Thursday, September 30, 2010

Shadowland: Power Man #2 - A Review

In the second issue of this mini series, the new Power Man, Victor Alvarez, faces Luke Cage, the original Power Man, and his old hero for hire partner, Iron Fist, alongside Cage’s old rogue’s gallery, which includes such luminaries as Mr. Fish, Spear, Comanche, and my personal favorite, Cockroach Hamilton.

This might not sound like anything more than your typical spin off of your typical summer crossover, but make no mistake: Shadowland: Power Man is one of the best superhero comics of 2010.

It takes the original concept of Luke Cage, a local superhero who is a hero for hire, and updates it for the 21st century. The characterization throughout the series has been outstanding. In only a few scenes, we learn to care about Victor and his family, while established characters like Cage and Iron Fist never threaten to overtake the book, but instead help build up Victor and his story.

The scenes with Victor and his family are involving. Cage’s old rogues gallery is hilarious (Particularly Spear’s introduction: “Spear! It’s who I am! It’s what I do! It’s what I use! SPEAR! NOUN! VERB! PROPER NAME!”). The fight is exciting. And the mysteries, like where Victor’s powers come from, are interesting without becoming tedious.

Honestly, the book is really everything that superhero books should be doing. Its fun, its about an interesting new character, and it uses continuity as a tool to enhance its story instead of a barrier to entry. It launches off the back of a major crossover, without making that crossover required reading and even better, with a half African American, half Dominican main character, it injects some much needed diversity into the Marvel Universe.

And its all enhanced by the wonderful art of Mahmud Asrar. Asrar does a great job on every aspect of the book, from the characters’ “acting” to the action in the fights. In addition to all that, his work on Power Man’s design has produced my favorite new superhero costume in ages. Going back to his days on Dynamo 5, Asrar has always been a talented artist, but his work on this series is by far the best, most polished work I’ve seen from him.

On Amazing Spider-Man, Incredible Hercules, and Action Philosophers, Fred Van Lente has been writing some of the best comics on the market for years, and this book is no exception.

Shadowland: Power Man is a fantastic mini series. This is how superhero comics in the 21st century should read. This is a book that is clearly testing the waters for a potential ongoing series and if there’s any justice in this world, Marvel will publish that series.

Don't let the crossover tag throw you off, if you like good, fun comics you should definitely give this book a shot.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

IDW Preview Review for November

Lee: This is a surprisingly light month from IDW. Light from a new book perspective that is. There is a new Secret Agent Corrigan hc, new King Aroo, and a bunch of cool ongoing stuff, but not much in the way of new-new.
Jim: True, true. But we are approaching the dog days of new series as November to February seem to be the lighter months for launching stuff.

Dungeons and Dragons #1 by (W) John Rogers (A) Andrea Di Vito (C) Tyler Walpole, Wayne Reynolds
Beginning a new era in Dungeons & Dragons history! The genre-defining roleplaying game gets its first ongoing series in more than 20 years! Join writer John Rogers (Blue Beetle) and artist Andrea Di Vito (Annihilation) as they bring us a tale of high adventure and deep secrets. Adric Fell leads a band of heroes in a world where civilization has been reduced to a few scattered points of light amid a rising tide of shadows. $3.99
Lee: I’m actually excited to see new D&D series in print. I’m not a huge D&D fan but it’s a good expansion of comics into related medium. And, it something other than capes and cowls. I know the DiVito is a good artist so I’ll check out the first issue at least.
Jim: A solid creative team is on this book, but I never got into D&D so will pass on this series. Is D&D still a big deal anymore? I know gaming itself took off and D&D was the grand daddy of all of the gaming stuff, but I'm curious if it still has a big following anymore.

Shockrockets HC by (W) Kurt Busiek (A & C) Stuart Immonen
Sixty years in the future, Earth is protected by the Shockrockets-an unbeatable squadron of hi-tech aircraft, built from a fusion of alien technology and the best Earth has to offer. Manned by the world's most elite pilots, the Shockrockets protect an unstable Earth as it rebuilds from a devastating invasion from space. Young, tech-mad Alejandro Cruz becomes the newest Shockrockets pilot by a freak of chance. Can he get up to speed before the Shockrockets' greatest foe takes over the world? $24.99
Lee: I remember reading this and really liking it. I also remember feeling disappointed when it ended that there wasn’t going to be any followup. It’s a good story but there isn’t a true conclusion and you aren’t going to get one.
Jim: Agreed. Love the series and thought it was well done, but I'm not picking up a $25 trade to still have no resolution to the story line.

Great Treasury of Christmas Comic Book Stories HC by (W & A) Walt Kelly, John Stanley, Dan Noon, and more
These wonderful Christmas comics from the Golden Age of Comics will warm the hearts of children of all ages. Top cartoonists like Walt Pogo Kelly, John Little Lulu Stanley, Dan Noonan, and many more penned the funny, heartwarming comics in this beautiful collection. You'll meet elves, reindeer, talking snowmen and funny animals-and, of course, Santa Claus himself-in terrific stories that will provide a sense of wonder for kids, Moms, Dads, Uncles, and Aunts. $34.99
Lee: I have really enjoyed the recent wave of 50’s funny animal reprints. The stories have been humorous, the art has been great, and it exposed me to a whole new genre of comics that is largely forgotten these days. But this is a stretch even for me. The general funny animal stories always have an edge to them. But Christmas stories always seem to be more wholesome. Almost to wholesome to read in one sitting. If the kids were just a little younger I might, but for now it’s a pass.
Jim: Heck if Lee is passing on this stuff you know full well there is no way I'm sgning up for this book.

Wire Hangers Vol. 01 SC by Alan Robert (W & A)
Rocker Alan Robert of the legendary metal-crossover music group, Life of Agony, writes and illustrates this twisted horror/conspiracy series. Wire Hangers uses nightmarish visuals and graphic storytelling to depict a wave of abductions plaguing New York City. Pill-popping detectives, corrupt secret agents, and a mysterious, disfigured homeless man are all inter-connected in this horrific tale of revenge and redemption. $19.99 You can see a preview of the third issue here, all the way at the bottom of the page.
Lee: Normally I distrust when musicians try to write comic book stories but I am willing to give this one a chance. Mostly because Robert’s was in art school before becoming a musician and his art strongly reminds me of Ben Templesmith. Early Templesmith, but Templesmith none the less. I’m not expecting high art but this should be entertaining.
Jim: Wow every pick Lee made is a pass for me. That should not reflect on what I think of IDW as a whole as I love a ton of their material, just not these picks.

Lee: If there’s nothing that screams buy me, then I highly recommend the latest King Aroo hc from IDW. An excellent collection of the old newspaper daily and well worth the money.
Jim: Heck go out and buy the Bloom County collections they are producing on Locke & Key, GI Joe Cobra or The Ghoul, plenty of great IDW stuff for everyone.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Week of September 22 In Review

Now that I’m down to a weekly column I will be constantly playing around with how I want this review to work. Essentially I’m going with capsule reviews of books that I found worthy of comment for the time being, but I think as I get used to just doing one post a week I will try to find different ways to give you my impressions on a book. Many reviewers do what the story was about or the art or a string of adjectives looking to be a pull quote down the line. All forms of a review are valid; mine usually change with almost each book. Some books make me want to question the marketing or editorial decisions behind said book, some are just celebrations of what a great book and some created thoughts in my mind about the general world of comics or even other things. So please bear with me as we follow this sort of stream of consciousness form of reviews.

Thor #615 – I have mixed feelings for Matt (Caption) Fraction, but love Ferry’s artwork so I knew going on that I could have issues with this book. It was a pretty cool ride. The good part of the book was the set up of the story. Asgard is now on Earth, but where it used to be is a vacuum and nature abhors a vacuum. We get to see a group of bad guys come into someone else’s space time continuum and take them all out. It appears the exodus of Asgard is creating a problem that will be hell to pay for our world. On Earth we get to see Thor bitch slap Balder out of his whining and moaning about how he failed Asgard and Thor tells him to pull it together and rebuild. At the same time we see some work in the supporting cast being rebuilt. We also get Thor and Don Blake working out issues now that only one of them gets to be real at a time. It was a good beginning and has me hooked for the next issue. The problem I have is the story telling device used was some nerdy scientist type telling all of the issues of the nine worlds stuff to Volstagg in a diner. I know it was suppose to be funny and all of that and it gave Fraction a chance to lay out a lot of exposition so we could get the gist of his story idea, but it was a bad choice. Fraction is better than that as a writer and he could let the explanation be either discerned by the reader or built into the story itself. By doing it this way the framing device became a distraction and weakened the overall issue which was a nice re-entry point for a reader like me who had left the book shortly after JMS.

Skull Kickers #1 – I picked this up on a whim and now I will hang onto for at least a few issues. The story is about two guys who are mercenaries in a sword and sorcery type environment. The one guy is a big hulking type and the other guy is the dwarf from the Lord of the Rings. At least I heard his voice every time I read his word balloons. Peter Jackson and Tolkien could sue and win for character copyright. Going in I thought this was a light weight book and I was right. It has ripped off the fastball special from X-Men and 100 other clich├ęs ridden throughout the story. There is hardly an original thought or word or picture to be found. Bottom line it was fun as all get out. It was not pretentious; it was not trying to be anything more than it was. It was a fun action/adventure story set in that mythical sword and sorcery environment familiar to fans of the genre, but nowhere to be found in history. All in color for a dime, well $2.99 but a lot of fun.

39 Minutes – My friend Rusty told me to read this as a well structured story and a rarity in comics now days, a book that tells a story. It does and it did. In one issue we get a solid story that set up the premise of what happened, some of why it happened and set the stage for future stories if it gets green lighted, since it is part of the pilot season stunt Top Cow runs. I expect to never see another issue as the pilot season seems to be more of a stunt to sell six solo issues then to really get series started. Also the art was a notch above bad. I’m sure the inker and colorist did a lot to save it, but the work was very amateurish. At least the layouts were solid and kept up the flow of the story, but that was all it did The big plus is the writer gave us what this story is going to be about and now I get to decide if I want to follow that story. Too many books and TV shows are about keeping up a mystery and never letting us know what the story will be about.

Fantastic Four #583 – I’m trying again to get into Jonathan Hickman’s FF run again and he is now joined with Steve Epting as the artist. We are lead to believe this is the starting point where the Four will end up being only Three. I can only hope someone actually dies and the book takes a true step forward. I’m not sure how long I’m back for the ride as this is all Hickman story telling at its best and worse. It has lots of cool ideas and appears like it could be neat, but it is built on continuity that I have missed (as I had dropped the book for awhile) and it has promises of stories that are never brought to fruition or the book is being written for the finale only.

Hulk #25 – It should be called Rulk since it is about the Red Hulk. In one issue Jeff Parker brought me up to speed on this character and gave me enough background to go forward with the book. Rulk is General Ross, he has had some extra power turned off to save his life and he is now working under government control to stop doomsday plans of the Leader and Modok from actually destroying the world. Since I’m reading Incredible Hulks also I’m confused that Banner is running so many things, but all in all it was a good start to get me into a series I have avoided like the plague.

Walking Dead #77 – Are you not reading this series? If you are not, you should, at least watch the new AMC series starting on Halloween. A great book and one of the best series on the stands, you almost have to say you are not a true comic book fan if you aren’t reading this book. Entertaining, thought provoking, interesting, great characters and tons of left turns, that make sense after you read them, but you seldom see coming.

Flash #5 and Green Lantern Corps #52 – So many super hero books are marginal and are certainly less and less enjoyable, both of these series are solid and entertaining. Neither is blowing me away, but they are well done and are adding to the continuity of each book. I like books that have continuity and enjoy seeing that story build while at the same time each arc tells a story. These books hit those buttons.

Secret Avengers #5 – A solid story, great art and the best issue of Secret Avengers to date, I hated it. Max Fury is essentially another Nick Fury who has turned bad for various reasons. So for lack of a better term we have a new clone sage that has been retro-conned into Marvel history. I have seen this type of idea before and it never works out well. I could have only accepted this if Max Fury was killed at the end, now we have two Nick Fury(s) who are exactly the same, how can you ever trust Nick every again. It was hard enough to trust Nick before this, now there is no reason to trust him.

That is a wrap for this week. There were plenty of other books, but either they were middle chapters or nothing that made me stand up and take notice of that issue. Be back next week for another week that was.

Monday, September 27, 2010

A Fistful of Reviews

I'll be taking over Mondays for awhile as I thought, hey! Mondays! I'll have plenty of time to read the comics I get on Weds. by Monday! Well it didn't really work out that way this week but at least I got enough reading to do a few reviews.

X-23 #1 (Marvel)

Okay, first of all, this is a terrible super-character name. I mean, I get the story reason and all but it's still dumb. Regardless - this wasn't that bad of a book but it didn't really capture me at all. I was a little confused as to what Laura was having nightmares about until I read the character background thing. Also, the coloring was really off and it took me awhile to recognize Storm because of it. The coloring seemed faded out. I feel like this book could go somewhere but this was not the strangest start.

Batgirl #14 (DC)

I've been really enjoying the Batgirl books but I feel like this was a filler issue. It was still a cute story and all but I think it would be good for the book to pick up the pace since it'll take some work for Proxy to fill in Oracle's shoes. I'm really hoping this book will continue to be as enjoyable now that Oracle has gone back to BoP.

Zantanna #5 (DC)

What is with this cover?? I really want to enjoy this comic but the sexual overtones in the artwork really bother me.

izombie #5 (Vertigo)

I'd really thought I'd had my fill of zombie comics until I started reading izombie. This is such a well written book and really explores some fun monster ideas. It plays with familiar monster stereotypes and makes them into something more. Also, Gwen the zombie having a crush on a monster hunter is entertaining. I like that Gwen has a dilemma as to whether or not she can actually kill someone else to continue surviving.

Birds of Prey #5 (DC)

I am still somewhat lost about this White Canary thing but I'll role with it for the sake of this book. Unfortunately with such a serious plot line there hasn't been as much room for the humor I always loved in Birds of Prey. At least Savant was saved and hopefully Babs can help him.

Red Robin #16 (DC)

Tim Drake is developing into a really cool character as Red Robin. I really liked his plan with walking around injured for an extended period of time in order to cement his secret identity. I also liked how that put another guy in danger because of Anarchy killing off possible Red Robins.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

More Ennui than Anarchy

Today's foray into the past is a little unusual. That's primarily because it was only a 3 issue series, and I never got the third issue. I try to stay away from discussing books that I haven't read in their entirety. On the other hand, I'm fairly certain that even if I had the third issue, Kid Anarchy would have been incomplete.

It's also unusual simply because I've held onto these two issues all these years despite a completely apethetic view of the work. Most of the stuff that I've had for nearly 20 years is something I liked in some way. Maybe even something I really disliked, just as a reminder of roads not to take again. But this? I really have no feelings about it at all.

I think the reason it's stuck around is the size. Its 8 1/2"x11" size meant it didn't fit in The Comics Cabinet. It just sat on top, in a pile of other odd sized stuff. As a result it escaped purges of the Cabinet when it got too full (which it is now).

Anyway, on to what you're here for - a review. Kid Anarchy was published by Fantagraphic Books from March 1991 until some time in 1992 (not really sure of the exact date of the third issue, for obvious reasons). The second issue was August 1991. I'd say the fact that the final issue wasn't until some time in 1992 might have had something to do with my not getting it, too. I graduated from law school and got married that year, which meant lots of moving around. This probably fell off the radar. That I was very poor then meant I might not have bought it even if I did know it was out.

Did I say I was going to review this? Yeah, I think I did. Kid Anarchy was written by George Cole and the art was by Mike McCarthy. There are no capes here. No ghosts or goblins. No invaders from space. No dystopian future. All we have here is angst, and lots of it. It's like Harvey Pekar, but without the quality of art and with a younger protagonist.

Our titular "hero" is Tommy Delaney. The first person narrative that opens the story only indicates the events depicted occur some time in the past but the Wikipedia page, consisting of one paragraph, says it was the early '80s. Tommy appears to be a high school graduate. His emotional development remains somewhere in middle school, though. Kid Anarchy is a persona he creates for himself that isn't so much a persona as a T shirt with the sleeves ripped off and an A with a circle around it spray painted on the front. As statements of rebellion go, this ain't much.

He lives in a mobile home with some family or other. He doesn't seem to have a job. He has friends named Sherman Krellberg (Jewish and black, horned rimmed glasses, community college student, rides a motorcycle with side car), Sam Woods (artist with a redneck exterior, pretty boy blonde), Nina (somewhat older, owner of combination indy comics and indy music store called Pandemonium, object of Tommy's affections), and Chuck Moonchow (scion, former hippy). The male members of this quintet, particularly the poorer trio, like to hang out at a burger joint called Pops, where burgers are cheap and plentiful. The entire affair is set in a fictional small Southern town called Yamston.

Not much happens in these two issues. They hang out and yammer a lot. There's much posturing by the male members, though Sherm seems like a cypher. Moonchow is loud and obnoxious. They all drink a lot. Nina goes out with some other guy who sells to her albums and comics he's located at yard sales and auctions. He's married. They try having sex but he can't go through with it. It seems like they've done that dance before. Tommy is in a huff because Nina's not seeing him, though he knows from the outset that his affections are unrequited by anything more than friendship from Nina. Lots and lots of existential angst.

As far as the art, I can't decide if it's merely bad or a conscious choice. It's definitely lacking in proportion and perspective, but the over sized heads on the characters seem like a choice in style, with much less attention paid to the body of each character. Regardless, it's disconcerting at times when the angles aren't right to show the proper depth that should be present in a character's body position. Look at that right arm on Kid Anarchy on the cover of the first issue. Is that a hand or a flipper? A bent right arm should not come to the same end point, in terms of level on the page, as the straight left arm. A bent arm has to be shorter, as long as it's the two arms of the same person and they're both about the same length.

Overall, it's typical of the black and white independent sort of stuff of the time. For every Omaha the Cat Dancer you had eight or nine of these sorts of things (not that this has any graphic sex like Omaha). This is a PG endeavor into navel gazing. Harmless, but not overly memorable.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

A Smash Hit -- Thor: Tales of Asgard HC -- A Review

Well, it’s been another crazy week for me. Last week I was sick and this week I was in an automobile accident, when I was rear-ended by a tractor-trailer on I-95 while driving to work. During some of the downtime I had due to back and neck soreness, I was able to finish reading my Thor: Tales of Asgard HC. Let me just say – this is a WONDERFUL book!!!

The retail price is $30 and it would even be worth it at that price given its over-sized format. I got it for only $15 at comic-con, so that was a real bargain. This is also the book that contains my Walt Simonson sketch with John Workman sound effects. So, it already has a special status in my collection.

This book collects the entire Stan Lee/Jack Kirby Tales of Asgard stories from Journey into Mystery #97 through Thor #145. Each tale is only five pages long, but Kirby packs a lot of story into those pages. Some stories are stand alone or loosely collected into themes, but several of them are multi-chapter epics. Since the book doesn’t provide a table of contents (the only blemish), I’ll provide one here (I’m improvising for some of the headings):

Ancient History
1. Tales of Asgard!

2. Odin Battles Ymir, King of the Ice Giants

3. Surtur the Fire Demon

The Boyhood of Thor

4. The Storm Giants

5. The Invasion of Asgard!

6. Death Comes to Thor! – Thor is finally worthy enough to lift Mjolnir.
7. Thor’s Mission to Mirmir!

Biographies in Depth of Asgard’s Heroes

8. Heimdall: Guardian of the Mystic Rainbow Bridge!

9. When Heimdall Failed!

10. Baldar “The Brave”

11. Baldar Must Die!

Stand-Alone Tales

12. Trapped by the Trolls!

13. Banished from Asgard!

14. The Defeat of Odin!

15. The Secret of Sigurd!

Biographies in Depth of Asgard’s Heroes (cont’d)

16. The Coming of Loki!

17. The Boyhood of Loki!

18. The Golden Apples! (non-Loki interlude: Lee/Kirby version of Little Red Riding Hood)

19. A Viper in Our Midst!

20. The Challenge! – King Hymir has the most outrageously HUGE helmet I’ve ever seen!

The Coming of Ragnarok

21. The Sword in the Scabbard!

22. The Crimson Hand! – where Thor uses a truth glove (really cool)
23. Gather, Warriors! – first appearance of the Warriors Three

24. Set Sail!

25. Maelstrom!

26. The Grim Specter of Mutiny!
27. The Jaws of the Dragon!
28. Closer Comes the Swarm!

29. The Queen Commands

30. The Summons!

31. The Meaning of Ragnarok!

32. Aftermath! – just a vision of what will happen at Ragnarok, looks like the beginning of Kirby’s Fourth World series.

A sub-story that continues directly from Ragnarok
33. The Hordes of Harokin! – Loki actually gets punished in the Well of Eternal Sleep!

34. The Fateful Challenge!

35. The Warlock’s Eye!

36. The Dark Horse of Death!

Fafnir, the Dragon

37. When Speaks the Dragon!

38. The Fiery Breath of Fafnir!

39. There Shall Come a Miracle!

Mogul and the Mystic Mountain
40. The Tragedy of Hogun!
41. The Quest for the Mystic Mountain!
42. The Secret of the Mystic Mountain!

43. The Battle Begins!

44. Alibar and the Forty Demons!
45. We, Who are about to Die…!

46. To the Death! – Bill Everett embellishment (If only he had inked every story – more like Mike Royer). Also, Volstagg finds the weapon needed to save the day by accident!

47. The Beginning of the End!

48. The End!

You would have to purchase the first six Thor Marvel Masterworks volumes to get all these stories. That would be over $150 IF you could get them for $25 a piece, the retail price would be closer to $300. Plus, you’d have to skip over the lead story in each issue to get to the Tales of Asgard backup. More importantly you would miss out on the GORGEOUS recoloring by Matt Milla. Let’s just say that you hardly notice Vince Colletta sketchy inks with Matt’s coloring. I know some people are purists and want only the original color scheme, but this totally works here.

“But wait! There’s More!”

In addition to these 48 magnificent tales, you also get a recoloring of Thor’s origin from Journey into Mystery #83. It’s one of my favorite origin stories (I used to read it in my Origins of Marvel Comics book). You should see the storm clouds on the cover! We also get the recolored covers for JIM#97, and two Tales of Asgard reprint books from 1968 and 1984.

“That’s Not All!”
You also get some Handbook of the Marvel Universe entries about Asgard and it’s key players, including some maps and diagrams. Sure you may have these somewhere else, but it’s super nice to have them all collected together.

“Better than Steak Knives”
The most awesome extra in this tome is the Oliver Coipel six page fold-out that combines the six covers from the recent Tales of Asgard (funding the HC) mini-series. One side is the finished product and the other side is the original drawing version. There’s even a key to each of the characters in the drawing – all 63 of them!

I slipped in a few notes in the ToC above about some of the stories, but I have to say that Volstagg really stole the show for me. He’s absolutely hilarious. I know we’ve all been told that Kirby did most of the plotting and Stan just scripted, but the two mesh perfectly here. Volstagg wouldn’t be nearly as funny without Stan’s dialogue. But the humor is already there in Kirby’s layouts. Just a side note, I think Odin changes his outfits more often than the Wasp!

I can’t praise this book enough! The presentation, the coloring, the stories, the extras, etc. It all adds up to one spectacular collection that every Thor fan should own. There just isn’t a better way to read these stories and at five pages per tale, you can easily get through one or two before retiring for the evening.

“Thus must it be! And that which must be, ever shall be! For such is the wonder! Such is the way! Now, verily…I HAVE SPOKEN!!” – Odin in chapter 38.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Indies Preview Review for November Part 3 of 3

Image Comics
Yesterdays Tomorrows Vol. 01 SC by (W) Grant Morrison, Raymond Chandler & Tom Dehaven, John Freeman & Chris Reynolds (A/C) Rian Hughes
An eclectic and stylish collection of comics from rian hughes, renowned illustrator and graphic designer. Features infamous and hard-to-find collaborations with Eisner Award winner Grant Morrison: Dan Dare, a post-modern classic that sets the aging and retired iconic British character Dare against a modern British landscape he no longer understands; and Really and Truly, a high-octane psychedelic road-trip torn from the pages of cult comic 2000AD. Hughes' clean graphic style comes to the fore in duotone for The Science Service, written by John Freeman, while Hughes explores an evocative noir palette replete with dramatic angular lighting for Raymond Chandler's Goldfish, adapted by It's Superman author TOM Dehaven. In addition to sketchbook pages, merchandise and rare strips-many never seen before or out of print for over a decade-the book features an introduction by comics guru Paul Gravett, who published Hughes' very first strips in his seminal independent comics magazine Escape. Features: Grant Morrison Dan Dare Grant Morrison Really And Truly Tom Dehaven Raymond Chandlers Goldfish John Freeman The Science Service Chris Reynolds The Lighted Cities Dare is a work of simple and elegant beauty Time Out One of the most successful and prolific British illustrator-designers of the past twenty years -Roger Sabin, Eye Magazine It's definitely not the Dan Dare of old. Morrison completely deconstructs the character, using him as an iconic figure of a better past Dan Dare the brand still says patriotism, individual strength and the dream of a glittering modernist future -Richard Bruton, Forbidden Planet International Hughes has been credited with doing more than anyone else to elevate the sophistication level of comic book design. -Michael Dooley, AIGA Rian Hughes is a luminescent pop culture demon. -David Quantick (from the foreword) $24.99
Gwen: Just say no to Grant Morrison.
Lee: How can you say no to Grant Morrison??? With all the arguements about him being the greatest writer ever?! Anyway, this book is all about the art. It looks great and has some good writers attached. I'm always up for good art.

Kickstart Comics
Heavy Water HC by (W) Jonathan Mills (A) Alberto Muriel In an alternative future, where the Nazis won WWII, one man has the ability to travel back in time and change history for the better. His only hope is an old diary and an unreliable time machine. $14.99 Preview here.
Headache HC by (W) Lisa Joy (A) Jim Fern Eighteen year-old Sarah is the goddess Athena. Her evil stepmother? Hera, who's actually out to kill her. The bad boy she loves? Hades, king of the underworld. The philandering father whose approval she seeks? Zeus the ultimate deadbeat dad. And now she must take on all of the gods in order to stop them from destroying mankind. Edited by Jimmy Palmiotti. $14.99 Preview pages here.
Mirror Mirror HC by (W) Joshua Williamson (A) Lee Moder The secret society the Huntsmen protected supernatural items from evil doers for centuries. Now some one is reuniting the shattered remains of the evil Magic Mirror of Snow White's fairy tale and killing Huntsmen. Owen, the twenty-something, playboy son of two murdered Huntsmen must stop the madman's plot. Cover by Darwyn Cooke. Edited by Jimmy Palmiotti. $14.99 Previews of Mirror Mirror here and visit Kickstart comics here.
Lee: I really hope this new company succeeds because I miss some of the older creators. Lee Moder and Jim Fern were some of my favourite artists back in the day. And, if the previews are any indication, they haven’t lost their touch. It’s an interesting decision to go straight to hc gn’s, too. I like it but I wonder how the overall market will receive it.
Gwen: Headache and Mirror Mirror look really cool but I'll pass on the alternate Nazi future one.

Microcosm Publishing
Henry and Glenn Forever GN by (W/A) Tom Neely Henry & Glenn Forever is the love story to end all love stories! Henry and Glenn are very good friends. They are also roommates. Daryl and John live next door. They are Satanists. What follows is ultra-metal violence, cryfest diary entries, cringing self-doubt, and mega-hilarious emo-meltdowns. Terrifyingly cute. Cutely terrifying. $6.00 Visit Nely here.
Lee: I have no clue what to make of this book. One on hand I find it absolutely hilarious that Glenn (Danzig) and Henry (Rollins) are friends in love. On the other hand I’m not sure I care enough about cute & cuddly emo meltdowns between men, no matter how funny it is. This is going to be a last minute decision because I like Neely’s art enough to splurge but I have to see it first.
Gwen: Ummmm.... pass. Although it looks like it could be painfully amusing. Like really awful movies.

Salvatore Vol. 01: Transports of Love GN by (W/A) Nicolas De Crecy
Best-selling creator De Crecy returns with a new series starring a dog auto repair mechanic so successful, he can afford to move his garage to a hard-to-reach peak for peace and privacy. Privacy to build transportation to carry him to his beloved far, far away. As unpredictable and original as Glacial Period, this Plymptonesque tale is filled with irresistible bittersweet humor. $14.99. See some previews here.
Lee: De Crecy's art is a visual tour de force. It is just excellent! His story, Glacial Period, was strange but good. You won't be sorry if you get this, but be warned it is very European.
Gwen: This looks very intriguing. Also, I don't see how you can go wrong with a canine mechanic. The art looks beautiful too.

Pure Imagination Publishing
Lou Fine Reader Vol. 03 SC by (W) Various (A) Lou Fine
The final volume in the Lou Fine Reader series concludes with the rest of The Ray, Uncle Sam, The Black Condor, Dollman, and The Count of Monte Cristo, with 160 pages of classic art Theakstonized for maximum reproduction. $25.00
Lee: I swore I was going to stop buying these things but I can’t pass this one up. Lou Fine is one of the greatest artists of the Golden Age is this is the only way to see any of his art. Incredibly details and lush, it’s… it’s… just friggin’ amazing.
Gwen: The only appeal here to me is the Count of Monte Cristo but somehow I doubt it's the same Count Dumas wrote.

Radical Publishing
Last Days of American Crime SC by (W) Rick Remender (A) Greg Tocchini (C) Alex Maleev
NOW IN PAPERBACK! From Rick Remender, the critically acclaimed writer of Punisher. In the not-too-distant future, as a final response to terrorism and crime, the U.S. government plans in secret to broadcast a signal making it impossible for anyone to knowingly commit unlawful acts. To keep this from the public, the government creates a distraction, installing a new currency system using digital charge cards. Enter Graham Brick, a career criminal never quite able to hit the big score. In a grand scheme, Graham intends to steal one of the charging stations, skip the country and live off unlimited funds for the rest of his life. But the media has leaked news of the anti-crime signal one week before it was to go live... and now Graham and his team have just a few days to turn the crime of the century into the last crime in American history. $14.95
Lee: I try to use the indies previews to identify new books and exciting material. I try not to be negative because I really want the books I pick to succeed. But, every now and then I need to make an exception to the rule and this book is it. To say this book was bad is high praise. The art was muddy with characters that were indistinguishable from each other. The story was little more than a vehicle for pointless violence, rape, and nudity. Absolute pure drivel that made me feel dirty after I read it. I wouldn’t even wipe my ass with this book for fear of catching something. I like Radical Pub but they should be ashamed for printing this.
Gwen: Wow Lee... I don't think there's much I can follow up with to that....

Rebellion / 2000AD
Slaine: Warriors Dawn GN by (W) Pat Mills (A) Mike McMahon, Angie Kincaid, Massimo Belardinelli
Tir-Nan-Og, the Land of the Young. This violent world is home to warrior tribes who worship gods both benign and malevolent. The best of these warriors is a young member of the Sessair tribe named Slaine Mac Roth. Together with the repellent dwarf Ukko, Slaine wanders the land encountering many weird and sinister creatures. $17.99
Lee: I’ve been reading these Slaine reprints fort he last couple of years and they are great. It’s Conan as only the Brits could write him. Slaine is irreverent, full of sword and sorcery violence, and even some humor. This is highly recommended if you like swords and sorcery.
Gwen: Honestly I don't even need to read the solicitation. The cover here sold me. Done and done if I happen across this book at the store. I love that dinosaur face.

Wildside Press LLC
Adventures of Proffesor Thintwhistle: Incredible Aether Flyer GN by (W) Richard Lupoff (A) Steve Stiles
Featuring an introduction by Neil Gaiman, written in a delightful Victorian style by veteran sci-fi writer Richard Lupoff, and brought to sparkling life by cartoonist Steve Stiles, The Adventures of Professor Thintwhistle and His Incredible Aether Flyer is the merriest romp through space and time since Barbarella last donned - or doffed - her spacesuit! $14.99 Visit Steve Stiles here and see the unedited cover here.
Lee: This was originally written in the late 70’s/early 80’s and serialized in Heavy Metal. If that doesn’t define the subject matter, then nothing will. I liken it to high brow comix and I can’t wait to read it.
Gwen: The art doesn't really appeal to me but it still looks like something I might enjoy reading.

Lee: So, for all my excitment this month it has been tempered with an overwhelming number of omnibuses. Seriously, Battlechasers? But, Poop looks really good and so do many of the other books so it's still a win.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Indies Preview Review for November Part 2 of 3

Fantagraphics Books
Twilight of the A-Holes GN by (W/A/C) Tim Kreider
Tim Kreider's first cartoon collection, The Pain-When Will It End? was one of the few bastions of sanity throughout the awful aberration in American history known as the Bush Administration. The end of his second volume of political cartoons, Why Do They Kill Me?, saw its author in despair over the 2004 election. In this new volume, Twilight of the Assholes, as reality gets ever bleaker, Kreider's humor becomes increasingly apocalyptic, deranged, and hilarious. He juxtaposes the Biblical Christ with His blonde, flag-draped, machine-gun-toting American incarnation in Jesus vs. Jeezus, proposes a third political party that represents Americans' real values in The Sex Party, draws the dead Saddam Hussein as a mischievous invisible imp still causing trouble, and envisions the officials of the Bush administration getting their comeuppance in the grisly fashion of Dick Tracy villains. And he finds two cartoons' worth of Reasons to Look Forward to the Next Terrorist Attack. Also included is his infamous entry into Iran's Holocaust cartoon contest, Silver Linings of the Holocaust. Kreider mocks not only the evil and hapless Bush, but the fecklessness of progressives, the imbecile bigotry of radical Islam, and, most of all, the dumb bovine complacency of the American voter. Twilight of the Assholes is an hysterical chronicle of the end of the Era of Darkness, and, believe it or not, a heartening document of one man's loss and tentative restoration of faith in democracy. $28.99. Visit Kreider’s site here.
Lee: Now that is how you write hype! Originally, I picked this book because I liked the title. But, after reading the hype I want to get the book. Political cartoons serve a place in American society and are often very, very humorous. This is going to be fun.
Gwen: While I enjoy the occasional political cartoon this is not the book for me - I think an entire collection would depress me.

Usagi Yojimbo HC (special edition) by Stan Sakai
7 x 10.25, HC, 1200 pages, Partial Color, Created in 1984, Stan Sakai's Usagi Yojimbo (2008 Eisner Nominee for Best Continuing Series) has vaulted to the forefront of iconic modern comics characters and is a perennial, favorite. Stuffed with engaging supporting characters, villains, and even a romantic interest or two, Usagi Yojimbo chronicles the action-packed wanderings of a masterless samurai in feudal Japan. For the first ten years of his career, the battling bunny was published by Fantagraphics. In honor of his 25th anniversary, Fantagraphics is releasing a deluxe slipcase set collecting the first seven Usagi Yojimbo books! With over 1000 pages of story and brimming with extra's (full color cover gallery! behind the scenes art! career-spanning interview! and more!), this is the complete! definitive! early Usagi Yojimbo! $100.00
Lee: This is an absolute killer. Usagi Yojimbo is one of the best comics on the stands these days. It’s been so good for so long that people have forgotten just how great it is. But $100 for two hc’s is a back breaker for me. It’s not a bad price considering the number of pages and extra’s but it’s priced so far beyond anything that even I can afford that I wonder who this is for. It’s too bad because at a cheaper price I bet a lot more people would buy it. The question has to be asked: who is this for? If it’s for the die hards who already know and love UY, then it appears to be a money grab. If it’s for the casual fan (me) then I got priced out of the market and probably won’t even enjoy this.
Gwen: While this may be good material I have to agree with Lee - waaay out of my price range and honestly way out of the price range of a lot of UY fans that I know. More than that it's not going to attract new fans at this rate.

HJ Kramer
Peaceful Warrior GN by (W) Dan Millman (A) Andrew Winegarner
Despite his success, college student and world-champion athlete Dan Millman is haunted by a feeling that something is missing from his life. Awakened one night by dark dreams, he wanders into an all-night gas station, meets an old man named Socrates, and his world is changed forever. Guided by this eccentric old warrior, Dan begins a spiritual odyssey into realms of light and shadow, romance and mystery, toward a final confrontation that will deliver or destroy him. $14.95 To get a much better idea of the book the gn is based upon; read the Amazon hype here. Lee: This is a very interesting book because I like it’s message (enjoy life). But, I think it’s hard to convey that message in a graphic format. I’m not saying it can’t be done, just it’s very hard to make it visually appealing without page after page of talking heads. Images of Winegarner’s art I could find on the web appeared to be several years old and very rough. I imagine he’s grown as an artist but I can’t be sure. I’m too much of an art guy to commit to this without a preview page or two, no matter how much the concept appeals.
Gwen: I can't say that this book appeals to me at all. Of course I'm unfamiliar with the premise to a certain extent but initially I'd have to pass on this.

Humanoids Inc
Incal Classic Collection HC (deluxe) by (W) Alexandro Jorodowsky (A) Moebius
Detective John Difool is the key to the Universe after accidentally discovering the mystical Incal artifact. The international comic masterpiece by Moebius and Jodorowsky collected in an oversized hardcover with slipcase. Presented in its original colors for the first time by Humanoids! $99.95
Lee: And the reason I was priced out of Usagi Yojimbo was because of this book. As one of the absolute masterpieces of modern comic books, Incal deserves this type of treatment.
Gwen: Wow... this looks very very cool. It appeals to my inner-archaeologist (which lies sadly dormant while I work in auto insurance). But seriously, I cannot spend this kind of money on a book. Until I win the lottery or something.

Image Comics
Battle Chasers Anthology HC by (W/A/C) Joe Madureira
Collecting every issue ever published of one of the most beloved comic book series of all time, this over-sized graphic novel is bursting at the seams with adventure! Follow young Gully as she searches for her missing father with the help of Garrison, a legendary swordsman; Knolan, the crafty wizard; Calibretto, an outlawed Wargolem; and the notorious mercenary Red Monika! Assaulted at every turn by a cast of memorable villains, Battle Chasers is packed with over-the-top action from cover to cover! Don't miss this definitive collection, which includes never-before-seen sketches and new artwork, including a fold-out poster! Collects Battle Chasers #0-9 $100.00
Lee: This is getting ridiculous with the number of $100 books being solicited this month! But, this is the easiest pass I’ve ever seen. You can find the original books in the quarter bin at your local store but somehow Image. All you need to know is that the art is good and the story is atrocious.
Gwen: Lee, stop picking books no one can afford ><

Adventures Into Mindless Self Indulgence (One Shot) by (W) Jimmy Urine, Steve Righ?, Lyn-Z & Kitty art & cover Jess Fink
True tales of Horror and Insanity that will chill you right to the BONE. From Mindless Self Indulgence, the internationally acclaimed original electro-punk band, comes true never-before-told stories from the road. Thrill as rowdy fans throw junk at the band! Shiver as band members are hauled off to jail! Watch in awe as venues are trashed! Real stories, written and experienced by the band, with art by Jess Fink. $3.99 Visit the bands website here.
Lee: It seems that more and more musical type people are getting into the comic business. But, when your band is named “Mindless Self Indulgence” and your music is described as: Due to the style of their music lacking a definite genre, they coined the term 'Industrial Jungle Pussy Punk.' It’s fair to bet this will be excellent. Don’t give me that weepy, boo-hoo I miss my girlfriend crap, I wanna sh*t kicking, screw the man punk rock!!!! And I wanna hear about what goes on behind the scenes because I am sure it’s a complete disaster of epic proportions. I’m sold.
Gwen: This is this worst idea ever. I'm crying inside right now because somehow random musicians get their work published while there are really good writers out there who never get the time of day.

Madman Atomica HC by (W/A) Michael Allred
Madman Atomica! This is the big one! Hugemongous! The perfect companion to the now classic Madman Gargantua collection, this over-sized hard cover collection contains the complete Madman Atomic Comics series, The Atomics series, and the many now out-of-print one-shots, plus a huge pile of extras, pin-ups, and rarities! This classy tome will energize bookshelves and coffee tables the world over! Collects Madman Atomic Comics #1-18, The Atomics #1-16, Madman King-Sized Super Groovy Special, It Girl (One-Shot) & Mr. Gum (One Shot) $125.00
Lee: For me this is slightly above Battle Chasers in creator self indulgance. I realize that isn't a fair assessment because Allred is a good creator. And most of his stuff is good. But I cannot read this much Allred in one (or even two, three, or even twelve) sittings. Someone will love this.
Gwen: I never got into this stuff. I guess I just never saw the appeal but I've met quite a few people who liked this stuff. To each their own I guess.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Indies Preview Review for November Part 1 of 3

Lee: Another month, more indie picks! Yahooooooo. I love this time of the month.
Gwen: Reviewing the Indy solicitations is still new to me and I'm having a lot of fun with it so far!

Adhouse Books
Lone Pine GN by (W/A) Jed McGowan
A distraught man retreats to the woods with a simple question on his mind: why did his last relationship end? He's soon deep in a world of cryptic messages, shadowy figures, guns and philosophical crisis. A page-turning mystery told with exciting formal invention, Lone Pine is Jed McGowan's debut graphic novel and a 2010 Xeric winner. $15.00 Visit Jed here and read a preview. IMPORTANT, after the preview, scroll down and you can see pics of the book hot of the presses. It’s really cool if you’ve never seen a comic get printed.
Lee: Only people with talent win Xeric’s! That said, this is an easy choice if you are looking for something new and different. The preview is excellent and really shows McGowan talent as an artist.
Gwen: While interesting this solicitation doesn't really capture my fancy. I'd have to know someone who read it a recommended it based to the previews so far.

Amaze Ink/Slave Labor Graphics
Elmer GN by (W/A) Gerry Alanguilan
Elmer opens a window into a world where chickens have suddenly acquired the intelligence and consciousness of humans, where they can now consider themselves a race no different than browns, black, or whites. Recognizing themselves to be sentient, the inexplicably evolved chickens push to attain rights for themselves as the newest members of the human race. $12.95. Go here to Alanguilan’s see portfolio.
Lee: This sounds like Wells' Animal Farm without the war like overtones. The are looks great and this sounds like a great concept. I'm sold.
Gwen: Evolved chickens! Now this looks like fun :)

Archaia Entertainment LLC
Cyclops #1 by (W) Matz (A) Luc Jacamon
2054. Douglas Pistoia is desperately looking for work, but only a private military contracting firm, Multicorps Security, has offered him a job. Soon after he signs up, the UN decides to outsource its peacekeeping missions, and Multicorps wins the first bid, propelling Douglas into a war that is not his own-a highly sophisticated war broadcast worldwide by the soldiers themselves thanks to the micro-cameras in their helmets. They are called the Cyclops. Douglas plays the game, and slowly emerges as both a unit leader and a media celebrity, but how far will he go in exploring the boundaries between war and peacekeeping, news and entertainment? From the same creative team that brought you the Eisner Award-nominated crime noir The Killer comes this new look at war and the media in the near future! $3.95
Lee: I got as far as “from the creative team the brought you the killer” and I ordered me a copy. The Killer is so good that this became an order on site book.
Gwen: The Killer is a really good read and that alone make me interested in this book. And that's saying something for me as I usually avoid 'war' genre books.

Big If Comics
Pood #2 by (W/A) Jim Rugg, Joe Infumari, Sara Edward Corbett, Hans Rickheit, VariousFeaturing some of the brightest talents in alternative comics in a big, colorful broadsheet newspaper right out of the Golden Age of Sunday Comics - every page of pood #2, is loaded with imaginative cartooning, rich story-telling, and hilarious escapades! Every one of pood's 16 enormous pages is a big, beautiful work of art! $4.00 What luck, there’s a Pood blog you can visit here.
Lee: This sounds like the indie veresion of DC Wednesday Comics. Once again, this is an easy sell to me. I'm a huge art guy and these are some great artists working on an oversized sheet of paper. It's worth a look.
Gwen: Lee will have to let me know how it is as I am not sold on art appeal alone. While I did like Wednesday Comics I think it was a novelty in some ways and not something I need to see done again.

Boom! Studios
28 Days Later Vol. 02: Bend in the Road SC by (W) Michael Alan Nelson (A) Declan Shalvey, Marek Oleksicki (C) Tim Bradstreet
Finally Available! They are trapped among the Infected. They have no supplies. Most of their crew has been killed. Selena, Clint and Derrick must get to London, but will they make it? Selena knows how to survive, but that was when she was trying to get out of London. Now she's going back in. The saga continues in this epic, fan-favorite series! $12.99
Lee: I recently read all the 28 Days later books and this has become a heck of a series. This book is way under the radar but the latest trade is an easy way to get caught up. Much like Walking Dead, this is about people caught in a really bad situation and the things they do to survive.
Gwen: Wasn't this made into a horror film? I enjoy horror books to a point but I feel that I already read plenty of books in this genre so not much appeal here for me.

Drawn & Quarterly
Denys Wortman's New York SC by (W/A/C) Denys Wortman
A rescued archive of vintage New York from a forgotten master! After cartoonist, educator and editor James Sturm discovered the vintage book, Mopey Dick and the Duke, he set off to find more about the author, the deceased and unknown cartoonist Denys Wortman. Sturm immediately took note of the masterful drawings - casual, confident, and brimming with personality - and wondered how this cartoonist escaped his radar. After some online sleuthing, Sturm connected with Wortman's son, Denys Wortman VIII, who relayed that an archive of over 5,000 illustrations was literally sitting in his shed in dire need of rescuing. For over 35 years, the illustrations had been fighting such elements as hungry rodents, rusty paperclips and even a blizzard. Wortman VIIII also had drawers full of his father's correspondences including letters and holiday cards from William Steig and Walt Disney. Original artwork by artists and personal friends including Peggy Bacon, Milt Gross, Isabel Bishop, and Reginald Marsh were also saved. Considering that Wortman's luminary peers held him in the highest regard coupled with his artistic prowess, makes his absence from both fine art and comics history puzzling. So, Sturm and Brandon Elston set out to create a beautiful tribute to the forgotten master. Denys Wortman's New York is not only a tribute to Wortman, but it is a tribute to New York, the city that sparked Wortman's voracious creative output. From coal cellars to rooftops; from opera houses to boarding houses; Wortman recorded the sailors, dish-washers, con artists, entertainers, pushcart peddlers, construction workers, musicians, hobos, society matrons, young mothers, secretaries, and students who collectively make New York the city it is. $29.95. The Wortman site is here and some of his cartoons are here.
Lee: I’m always amazed by the things people find in their attic. Sheesh. If you like New York, or just enjoy history, then this is the book for you. It sounds very, very interesting.
Gwen: This does sound like it could be pretty cool. Although the 'Mopey Dick' thing kind of bothers me. I mean... it sounds really wrong.

Fantagraphics Books
Castle Waiting Vol. 02 HC by (W/A/C) Linda MedleyWith its second volume, Linda Medley's witty and sublimely drawn fantasy eases into a relaxed comedy of manners as Lady Jain settles into her new life in Castle Waiting. Unexpected visitors result in the discovery and exploration of a secret passageway, not to mention an epic bowling tournament. A quest for ladies' underpants, the identity of Pindar's father, the education of Simon, Rackham and Chess arguing about the manly arts, and an escape-prone goat are just a few of the elements in this delightful new volume. The book also includes many flashbacks that deepen the stories behind the characters, including Jain's earliest romantic entanglements and conflicts with her bratty older sisters, the horrific past of the enigmatic Dr. Fell, and more. $29.99
Lee: I loved the first Castle Waiting and I am sure I will love this too. This is probably the closest you will ever get to a guaranteed good read.
Gwen: OMG I have been waiting FOREVER for this book!!!!!! SQUEEEE! I LOVED the first volume so very much and I can't wait to get this book. *Jumps up and down with joy*

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The End of Wildstorm

Today, DC comics, in a move that’s been a long time coming, finally killed Wildstorm.

Back in the heady days of the early 90s, when 90210 ruled the airwaves and people thought comics were an investment opportunity. Wildstorm’s titles were sold on the strength of artists like Jim Lee, J. Scott Campbell, Travis Charest, and unbelievably, Scott Clark. But what people really remember about Wildstorm is what Warren Ellis did in the late 90’s and early 2000’s.

His revolutionary run on Stormwatch introduced a darker, more sophisticated type of superhero comic to the mainstream. They weren’t grim for grimness’ sake, like so much of the drek that was published in the 90’s. Instead, they were more like spy fiction with superpowers. They just happened to have costumes because that was the vocabulary the comics buying public understood. Ellis refined the formula on the second volume of Stormwatch, the Authority, and to a lesser extent Planetary, when he introduced widescreen storytelling. Essentially, this meant decompressing the story and letting great artists like Bryan Hitch have the room to draw really, really awesome fight scenes.

After Warren Ellis left Wildstorm in the early 2000’s, the company floundered. Joe Casey was doing an outstanding and forward thinking run on Wildcats, but only about 3 people were reading it. Meanwhile, Mark Millar did an extremely exciting run on the Authority with Frank Quitely that more or less continued the style Ellis established. Unfortunately, in his final storyarc, he was met with heavy editorial interference and censoring by DC. I won’t get into the whys and hows of what happened there. It’s easy enough to find for yourself on the interwebs. However, that was the beginning of the long decline of Wildstorm that culminated with today’s decision.

What made Ellis, and later Millar’s stuff, so appealing is that it was extremely edgy superhero comics. They were crashing mile long spaceships into islands, introducing gay Batman and Superman analogues, and an evacuating the entire planet into another dimension. And it was all done in a style that had never been used on mainstream American superhero comics before. By the time they finally got around to publishing the end of Millar’s run on the Authority, DC had already published a widescreen style JLA run with Bryan Hitch on pencils and Marvel was publishing books like the Ultimates. Both companies, but particularly Marvel, had coopted the style and edginess that made those Wildstorm books so appealing.

All of this went on while the Authority was involved in a very nasty and very public censorship fiasco. By the time it came back, it was a shadow of its former self. Soon the entire Wildstorm line was trying to be cutting edge and relevant but failing miserably. It was like watching your Dad do the Macaerena at a wedding.

Despite attempts to stop the bleeding with top creators like Ed Brubaker, and sensationalistic stunts like having the Authority take over America or having the apocalypse take place, Wildstorm was never able to recapture their late 90’s/early 2000’s magic. Throw in the spectacularly mishandled Worldstorm relaunch, where Grant Morrison failed to turn in work on both Wildcats and the Authority, and it’s a wonder that this decision took this long.

Wildstorm have scrambled to do something with the characters since then, but every effort has met with little success. The comic industry took what it needed from those titles and moved on, leaving only the sad pathetic carcass of a once relevant imprint behind. Almost a decade after it helped revolutionize the comic industry, Wildstorm’s biggest moneymakers are video game and movie titles. It would be funny if it weren’t so sad.

I think the moment I knew that Wildstorm was done for good, was when the bleed showed up in Final Crisis. Introduced by Warren Ellis, the bleed was the barrier that separated alternate universes. It’s a relatively harmless concept, but when it was introduced, I couldn’t have imagined DC’s management allowing their writers to use anything from Wildstorm books in the DCU. Those books were too graphic, too controversial. Now, they’re using elements from them so Superman can save Lois Lane in a major summer crossover.

You can’t get more mainstream for that and if Wildstorm is mainstream, then its just redundant.

The Week of September 15 In Review

This week is a catch up week. Books from two weeks ago, last week and this week can all be included as I’m still playing catch up after essentially skipping a week with Jamie’s wedding. I’m going with capsule reviews of the books for the most part and giving more of my impressions as opposed to a summary of the actual story.

Batman Odyssey #3 (of 13) – Neal Adams artwork still goes blows me away. It is highly detailed and crams tons of information into each panel. The story itself is getting better, but there are odd moments as I try to place this story in a place or time of Batman’s career and it never quite works. The weird dialogue can be out of place at times and Neal’s depiction of Commissioner Gordon is something different and feels a little off. Another point is when the heck did this become a 13 part series? I wish DC would communicate inside each book better and let the fans of a particular series know what is going on. I worry that the big publishers assume all of that type of news will be spread in other ways, but I prefer the books that think that this is the only chance you have to touch base with your readers. The bottom line on this book it is out and out glorious Neal Adams Batman with a story that is coming together and making a little more sense. As a bonus we get Neal drawing Talia. This book is on my list and a collected edition of this book is in my future.

Hellblazer #271 – I can’t believe I was about to drop this series. The story of Epiphany and John continues. John struggles with trying to access the madness so he can save Epiphany from Shade. John jumps through a window a few stories about the pavement to access madness (let’s hope he makes it). Meanwhile, his child bride-to-be gets Shade to send her back to Earth, except it is 1979. Well John worried she was only half his age so this could solve that problem. Miligan with art by Camuncoli and Landini is making this series shine.

DMZ #57 – I got back into this series and still don’t have a total handle on the overall direction of the book and while this book harkens back to a character from early in the series it never mattered. It was a great stand alone issue about motherhood and children and what a war can do to both. A great read and probably the best book I read this week.

Fear Agent #29 – I glad to see that this series is coming to an end because it is a story that feels like it needs an ending. Regardless of how insane and over the top it is, it is still telling a good story and I keep looking for a happy ending. Fear Agent is Rick Remender’s best work and has been blessed with great artwork.

Brightest Day #10 – Okay a lot of stuff with Aqualad and Firestorm can destroy the universe, but how this all ties into the resurrection is still not coming together. Next, can we please move the story forward. I have to say that Johns has made Aquaman a more promising character, but he has yet to do anything yet. The pacing of this book is too slow and no matter how good Johns and Tomasi write or how strong the art, something needs to happen.

Green Lantern Emerald Warriors #2 – Fernando Pasarin is another DC artist who is absolutely stellar. Ivan Reis, Doug Mahnke and Pasarin all help to make the Green Lantern/Brightest Day stuff look terrific. Peter Tomasi is one of my favorite DC writers, so this should be a great book and it could be, but it isn’t. As with Brightest Day we are taking forever to tell a story. At the end of last issue we saw a Red Lantern take off from Atrocitus to go and hook up with Guy for his mission. At the end of this issue she shows up and attacks Guy. Two issues of set up and still no clue what is going on with this book. It is all done very well so it is easier to accept, but can we ever get to what is happening?

Doc Savage #6 – A new creative team and I have no clue of what the heck is happening. It is certainly more compelling then what had been going on. I’ll leave this book back on my list for a second try out. The Justice back up was well done and still the best part of the book, but the front half is now better and makes it possible for me to buy the book again.

X-23 #1 – Okay between Wolverine #1, Daken #1 and now X-23 #1 Marvel is hitting a ton of hot buttons for me. Each one of these books is highly publicized #1 issue. Wolverine #1 felt like a continuation of Weapon X and apparently about Wolverine turning into a Christian from what I have heard. Horrible idea for the baddest of good guys Marvel has and the other books missed the mark as well. Having not been a Marvel Zombie I had little information on who or what X-23 was and this issue had seven pages of back story to bring us up to speed. Are you kidding me? How did a character that has not been around that long up end with such a dense and impenetrable back story. If I had not read the back story the ending of issue #1 would have not had the impact they were trying to make. Since I did, I at least understand that she could have gone into a berserker rage and killed everyone. Also it is clear her story has little to do with what is happening in Wolverine. I may come back for issue #2, but I have to think that as an opening issue the artwork saved the day as the story told us little and just set up a cliff hanger that needed the back story to make sense.

That will have to wrap it up for this week. As I have stated on Monday the Tuesday column will be my only regular appearance on the blog for the rest of this year as I take a sabbatical to try and cure my comics’ burn out and hopefully enjoy a winning season from the Ravens.