Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Office

Another new thing about moving to France is the fact that I get a new office. I have to admit I was excited about this. Mainly because, while my previous office actually had a door, it was located in the basement about as far away from a window as you can imagine. It was like living and working in a rabbit hole.

I knew that the new office would have not only a door but also a window. As far as I was concerned I was ... sing along now... Moving on up! Moving on up! To a deluxe apartment in the ssskkkyyyyyyy!

But we all know that an office is only as good as it's gloatability. If I can't lord over you with how awesome my office is, then there's really no point in having it. So let's compare, just how good is your office?

Do you have a window? I do!

Is the window on the second floor so that you can see things in the distance with a crystal clear unobstructed view? Mine is!

Does it offer scenic views of the countryside so that you can relax when works gets stressful? Not mine!

BUT, because the building is shaped like a U I can see the row of offices directly across from me. Pierre, as I've nicknamed him, picks his nose everyday at 2:00. You can almost set your watch by it.

Do kind and gentle woodland creatures occupy the roof top between your window and Pierre's window? They do for me. I have a flock of large black birds, not unlike crows, that like to gather between the two buildings.

Do the kind and gentle woodland creatures occuping the rooftop between the two windows sqwak loudy, peck at each other, and make all sorts of noise while battling over the bloody carcass of a baby rabbit? Mine do! Can your office top that?

I didn't think so because my office is AWESOME!

Nanny & Hank - Reviewed

Recently, Bluewater Comics approached us about reviewing some books for them and I jumped at the chance. Since I pick the indies, I’ve seen many a Bluewater book advertised. And, with titles like She-Buccaneer, I’ve made fun of plenty of them too. Now I was being presented a chance to see if my preconceived notions were close to reality. And I can happily say they weren’t. This week I read the first issue of Nanny & Hank, written by Mark L. Miller, drawn by Steve Babb, and colors by Ivan Plascencia, published by Bluewater Comics.

The story opens in a bar where two men, O’Neil and Rondo, are obviously quite drunk. O’Neil, in typical drunkard fashion, is railing against a system that is trying to keep him down. His work isn’t good enough, he doesn’t understand the rules, and he has no taste are just a couple of the insults he has apparently endured. While these seem like standard drunkard complaints, once it is revealed that O’Neil is a vampire, they take on a whole new meaning. Cut to Nanny & Hank, an elderly retired couple getting ready to take a road trip in the Winnebago to see the grand children. When O’Neil, still drunk, shows up, he decides to show the world how much taste he has and turns Nanny & Hank into vampires. The issue closes with Nanny & Hank waking up, trying to figure out what has happened to them.

Miller has managed to come up with a new twist on an old vampire theme. At this point, everyone is familiar with the “vampire doll” or very young child who becomes a vampire. I, for one, had never asked what would happen if my Grandma became a vampire.

But, more importantly, Miller manages to execute the concept in an stellar fashion. He does a really good job of stuffing a ton of information into 22 pages and still keeping the book entertaining. The main characters are introduced, given motivation and characterization, some hints dropped about potential future plotlines, and a solid ending that leave you wondering what comes next. You can’t ask for anything more from a comic book.

But, as good as the story was, the art is what carried this book for me. I’ve pretty much seen every Kirby, Perez, and Jim Lee clone on the market so I’m always on the look out for something different. And Steve Babb’s art is about as different as you can get. The closest style that I can compare it to is the great Carlos Meglia with heavy inks by Eric Canete. Don’t get me wrong, Babb’s art is entertaining but it isn’t for everyone. The characters are definitely distorted with almost conical shaped noses. It’s jarring at first but it quickly grows on you.

Babb did a good job of composition too. I think too many artists want to just draw splash pages and they forget how to draw sequential panels. Each page was typically six panels. Babb actually knows how to tell a story which is another huge plus. I think I was more impressed that he only resorted to a splash page once!

Overall this is a very good setup issue. The main characters are introduced, some hints dropped about potential future plotlines, and a solid ending to leave you wondering what comes next. In a market that is already stuffed with vampire books, this is one that you should try.

You can visit Bluewater Publishing here

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

One more One More Day

I really didn’t intend to write about Spider-Man that much on the blog, but here we are again. Jim recently wrote a piece on here about the upcoming One Moment in Time storyline. Now, I find talking to Jim about Amazing Spider-Man, enormously frustrating. I agree with the basic premise that the marriage and Mary Jane really didn’t need to go. However, if you’ve been reading the book (which is not by the OMD creative team), I think it’s evident that in spite of that, it has been solid to very good. In fact, it’s been WAAAAY better than the back half of JMS’ run. However, I cannot convince Jim and others of the same opinion to overlook that and just try the book. Here’s what’s more frustrating, in his latest post, Jim is 100% completely right about One Moment in Time.

I cannot understand what Marvel is trying to do here. Bringing back Joe Q and revisiting One More Day is only going to piss people off. It’s poking the wound with a stick and rubbing salt in it. One More Day was sloppy storytelling. They had a change they wanted to make (single Spider-Man) that really couldn’t be cleanly accomplished through an organic story (killing MJ or a divorce, let’s say) so they did a big continuity reboot. Now, if I remember correctly, the big disagreement between Joe Q and JMS was basically that JMS wanted to explain the various changes to continuity, while Joe Q just wanted to make Peter single, change the relationship he had with MJ from a marriage to a long term relationship, bring back Harry, and ignore the rest.

Now, both of these are bad approaches to a bad idea, but I have some sympathy for Joe Q’s position. If you’re going to do a reboot, make your changes, stick to guns and move on. That is what made John Byrne’s Superman reboot so successful. He did what he wanted to do, moved on with that, and stopped talking about what he had rebooted! Yes, Byrne was working with what I think was a better idea, but it remains smart approach to instituting these changes. If you’re giving someone quality stories in the new status quo and plowing forward, they’ll be less inclined to bitch about losing the old status quo. Which of course, brings us to the problem of One Moment in Time.

WHO CARES WHAT HAPPENED ON THEIR WEDDING DAY?! There is no possible answer they can give that will satisfy fandom. Like Jim said, all it is doing is reminding people about what pissed them off in the first place. It is a small piece of continuity that I’m sure they felt they needed to address when they wrote One More Day, but its two plus years later. We don’t want to know about it!

Right now Spider-Man is knocking it out of the park on the Grim Hunt arc. And even better than that, the Grim Hunt is a storyline they’ve been building too for a year! How often do comics get that right!? We’re getting extremely high quality Spider-Man comics three times a month, it has a tremendous head of creative steam right now! We should be focusing on that. Instead, we’re talking about One More Day. Again. Isn’t this fun?

Now, anyone who has been enjoying this title has been set back years in trying to get anyone like Jim to read this book again. We could get the best year of Spider-Man ever, but no, they’ll pass because One More Day left a bad taste in their mouth. And you know what? Marvel totally deserves it, because they WON’T. STOP. TALKING. ABOUT. IT.

I don’t agree with the end of the Spider-Marriage, but at this point, I just don’t care anymore. I’m sick of everyone talking about it. I just want to read some good Spider-Man comics. So Marvel, I’m begging you: PLEASE stop bringing this up.

The Week of June 23 In Review

The more free form week in review is working better for me right now so I think I will stick with that. It allows for general themes as well as specific themes more easily and is less restrictive for me in writing this column. It does not mean I won’t force a format in the future, but this is the review format for now.

My friend Rusty talked that he has grown tired of generic artwork and I know what he means. Certain books have solid artwork with good layouts and page design but they lack the zing or something extra to make it unique.

DC had some issues that fit that category this week with The Rise of Arsenal #4 (of 4), Justice League Generation Lost #4, a lot of Superman #700 and Green Arrow #1 was border line in that category. It reminds me of what Sal Buscema and Jim Mooney were in the silver age. Accomplished draftsmen and able story tellers but the art lacked that certain pizzazz to take it to the next level. It makes a pedestrian story even more so and reduces my overall enjoyment of the book. Arsenal can be dismissed as that was a poor series and it is mercifully over now, but Generation Lost is a 26 part series and the art may make me drop this series. The worst part is Joe Bennett is listed as the pencil artist and I have seen better work from him before. Where I think it was a real shame was in Superman #700. Bernard Chang has yet to develop a style that I believe sets him apart and the second story by Jurgens and Rapmund was a flashback story with art that was also more akin to what was acceptable in the 8o’s or 9o’s but is lacking for me today. This criticism is hard for me to make because I can barely draw stick figures but generic super hero art no matter how competent or skilled the artist is, comes across as a little flat or boring to me. Eddy Barrows who did the last story used to be a generic artist, but his work has moved on and has a good realism edge to it now and clearly was the best of the Superman #700 Anniversary issue.

Getting into the actual books, the only thing of true interest for me in Superman #700 was the start of the Grounded series by JMS and Eddy Barrows. My gut level tells me this could be one of the worst ideas ever for the Man of Steel. Having him do a walking tour of America and running a contest on top of that just does not feel like it will be a good idea. It is especially poor timing as we are coming off of a year plus long storyline that had essentially taken Superman out of the mix for the DCU. I enjoy the vast majority of what JMS does as a writer and I appreciate the chance he is taking, but I’m worried going in. I’m not dropping the book or anything as I will give this idea a chance it just sounds very iffy and could really drive down sales.
Getting back to Green Arrow #1 and Rise of Arsenal #4 I have to say that I’m confused how GA can go off a kill a guy and then he gets acquitted and runs off to be Robin Hood of the new magical forest in Star City, yet Arsenal does the same thing and it looks like he will be a bad guy or something. There are some good ideas in both books but the execution is lacking. I mean the Green Arrow Robin Hood thing was beaten over our heads when he stole from the rich and gave to the poor. Again I blame a lot of this is poor editorial control. Green Arrow tried to do too much and was ham handed at times. The story could have been streamlined and focused on why Ollie was doing what he was doing. The plotline about his old business could also have been done and without the overly theatrical villain, she could have just worn sunglasses and a wig and we still would not know who she is. Arsenal’s entire series was a misnomer as this was not a character rising to anything, but falling to his baser instincts. If they are planning on making Roy a bad guy it needed more work. A stronger editor sends the scripts back for rewrites and works with the writer to get it right. Both books are not as good as they could be.

I loved the original run on Dynamo 5 and creator/writer Jay Faerber was nice enough to do an interview with us, but I’m not getting Sins of the Father mini-series past issue #1. I’m not only trying to be more frugal and work at keeping my list down, but generic artwork is going to make me drop books and this was generic art. It is a way for me to demand more from a comic. Plus the whole switching of powers stuff has taken me out of the book. I used to feel like I was getting a handle on the characters and the switch has made the book lack a coherent identity. It was especially hard since the switch was the last issue before a long hiatus. So generic art, the power switch and a $4 price tag takes this book off my list.

Speaking of art, Greg Land on X-Men Legacy #237 is anything but generic. I have been a Land hater for awhile but lately he seems to have reign in some of his excesses and I can now almost tolerate his work. I have loved X-Men Second Coming, but we knew Cypher had to beat the Nimrods and this story has just become too long. Only two chapters left so I’m hanging on till the end at this point.

Skipping around in no particular order let’s talk Power Girl #13. A brand new creative team comes in and wow I’m so close to dropping this book because of all the mistakes they made. Art wise it is a big adjustment, but Sami Basri is not bad at all and I’m sure I can get used to the art. Story wise I’m not so sure. Power Girl was drawn into DC continuity a lot more and they have bankrupted her company. If the continuity nod was just to get the story started and won’t be a constant thing, then fine, because I like Power Girl and want to read about her. She is one of the few characters that still have a private life in comics. If bankrupting her company is a story and ultimately she still runs Starrware Industries that is ok too, but if they destroy the company and her private life I will bid farewell to this title.

Just so you don’t think I hate everything this week don’t forget an excellent book hit the stands with Killer #3 (of 6) Modus Vivendi. My full review can be seen here. Of course reading this type of comic makes me demand more from the other books. It also makes me even more willing to drop other titles as I’m unwilling to settle for certain things because I like a character. Oh I will still hang onto some books too long, but I have been willing to drop more and more books lately.

So let’s do some quick mentions of some solid issues this week with Legion of Super-Heroes #2 getting better although still too many stories and highlighting Earth-Man while trying to re-establish the group is a mistake. Green Lantern Corps #49 was well done with the Revolt of the Alpha Lanterns story being a good one and Joker Asylum II Killer Croc writer by a potential rising star Mike Raicht (and a talent well known to this blog) was a great one shot story that was very well done.

Two books from Marvel and writer Jeff Parker were good reads this week. I enjoyed The Namorita One Shot and the art certainly passed the test of being a solid job and it is not generic. The only downside to this issue was the $4 price tag for 22 pages of story and art. The other Jeff Parker written book was Thunderbolts # 145 with art by the always enjoyable Kev Walker. This issue had a great twist showing us that Baron Zemo was a fake and a test for the new Thunderbolts. So far this incarnation of the T-Bolts is going well.

As you can see I’m skipping all over the place, but this is sort of in the order I read my books. Of course some did not generate any comments from me, but I ended my week with Joe the Barbarian #6 (of 8) and American Vampire #4. I like Joe, but I have a feeling this reads better as a trade and therefore in my view it should have been released as a trade. Morrison and Murphy are producing what has been an enjoyable story, but I’m losing nuances as the story progresses. Reading AV #4 last was on purpose as I wanted to end on a high note. Now the Stephen King half of the book is decent, but the Scott Snyder side of the book blows me away and I’m anxious to get to issue #6 as the book will feature more pages by Scott. When I sit down and read the next chapter of Pearl’s story by the time I’m finished I just want more. Rafael’s artwork continues to amaze. I would have never chosen him for the artist on this book as I was familiar with his Blue Beetle work and stylistically it did not seem to be a fit. He has proven me wrong as his art has shown great depth and he has the ability to push his work to another level. At this point he has put an indelible stamp on the look of this book. Next issue is set up nicely as it appears Pearl and Henry will be taking it to the old world vamps.

Books like American Vampire and Killer are so well done, that marginal super hero stuff really pales by comparison and I find that I crave more of the former and can do with less of the latter. Even if I end up buying less books I think it can be a good thing because we should demand quality over quantity.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Rubbing Salt in the Wound – Or Pre-Judging Amazing Spider-Man O.M.I.T.

So I read the wordless preview of the new Spider-Man story where Joey Q. is going to give us the story of what happened to Peter and Mary Jane’s wedding.

Joe has been telling anyone who listens that he wanted to get rid of the marriage and he was always telling the story of how it was put together really fast in answer to Superman’s marriage or whatever.

Should Spider-Man be married or not, why he is married or whatever was all unimportant. Whether by editorial fiat or the twisted hand of fate it had been part of the character for many years and was an integral part of Spider-Man’s history. It made him unique as one of the few characters in comics who was married. In my years of reading Spider-Man on and off I never saw the marriage as a bad thing and during JMS’ run on the book it made for some great stories. One example is when they were getting back together after almost getting a divorce. It made Spider-Man relatable in different ways then other characters.

Joe hated it and it had to go and so we got One More Day. One of the worse retro-cons in the history of comics and a betrayal of what the characters stood for as well as a metaphysical solution to a very grounded and scientific based hero. Whatever, I’m now off this book, maybe forever. I’m not going to reinvest in a bunch of stories to have the next EIC blink his eyes or wrinkle his nose (two very old TV show references and a cookie if you know them) and change it all again.

So One Moment In Time is not for me as I don’t care. But it is rubbing salt in the wound. Greg just wrote a glowing review of what is happening in the title right now and I have had a bunch of people tell me they are telling great stories with great art in Amazing Spider-Man. I’m not getting back into the book, but there is a buzz on the book and the faithful are being rewarded and new/old fans are coming back.

So why the f*** are they throwing a monkey wrench into the momentum of this book. It feels to me like Joey wanted to try and show everyone why the marriage was wrong and why it should never have happened. It is almost like his ego is being gnawed at by the criticism of One More Day so he wants to prove he is right or some such crap. Remember he and JMS butted heads over OMD and seemed to be one of the reasons JMS left Marvel eventually.

Dan Didio decided he wanted to write a comic and now I no longer buy Outsiders that I was enjoying under Peter Tomasi’s pen. Now I will grant you I was not ready to buy Spider-Man again, but any progress that I had made in forgetting the travesty of OMD has just lost and my flame of hatred for the story has been stoked back to its full fury. I’m guessing I’m not the only one and the completeist crowd are stuck buying this while they were wishing for more stories they were enjoying. This appears to be all for the sake of satiating the ego of Joey Quesada. It is shame, but it does seem that any power will be abused - and who can say no to your boss when you still want to have a job?

It seems the only time great power comes great responsibility is in comics, in the real world with great power comes immense ego and abuse of that power.

What I’m Getting Wednesday June 30

The end of the first half of 2010 and it ends with a little bit of a thud. May was the month for new number ones and with a five week month the end of the month is a little on the ho-hum side. Not that I dislike what I’m getting, just nothing making me run to the store Wednesday.

At least with a slow week I was able to add a book I was not planning on getting and that is the Batwoman Elegy Deluxe Edition HC. For $25 I’m getting a slightly oversized hard cover that is collecting Greg Rucka’s and JH Williams great series. I hope the new comics written by Williams will be good, but this series really put a stamp on Batwoman and made her into a character that is unique and stands on her own. Williams’s innovative page designs are simply amazing. Once in awhile they made it a little harder to actual follow the flow of the story, but his work rivals what Neal Adams did when he hit the comics’ scene. The other hard coverI’m getting is something I just can’t resist, Prince Valiant Volume 2. This is a top of the line reconstruction of the rightly ballyhooed Sunday newspaper strip. Hal Foster was a master illustrator and the strip has withstood the test of time. It is the best reprinting ever done of the strip and this volume covers 1939 and 1940 more than worth the $30 price tag.

Marvel gets short shrift from my list again this week with only Captain America #607, Captain America 1940s Newspaper Strips #1 (of 3) and Secret Avengers #2. Cap is back to being a good series and I think the book may finally get around to making Bucky actually become Captain America as opposed to Bucky Cap. I just wish they would drop the lame Nomad backup and make the price $3 again. Secret Avengers was a good start, but any book that is $4 for 22 pages has to try extra hard to stay on my list. The last book is the Newspaper Strips which could be a blast as Karl Kesel gives us the “lost” newspaper strips about Captain America or it could come off as lame. All three books are $4 and as regular readers know I ain’t happy with that.

For more of the cape and tights set we move to DC that brings us Action Comics #890, Batman Beyond #1 (of 6), Flash #3, Gotham City Sirens #13, Green Lantern #55, Justice League #46, Justice Society #40, Web #10 and Wonder Woman #600. I have to admit that this batch from DC leaves me a little cold. Flash and GL should be good, but I’m a fan of Geoff Johns work, but JLA has been poor lately, Wonder Woman is an anniversary issue, Web is the end of that series, Action is a new direction. Just not a lot that has me jazzed.

The Vertigo and everything else looks very good though. Madame Xanadu #24 is starting a new arc about our senses and every issue is by a different artist. Northlanders #29 is a one and done issue. I have loved this series as each arc is about a different character from the time of the Vikings. Invincible #73 is in the middle of the Viltrumite War and last issue ended with Mark’s guts literally hanging out of his body. Add to those three Abe Sapien Abyssal Plain #1 (of 2), Atomic Robo #4 (of 4), Chimichanga #2 (of 3) and Chronicles of Wormword #4 (of 6) and you have what looks to be the best group of this week.

I know a five week month mess up publishing schedules, but usually the last week is a big week and has lots of books that are highly anticipated, this month end is ending with a whimper.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Lamenting the Demise of Jersey Gods

Finally, the promised review of Jersey Gods. The short review is that writer Glen Brunswick and artist Dan McDaid had a great creation, employing evocation of Jack Kirby's New Gods and romance comics, and mixing that with north Jersey. In fact, in the current pop predeliction for "real" stories of Jersey, this fictionalized tale of Jersey is the only one worth partaking. Faint praise, I'll grant, but Jersey Gods, unlike a real housewives or shore dwelling dim wits show, has very good writing, visuals that enchant rather than repulse, and a story that doesn't rely on false claims of real life.

Unfortunately, the all too soon demise of the book has left many things unresolved. Worse still, the story lines that were resolved in the final issue came across as forced by the truncated number of issues available to tell the story. This lead to a plot decision that, in my opinion, totally undermined the relationship that was the heart of the preceding 11 issues.

Here's the thumbnail. Barock is a god. He's like Orion of the New Gods in some respects but is a much more balanced person. Unlike the New Gods, these gods weren't always immortals. One of the things never explained is how these aliens who look like humans, more or less, became gods. Before they were gods there was a massive civil war between the sky city dwellers (Cumulus) and the Walkers, who live on the planet (of which Barock is a member). Barock's father was killed in this war and his brother lost half his face. Barock's widowed mother is somewhat unhinged by her husband's death, though it was more than 10,000 years ago.

Barock is lured to Earth by an attack at a Cherry Hill, NJ mall by an enemy from the long ago war. Barock and his friend Helius come to the rescue. By the code of their world, only Barock can fight the enemy because he's specifically challenged Barock. Barock gets his ass handed to him but is revived by Zoe, a human who is caught up in the midst of the battle. It appears to be a pep talk of sorts that revives him, but in any case the enemy is defeated and teleports away. This is the start of the core relationship of the book that is the romance between Barock and Zoe.

It's a well developed romance. She's a woman who's had a series of boyfriends leave her, mostly because she's more than a little controlling. She's a grunt at a fashion publication, too. Barock is a guy who's never quite found the right woman among his own people and is drawn to Zoe. He doesn't mind her bossiness, and she's less so with him. Before long they're engaged, and she's traveling with him to meet his mother back on his home world. All through these stories there are nice light touches with her parents, her most recent ex, Barock and Helius interactions, house hunting, and so on. It doesn't ignore the mundanes of real life. Instead, it incorporates them and both celebrates them and amusingly looks at how they would affect someone like Barock.

All the while other characters are developed, too. Though they don't have much face time in the book, Zoe's parents are squabbling, loving and courageous in their own right. Helius is the son of current ruler of the Walkers, something of a gadabout playboy. A cleverly named speedster, Rushmore is hinted at as a key element in Walker society but that's one of the many elements not fully developed due to the end of the series. Zoe's employer and a fashion maven are amusing but have an undercurrent of toughness, with some obligatory obsequiousness thrown in for good measure, it being the fashion industry, after all.

One of the most interesting issues involved a story of Helius's half human son. The gods aren't new to visiting Earth, it seems. They'd come often to harvest energy sources. At one point Helius meets a woman who's a slave during the Civil War. The story indicates she was met somewhere near the Gettysburg battlefield, so I'm guessing she was a slave in Maryland. In any case, Helius has a relationship with her and fathers a son, though he never knows of that until the story set in the present. The son has made himself into a wealthy man and gathered two other people with super powers to aid him in capturing Helius. He doesn't appear to be any more aware of Helius being his father than Helius is but captures him just for the power guantlets that channel some energy power that Helius has. In the end, the son dies at the hands of one of his allies, who doesn't want to give up the power guantlet he was given. It was a nicely touching story told in a few issues.

Those same issues have one of the lighter bits, too. Barock has to head back to Earth in a hurry without Zoe, so his mother takes her back to Earth. His mother is a shape shifter and provides the method of transportation. She has a tendency to take an indirect route to things. One of her stops along the way is a cube shaped planet that resembles Earth, much as Bizzaro World does. Homages like that run throughout, not just in the art style.

Hopefully, one day the book can be revived. If it is, it will need to fix what happened in the final issue. That revealed that the Zoe we'd seen in the previous 11 issues was not actually Zoe but a clone. The clone is now dead, heroic though she'd been, and the real Zoe is afraid of Barock with no knowledge of who he is, other than being a member of the same species that kept her captive for a year. Like Spider-man's recent dubious memory re-set, this turn of events just wiped out all of what we'd thought we'd known previously, so far as the Barock and Zoe relationship was concerned, and left us with only the slightest hope that there might, someday, but a relationship between Barock and the actual Zoe.

While I ended up disappointed with the plotting at the end, the art was great throughout. McDaid's art reminds the reader of Kirby without simply copying Kirby. It's the heavy lines and blocky anatomy that bring Kirby to mind, but he doesn't use all of Kirby's visual cues. He uses his own style and cues as well.

Most of the covers are done by Mike Allred, with a couple by Erik Larsen, one by Paul Pope and one by McDaid, but my favorite was the second issue cover by Darwyn Cooke. I'd have liked to have seen a lot more Darwyn Cooke, even though his style is totally differend from McDaid's style. McDaid's was a close second, though.
If you didn't read along as the singles came out, go get the trades that are now out. Or get singles back issue. I've seen a few listings for them at significantly less than the original cover price.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Incredible Hulk #610 -- A Review

WHAT was I thinking? I should’ve known better. Really, everyone understands that you don’t go the grocery store when you’re hungry, because you’ll end up getting some junky food you don’t need. Likewise, it’s unwise to go to the comic book store when your box is empty. I mean wasn’t it just a few weeks ago that I chanced on the abysmal Avengers #1 when my box was light? Never one to learn his lesson the first time, I picked up The Incredible Hulk #610 last week.

Now to be fair, I was jumping into the middle or latter part of a mini-“big event” with multiple Hulk titles. I had followed Planet Hulk and World War Hulk, but dropped off the Skarr bandwagon after the first issue and I hadn’t been back. I’ve flipped through some of the titles over the last couple of years, so I have a vague idea of what’s been happening. Anyway, this issue looked pretty exciting and possibly significant; plus, having Greg Pak as the writer and Paul Pelletier as the artist (who I always like) was certainly an influencing factor.

Well, it turns out I needed a bit more than just a vague idea as I was quite lost. The first page synopsis was woefully inadequate (for me) and I was a bit peeved when they said “Previously ON the Incredible Hulk”, instead of “IN”. I mean, it’s NOT a TV show (anymore). Given the “old school” look to the book, I thought it might be easy to just pick up the issue and enjoy the ride as if I had just seen it on the spinner rack at the local 7-11. Maybe it would have worked if I could’ve gotten past some of the ridiculous aspects of the story:

-- Rick Jones is now a blue Abomination with armadillo skin
-- Betty Banner is ALIVE and is now the Red She-Hulk.
-- Thunderbolt Ross is really the RULK (Thankfully, he doesn’t appear in this issue).
-- Amadeus Cho looks like a red Gargoyle (from issue #1) with a HUGE mutated noggin
-- Doc Samson is now bad (and he has two eyes again – I thought he lost one back in Bruce Jones’ run).
-- The Hulk/Banner has almost as many kids as I do (Well, maybe half as many.)
-- A whole bunch of heroes have been Hulked out ala “Maximum Hulkage”

Betty is dying (Skarr just stabbed her) and won’t turn into She-Rulk to save herself, until Samson shows up to make her mad enough to change. She beats him to a pulp, since he worked with the Leader to turn her into this mostly naked savage. Cho interrupts her to read Samson’s mind to discover that all the Hulked-out heroes will die in 24-hours due to the Leader using “protomatter” (or something like it) to make Samson’s cathexis ray unstable after ratcheting it up to “eleven” (what is this Spinal Tap?). Good thing Bruce saved four smart guys to help: Hank McCoy, T’Challa, Hank Pym, and Reed Richards – not only are they smart, but they work super-fast too to come up with a device to draw off the Hulk energy from the heroes.

Skarr and Shrulk jump down into the melee to keep the Hulk heroes out of the White House (I suppose their battle is covered in a related mini-series). Oh, they’re all floating around in…something, I’m going to call it the Shield Helicarrier, but I really have no clue. The Leader and M.O.D.O.K. are still on board and sic some Humanoids on them. Cho easily stops them by “reconfiguring the laws of physics within a ten-foot radius of his person” -- turns out Cho was always one of the eight smartest men on Earth. While Cho and M.O.D.O.K brain blast each other, Banner starts beating up the Leader and is about to murder him with some sort of ray gun, when the Leader teleports away when Banner is momentarily distracted.

Cho recovers and turns M.O.D.O.K back into a regular human being, right before he gets de-Hulked himself. Bruce steps into the device (made by Reed and Co.) and is going to suck up all the Hulk energy from everyone. Reed worries about what the Hulk will do when he returns (ya’know he might be a tad angry). Cho points out that Banner has an “app for that”, because he’s been training Skarr to take down the Hulk when he reappears. The device is working, but not quite fast enough and the helicarrier is about to plummet to Earth. So Samson steps in to redeem himself at the end and loses his power, his long green hair, and then loses his life (We’re talking Germans after the Ark is opened kinda dead). Banner is now regammified 100 percent and he tells everyone to run as his glasses break from the power oozing out of him.

The helicarrier crashes and the shockwaves are heard from D.C. to Connecticut. Then the Hulk steps out of the wreckage. He’s so mad that he can’t even use words to describe it, just radial lines (sort of like Black Bolt). Skarr is now crackling with Old Power energy with his sword up… “Finally”, he says with a wicked smile on his face (see my version of the scene below).

There is also a Son of Hulk backup with Hiro-Kala. I REALLY don’t know what’s going on with THAT character. Were Skarr and him actually twins when it looked like one was changing into the other? I guess I don’t really care. I suppose if you’re going to pad the book with a few extra pages to get it to $4, then this is a reasonable backup.

Even while I was reviewing the issue again to write this post, I was struck by the art. It’s amazing. I love it, but it really is a LOT better than the story itself. I can’t even fault Pak either, since he’s trying to pick up the pieces from Rulk to get back to a regular Hulk series (I hope). You’ve got to resolve all of this mess somehow. I am interested in the next issue, since it should be a really awesome fight between father and son. I’m also glad that Betty is back, since it was always left open-ended that she could be revived one day (that was another pull for me getting the book). I might even get the Rulk origin issue (Hulk #23), because of all the classic Hulk artists involved. [I was all set to get that issue this week, but it was 5 DOLLARS!!!!! -- OUTRAGEOUS!!!!!]

I’m going to follow Jim’s example and not give a letter grade this time around. I had problems with the issue, but most of the problems stemmed from what’s been going on since World War Hulk. However, I’m hopeful that this is the turning point, we’ve all been waiting for to get back into a Hulk series. Although, I’m also a little concerned that the Hulk is now so mega-powerful that he won’t really fit on Earth anymore. After all, that’s why he was sent off into space to begin with.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Indies Preview Review for August Part 3 of 3

Image Comics
Seedless GN by (W/A) Corey Lewis
Harmony Treblecleff may be the daughter of an eccentric inventor, but she thought she led a pretty normal life. Normal, that is, until the grapes she grabbed from the kitchen suddenly came to life! Suddenly, Harmony is being attacked by a rogue Grape Tyrant from a distant planet (aptly named Crazy) and his many tiny minions. Her only hope is the intervention of a new special breed of heroic grape warriors - ones that are Seedless! Join Harmony as she teams up with her new alien grape pals - Funky, Pulse, Dash & Snap - as they ride jetpacks into the jungle, do battle with electric sabretooths, and reclaim their special robo-weapons called Robostomps. Warning: may not be suitable for all ages $12.99 An art sample here.
Lee: This story sounds absolutely insane and filled with over the top silliness. Now, if the story is half as good as the art then I am completely sold.
Jim: I'm confused the solicit reads like a kid book, the art looks magna and direct to a younger audience and then it says not suitable for all ages. Maybe they mean anyone over 12.

Sullivan's Sluggers GN by (W) Mark Andrew Smith (A) James Stokoe
Harvey Award-winning graphic novel author Mark Andrew Smith joins forces with Eisner Award-nominated illustrator James Stokoe for a powerful collaboration. When Sullivan's bedraggled, minor league sluggers accept an invitation to play an out-of-town game, they have no idea their small-town destination is cursed. When the sun goes down after the 7th inning stretch, the dysfunctional teammates find themselves fighting for their lives against a town crawling with flesh eating monsters. See what happens when America's favorite pastime becomes one team's nightmare. Warning: may not be suitable for all ages $16.99
Lee: If Stokoe is drawing it, I don’t care who’s writing it. I’m sold. Not to mention the story is perfectly suited for his talents.
Jim: I had to be the Debbie Downer here, but I'm tired of these mass of flesh monsters everyone wants to use. Lovecraft heirs should be rolling in dough for what he should be paid for the inspiration anyway.

War is Boring GN by (W) David Axe (A) Matt Bors
For four years, war was life for David Axe. He was alternately bored out of his mind and completely terrified. As a correspondent for The Washington Times and BBC Radio, Axe flew from conflict to conflict, reveling in death, danger, and destruction abroad while back in D.C. his apartment gathered dust, his plants died, and his relationships withered. Loosely based on the web comic of the same name, War Is Boring takes us to Lebanon and Somalia; to arms bazaars across the United States; to Detroit, as David tries to reconnect with his family; and to Chad, as David attempts to bring attention to the Darfur genocide. 144 pgs. $12.95. The War is Boring site here and Matt Bors site here.
Lee: I’ve been reading a lot of war books so this is oddly compelling. I wonder if this will be more of an anti-war statement or a barrel of facts, make yer own decision, type of book. Either way I am sure it will be full of head scratching ‘command decisions.’
Jim: This has promise. War is a difficult concept for individuals to get their heads around.

Broadcast GN by (W) Eric Hobbs (A) Noel Tuazon
On the day of Orson Welles' historic radio broadcast of The War of the Worlds, which triggered panic in many places it sounded so real, a family in the countryside fears for its life and must deal with strangers and neighbors coming in for help. The tension brings to the surface long suppressed emotions and conflicts and a violent reckoning in a dark stormy night. By the artist of Elk's Run and Tumor. $13.99. See Tuazon's blog here.
Lee: NBM has a good track record with this type of material. I really enjoyed Tuazon art on Elk's Run so I'm interested and the story sounds good too. It's worth investigating.
Jim: I liked Elk's Run also and for $14 with a decent artist and a good concept this is an easy one to take a chance on.

Rebellion / 2000AD
Complete Harlem Heroes SC by (W) Tom Tulley, Pat Mills (A) Dave Gibbons, Massimo Belardinelli
By the year 2050, the game of Aeroball has swept the world! It's Football, Boxing, Kung-Fu, and Basketball all rolled into one. Players roar through the air wearing jet packs and fight to put the ball in the score tank. One of the greatest teams is the Harlem Heroes, players like no others in the exciting, thrill-packed sport of the future! $25.50
Lee: Yeah baby! This is what I am talking about! Ridiculous title, ridiculous concept, what’s not to like. And the cherry on top, primo Dave Gibbons art. I’ll let you know how it is.
Jim: This should be mad fun and hard to go wrong with Gibbons art.

Harry 20 on the Highrock GN by (W) Gerry Finlay Day (A) Alan Davis
In the year 2060, a hundred miles above the Earth orbits the High Rock, a maximum security prison crammed with 10,000 of the most vicious criminals from the world below. Falsely accused of betraying his government, Harry Thompson is given a twenty year sentence on the Rock, but among thuggish guards controlled by Warden Worldwise and psychotic inmates like Big Red One, the chances of staying alive for that long are looking pretty slim! $16.99
Lee: I’m not sure if this is any good but I’m going to buy it anyway! I’m buying because this is very early Alan Davis art and I’m am all about the art. I’m sure Davis’s art won’t be as polished as his stuff today but there’s always a certain thrill about seeing an artists early material.
Jim: The concept is okay and the idea of seeing early Alan Davis is a big draw, I'm in.

Judge Dredd: Megacity Masters Vol. 01 SC by (A) Brian Bolland, Simon Bisley 2000 AD is Britain's most celebrated sci-fi comic anthology, which has been at the cutting edge of contemporary pop culture since 1977. The longest running strip in 2000 AD is Judge Dredd, and over the years many internationally renowned artists have contributed some stunning art to the Dredd legacy. This compilation features some of that artwork collected together for the first time. $19.99
Lee: This is a tough decision for me. I probably already own the Bolland Dredd reprint and there’s a good chance that I have the Bisley material too. I could be wrong but $20 is a lot of money to take a winger on. But, there are many people who haven’t seen this material so this is an excellent starting point if you don’t have Bolland/Bisley in your collection.
Jim: Sounds too random. I'd rather have the reprints with the full stories in them.

Top Shelf Productions
Fingerprints GN by (W/A) Will Dinski
In a town where movie-star good looks are only a surgery away, it's hard to tell what's real Acclaimed mini-comic creator Will Dinski presents a haunting pastel vision of beauty and decay in Fingerprints, his full-color debut graphic novel. A cosmetic surgeon takes pride in his best work - an ingénue of the silver screen literally built for success. While he works to convince her that one more surgery will perfect her looks, his aging wife struggles to keep his interest, and his ambitious assistant moves to usurp his practice. It's a surreal, entertaining and incredibly original science-fiction look at the cult of beauty. $14.95. See Will’s comics here.
Lee: The hype sounded good then I read some of Dinski’s comics (recommend: Errand Service) and I’m completely sold. Dinski has a unique indie feel to his art and his stories are tight. This is worth trying.
Jim: I trust Lee to a point. For me to be sold I want a preview of this book.

Lee: What a month. I think I’m most surprised about the wealth of good Image products. They haven’t been this strong in months. Add Fantagraphics new stuff and this is a very expensive month for me. Very expensive indeed.
Jim: It always expensive for Lee and once he starts reading things in French he will be spending big bucks over there also.

A Fistful of Reviews

Four Eyes #4 (Image)

Is it just me or was the last issue for this book a really long time ago? I had a hard time remembering what had happened before in the story. Even so, I really enjoyed this issue. I mean, I could predict a lot of where the story was going but it was still enjoyable. I think that I will end up liking this story even better in graphic novel format - I feel like I'm missing out on some of the subtler plot without going back and reading previous issues. I love the art though! Especially the "tiny" dragon :)

Black Widow #3 (Marvel)

Electra was an unnecessary cameo in this issue. I think they just wanted her on the cover to attract more readers. The thinking must have been 'hot assassin chick vs hot assassin chick=sales'. Beyond that it wasn't a bad issue but I'm not wowed by this serious so far. At most I'd say I'm mildly curious as to where it's going.

Birds of Prey #2 (DC)

On one hand I liked this better than the first issue. On the other hand I'm 99% certain that the White Canary is Sin and I hate that she's a villain. I really liked Sin and I hated that Dinah had to give her up (mostly because of the editorial wedding mandate). Sin as a villain just bothers me. I do like Dinah as a fugitive though as it looks to be an interesting story. Although it seems that Brightest Day is pretty much leading to a lot of heroes being discredited in some way or another and I have to wonder what it's going to build up to.

New Mutants #15 (Marvel)

This seemed like a lull issue in the Second Coming event. While some stuff happened, it really didn't advance the actual plot. I'm still mildly interested in Hope but even that interest is beginning to dwindle. If they don't get somewhere with this story soon I'm going to lose interest entirely.

Fables #96 (Vertigo)

This was my favorite book this week, hands down. I LOVE how they made the two seemingly separate stories about Snow White work together - seamlessly nonetheless! Also, this seems to be leading to Rose and Snow possible being able to resolve their differences which is really cool. I am really enjoying this Rose Red interlude and can't wait to see how it concludes!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Best Graphic Novels of All Time

I have been thinking about the best graphic novels lately because recently I have been loaning my trades and hard covers to various people at my work. Since only two of them are fans of comic books in general and none of them are rabid comic fans like many of us I have been looking to let them read graphic novels that are not about the cape and tight set.

The books I have been loaning out are the two volumes of Killer by Jacamon and Matz published by Archaia, Parker “the Hunter” adapted by Darwyn Cooke and published by IDW, Mouse Guard Volume One and Two by David Petersen and published by Archaia, I Kill Giants by Joe Kelly and JM Ken Niimura published by Image and Criminal Omnibus by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips published under the Icon Banner.

I choose these books because I have read all of them and personally know that the quality of these books is there. The art is strong in each case and the writing is excellent in each case. The idea is that I wanted to let people see what the graphic method of storytelling can be and how it is unconstrained by genres. It does not have to be the doe eyed super sexual Manga style, it does not have to be the super muscle men and overly endowed women of the spandex set and it does not have to be the bloody gore laden adolescent fantasy that Avatar often did. This form can be anything and all of these books stood out as books I could give to various people and let them see what the art form can do.

This caused me to stop and think about what else I could pull together and hand people and I realized that I have a dearth of this type material in my collection. Lee has read much more of the European material where stand alone stories are more common, but so much of what I have you either need to make a huge commitment or accept some of the limitations that may come with the material. Queen and Country is a good example of wonderful stories but the art was inconsistent. I loved that material, but if I’m selling our entertainment form I’m putting my absolute best foot forward.

Making the cut means it could not be super hero and therefore it cut out half of my collection. I have given away a lot of material so that creates part of my problem and I have never read Maus or Contract with God, so I can’t personally recommend those books. Scalped is a great series, but I don’t own the trades and convincing someone to read all the trades is hard. 100 Bullets is 13 trades and is daunting if you put those out for someone to read. The same is true with Fables, Sandman and other books they are so long that people are often afraid to try it out. Look at Strangers in Paradise, I read Volume One (and gave it away) and have yet to read Volume 2. I have the first two volumes of Torpedo on my shelf, but again that is a long series.
So my question is what graphic stories you would use to give to a non comic fan to show them the best of our world. I’m happy with my selections above but I know there has to be more.

My challenge to my fellow blog members is to write a column with their choices and I would hope that some of our readers might add their comments as well.

Indies Preview Review for August Part 2 of 3

Drawn & Quarterly
Nipper Vol. 01 (1963-1964) SC by (W/A) Doug Wright
Last year's Doug Wright: Canada's Master Cartoonist introduced the world to Nipper, the mischievous little kid who starred in Doug Wright's ingenious and enduring comic strip. This volume covers a peak period in Wright's four-decade career as he comes into his own as an iconic cartoonist capable of documenting middle-class suburban existence in all its minute joys and indignities. Packed with period details and loaded with charm, this collection features an introduction by journalist Brad Mackay. 112 pgs. $16.95
Lee: In the past few years I’ve become a huge strip fan and I’ve become a fan of foreign cartoons. And, this book combines the best of both works. It’s certainly aimed more at the comic historian than the casual reader but it appears to be a more aggressive Dennis the Menace.
Jim: Yeah, I'm not there yet, so have fun Lee and let me know what it is like.

Palooka Ville Vol. 20 HC by (W/A) Seth
Palookaville Volume 20 is the first volume of the seminal comic book series to be published in book form. The expansion into hardcover from pamphlet is a parallel that illustrates Seth's growth into an award-winning cartoonist, book designer, hobbyist, editor, essayist, and installation artist. Part comic book with the ongoing serialization of Clyde Fans, part sketchbook, and part documentation of Seth's fictional town of Dominion City, this visual compendium will showcase Seth's varied creative passions. $19.95. Previews for a bunch of Seth stuff here.
Lee: Last year I read Seth’s book George Sprott and loved it! Now I am all out Seth. Seriously, I don’t know how I didn’t hear about this before. Anyway, I know about him know and I’m getting this. Actually, now that I know there are 19 other volumes, I’ll probably try to find those too. But, I have no doubt this will be good.
Jim: Just reading the description scares me away. It is too many things and not a straight up graphic novel or anything. I would have to read something else by Seth before getting this book.

Fantagraphics Books
Drunken Dream & Other Stories HC by (W/A) Moto Hagio, Matt Thorn (trans.)
A decades-spanning collection from the founding mother of modern sho-jo manga. Fantagraphics Books' first volume of manga is a collection of short stories by one of Japan's most influential and critically lauded comics innovators. $24.99
Lee: Ok, let’s start with the definition of Shojo, from wiki-land: “shōjo manga does not comprise a style or a genre per se, but rather indicates a target demographic, specifically a female audience roughly between the ages of 10 and 18.” Neither Jim, nor I, are anywhere close to this demographic. I was, in my younger years, but only in the most physical of senses. But, my love of comics far outweighs target markets. I truly enjoy reading the works of creators who transcended the medium and created something entirely new. I also trust Fantagraphics enough to provide me quality material. I have no doubt this will be very good so if you’re looking for something different then this will be a good book for you.
Jim: I'm more confused that Lee was a female when he was younger or at least he was in the most physical of senses? Did you smell like a girl, hit like a girl, I need more information.

Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc Sec Vol. 01 HC by (W/A) Jacques Tardi
Both a rip-roaring adventure series set in pre-World War I Paris and a parody of same, Adéle has been enchanting, thrilling, and puzzling readers worldwide through four decades. Adéle becomes involved in a series of mysteries that involve a revived pterodactyl, a frightful on-stage murder, a looming execution by guillotine, and a demon from the depths of hell - plus of course moronic gendarmes, loyal (or perhaps traitorous?) henchmen, and a climax atop the Eiffel Tower. $24.99 Go here to see get a 10 pg preview of another Tardi book.
Lee: I’ve been getting all the new Tardi books and so far they’ve been great so I’m not stopping now. Tardi is one of the European masters and this is highly recommended.
Jim: I have been moving towards more of this type of material and I will gladly sign up for this book also.

Fire Water: Bill Everett - Birth of Marvel HC by (W) Blake Bell In 1939, brand-new Marvel's first-ever comic book featured an anti-hero named the Sub-Mariner, created by legendary artist Bill Everett. From the superhero and horror genre, to romance, crime, and suspense, Bill Everett was a master of the medium. Blake Bell's follow-up to Strange & Stranger: The World of Steve Ditko, Fire and Water is the definitive biography of the man and his career. The main focus, however, will be the stunning display of artwork that few artists can match in breadth and quality- all on display in this coffee table art book that is destined to ensure Everett's place at the table of premier comic book virtuosos. $39.99.
Lee: Jim and I have known about this book for months, if not close to a year. It has been so delayed that I never thought it would actually see the light of day. But I’m glad it’s finally here. This should be good stuff.
Jim: First off I'm getting this book. The only problem I have that there has been serious critcism of Blake Bell and his lack of credibility. The Ditko book he did was torched by a reviewer as being total BS. Since Ditko is impossible to talk to and Everett was not known as a recluse maybe this will be better. I love Everett's art, so I want this book.

Special Exits HC by (W/A) Joyce Farmer
Special Exits chronicles the decline of Lara (Farmer's stand-in)'s elderly parents (Lars and Rachel)'s health. Set in southern Los Angeles (which makes for a terrifying sequence as blind Rachel and ailing Lars are trapped in their home without power during the 1992 Rodney King riots), backgrounds and props are lovingly detailed: these objects serve as memory triggers for Lars and Rachel, even as they eventually overwhelm them and their home, which the couple is loathe to leave. $26.99. More about Farmer here.
Lee: Wow, if this doesn’t sound like a heartwarming tale of… something. Anyway, Joyce Farmer, is one of the Grande Dammes of underground comix. I was on the edge before but now I’m sold.
Jim: The premise is not something that is of interest to me. I will have to let this one pass me by.

Image Comics
Aqua Leung Vol. 01 GN by (W) Mark Andrew Smith (A) Paul Maybury Introducing a new, ongoing series for ages 16 and up that breathes fresh air into the ancient story of Atlantis! An average boy named Aqua suddenly learns the truth about his origin, including his father's savage murder at the hands of those in fear of his power. He must now begin a journey to take back his father's kingdom from the evil shark king and restore himself as the one, true unifier of the seas. 200 Pages B&W $17.99. You can read Paul Mayberry’s completely unrelated online story ‘Party Bear’ here.
Lee: Image is so frustrating these days. I believe this was advertised last year or even longer ago. I’m still interested because Mayberry’s art looks cool but Image is killing itself with the lateness, or incompleteness, of it’s books.
Jim: I have the same problem with certain Image books. I got into The Great Unknown and Four Eyes but they are published once ever six months or so. It makes it really hard to follow a series.

Hellspawn Complete Collected HC by (W) Brian Michael Bendis, Steve Niles (A) Ashley Wood, Ben Templesmith
Hellspawn marked the return of Spawn; the guns blazing, take-no-prisoners warrior. This next step in the evolution of Todd McFarlane's hell-born creation featured the creative minds of industry greats Brian Michael Bendis, Steve Niles, Ashley Wood and Ben Templesmith, who redefined the mythos of the Hellspawn. The Hellspawn complete collection includes the entire Hellspawn series along with never-before-seen art, a cover gallery Hellspawn behind the scenes content in an oversized, hardcover format. $39.99
Lee: I’m pretty sure that I have all of these issues in storage somewhere in the US. And, from what I remember they were…. confusing? I have an inkling that the sum is far greater than the parts so I will get this. But honestly, it’s mostly because of the art.
Jim: I have never had and can never imagine having any interest in Spawn.

Nancy in Hell #1 by (W) El Torres (A) Juan Jose Ryp & Fran Gamboa Good girls go to heaven, right? But it seems like there are no good girls anymore. After her death, Nancy awakens in a creepy landscape to find decomposing lost souls, demons lurking in the shadows, outcasts, chainsaws, booze, and certain doom. Can Nancy escape from Hell? Amazing artist Juan Jose Ryp and writer El Torres (The Veil) take you on a white-knuckle tour of the underworld to find out! Warning: may not be suitable for all ages $2.99 #1 of 4
Lee: This is a guilty pleasure if there ever was one. I’ve seen some previews and it looked like porn stars in hell. But amazingly beautiful porn stars because of Ryp’s art. Other than the obvious dirty aspect I have high hopes for this. Torres last book, The Veil, was very, very good and Ryp’s art will be stellar.
Jim: It sounds like soft core porn with the horror element thrown in, which is what most of the hack/slash films are, I will also be checking out the first issue.