Saturday, December 31, 2011

If this is any indication...

2012 is going to be another great year for comics!



Technically, these new LEGO sets are already out in stores and I've been having a great time building them all week while I've been off. Still, with Marvel LEGOS to follow -- It's going to be AWESOME! Although, my comic budget might take a hit to compensate. The first wave (of six sets) retails at nearly $230.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Indies Previews For February Part 3 of 3

Humanoids Inc
Celestial Bibendum Vol. 01 Deluxe HC by (W/A/C) Nicolas De Crecy
From multiple Eisner-nominated creator Nicholas De Crecy comes a masterpiece of color and irony, recounting the absurd tale of one lonely seal by the name of Diego in the vast and corrupt metropolis of New York on the Seine. Presented in Humanoids Deluxe format: a limited and numbered edition of 550 copies with slipcase, in its original European-sixed format. $69.95
Lee: De Crecy is one of the original French masters of the medium. This is a chance to have a one of his masterpieces in a fantastic format. Yes, it’s expensive but if you plan on keeping this a long time, like I do, then you can’t go wrong.
Gwen: Ever since I took a French Literature course in college I've found myself drawn to all sorts of French story telling. The concept intrigues me but sadly the price puts it out of my "trying it out" range.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Watchmen 2: You get what you deserve

So unless DC is just commissioning super high profile fan art, this week’s publishing of JG Jones’ Comedian art and the Kuberts’ Nite Owl art would seem to suggest that we are getting some form of new Watchmen comics.

It could be a sequel or it could be a prequel, but allow me to state the obvious: this is a really bad idea.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Indies Previews For February Part 2 of 3

Blank Slate
Hector Umbra HC by (W/A/C) Uli Oesterle
Master DJ Osaka Best has disappeared, mysteriously vanishing in a blast of blinding light during the climax of his set at a nightclub. Enter Hector Umbra, Osaka's best friend and artist-turned-detective, to solve the mystery of a lifetime. Hector turns over every dirty stone in Munich on the hunt for the displaced DJ. Soon he will learn that not all is as it seems, and Hector will find himself embroiled in a plot involving religious freaks, Elvis impersonators, aliens, and even the dead! 216 pgs. Visit the blog here and a five page preview here. $27.99
Lee: Like most indies I noticed the stylish cover and fell in love with the art when I saw the previews. This has stylish art and an interesting premise so I am sold!
Gwen: I'm just a sucker for detective stories. But yes, the art is cool looking too :)

Boom! Studios
Terror on the Planet of the Apes #1 by (W) Doug Moench (A) Mike Ploog (C) Bob Larkin
In 1974, mighty Marvel Comics published the bone-breaking Planet of the Apes Magazine featuring a fan-loved all-new original story written by Moon Knight co-creator Doug Moench and drawn by Ghost Rider co-creator Mike Ploog: Terror on the Planet of the Apes! With an all-new Age of the Apes happening between the hit BOOM! series and the blockbuster Rise of the Planet of the Apes movie this past summer, you've hit us on Facebook, you've hit us on Twitter and we're listening: by popular demand, we're reprinting this classic! Featuring The Lawgiver and Fugitives on the Planet of the Apes in the first issue! $3.99
Lee: This should actually be very good. Ploog was at his peak when this was first released and Moench, by all accounts, turned in a heck of a script. The original b/w magazines are fairly hard to find in good condition so this is perfect for me.
Gwen: I can't say I'm all that interested in anything Planet of the Apes anymore. It feels like it's been overdone for me - like all the Star Wars spin offs. Of course I still enjoy the original material but I tend to pass on these. The newer material is good from what I hear, I'm just not feeling it.

D. E./Dynamite Entertainment
Garth Ennis' Jennifer Blood Vol. 01 SC by (W) Garth Ennis (A) Adriano Batista (C) Tim Bradstreet
Jennifer Blood is a suburban wife and mom by day - and a ruthless vigilante by night! Every day she makes breakfast, takes the kids to school, cleans the house, naps for an hour or two, makes dinner, puts the kids to bed, and kisses her husband goodnight. This suburban punisher is ready to be unleashed in a story that can only be told by the legendary Garth Ennis. $19.99
Lee: So, was this any good? It appeared to me to a response to Bendis’ Scarlet series. There hasn’t been a lot of hype around it so I am cautious about picking it up.
Gwen: I gotta say - I have a hard time imagining how she has the energy to be a vigilante after all that. Maybe it's the midday nap.

Deepcut Productions Stan Lee's Stripperella GN by (W) Stan Lee (A/C) Anthony Winn
From the imagination of legendary comic book creator Stan Lee comes a superheroine with a pair of huge attributes - courage and determination! Exotica Jones is a dancer by trade, but when she's not swinging from a pole and tucking twenties into her g-string, Exotica is the sexiest costumed superhero you've ever seen. While hot an heavy action and adventure are her forte, the object of Exotica's desire is Nick, who just may be the only man on earth who doesn't seem to notice her at all! Join Stripperella as she battles The Macabre Menace of the Mad Melter. $14.99
Lee: And another classic is back in print! I remember all the hub-bub when this was first announced. And with a little wiki research I learned it was actually a 13 issue animated series. How did I miss that? Fool me once... as they say.
Gwen: Wow, what a role model. Hah. I can see why Jim never gave this to my sister and I to read as kids...

Drawn & Quarterly
Gloriana HC by (W/A/C) Kevin Huizenga
Kevin Huizenga exposes the mechanics that underpin everyday life. His protagonist, Glenn Ganges, has conversations about dish soap and library visits that are both faithful depictions of the mundane interactions we all have and so much more: existential dissections of the units that construct our lives. Huizenga has an understated, quiet approach to story writing that allows his characters (and his readers) the self-awareness to recognize the humor and tragedy of every moment. Huizenga's much-lauded work is finely detailed, and in its innovative use of form, it explores the boundaries of the comic medium, deconstructing and reconstructing panels to express temporality and lived experience more fully. Presented in this expanded edition, Gloriana employs familiar settings and thorough, sometimes scientific explanations to reach thoughtful conclusions. 5 x 6.5, FC, 96 pages $19.95
Lee: This is a little small but Huizenga’s work on his other series Ganges has been so good that I might just dive right in. This is just fantastic stuff exploring life and… well if not it’s meaning then at least it’s mundane-ness. Great stuff.
Gwen: This looks very interesting but probably something I'd have to have more time to delve into. Sadly I have to keep my reading fairly light during the school year.

Jinchalo GN by (W/A/C) Matthew Forsythe
Jinchalo is Korean for Really? and that question is at the heart of this book. A companion to Ojingogo, Jinchalo stars the same little girl as its heroine. When the mischevious shapeshifter Jinchalo hatches from a mysterious egg, he starts our heroine adventuring anew. Magical troubles drag the pair out of the safety of her home. These comics are firmly rooted in Korean folktakes and stylistic conventions, with a playful, joyous line to create a Miyazaki-tinged dreamscape where spotted octopi fly and bears give piggyback rides. 120 pgs $19.95 Visit Forsythe’s site here and see a little preview here.
Lee: I've always had a weakness for cutesy artwork and this qualifies. It appears to be wordless but it has something... I don't know... special going on? It just looks like it will be fun.
Gwen: This is awesome. I'd love to get this for my former Korean roommate as I remember she used to tell us stories about Korean mythology. She had a great story about how her family was descended from bears :)

Fantagraphics Books
Kolor Klimax: Nordic Comics Now GN
Scandinavia has become a hotbed of cartooning activity, from the internationally acclaimed Jason (Norway) to Sweden's Martin Kellerman and Denmark's Eisner-nominated Nikoline Werdelin. This anthology of comics, many of them created for this book, offers an intoxicating and compelling sampling of current works from a new generation of Scandinavian alternative cartoonists. $29.99
Lee: Who would’ve thunk, Norway home of Death Metal and all sorts of nasty music is also the home of a budding underground comix scene! I have a couple of collections of scandavian comics and I have always enjoyed them. The art always entertains and the stories are surprisingly tight.
Gwen: I think I'd need to see a bit more of this before I decide whether or not it would draw me in.

Cinema Panopticum GN by (W/A/C) Thomas Ott
T. Ott guides us through a funhouse of fear with five graphic horror novelettes, each executed in his hallucinatory and hyper-detailed scratchboard style. Dark, stark and grimly funny, Ott's plot twists will delight fans of classic horror like The Twilight Zone and Tales From the Crypt and his artwork will haunt you long after you've put the book down. $16.99 Visit Ott here.
Lee: Words I have heard describe Ott’s work include dark, darker, and even darkest. This is a collection of horror stories in the same vein as EC and Creepy. I believe they are wordless but the art is just incredible. If you have an extra dollar or two this is worth it.
Gwen: This does look cool. Personally I would have solicited it for October though.

One more day to go... Friday.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Indies Previews For February Part 1 of 3

Lee: What a great time to have a huge chunk of indie books to look at! Christmas is over and there is nothing to do until New Year’s but read the blog and ooohhh and aaahhhh over the cool books coming in the next couple of months.

Jim: Indies, what the heck is this stuff. it has been a long time.

215 Ink
Footprints GN by (w) Joey Esposito (A) Jonathan Moore
Bigfoot and his gang of cryptozoological deviants enter a crime noir world full of mystery, horror, monsters and conspiracy. When Foot's estranged brother Yeti is murdered in the Arctic, Foot reunites his old team of Jersey Devil, Nessy, and Megaldon for one last case that spans back to their very long history together. See the official page with lots of previews here. $11.99
Lee: These posts are always about trying something new and this appears to be it.  Maybe not wildly new but if you're only reading Marvel/DC this could be a good place to start.  I'm always up for a good Bigfoot story so we shall see.
Jim: The series from Image called Proof did a good job with a bigfoot character and this seems to be a direct rip off.

New Pet -- Needs Salt!

One of my Christmas gifts this year and a super cool retro-MEGO figure!

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Week in Review – Dec 21

So no week in review I’m off to Florida and hope to be able to deliver news about my first grandchild very soon, it is odd moving to that stage especially at 35 years old (in my mind). Anyway I’m typing this on Thursday night and had a book that was worth some space and it from last week, so the week in review is the book of the week in review.

The book in question is Batman Incorporated Leviathan Strikes One Shot by Grant Morrison writer and Cameron Stewart on Chapter One and Chris Burnham on Chapter Two. When I read the story was being continued I was concerned that it would not work in the new DCU and apparently all agreed as this book is set before Flashpoint and the new DCU. 

The first chapter is about Stephanie Brown at the English finishing school. It is a great adventure of Stephanie finding out that this school is a training ground for young girls being turned into super villains escorts or even more if they are especially skilled. Batman assists in bringing down the school and Cameron Stewart provided the art. On one hand not sure how this was central to the Leviathan story on the other hand I loved Batgirl again. This is why bringing back Barbara Gordon is not working for me. I was enjoying seeing Stephanie become a hero in her own right and watching Batman help her move up in class and status as a hero was great. It didn’t hurt to have an artist of Stewart’s caliber provide the action and at times the school gave off a Morning Glories vibe, except in one issue Grant gave us more of a story then Spencer has in 14 issues or more of Morning Glories. 

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Ho, ho, huh?

I've been bouncing around whether to post something non-comics related today. Not the to be exptected Christmas message of sweetness and light, but something a little more trenchant. Sure, expected from me is probably not what most expect, what with me being the atheist of the blog, but I do Christmas. Nice sentiment to it, even if it's cloaked in mythology.

'Course, I was thinking about the Ebenezer Scrooge of Baltimore and Harford Counties who goes by the name Pat McDonough, state senator. He's made his bones on dehumanizing any Spanish speakers. He says he's after the one's here illegally, but he's not too keen on differentiating. All Spanish speakers are presumed to be here illegally and worthy of nothing but swift removal to their country of origin. Of course, they're all a drag on the economy and potential killers, either via membership in MS-13 or drunk driving. It's the worst kind of demagogory, saddly similar to the broad brush Nazis used to paint Jews (and just about anyone else not Aryan) and racists in the US have used to depict blacks for centuries.

The reality is that illegals pay into the system through taxes and work but reap little benefit. The supposed free health care at hospitals is the sort of last resort, reactive health care that poor people are relegated to receive because they can't get proactive health care that would alleviate their own hospitalization needs, saving both them and other taxpayers money. Illegals are the targets of crime due to their fear of seeking police protection, lest generous hearts like Scrouge McDonough separate them from friends and family and remove them to even more egregious poverty.

And what was the purported impetus of Scrooge McDonough's missive, run by the Baltimore Sun (no doubt in response to the endless right wing cries that even-handed reporting is biased against the right)? Obama and Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake are making Baltimore into an amnesty city by only pursuing deportation of illegal immigrants who have committed crimes. Why, this is going to harm the poor black citizens of Baltimore by depriving them of jobs. Scrooge McDonough is only looking out for the interests of these poor, upstanding citizens.

Not that he'd make their lives immensely more palatable by pushing for the repeal of drug criminalization laws. The scourge of poor communities in Baltimore isn't low wage immigrants. It's drug laws that make it nearly impossible for those communities to recover without pushing the very people in need of recovery out of those neighborhoods for gentrification. It's a constant shifting of pockets of blight and decay. Those who fall into the drug trade are allowed little opportunity to mend their ways, branded with the stigma of felony convictions, and likely to be the targets of death in some war over distribution territory.

But I digress.

Fortunatley, Scrooge McDonough is a member of a particularly small minority in Maryland. Despite his delusion that 130,000 people signing a petition to put the Dream Act on the ballot for possible negation is a sign of a massive opposition (in a state with a population of more than 5.7 million, over half of whom live in the overwhelmingly Democratic Baltimore City, Baltimore, Howard, Montgomery, and Prince George's counties), Baltimore City, with Federal support, is taking the emminently sensible position that hard working immigrants, even if here without proper papers, shouldn't be pursued to be sent to their home country unless they do something criminal (yeah, I know, being here illegally is, by definition, doing something illegal, but so is heroin and cocaine use, and pursuing users makes equally little sense in a cost/benefit sense). Baltimore and Denver are going to remove the drags on society who commit crimes and work with the seeds of the hard working.

Isn't that the sort of thing the United States wants? Don't we want to develop an immigrant population who are hard working, law abiding and free to cooperate with police, to the benefit of themselves and all of us? Doesn't it make sense to provide a path to full citizenship for people who are industrious enough to make the arduous trip here, surviving the sort of hardships the first illegal immigrants endured in 1620?

What, you think the Pilgrims had papers? Did they ask the Native Americans if it was ok to come ashore? I don't think so. This nation was founded by illegal immigrants, for illegal immigrants. In the end, the only ones who have suffered from all these centuries of illegal immigrants are the Native Americans who were on the losing end of this human migration, not unlike the many societies before such as the Ainu, the Druids, the Saxons, the Celts, the Jews, the Palestinians, and innumerable others around the world.

It's only recently that we've decided that displacing people is problematic. Someday, people will figure out that the American way of allowing new groups to join the population, so long as they're willing to adhere to a philosphy of representative government and separation of powers, is the most productive and peaceful way to address population shifts. It'd be nice if we start in the US.

So, to the hard working people of Maryland and Baltimore, and the hard working people of the rest of the world, Christian or not, illegally wherever they're residing or not, Merry Christmas. Be giving. Don't be a Scrooge McDonough. Ho, ho, ho.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Twas the Day before Christmas (Dennis the Menace style)

If you thought I was going to take this opportunity to come up with some parody of the classic “Twas the night before Christmas” poem, I’m sorry to disappoint you. No, I’m afraid I’m a little too weary to embark on such an endeavor this year (I gave up after a half-hour). However, I do have a fun story to share courtesy of streaming Netflik: The 11th episode of the Dennis the Menace TV show, which aired originally on 1959 December 20, entitled “The Christmas Story”.

Friday, December 23, 2011

IDW Previews For February

Lee: IDW seems to be flooding the stands with their licensed products.  There are multiple versions of Dr. Who, Transformers, Joe and everything else.  It's getting hard to find non-licensed material from them. 
Thomm: And it’s off to the land of the licensed.

Infestation 2: Team-Up One-Shot #1
Chris Ryall (w) Alan Robinson (a) Eric Powell, Bill Morrison (c)
A special Leap Year 5th-week release! Bat Boy meets up at a bar with Groom Lake's Archibald to drunkenly discuss event comics like Infes2ation! Eric Powell and Bill Morrison provide covers! The Weekly World News creative team of Ryall and Robinson reunite here! What more do we have to say, people?! Celebrate February 29 in pointy-eared style! $3.99
Lee: We’re starting with humor this month because I haven’t seen a better cover yet! Just a fantastic tribute to Young Frankenstein.
Thomm: Too bad his thumb’s not on fire.

Thursday, December 22, 2011


Welcome Connor Jacob McLaughlin into the world. My daughter, son-in law and child are all doing well.

My Monday post should be updated.

What I Read – Dec 22

Another week, another stack of books.  Since it's almost Christmas and I am so far behind on shopping we are getting right into it this week.

I started the week with Welcome To Hoxford, written and illustrated by Ben Templesmith, published by IDW. 

I would like to say Ray is an atypical psychotic but he isn't.  He's led a life full of abuse which shattered his mind into so many little pieces.  Long since incarcerated, these days he just kills his cell mates.  But, after killing one too many people, Ray and some of the other really, really depraved inmates of his prison are shipped to Hoxford.  Hoxford is a privately run prison in which the worst of the worst reside.  The guards of Hoxford are also werewolves who happen to prey upon the criminals.  So what happens when the worst of human race meets the worst of the supernatural race?  Lots and lots of violence and blood.  That's what.

In Hoxford, Templesmith shows that he knows horror.  This is a finely tuned horror extravaganza that never really lets up.  The story and the plot drives everything.  Typical of horror books, several characters are there just as monster fodder.  But, Templesmith sets it up well enough give you just enough to care about the various people.  Maybe care is a strong word, enough to be interested to see if they escape or not.  The best part for me was the ending.  I liked it so much because when I read it, I really didn't like it.  But, the more I thought about it, the more that the ending made sense, AND the ending was right for the story.   Be warned, it isn't the happy, whee wasn't that fun ending that you expect.  It's just perfect.

At this stage in Templesmith's career, do I really need to say anything about his art?  You either love it or hate it and I love it. Bottom line, this is a fun read if you like horror stories.  It's not anything amazingly new but it is solid.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Breaking an Endless Cycle in Uncanny X-Force

So last week I wrote about the end of Uncanny X-Force’s Dark Angel Saga. While it definitely stuck the landing, the conclusion did have one strange note.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Marvel Previews For February

Lee: With the Avengers movie coming this summer there is a flood of Avengers stuff coming. It’s really incredible. Outside of that there are a couple of new series that should be good. All this means is that there is less cover silliness than usual.
Greg:  I came into comics at the height of the X-Men boom in the 90's. I seriously can't believe that the Avengers are driving Marvel's publishing line, let alone have a movie coming out.

Written By Roy Thomas
Penciled By Sal Buscema, Neal Adams / John Buscema
Cover By Neal Adams
A conflict of star-spanning proportions -- with Earth caught in the crossfire! For those eternal intergalactic enemies, the merciless Kree and the shape-changing Skrulls, have gone to war, and our planet is situated on the front lines! Can Earth's Mightiest Heroes, the Avengers, bring about an end to the fighting before humanity becomes a casualty of war? And what good are even a dozen super-powered champions against the vast military machines of two of the great empires of the cosmos? The key to victory lies with the expatriate Kree Captain Mar-Vell and his human host, honorary Avenger Rick Jones! Featuring the trend-setting artwork of Neal Adams, the Kree/Skrull War is universally acknowledged as one of the finest and most important sagas in the Marvel canon. Collecting Avengers (1963) #89-97. 240 PGS./Rated T - $34.99
Lee: This is one of the best silverage stories of all time and it continues to be used as the basis for new stories to this day. Now they are presenting it in a nice oversized hc format and I wanted it sooo bad. That was until I realized I already had it in Masterworks and tpb. I want it but I can’t justify the same story in a third format. But, if you don’t already have it, then it’s really worth reading.
Greg:  Y'know, I've had this recommended to me plenty of times before, and Neal Adams aside, I've always been underwhelmed by it. I always found it worked far better as a wikipedia entry or a past piece of continuity than it actually did as a story. But I'm probably just having trouble with the age of the thing.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Week in Review – Dec 14

I have been working on slowly whittling my list down bit by bit, even while struggling to maintain my wide interest in comics I’m still only slowly cutting down my list, but by not adding new books my list is slowly coming back into a semblance of control, still way too many titles. Of course this is another week in review where I did not read everything, but my excuse this week is that my real world job is super busy and waiting for my first grandchild to be born is part of the adventure. The plan is that when my daughter goes into labor I get a phone call and fly down to Florida where I’m ultimately moving too early next year. That makes comics not exactly my highest priority. Still it doesn’t mean I did not enjoy a few books this week.

First up in Uncanny X-Force #18 by Writer Rick Remender and Artist Jerome Opena with Esad Ribic. I should also mention Dean White on colors because he has provided great work and keep the overall feel of the series consist regardless of the artist. The Dark Angel Saga concluded and while I have to admit the length and breadth of this story caused me to forget who was who at times the actual story ended in fine fashion as Dark Angel died at the hands of his love Psylocke. She then entered his mind and gave him a wonderful life as the two of them were married, had a family and grew old together until he died; it was a perfect ending and a fitting conclusion. Warren’s death was the only way this ending made sense. Of course Marvel can’t let anyone die for even two pages anymore and we get a stupid ending of a naked Warren walking up to Psylocke apparently free of any Apocalypse influence, but with no memory of maybe anything. The last two pages ruined the book for me, but I guess since no one dies in comics there is no sense in dragging out the inevitable. Where this series goes from here is an open question, but I would like to get a nice hardcover collecting the entire Dark Angel storyline which is essentially the entire run up till now. 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Kite Runner

First a book, then a movie. Now a graphic novel. Yes, it's library book time again.

I never read Khaled Hosseini's book, nor did I see the movie. I did read about them, with the book fairing much better in popularity and reviews than the movie. Of course, it's typical of my interest field, being about a far away culture, one that's of importance to current US foreign policy. Too bad it was originally published in 2004. It would have been helpful if someone in the Bush administration had read it before the 2001 toppling of the Taliban.

So, here's how the story goes. Our protagonist is Amir, a Pashtun who's the son of a wealthy man living in Kabul. Amir's best friend is Hassan, the son of his father's servant. Hassan is Hazara. Kabul is majority Pashtun and tribal divisions are omnipresent in Afghanistan. Pashtuns are somewhat Nordic in appearance. Lots of fair hair and skin. Hazara are more Asiatic in appearance with broader noses and narrower eyes.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Recent Reads

I’m really looking forward to some time off between Christmas and New Years because work has been extra busy lately (Praise God the big report deadline was met yesterday). Home life has been equally so with Christmas (excuse me – Holiday – no wait – WINTER) concerts three nights this past week and relatives visiting. Consequently, I’m trying to get a jump-start on my blog posts ahead of time – something I’ve been unable to do since October. I was out of state (GA and VA) for two weekends in November and taking day trips two other weekends (DC and Hershey). So, forgive me if I go a little lite the next few Saturdays. I’ve still got plenty to say, but it’s been difficult finding time to compose anything (which is why I’m skipping a chance to sleep in right now) and I want to relax and just catch up on my reading over vacation. Therefore, this week you get an abbreviated list of Recent Reads.

Friday, December 16, 2011

DC Preview Review for February 2012 Part 2 of 2

Jim: For Part 1 we touched on the heavy hitters for part 2 I’d like to look at the collected editions offerings. I have recently cut way back on what I’m getting, but I still have orders for stuff coming in. I also plan to sell via Ebay a ton of my trades and hard covers. What was once unique and rare has been overplayed.

Written by BOB HANEY • Art and cover by JIM APARO
On sale APRIL 4 • 512 pg, FC, $49.99 US
DC collects Aparo’s classic run on THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD in hardcover for the first time! These stories feature Batman’s team-ups with Robin, Green Arrow, Black Canary, The Teen Titans, Deadman, Wonder Woman, The Demon, The Joker, Aquaman, The Atom and many others, from THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #98, 100-102 and 104-122.
Jim: This is a good example. I got the Marshall Rogers book of his Batman art and it is very nice and certainly slick enough, but there are zero extras. No essay on who Marshall Rogers was (as he died a few years book) no commentary on his art, no comments from the writers, nothing but a straight reprint of his work. For $50 retail price tag more work needs to be done. Not getting this book.
Lee:  I'm actually not getting this either but for different reasons.  One comment, a collection like this isn't for today's collector.  It's for you and I.  We know who Aparo is, that's why you picked it and why I was interested.  If you love DC from the 70's, specifically Batman from the 70's then this appeals to you.  I can't stand Haney's writing which is why I will pass.  But I really want to see Aparo's art because it's fantastic.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

X-Force 18 - A Review

In the early 1980s, Chris Claremont and John Byrne wrote and drew the Dark Pheonix Saga, one of the best super hero stories ever made. It was an epic story where worlds literally lived and died. While it was amazing and still holds up today, it had a significant downside in that people kept trying to replicate its success. The problem with this wasn’t solely that subsequent creative teams weren’t up to the task, it was that the X-Men are not a team that lends themselves to epic stories. As a metaphor for civil rights, X-Men stories typically work better as character studies and real world parallels, not universe spanning epics that involve the destruction of planets. Still, creative team after creative team has tried epic, cosmic stories and more often than not, they fail completely.

Finally, though, we have an exception.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

DC Preview Review for February 2012 Part 1 of 2

Jim: This column has become a lot harder since the DCU reset button was pressed. I find that my interest in the DCU is still there, but my investment in the characters has changed. For Part 1 let’s look at the big guns.
Gwen: Reading DC is a bit Twilight Zone-ish at the moment. I like the new take on some of the characters but even after several months I feel that I'm still adjusting.

Written by GEOFF JOHNS
Art and cover by JIM LEE and SCOTT WILLIAMS
1:25 Variant cover by ADAM HUGHES
1:200 B&W Variant cover by JIM LEE
On sale FEBRUARY 15 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T
Combo pack edition: $4.99 US
Retailers: This issue will ship with three covers. Please see the order form for more information.
The Justice League is united at last against Darkseid! The awesome consequences of this high-stakes battle will resonate within the series for years to come! Geoff Johns and Jim Lee end their historic first arc with a bang!
This issue is also offered as a special combo pack edition, poly-bagged with a redemption code for a digital download of the issue.

Jim: I have been unimpressed. I guess if I was a new fan walking in the door I would have thought this was pretty cool, but as a long time fan this is jumbling the characters up more then is tolerable to me. Johns has tried to create a sense of newness, but I think even he has a hard time writing this as if it is the first time since he knows the characters so well. Jim Lee and Scott Williams have very good art and action packed and I’m sure it will look great in an oversized edition; I just won’t be buying it.
Gwen: As much as I enjoy Darkseid as a villain I get turned off by these solicitations that promise things like "awesome consequences... will resonate for years to come". It's just fluffed up hype that tells me little to nothing about the actual book.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

What I Read – Dec 13

Every week I say that I didn’t read anything and my post is going to be short. That never seems to happen. I tend to babble on and on and … I mean provide lots of insightful commentary. BUT, this week I think I really am going to end up being fairly succinct. As Jim noted it’s a lot easier to be positive and since I only read 2 books and I liked both it’s got to be short. Well let’s find out.

I started the week with Casanova: Gula, (w) Matt Fraction, (a) Fabio Moon, published by Marvel Icon.

Fraction wrote the first Casanova series back in 2006 which was part of the Image reduced price/reduced page count experiment. Fraction and Moon then brought their creation to the Marvel Icon line and the latest story has finally been collected for people like me. It’s been a really long time since I read the initial series but Fraction doesn’t skip a beat and launches right into the new stuff. Casanova Quinn, our hero, is lost and his companions spend several issues asking not ‘where is Casanova Quinn?’ but ‘when is Casanova Quinn?’. I can’t actually summarize the story better than that because it’s that convoluted but I can tell you it’s one of the best time travel/alternate reality stories I have read in a long, long time.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Week in Review – Dec 7

Well another week and another somewhat half-ass week in review. See I have recently rediscovered this other form of storytelling. It consists of words on pages and – get this – no pictures. I know. Who came up with this radical idea is beyond me. Anyway I have almost finished “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” and it is a very good read. Also it seems every year around November to February I get burnt out on comics and truth be told I’m probably slightly depressed since I’m still in the middle of this horrible transition period as I get ready to move. Since I read so many comics it is hard to read other stuff as I only have so much free time, so when I stop and read a novel it means I have read only a few comics this week.  

What this means for the week in review column is that instead of getting a good sense based on everything I got I can only review what I read and this week I will remark briefly on everything I read. It is interesting to note that I think we find that we talk more about what we don’t like then what we do like. I have noticed in my personal life that people have a tendency to only complain about others in their lives, because when you are happy with someone else you are content and don’t have a need to share. When you are unhappy with another or a situation you need to vent. Let’s see if I can make each commentary of equal length whether I liked or disliked the book.

Sweet Tooth #28 by Jeff Lemire writer and Matt Kindt artist: this wrapped up the origin of the plague storyline. In truth it gives us a choice as to what we want to believe is the reason for the plague as we never know where these original animal people actually come from. Still the jump backwards as to the first modern outbreak of this plague set in the wilds of what I think was northern Alaska or somewhere similar was a good one. The story invokes the man versus nature type theme and also focuses on man’s inhumanity to man. It still does not explain how 100 years later this has all started again, but we can basically figure out that the bodies of the plague victims were found and man decided to experiment and unleashed the plague yet again. Jeff Lemire has said he writes complete stories and I can’t wait to see where this story goes from here. I hate that the Vertigo imprint seems to be imploding as that brand has created some of the best comics of all time. (183 words)

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Parker: The Outfit

It's library time again. Jim's raved about Darwyn Cooke's adaptations of Richard Stark's Paker books for years, so this HC on the library's graphic novel shelves was an easy try-out. Right from opening the book, it captured my interest. Donald Westlake (real name of Richard Stark) has a little bit on the fly leaf that provides a very interesting insight on how the character of Parker came to be. I read the fly leaf prior to reading the story, so Westlake's story about having taken the wrong train and walking across the George Washington Bridge from New Jersey to New York left me wondering just what kind of character this Parker would be.

He's even better than Westlake leads on. He's not exactly amoral, but he's pretty close. More accurately, he's operating in a different moral code, and he's not alone. There's an entire network of criminals who operate under this code. The Outfit is about what happens when a powerful person in the scheme of this world decides to violate that code.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

O.M.A.C #4 – A Review

Story and Art: Dan Didio & Keith Giffen
Inks: Scott Koblish
Colors: Hi-Fi
Letters: Travis Lanham
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99
O.M.A.C created by Jack Kirby

This is not Jack Kirby’s OMAC and it certainly isn’t the one from Countdown. It’s a strange amalgamation, updated for the 21st century, coming across as familiar, but totally fresh at the same time. Most of all it’s FUN! I really dig it and the latest installment was another totally tripped out, non-stop adventure.

Friday, December 09, 2011

African-American Classics

Go getter that he is, Lee asked Eureka Productions, the publisher of the soon to be released African-American Classics, to send a copy of the book for Comics and... to review. Not being the tops at being a go getter, but a hell of a delegator, he asked me to read and review it. Knowing my place in the order of things here at Comics and... I did so.

The book is volume 22 in a series called Graphic Classics. Previous books include the works of Edgar Allan Poe, Ambrose Bierce, O. Henry, Mark Twain, Louisa May Alcott, Science Fiction Classics and Fantasy Classics. This book falls into the theme category rather than single author category, making it more a traditional anthology than the volumes featuring a single author.

The cover of this volume notes that it includes works by W.E.B. Du Bois, Zora Neale Hurston, and Langston Hughes, but there are a lot more lesser known writers as well. It's a varied selection of works originally written from the 1890s to the 1930s. I'll mostly talk about the prose work because the poems don't entail much adaptation. They just have illustrations to accompany the original poem.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Batman Year One - A DVD Review

Batman Year One – A Review

So DC’s been doing these straight to dvd animated stories for a while now. While we’ve had some adaptations before, this one is by far the highest profile we’ve seen. So how is it?

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

What I Read – Dec 7

I finished up No Country for Old Men over the week so I didn’t read nearly as much as I would have hoped. That seems to be a recurring message but it’s true. There is just never enough time in the day to read it all. I read the following in no particular order.

Tharg's Terror Tales Presents Necronauts and A Love Like Blood
(w) Gordon Rennie, John Smith (a) Frazer Irving, published by Rebellion/2000AD
I only bought this to see Irvings art so I was pleasantly surprised when the stories were pretty good. The first story, Necronauts, is a variation of Moore’s LoEG using Houdini, Doyle, Lovecraft, and Charles Fort (see here because I didn’t know who he was either) while the second is a werewolf-vampire love story ala Romeo and Juliet, only with a lot more blood and gore. There book finishes with a series of shorts collected from various places.

The stories are good in a mindless fluffy sort of way. It’s typical 2000ad fare with lots of action and plots points that whiz by at light speed. If you don’t think to hard you can’t help but like it. The vampire story and most of the shorts were reprinted in an earlier collection of Irving’s work called “Storming Heaven” so I wasn’t thrilled with that.

As stated, I bought this for the art and I wasn’t disappointed. Irving is just fantastic! Irving has gotten better over the years but this is still great. You can see him working and trying new things and mostly succeeding. It’s a fun book.

Below the break, Strange Embrace the book that launched David Hine’s career, Steve Niles latest horror book Something Monstrous!, and a couple of short comments on the Crime Does Not Pay collection, and Yeah! by Bagge and Hernandez

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Image Previews For February

Lee: I’m starting with an obvious pick before getting into cover character assassination. Some really bad covers this month. Really bad. But I end on a high note with a book that I can’t recommend enough.
Thomm: So we’re going to run all the peaks and valleys of the Lee express. Strap in, boys and girls.

story Robert Kirkman and Nick Spencer
art / cover Shawn Martinbrough
32 Pages / FC/ $2.99
Conrad Paulson lives a secret double life as master thief Redmond. There is nothing he can’t steal, nothing he can’t have... except for the life he left behind. Now, with a grown son he hardly knows, and an ex-wife he never stopped loving, Conrad must try to piece together what’s left of his life, before the FBI finally catch up to him... but it appears they are the least of his worries.
Lee: This has all the makings of being a really, really good book. Kirkman and Spencer are both top notch idea men. Aannnnddd, they also tend to be kinda late on delivery of product. Spencer much more than Kirkman. I’m interested enough to try the first couple of issues though.
Thomm: Definitely of interest for me. Most things Kirkman I’m willing to give a try, and he has been much better on deadlines in recent years. At least he’s trying. Spencer I can’t speak to. Love the premise. If it has panache, it’s a winner.

And that’s the end of normal. Image has a bunch of really weird books this month which we talk about below the juimp.

Monday, December 05, 2011

The Week in Review – Nov 30

Except for the hardcover collections this was a crap week of books. I enjoyed Cobra, Daredevil and Ultimates and I’m sure Mouse Guard will be good, but I was not motivated to read any comics. I saw the movie Descendants, which was excellent and the trailer for the “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” was so good I decided to buy and read the book before the movie hits. The first 30 pages were decent and it should be easy to wrap it up before the movie. So that leaves me with a column to write and almost no motivation to write about the actual week of books. So Instead I will devote this week to my mixed feeling regarding the DCnU.

There is some terrific stuff coming out of the DCnU, that starts with books like Batman and Swamp Thing because Scott Snyder is DC’s best writer right now and one of the best in the business already, easily the writer of the year for 2011. Both books are great and the Batman series is laying the groundwork for not just this story, but for the future of the series as time goes on. Swamp Thing has reset that series and so far is a fun read. Jeff Lemire’s books are also great with Animal Man and Frankenstein just being class books. I love Wonder Woman, Batman and Robin, Nightwing, Suicide Squad, Action Comics and more. The reason I wanted to get out some praises for the DCnU is that I want to make sure that it is understood that DC has some great series; my issues are more with the entire concept.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

The List - November 2011

Observed at the Baltimore County Public Library - Reisterstown, a bumper sticker: "Animals Don't Abuse Dumb People". Clearly, we're not watching reality TV. Fatal Attractions, a basic cable delight, features stories of Dumb People being killed by their pet tigers, venomous snakes, and chimpazees with a regularity and volume that suggests animals are very much abusing Dumb People. Not that it's the animals' fault.

And now, back to the show. Another short turn around month, but I'll do what I can.

1. American Vampire 20 - Alright, I'll admit, it doesn't hurt that there's a nicely drawn naked woman throughout most of the issue, but that's tangential to why this is at the top of The List this month. I just love the back story of Skinner Sweet and Jim Book, even though it's not as much a part of this issue as the story of the first American Vampire, the aforementioned naked woman. She was turned in the 1790s and has hidden in a cave in the Southwest for most of the 100 years since because she doesn't want to kill people. Another Native American named Hole in the Sky has come to her for help and appears to end up another kind of vampire altogether. More interestingly, Snyder appears to be ratifying his previous stories that show American Vampires to retain characteristics they had prior to being turned. Pearl remains a good person after being turned and so did this Native American woman, but Skinner remained an amoral killing machine. We know from the initial arc of the series that Hole in the Sky doesn't turn Skinner, so it'll be interesting to see how Skinner gets out of this situation.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

“22 Stories in A Single Bound”

My LCS is gearing up for its annual year-end sale and to start things off, they’ve put the bagged and boarded back issues $5 or less on sale for a dollar. I certainly don’t need any more back issues right now (but I’m always happy take hand-me downs [Jim]) with the complete runs of Marvel’s Battlestar Galactica and the comic from the 1990’s Superboy TV series sitting in mostly unread piles by my bed (that’s not even scratching the surface of my current bedside bundles). However, I can rarely withstand the lure of picking up a few issues to fill-in some gaps and occasionally I’ll get something totally random, a simple one-and-done or snapshot of a series. It’s only a dollar, right? That’s a dangerous “investment”, because usually if the issue is really good, it’ll start me on the pursuit of the whole series on ebay. Then I can collect another pile of books to decorate my bedroom floor (Luckily, my wife doesn’t look on that side of the bed). Case-in-point: Superman Adventures #41 dated March 2000.

Friday, December 02, 2011

RIP Coach I

March 4, 1924-November 29, 2011

Coach I was my track and cross country coach at Franklin and Marshall College. He retired the same year I graduated, 1989. He was a great coach for a kid like me. I was of middling talent at best but he put me through my paces the same as any of the top guys on the teams. I never did much for the teams in terms of scoring (I think I scored all of 1 point in my 3 year track career), but he did a lot for me by allowing me to be a part of the team.

I would still see him when I returned to campus for reunions, both for my class and my wife's class. Any major event like that at F&M would find him around campus. Retirement didn't keep him from being a fixture of the place, and it won't be the same going back with him not there. Of course, he'll always be there to me.

For more details about his very interesting life,

Dark Horse Previews For February

Lee: DH is having an interesting month. After last months ‘eh’, there’s really a bunch of good, and cheap (for you Thomm) stuff.

Thomm: My cheap and your cheap tend to be different things. We’ll see whose is present this month.

Brian Wood (W), Becky Cloonan (A/Variant cover), Dave Stewart (C), and Massimo Carnevale (Cover)
Ongoing, FC, 32 pages, $3.50
In this sweeping adaptation of Robert E. Howard’s fan-favorite “Queen of the Black Coast,” Conan turns his back on the civilized world and takes to the high seas alongside the pirate queen Bêlit, setting the stage for an epic of romance, terror, and swashbuckling. This is Conan as you’ve never seen him, with the combination of one of Robert E. Howard’s greatest tales and the most dynamic creative team in comics! A perfect jumping-on point for new readers! A bold, fresh take on the Cimmerian.
Lee: First the b*tch. Why can’t a company ever just keep a book going? Just advertise the jumping on point and new author and people will come to the book. There is no reason to restart the numbering. End of vent. If anyone can do a good Conan it’s got to be Brian Wood. After his run on Northlanders I can’t wait to see what he does with this. And Cloonan is a very unlikely choice for artist which makes me want to read this even more.
Thomm: Off to a good start. And I disagree with the griping, too. I like the new starts to books. I have a good set point for joining or leaving a book. Atomic Robo and the Hellboy ‘verse come to mind as being good uses of this method. As to the content, Wood has a great book in Northlanders and a less great book in DMZ. Since Conan is more akin to Northlanders I’m looking for good things.

DH has a stellar selection this month... look below.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Point One

So a few weeks ago Marvel released Point One, an anthology book designed to tease a bunch of new titles and storylines coming out in the next calendar year.

A book like this is both a great idea and a terrible idea.

On the one hand, I hate this kind of thing. Teasing future storylines is a sure fire way to get comic fans excited. They may not give a damn when they actually happen, but we loooove them when we’re told they might. Hell, look at Geoff Johns and DC over the past five years. They basically built half their books around vague and ominous prophecies.