral dog started following him. Of course, his angry ex-wife came (violently) back into his life. But that was all behind him, right? Nope. Dingo was wrong. And now he's on the run for his life. Throw in some dark magic and a family secret that refuses to stay buried, and you won't want to miss this issue! Covers by Biagini and Paul Hormon. $3.99
Lee: So, I picked this because a little voice told me too. Said little voice called out to me and said “HEY! Why didn’t you pick a Boom book? You got something against Boom books? You better pick a Boom book… dramatic pause… if you know what’s good for you.” That’s what the little voice said. So I’m picking this book. And, you know who you are little voice so leave me alone ya big nag!
Jim: Was the little voice coming from a far off land called California? Michael Alan Nelson has crafted a lot of great stories for Boom over the years that are across a lot of genres. No worries about a franchise character, just good stories and almost always worth the admission price.

Drawn & Quarterly
Hicksville GN (definitive ed.) by (W/A) Dylan Horrocks
One of the first acclaimed contemporary graphic novels is now back in print with a new cover and new 16-page drawn introduction by Dylan Horrocks. Considered to be a classic by many, Hicksville was named a Book of the Year by The Comics Journal and received nominations for two Ignatz Awards, a Harvey Award, and two AlphArt Awards. $19.95 Visit Dylan here
Lee: Slowly I’ve been working my way through all the great books of previous years. This is one that I’ve always heard about but never read. And, as everyone knows, I believe in the awards so I’m getting this.
Jim: I know Lee's thoughts on this, but the solicitation copy is horrible. It never gives us a clue as to what the book is about.
Lee: That's a really good point because the ad copy is terrible. If I hadn't heard buzz about the book before, then I would never have been interested.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Best and Worst of Last Week

I’m trying to limit my commentary which means the Quick Hit section will be changing to include fewer books. I find that this column gets to long and I went to Best/Worst to shorten it and then I noticed I was starting to comment on every book. I have to curb my need to remark on every book. Often a book comes out and it was a good episode of the book, but really needs no commentary. If I really love it or hate it will make the best or worst list. Still I want to leave the option to make remarks on books that I think have some merit for commentary, like with the Authority the Lost Year #3, now issue #4 of that book could be good, but if some surprising cool thing or bad thing did not happen, then I need to leave it alone.


Realm of Kings One-Shot – Writer Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, Art Leonardo Manco and framing sequence Mahmud Asrar, Colors Bruno Hang. This issue gave us a great menace that has potential to allow this series to grow beyond just the cosmic side of the Universe and if they want it could lead to a major showdown with all of Earth’s heroes. The short story is Quasar enters “The Fault” which is the rift in time and space created at the end of the War of Kings. When he enters the Fault he crosses over in another universe and runs into an alternative version of the Avengers. In this reality the Avengers have given themselves up to a Cthulhu type creature. (A quick side note it is amazing how often Lovecraft themes stray into comics and I often wonder how many have read the source material.) As they have drained this Universe they are in need of a fresh place to exploit and have decided to use Quasar as a guide. Quasar escapes and we are not sure if it is our Quasar or the bad guys version who makes it to Earth, since he has the red eyes as all the evil Avengers did. The story has more elements then what I have mentioned, but with Manco's terrific art on the heart of the story it looks as good and these evil Avengers have a creepy vibe to them. All in all I hope this story line is followed in at least GOTG. I have a feeling that the Realm of Kings is going to build up to a major mini-series next year as many of these story lines have kicked off and then gone into mini-series which lead up to the main story after those series are over.

Invincible #68 - Writer Robert Kirkman, Pencils Ryan Ottley, Inks Cliff Rathburn, Colors FCO Plascencia. In order to understand one of my main reasons for liking this book is we only have to start with the first page. We see Invincible trying to clean up some site that was destroyed when his doppelgangers wrecked a lot of the planet. He has braces on various body parts, which are obviously casts for a super hero as he is still recovering from his battle with Conquest. Everything that had happened in the last eight issues or so, were being reflected in the splash panel opening the book. Invincible is them attacked by Dinosaurus, a talking thinking Dinosaur creature, that we find out is just a teen-age kid who claims he is not controlling the transformations. The character is at once ridiculous and also a cool little one off menace. In a short four page fight Kirkman gives us a character we could see again and he could be a bad or good guy. What he did was show was Mark (Invincible) Grayson’s dark side as Mark was contemplating killing Dinosaurus when he was human. From there we see Mark suffering through meeting Eve’s parents. Those scenes were great human interest pieces filled with humor and show the growing relationship with Mark and Eve. We see Mark and Eve out selling Invincible as a service so Mark can make money on his own now that he is no longer government funded. See my full review here.


Punisher #11 - Writer Rick Remender, Art Tony Moore, Colors Dan Brown. I love having fun with characters and having humor in many books is a good thing. Hercules from Marvel does a great job with humor and Power Girl from DC is a book where humor is sprinkled throughout the book and it works well. Even books like the Giffen/Dematteis JLA did a good job with humor. Humor can be found in all sorts of books and situations and you can have a funny page on page one and a serious encounter by page three and it can work, but it has to be within the context of the character and still show the character some respect. The FrankenCastle story is a joke, but it is on us. The Punisher at its core is an over the top concept, but you have to approach the character with some respect. Frank is human and does what he does because he believes that killing the bad guys is the only way to stop them. Given what happened to him we can at a minimum understand why he believes what he does is right. Maybe we also have a secret fantasy that his way is the right way because we see miscarriages of justice occur in our legal system and want to forget that we rather err on the side of caution to protect people then kill everyone and let God sort it out. See my full review here.


Adventure Comics #4 – I understand the charm in trying to have a self referential work, but this was just too cute. I’d rather have had more of Conner Kent as opposed to Superboy Prime on Earth Prime. The Legion of Super Heroes back up feature is the only thing that saved this book from being a worst of book. I loved the whole set-up of the former White Witch and Blok, plus the Wildfire / Dawnstar relationship was well defined.

Authority The Lost Year #3 (of 12) – I was worried that I would not be able to get into this story, but after three issues it has really gotten my interest. We are suckered into thinking we are on our own Earth or something but the twist is they are on an Earth that is ruled by Cthulhu. The Authority’s power is not as great as they supposedly should not exist in this reality. Will they try to save the world or just escape from it.
Brave and Bold #29

Cowboy Ninja Vikings #2 – The second issue was good, but the single color tone being an almost pink did not work like the light blue did last time. I’m enjoying this madcap adventure and love Riley Rossmo’s artwork. The art seems to be even more glorious given the larger golden age size canvas. I don’t know if it would work better for everyone, but I’m hoping more people try this size more often. As a four issue mini-series I think this will be a blast, as a long term ongoing series I don’t know if the gimmick of the triplets last forever and what type of world would need to build to keep Duncan entertaining. Some concepts lend themselves to unlimited storylines, this concept seems limited to a few adventures, but I’m in for the long haul and willing to be proved wrong.

Dark Avengers #11 – This was a strong issue where we get to see the Molecule Man show off his power. Of course there is no team, just people that he has created to be his friends. I’m curious to see where this goes, especially as I’m unfamiliar with the Molecule Man’s current history, he seems mentally unstable, but has godlike power, so where has he been? Even though I have enjoyed the last two issues of this book the Dark Reign concept needs to end, it has more then run its course. It appears Siege will be the end of the concept, but even Siege is too far away and the Siege series runs till April.

Farscape Ongoing #1 – Just a continuation from the last mini-series. As a fan of the show I can only tell you they have captured the essence of that show and continued on with it. If you were a Farscape fan and you are not getting this book, you are making a mistake.

Flash Rebirth #5 (of 6) - Lots of new costumes, bigger boobs for Liberty Belle and some more time travel confusion, but I liked it more then I have. It is doing some good ground work in setting the foundation for who Barry is and giving us the full Flash family type of stuff. In trying to rebuild the Flash franchise Johns is breaking some eggs and it is a little messy, but the ultimate outcome maybe very good, the next issue should give us a final answer.

Irredeemable #8 - Writer Mark Waid, Art Peter Krause, Colors Andrew Dalhouse. For seven issues we have been learning about the Plutonian and all the secrets behind what have driven him over the edge. We learned about his super hearing allowing him to hear the jeers as well as the cheers, the whispers about him thought to be behind his back. This was a nice little thing to throw out there because everybody is ripped behind their back by acquaintances and co-workers. Often it is in fun, but it maybe mean spirited and if we heard all these things it might eat away at us.We learned that his girl friend rejected him. He had hidden his secret identity away from her and when he finally revealed who he was, she freaked out and walked away. We have been trained to expect the girl to swoon and love that it is the hero, but in real life the reaction was more natural. She had been falling in love with a façade and not a real person, the trust had been broken. She was not going to jump into bed and be happy after finding out the man she loved, was not who she thought he was. Michael Corleone’s wife was not too happy either once she found out he never stopped being part of the family. We learned how his sense of duty and his super senses never allowed him to get a moment’s rest. I know when I’m constantly pushed that I start to lose perspective on things and something small can make me angrier then it should. See my full review here

Realm of Kings Inhumans #1 (of 5) - This was a good start to this series. Medusa is carrying on as Queen, but refuses to accept Black Bolt is dead. She also is holding the position in place until her and Black Bolt’s son is ready to be King, so she is accepting of her role. The duality is well played. We also get to see why there are advantages to the Inhumans ruling and we get a glimpse of the Blastarr issue on one of the rim worlds. DnA have given us a better galactic empire then any other Marvel writer has done. It has the politics, the action and the character development all in one great package. Two minor quibbles, one seeing Maximus covet the crown has been done to death and the $4 price tag, guarantee to keep some readers away.

Supergirl #47 – This was totally a story about Supergirl’s mother Alura. She is given a lot of depth of character as both a person and someone who is the acting ruler of New Krypton. We see how much see loves her deceased husband and what she has to do regardless of that love to do what she thinks is best to protect New Krypton. The story revolves around the trial of Reactron and his trial is used to gives us the various insights into Alura’s character. After reading this issue I could enjoy a New World of Krypton series, but New Krypton needs to be moved to a new solar system.

That wraps up this week. Tomorrow a ton of new books come out and I hope to have time to at least put up a Blackest Night #5 review.

Monday, November 23, 2009

You Have Killed Me – A Review

You Have Killed Me

Publisher Oni Press

Writer Jamie S. Rich

Art Joelle Jones

Format : Hard Cover Book

180 Pages B&W

Okay this book came out earlier this year and it was sitting on my bookshelf as is Cooke’s adaptation of Parker “The Hunter”. I pick up stuff when it comes out because on trades or original graphic novels I worry I will forget about it and never pick it up. Also my store (as many others) is not going to have copies of this type of book sitting on their shelves, which is a shame when you think about. The rack space it takes up is the same as a comic; plus the profit margin is higher. For the fan the actual bang for the buck is great as five $4 comics would only contain 110 pages of story and art. Also another thing this type of product delivers is a story with a beginning, middle and an end.

I have to say that this book was exactly what I expected and also much more then it should have been. This is like starting off your story with “It was a dark and stormy night”, it had tons of cliché ridden characters in it, but it worked and was a beautiful book. I felt like I was watching a great old movie when all of these clichés were being established.

The story is set in the late thirties. It is the best timeframe for this type of story as all the technology and gadgets that are available today take away the idea of using shoe leather and old fashioned interrogations to gather information. Plus you have the great old cars which breathe style as opposed to so many of today’s cars being almost indistinguishable from each other. Just having people smoking in the story gives it that certain vibe that you can’t get in a modern politically correct society.

Tony Mercer is our down on his luck PI. We have no idea of exactly why he is a private dick, but we know that he does it because it is what he knows to do. The femme fatale shows up and it is the sister of an ex-flame Julie. Jennifer (the sister) tells him, Julie has disappeared and she needs Mercer to find her. Julie was due to marry and the family would be devastated if she does not show for the wedding.

Mercer follows a winding path through the home of the sisters, a jazz club, a dark alleyway or two, a horse track, and on and on. The trail leads to death, Mercer getting shot by a girl and back again. I won’t write a plot summary, because I hope you go and buy the book, but it is just the feel and flavor of this book that made me fall in love with it.

At the beginning they felt like cookie cutter characters straight out of central casting and then I realized that I loved a lot of old movies like that. There was a great old film from 1944 (yes Lee even before I was born) called Laura that about a police detective investigating a high society girl’s death. He becomes obsessed with her even thought she is dead. There is a more modern version about the detective obsessed with a girl thought to be dead and called Sharkey’s Machine, perhaps the best movie with Burt Reynolds ever (not high praise, but it is a good movie). While this book thematically is not following that path it has the same feeling of the PI is chasing and looking for a girl that he loves. He is being played for a fool at times, but has the tough edge that will see him though to the end.

Joelle Jones art got better and better as the book went on also. At first I felt it was all a little too angular and her giving the PI a partial beard that disappeared here and there made me wonder about the time setting as that is to me a more modern affectation. As I continued to read and be pulled into the story I realized how strong her work is as many pages were wordless and she was carrying the story telling. The layouts and page design were great. Her women were sexy while still feeling real, yet at the same time they exuded a hint of danger or even madness depending on the character. Each character looked different and with a wide a cast as this story had it would have been easy to make some of them generic, but she never did. It is definitely more of what I call an indy style, which means it is not a super hero style or a pure noir style, but a realistic style that appears simplistic, but is amazing complex and sophisticated in her story telling abilities.

Overall Grade A – You Have Killed Me is a wonderful throwback to an era where the private eyes were dicks and the women were dames. A noir book at its heart, taking the familiar and making it new and fresh again.