Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Week of March 27 in Review Preview

Just two parts this week, but Part 2 a long one as I cover 17 books with brief remarks and commentary. The clips for this week:

Think Tank #6 – One of the Best Books – The Week of March 27 in Review – Part 1 of 2

Think Tank #6 is by Matt Hawkins and Rahsan Ekedal. This book I would put up there with Action Philosophers as a book that is both entertaining and educational. At the same time it is a taut thriller on the order of a Tom Clancy novel as our hero is a smart guy caught up in military adventures. Then on top of that it is a very cool almost science fiction feel to it as it takes the technology of today and sometimes pushes into tomorrow. Finally it is a character study and the story of a genius Dr. David Loren trying to make the world he lives in work.

Comic Covers Sunday: Frank Miller

This week I wanted to do something alittle different.  I wanted to highlight the covers of Frank Miller.  But not just any Frank Miller, the young gun Frank Miller before Dark Knight Returns.  So today we look at Frank Miller covers between Daredevil #158, May 1979 and Batman Dark Knight was published in 1986

X-men Annual #3, 1979
Pencils: Frank Miller
Inks: Terry Austin
Talk about unaware!  I never realized this was Miller.  I loved this cover as a kid and of course with interior art by Perez, I loved the insides too.

Rom #3, February 1980
Pencils: Frank Miller
Inks: Terry Austin
And, if you were wondering what got me on this thread, this is the cover that did it.  I wanted to include it in last week's Rom post but decided to break it out as part of this week.  It's amazing how different this cover looks from the X-men cover considering it's the same inker.

Star Wars #47, May 1981
Pencils: Frank Miller
Inks: James Sherman
One of the things I love about this Sunday post is finding new covers.  I would never have guessed this was Miller.  I wonder if he cringes when he see this now?

What If #27, July 1981
Pencils/inks: Frank Miller
This is just like the X-men Annual because I loved the cover as a kid.  While the story is still fun, the interior by Jerry Bingham isn't nearly as much fun as Perez.

Superman, The Secret Years #3, April 1985
Pencils/inks: Frank Miller
Ronin #1 was published in July 1983 and that's really where Miller started to change his style.  This is somewhere between Ronin and Dark Knight.   It's a great cover.  And in this case it's real bait-switch with Curt Swan interiors.

That's it for this week, now go outside and enjoy the snow or sun.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

A Victorious Smile

Hi, everyone.  I'm on Spring Break this weekend, spending time back home in Virginia to celebrate Easter with my family.  So, I have a special Easter-themed message today.  It's the kind that doesn't involve bunny rabbits or chocolate, so if that sounds offensive to you, then please read no further.  I plan to talk about comics next week.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Indies Previews for May Pt 2 of 2

More and more great books.  Or at least very interesting books.


Mere GN by (w/a/c) C.F.
In 2012, Providence-based artist and musician C.F. began to produce a series of more than a dozen mini-comics, which he distributed via Twitter. Each mini-comic offered a take on, and expansion upon, a classic comic strip genre-from crime and sci-fi to punk and sex-all of them infused throughout by C.F.'s absurdist humor and loose improvisatory drawing. Less than 50 copies of each mini-comic were printed; needless to say, they sold out instantly. Collected here for the first time, they constitute a kind of bravura display of C.F.'s dexterity with pen and ink.180 pgs, PC, 5x8.5, $19.95. Visit C-F here.
Lee: “Mini-comics distributed via Twitter”… wow! Talk about a whole new self publishing venue. It’s a collection of mini-comics so the material will be out there but I have no doubt that it will be interesting.
Thomm: Having seen one page only of the internal art for this, rough would be a good description. Maybe it’s interesting. I’m not taking a flyer on it, though.

PS Artbooks
Roy Thomas Presents: Frankenstein by Dick Briefer Vol. 01 HC
Dick Briefer's Frankenstein for Prize Comics is widely regarded as being America's first ongoing horror series. Indeed, it was Briefer's work that probably caused the creature to be actually named as Frankenstein instead of the nameless monstrosity from Shelley's novel. Splitting the stories between two stools-humor and horror-Briefer's tales are absorbing and unsettling in equal parts. Some of the humorous material has already been reprinted, though not necessarily in order nor in total. Until now, of course! Reprints Prize Comics stories from December 1940-November 1943 288 pgs, FC, 7x10, $47.99
Lee: I’ve just about had my fill of GA material and was all set to stop adding to the collection until this showed up. Dick Briefer was one of the greats and was a master storyteller and artist. This material is gorgeous to look at and is still readable today. Highly recommended if you have a little extra cash.
Thomm: Not a big GA fan, but this does look good. I can’t help but wonder why the good doctor didn’t give his creature a nose, though.

Taschen America
Little Book of Butts SC
The original Big Butt Book featured a great cross-section of delectable rears from the 1950s to the present day. Here, The Little Book of Butts pares the original content down to just the biggest and the best and added in about 30 new photos. Now in these 150 photos you'll see the big and the bountiful, then the bigger and more bountiful, in black and white and in color. 192 pgs, PC, 5x7, $9.99
Lee: Yeah, well, there’s no redeeming reason to pick a book like this. Let’s just say it caught my fancy.
Thomm: Um, we’re men who like women. That’s reason enough. Hooray objectification?

Titan Comics
Numbercruncher #1 (of 3) by (w) Simon Spurrier (a/c) P. j. Holden
Dying young, a brilliant mathematician discovers a way to cheat the terrifying Divine Calculator. He schemes to be endlessly reincarnated in the life of the woman he loves, no matter how often the violent bailiffs of the Karmic Accountancy cut short each life. It falls to one such Karmic agent - the surly Bastard Zane - to put a stop to the time-twisting romance once and for all, before the mathematician can pull off his greatest trick and escape Existential Justice forever! 32 pgs, FC, $3.99 See preview pages here
Lee: Spurrier is one of my favorite Brit authors so I am always on the lookout for new material from him. I’m not worried about this being entertaining at all. As for Holden’s art, based on the previews, I’m not worried he can draw pretty pictures either. This is an easy winner.
Thomm: I like the premise more than the art. What the hell’s with that pistol on the cover? It’s bigger than the guy’s femur.

Top Shelf Productions
From Hell Companion SC by (w) Alan Moore (a/c) Eddie Campbell
From Hell occupies a monumental place in the history of the graphic novel: a Victorian masterpiece of murder and madness which has won numerous awards, spawned a major film, and remained a favorite of readers around the world for over two decades. Now, Top Shelf Productions and Knockabout Comics present The From Hell Companion, an astonishing selection of Alan Moore's original scripts and sketches for the landmark graphic novel, with copious annotations, commentary, and illustrations by Eddie Campbell. Here for the first time are a set of pages which have never been seen by anyone except Moore's collaborator. Joining them are Campbell's first-hand accounts of the project's decade-long development, complete with photos, anecdotes, disagreements, and wry confessions. 288 pgs, PC, 7.5x10.5, $29.95
Lee: I can’t even begin to think how much detail this book is going to have. When I read From Hell, I read a page, then read the notes, read another page, read more notes, and so on. It was incredible the amount of research that went into that project. If you are curious in the least about Jack the Ripper then this is going to be a must read. If you have wondered how much work a writer does when it comes to historical fiction, then this is a must read.
Thomm: Disagreements? Who could possibly have a disagreement with Alan Moore?

Valiant Entertainment
Harbinger #1 (VU) (One Dollar Debut edition) by (w) Joshua Dysart (a) Khari Evans (c) Arturo Lozzi
This issue reprints Harbinger (2012) #1. Jump into all of Valiant's ongoing series for only a dollar apiece! Just in time for Valiant's one-year anniversary and Free Comic Book Day 2013, Valiant is proud to announce a new line of reprints, re-presenting the sold-out first issue debuts of the series that launched the all-new Valiant Universe.32 pgs, FC, $1.00
Lee: It’s only ONE DOLLAR! This is an excellent price for an excellent comic. Please note the first issue sets up the premise and you don’t get a ton of action but it’s just so perfect that you’ll want more when you are done. This is far and away the best of the new Valiant line. Actually, it’s better than half of DC and Marvel’s output.
Thomm: Yeah, it’s only $1, but I’m not getting much story and issues 2-12 aren’t being reprinted, so I’m better off getting the trade or HC, it seems to me.

Viz Media
Sunny Vol. 01 HC by (w/a/c) Taiyo Matsumoto
What is Sunny? Sunny is a car. Sunny is a car you take on a drive with your mind. It takes you to the place of your dreams. Sunny is the story of beating the odds, in the ways that count. It is the story of beating the odds, in ways that count, for a group of orphans who discover the car and let it take them to better places in their imagination. Sunny is the brand-new masterwork from Eisner Award-winner Taiyo Matsumoto, one of Japan's most innovative and acclaimed manga artists. Translated by Tekkonkinkreet film director Michael Arias! 224 pgs, PC, 6x8, $22.99 Read the first chapter here.
Lee: Aaahhhh, darnit. I saw this and said I wasn’t going to order it. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Tekken Kinkreet (both movie and book) but I was gonna hold out on this because I have 4 other books by Matsumoto. That’s enough for anyone’s collection. Then I read the first chapter. Then I remembered it was a fancy hc and now I am ordering me a copy. I tried to hold out. I failed. I won’t regret it because I know it will be good.
Thomm: Eh. Not a manga fan. Mixing that with stories that take place in the mind isn’t upping the appeal. Too much chance of “anything goes” for stories set in someone’s mind.

Thomm: I think this whole post was a cover for Lee to be able to put up a picture of a nicely curved butt. Don’t let him hoodwink you, though. Pick something to read out of this list, like Journalism.
Lee:  Well that worked.  I picked 14 books and the most remembered is the one about butts.  If that doesn't say something about the male mind...

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Indies Previews for May Pt 1 of 2

Lee:  This looks to be a stronger month than most.  I think that's because there was so much trash that I was able to easily identify the good stuff.  Something like that.

:01 First Second
Red Handed: The Fine Art of Strange Crimes HC by (w/a/c) Matt Kindt
Welcome to the city of Red Wheelbarrow, where the world's greatest detective has yet to meet the crime he can't solve - every criminal in Red Wheelbarrow is caught and convicted thanks to Detective Gould's brilliant mind and cutting-edge spy technology. But lately there has been a rash of crimes so eccentric and random that even Detective Gould is stumped. Will he discover the connection between the compulsive chair thief, the novelist who uses purloined street signs to write her magnum opus, and the photographer who secretly documents peoples' most anguished personal moments? Or has Detective Gould finally met his match? 272 pgs, FC, 6x9, $26.99
Lee: It’s Matt Kindt and these days that makes it an order on site for me. From 3 Story Man to Mind Mgmt Kindt has never failed to satisfy when he writes his own characters and stories.
Thomm: I’ve read only a little of Mind Mgmt, but it was very good. This is a clever idea, too. Taking that and Kindt’s ability to execute a story, this is a good one to get.

Archaia Entertainment
Reason for Dragons HC by (w) Chris Northrop (a/c) Jeff Stokely
Wendell lives a lonely, suburban existence, losing himself in books in order to avoid his motorcycle-driving stepfather, Ted. When the school bullies convince Wendell to venture into the long-abandoned Renaissance Fair grounds they all believe to be haunted, Wendell is surprised to find a man living in the barn. Believing himself to be a medieval knight named Sir Habaersham tasked with the duty of slaying the dragon he insists is wandering the woods, Wendell's new acquaintance seems the definition of crackpot. But when Wendell starts hearing rumblings-and listening to Habaersham's stories-he starts to wonder if perhaps it could all be true! In a heartfelt coming-of-age story, Wendell must defy logic in order to follow his heart and face the dragon of the forest! 128 pgs, FC, 7x10, $19.95 Visit the artist hereLee: This is the most straightforward indie book I am picking this month. It certainly has touches of Don Quixote, which is certainly intentional based on the cover, and the art from Stokely looks solid. If you are looking for something other than tights and capes but don’t want to get too far out in the indie deep end, this looks like it would be a good start.
Thomm: Only a little Don Quixote, which is probably a good thing if you’re telling a coming of age story. Wendell would be none too bright and more than a little crazy in his own right if he were standing in for Sancho Panza.

Coffee Table Comics
Remind Vol. 01 GN HC by (w/a/c) Jason Brubaker
All Sonja wanted was to find her missing cat, Victuals, but when he washes up on the shore of her sleepy coastal town several days later with a head full of stitches and the startling ability to speak her quiet life is forever changed. Together they set out to solve the mystery of his disappearance, embarking on a journey that leads to a strange kingdom under the waves and into the heart of a royal power struggle! 152 pgs, FC, 7x10, $24.95 Start reading here.
Lee: Brubaker started Remind with a Xeric grant, wrote this for a number of years, and then used kickstarter to get this book published. This is one of the best success stories I have heard about in a long time and it deserves our support. And, if you’re cold and heartless (like Thomm)… it’s a really good story with great art so there’s no excuse not to buy this.
Thomm: Being cold and heartless, I don’t need a reason not to buy this. However, it’s an interesting premise. Besides, I always find cats in works of fiction to be so much more likeable than the actual animals.

Conundrum International
The Library by Chihoi HC by (w/a/c) Chihoi
The Conundrum International Imprint debuts with the stories of Chihoi, a young Hong Kong artist. The Library is the first English edition of his work. Reading the short stories included in this volume is like reading someone else's dreams. The Library or Father reminds one of Kafka; I'm with my Saint feels Gauguinesque. The Library is book of beautiful pencil lines, written to illustrate the tales we know in our heart but have never witnessed. Introduction by Christian Gasser 184 pgs, b/w, 7x9.5, $20.00 Sample pages from one of the collected stories here.
Lee: I am always up for something new and different and if the samples are any indication, this is new and different. There is a certain surreal quality to Chihoi’s art that makes this interesting.
Thomm: “The tales we know in our heart but have never witnessed”? What the hell does that even mean? This seems like an art book, primarily, which makes it all the more amusing that I found that it’s listed on the Sears web site for sale. It’s a bit out there for this paragon of America’s days gone by.

Humanoids Inc
Clockwerx HC by (w) Jason Henderson (a/c) Jean-Baptiste Hostache
London, 1897. A series of mysterious deaths on the shipping docks have an ex-Scotland Yard officer on the hunt for clues. What he uncovers is a war between a huge corporation and a renegade group of individuals fighting for an energy source that could control the world and that powers the very robotic machines, called Clocks, being used to fight this epic battle. A trans-Atlantic collaboration between American authors Jason Henderson and Tony Salvaggio and French illustrator Jean-Baptiste Hostache, Clockwerx is a non-stop Steampunk thrill ride as captivatingly rendered as it is written. 104 pgs, FC, 8.5x11, $29.95 Visit the artist here
Lee: What would an indies post be without something from Humanoids? Actually, there wouldn’t be a post if I didn’t mention them. Anyway, this looks to be more of the usual high quality Euro comic material that you expect from Humanoids. As for the art, Hostache has a realistic style that’s just fantastic. I’m sold.
Thomm: Meh. It sounds a lot like a lot of other Steampunk works out there. Looks like it, too.

Metropolitan Books
Journalism SC by (w/a/c) Joe Sacco
Over the past decade, Joe Sacco has increasingly turned to short-form comics journalism to report from the sidelines of wars around the world. Collected here for the first time, Sacco's darkly funny, revealing reportage confirms his standing as one of the foremost war correspondents working today. In The Unwanted, Sacco chronicles the detention of Saharan refugees who have washed up on the shores of Malta; Chechen War, Chechen Women documents the trial without end of widows in the Caucasus. Other pieces take Sacco to the smuggling tunnels of Gaza; the trial of Milan Kovacevic, Bosnian warlord, in The Hague; and the darkest chapter in recent American history, Abu Ghraib. 208 pgs, PC, 8x11, $22.00 Read a Sacco story published in the Guardian here. Lee: Sacco is one of, if not the, best visual journalist out there. His stuff is insightful, intelligent, incredible and a host of other words that start with the letter “I” that I can’t think of. If you are interested in real world events and the news then this is for you.
Thomm: Indelible? You’re welcome. It’s impossible to report on these stories without someone accusing you of an agenda, so I’m interested in seeing what his perceived agenda is. I have to say that if Abu Ghraib is America’s darkest chapter in recent history then the blurb writer, if not Sacco, is lost in a bit of hyperbole. The Abu Ghraib incidents were stupid and illegal but rank far below such things as, oh, I don’t know, slavery, The Trail of Tears, Japanese internment, Jim Crow, and even the white collar crime of Watergate. Hell, Guatanamo’s prison is worse on a daily basis, if your concern is the treatment of prisoners and evidence free detention.

Oni Press Inc.
Capote in Kansas HC by (a) Ande Parks (a/c) Chris Samnee
Murder. Not intricately plotted whodunit. Not fiery passionate fury. But dirty, sad, disturbing actions from real people. That's what Truman Capote decided to use for In Cold Blood - his bold experiment in the realm of the non-fiction novel. Following in that legacy is Capote in Kansas, a fictionalized tale of Capote's time in Middle America researching his classic book. Capote's struggles with the town, the betrayal, and his own troubled past make this book a compelling portrait of one of the greatest literary talents of the 20th century. A new edition of the critically acclaimed graphic novel by Ande Parks (Lone Ranger) and Chris Samnee (Daredevil). 144 pgs, b/w, 6x9, $19.99
Lee: This has been around long enough that you might be able to find a copy at your local library. I know I did! This is a great book that retells the story of Capote during a turbulent time in his life. As biographies go, this is a good one.
Thomm: Coincidentally(?) this came out the same year as the movie, Capote, which trod the same ground. Both have had many accolades.

More excellent choices tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Li'l Depressed Boy: Moving Right Along

Volume 2 of the LDB trades keeps the book on the firm track that volume one established.

LDB is, of course, depressed.  Unlike the first volume where we have no idea why he's a depressed person this time we know it's because of his love affair with Jazz that was aborted before it even started in the first volume.  Naturally, LDB's method of coping is to not leave his house, play video games, read comics, eat, and sleep.  Ignoring Jazz's calls is also high on the list.

Drew, LDB's one and only friend, takes him on a road trip from Amarillo to OKC to see a band called Andrew Jackson Jihad, an actual band that's been around since at least 2007, based on its web site.  Drew's truck is a used beast of questionable reliability.  Naturally, the trip is fraught with pedestrian perils, ranging from a poorly performing pair of windshield wipers to an outstanding warrant for Drew.  Fortunately, Drew's freakshow performance abilities get him an ROR.

When all appears lost in their hopes of making the show Drew comes through, incompletely, but, in the end, enough that LDB enjoys himself, even with beer spilled on him by another patron.  Of course, on the trip back to Amarillo he learns that his credit card has been cancelled and has to bum breakfast off of Drew, so he's back to his sad sack, but still feels better than before they left.  Even having to steer the truck while Drew pushes, after it breaks down on the outskirts of Amarillo, doesn't leave him in the doldrums.

In a nice finish, Jazz is waiting on LDB's stoop.  They take some tentative steps toward recovering their relationship.  Granted, they don't actually talk about their relationship, but at least LDB is now willing to spend time with her again.  He doesn't even mind that she broke this door because she needed to use the bathroom while waiting for him.  For security for the night LDB moves his couch in front of the door and sleeps on the couch.  Dead weight security.  Even a depressed boy can manage dead weight.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Comics I Read – The Week of March 20 In Review Part 3 of 3

I’m going to try and make this a very short and brief post, so more of just some one liners and thoughts on the books I managed to read by Sunday evening.

GI Joe Special Missions #1 – Already love this book as Chuck Dixon is a great writer of action adventure and I love Paul Gulacy’s art. I own two pages by the man. Not a GI Joe fan at all but the first issue was entertaining and set up the first arc very well.
Buy It

Action Comics #18 the last of the Grant Morrison run on Action Comics. I will buy the collected edition when it comes out, but as a monthly book it lost me. I also wish Rags could have drawn the entire series by himself. Grant got into the metatextual side of things with this book and it will be a better read collected. This is also my last issue of Action since the next creative team has already been wrecked.
Wait for the trade.

DC Goodbye and Good Night – Writer Merry Go Round Part 2 of 2 – The Week of March 20 in Review Part 2 of 3

Shawn: Editors are in charge of the creative vision for their titles and are supposed to help their writers and artists tell the best stories they possibly can. At DC I think there are two things at play:

  • Trying to unify the books into one Universe. (Marvel really isn’t worried about that right now. A case in point: Captain America is in another dimension AND it is not even noted in the Avengers.
  • The editors thing their ideas are better than the writers they hire to write.
The big difference between DC and Marvel is that Marvel, by and large, are not afraid of letting their talent create stories. Sure they may all be retconned or forgotten tomorrow if they suck, but Marvel knows how to work with their talent better. DC only works with their top tier talent.
I do not know how much of this has to do with Bob Harras directly, but I do know one of the reasons Marvel became the go-to creative place in mainstream comics post-Harras was because Joe Quesada had a much better relationship with writers and artists than Harras ever had. You know I buy many DC books as gifts, but they are all from their Vertigo lineup. I think about how writers like Garth Ennis, Jason Aaron, Mike Carey, and Brian Wood wrote some of my favorite Vertigo titles and instead of getting mainstream DCU work they all eventually moved to Marvel. Carey wrote X-Men for years. Ennis had a seminal run on Punisher. Aaron is writing some great titles right now. And Wood seems to be Marvel’s next big writer. Just under two years ago Wood thought he was writing Supergirl for the relaunch. Instead, DC editorial took the book away from him, let his exclusive deal run out and cancelled Northlanders. DC’s current editorial team has burned bridges with many creators.

Monday, March 25, 2013

DC Goodbye and Good Night – Writer Merry Go Round Part 1 of 2 – The Week of March 20 in Review Part 1 of 3

Shawn and I have lamenting how badly DC is handling things for a long time and this week the sh*t hit the fan. So instead of the week in review it will by the The DC Writer Merry Go Round Part 1 and Part 2. Part 3 will have some short commentary on the books I managed to read on Tuesday afternoon

Before we jump into the fire first here is the Cosmic Comic list and the Midtown Comic list. The top five books on my list are Legend of Luther Strode, Think Tank, The Answer, Battlefields and Batman Inc. Now let see what Shawn and I had to say about DC.

Not Andy Bridges - Is Andy Diggle
Jim: The Diggle and Fialkov firing, quitting whatever is the straw that broke the camel’s back for me with DC. Whether I buy a comic or not depends on characters, writers and artists. Each element carries weight for me. I love the DC characters and have stayed on many books way too long. With the advent of the new DCU many of the characters are not who I know at all but I have tried out a lot of books and wanted to be open minded.  Even with all the crap going on DC I hoped that the creative summit was a good idea. It seemed to be trying to get things back to the right way of doing things. Deep in my heart I knew that Harras and Didio couldn’t fix what they are and that is the true problem. Within less than a month since the summit changes that I was looking forward to are now over. Even if I like a writer, like Andy and Josh, I can’t sign up for a book because they will be gone. I have no reason to trust DC with anything anymore. Outside of Batman and Wonder Woman the stuff is changing fast and furious. How can I get excited about LOSH again when Giffen is gone in two issues? I’m off Action, GL and GL Corps after issue #20 and will continue to drop more and more titles. I think I can pare it down to Batman and Wonder Woman. Can this mess be fixed?

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Week of March 20 in Review Preview

Well I threw out the entire normal idea for the week in review and we will start with a 2 part diatribe by Shawn and myself on DC.  A snippet follows - I hope to have a third part done to include some brief highlights of books I read. The DC thing is now just beyond the pale and has disheartened die DC fans like Shawn and I. 

Pre New 52 GA
The New 52 GA
Shawn: You covered all kinds of ground. Let me try picking some of your points apart, not because I want to disagree, but because they are worth closer scrutiny. We could debate Lemire, Azzarello, and Snyder’s current output, but they are not the problem. (Though there is a case to be made for taxing your talent too much. They cannot write everything.) DC Comics does not have a deep bench of proven and popular writers. Do they currently have a crop of gifted indie talent? Yes; however, one thing that has become apparent is that DC does not know how to cultivate young talent. Not in the current editorial climate at the very least.

As much as I dislike aspects of the New52 (*cough*where the hell is Wally West?! * cough*), I think the overall editorial vision of the relaunch fails not because of poor planning, but because they never truly owned their relaunch. What I mean by that is that DC has been largely reactionary since the launch. Eight months in? The first wave of axing and replacing began. Creative shifts have moved closer together and books come and go faster than you can keep track of. DC has little faith in their product, and unless it falls under the Bat-umbrella or are one of the very few exceptions, the editors are second-guessing their directions for their books. The overall complaints writers have had, whether they leave graciously or loudly, are the changes editors want to force on their books AFTER stories have been approved and the writers have written their stories

Comic Covers Sunday: Rom Spaceknight

I can't do Rom the Spaceknight toy justice.  In 1978 it was something completely different.   From another site, Taking a chance, in 1978 Parker Brothers came up with their answer to the Sci-Fi craze created by Star Wars...ROM The Space Knight.  At the time, he was one of the most hi-tech toys marketed.  If you've never seen the toy, I highly suggest going here and checking it out.  Toys, like comics, don't always age well and Rom has not.  But his comic had some spectacular covers.

Rom #2, January 1980
Pencils/inks: Al Milgrom The cover to the first issue was ok but not great.  But with issue 2 things started getting better.  Even if you didn't like the toy, you were compelled to look inside to see what was happening.

Rom #7, June 1980
Pencils/inks: Michael Golden
Ok, maybe Milgrom turned in his best work early!  But, for whatever the reason, he was replaced by non other than Michael Golden and the covers went from good to amazing.  As an added touch we even have a great example of a 70's cover dialogue box.  Sadly, I occasionally miss those.

Rom #12, November 1980
Pencils/omks: Michael Golden
You can make an argument that the cover is slightly generic but it made me buy the book and started a life long love of the Jack of Hearts.  I have to say, it's easy to collect all the appearances of a c-list hero that never appears.

Rom #15, February 1981

Pencils/inks: Bob Layton
I've never actually seen this cover!  Shooting someone on their wedding day certainly stands out on the stands.

Rom #16, March 1981
Pencils: Ed Hannigan

Inks: Al Milgrom
Yeah, it's a somewhat generic superhero battle cover but I still love it.  I am also gaining all sorts of new respect for Ed Hannigan.  He turned in a stack of great covers for World's Finest last week and continued to do the same for Rom. 

Oh well, that's it for this week.  Now go outside and enjoy the sun!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Superior Spider-Man #006 – A Review

You can’t say this book doesn’t have a direction.  It’s a bit of a roller coaster ride that may turn your stomach, but you’ll be thrilled at the same time.


Superior Spider-Man #006
Writer:  Dan Slott
Penciler:  Humberto Ramos
Inker:  Victor Olazaba
Color Art: Edgar Delgado
Letterer: VC’s Chris Eliopoulos
Publisher: Marvel
Price: $3.99 (including “FREE” digital copy which I sold on eBay for $3.00)

Mayor Jameson is pontificating in a press conference at City Hall about his newest proposal to mandate at least a 10-year sentence for any crime that was committed with a super-power.  He also wants to shut down the Raft, the prison especially created for super-villains or at least have it moved somewhere well clear of his jurisdiction, especially since people escape from it all the time.  While Phil (New Hobgoblin) Urich is video-taping the speech, we get an update that he’s barely making ends meet after payoffs to the Tinkerer and the old Hobgoblin.  Suddenly, his video camera cuts out along with all the other recording devices in the crowd when Speedball and Jester show up.  They’ve come to play a prank on Jameson, which everyone but his paid bodyguards enjoy.  However, their real sinister (and brilliant) purpose is identity theft on a massive scale when people go to their site to view the viral video.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Gone to Amerikay

I remembered the ads for this Vertigo book when it came out, so when I saw it on sale at half off, I snapped it up.  Immigrant tales are always entertaining, if told well, and being Vertigo there was a better than average chance of it being told well.

And it is.  Looking at the cover you might think it's the standard story of a 19th century immigrant to America.  The harp is something of a giveaway that it's an Irish immigrant.  That story is there, but Derek McCulloch, Colleen Doran, and Jose Villarrubia present a bit of a twist.  In fact there's a little bit of the three different eras track that's currently being employed in Thor, though none of the characters in the three tracks here interact with one another, with the exception of one brief encounter.

The book follows a young woman who's an Irish immigrant to New York in 1870, a young man from Ireland who's in New York to become an actor and musician in 1960, and a wealthy Irish entertainment executive coming to New York in 2010 for business but also for his girlfriend/assistant to show him the story of one of his favorite songs and entertainers.  The executive is a big fan of the 1960 entertainer, who in turn wrote a famous song about the young woman from 1870.

There's really not much developed about the executive, other than that he's a fan of the entertainer and being given something of a gift by his assistant who tracked down information and locations to show him.  He's a cypher when it comes to personality, though he seems like a nice guy, at least superficially.  The real stories are of the young woman in 1870 and the entertainer in 1960.

The young woman came with her small daughter in the expectation that her husband would soon be joining them.  He had to stay behind in Ireland at the last minute in order to support an uncle who was accused of killing a British soldier.  She survives by doing laundry and has a brief stint as a maid in a wealthy fence's household, though that ends because she's too pretty and draws an attack by one of the rakes who frequent the place.  Ah, the days before sexual harrassment laws, when the victim got canned for the trouble caused by her attacker.  Oh, wait, you can still get canned for being too pretty if your employer thinks he might have trouble controlling himself.

Anyway, the husband never arrives in New York, though he was on his way.  Lies and cheating bring her into a relationship with a man who's on the lam from a mob boss, pretty much all the time.   That man ends up with his just desserts in time.  Our heroine winds up with his hidden wealth and some additional gratitude from the mob boss.

The concurrently told story of the entertainer in 1960 shows how he tries his hand at stage and song, has his heart broken in a relationship with a man who's sexually voracious, and who also steals credit for his songwriting.  In the midst of his despair over the double heartbreak there, he sees a ghost who tells him the story of our 1870 heroine and her husband.  This story becomes a new song that is very popular in its day, and is the song that is so important to the 2010 executive.  The ghost's story also leads the entertainer to find the ghost's daughter to let her know what really happened to her father, rather than the lie that was told to her and her mother.

It's a nice device that ties these three time lines together without any of the characters in each time ever interacting with any of the characters in the others, other than the brief meeting of the entertainer and the elderly woman who was a little girl in 1870.  There's a somewhat unnecessary touch when the girlfriend tells the executive how descendants of the victim of a muder and descendants of the murderer end up marrying, but it's such a small part of the story, taking only a few panels near the end, that it's not any real detriment to the story.  By far the 1870 and 1960 stories are the more engaging, but that's to be expected because the 2010 story is more or less passively relating those two stories and how they tie together rather than being a story unto itself.

Doran's art is lovely and evokes the times for each era in the story.  With Villarrubia's colors the poverty of the Irish neighborhoods in New York is stark.  With the excitement of the entertainment scene in New York in 1960 there's an exuberance.  In 2010 there's a wealth quite evident.  To a large extent this was one where the art drew me to the book and the story held up its end, rather than me following a writer.  As J Michael Straczynski said in his cover blurb, the story is both large in scope and intimate in details.  It develops the lives of its protagonists as well as showing eras, particularly in the 1870 and 1960 lines.  Take a little time and enjoy this one.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Lee and Thomm discuss Wonder Woman: Blood Pt 2

In case you missed it, Thomm refuses to accept the fact that Lee is right. Again.

Thomm: Lee’s spent too much time around nuclear power and can’t get over that it hasn’t resulted in the development of a super power, so he’s channeled it into whining.

But back to our show. Azzarello’s Wonder Woman has writing that is far more clever than any I've seen in previous iterations of Wonder Woman. The various characters often employ sophisticated, knowing double entendres, not the juvenile sexually oriented, high school sort more often seen. These folks are referencing long histories with each other and the always biting interactions they have. Saying the dialog is akin to 100 Bullets isn't necessarily off, but it isn't a negative criticism, either, as far as I'm concerned. A level of sophistication not previously seen in Wonder Woman scribing isn't a bad thing.

Lee: Saying the writing is cleverer (a better word for us!) than other WW iterations isn’t a fair statement. If you say it’s better than the WW written in the past 5 yrs I would probably give it to you. But I would disagree with any story written before 2006. For example, Greg Rucka wrote WW from ’03-’06, Byrne before that, Messner-Loebs before that, and Perez before that. You can make the argument that the stories were more classical superhero stories but not that the writing is better.

This is one of DCs big three series. This is supposed to be a gateway book to world of superheroes. In terms of dialogue, there’s a difference between sophistication and making WW sound like a man. I expect Batman to be slightly dirty and grimy because of the movies. Batman is dark and brooding. I get it. Wonder Woman should be more in line with Superman as a bright, shiny book full of good natured people beating each other up. It’s Wonder Woman so I expect a certain amount of boobies but I don’t expect to see Hera running around naked issue after issue. If you want to make WW dark and grime and “sophisticated” then make it a Max title ala Marvel’s line and let people go crazy.

Thomm: I can’t comment on the Rucka, Byrne or Messner-Loebs iterations because I haven’t read them, but from your description it sounds a lot like the old style superhero dialog of days past. Having recently re-read some of the heralded books of the early ‘80s, I can’t lament the passing of that style of dialog. It’s stilted. It’s repetitive. Curiously, it’s written for single issues, which you think make Azzarello’s version appear better than it is even though his version is written more for a trade reading.

The Big Three issue is just dumbfounding to me. Diana is a kick ass warrior from an island composed almost entirely of warriors. Why wouldn’t she “sound like a man?” She ought to sound like a jet fighter pilot who is tops in her field of battle. She is one of the best warriors in her culture, if not the best. She surely shouldn’t talk like Superman, a guy who was raised to be a Boy Scout by his doting parents in the idyllic agrarian middle America, a sort of Jeffersonian paradise (if he’d ever gotten around to freeing the slaves without bankrupting his estate).

Lee: There’s two issues here again. First: Dialogue. Some of it was fine and some of it wasn’t. If you want Diana to sound like a jet fighter pilot, I am ok with that. I would argue that there was an inconsistency in her dialogue. Sometimes she was a pilot and sometimes she was a normal person.

The larger point I was trying to make with my Big Three comment was that this should be tamer, or less edgy, than it is. I consider WW one of those gateway books that should be accessible to everyone on all levels. This book is not that. The story is geared towards the edgy audience. It’s geared towards those that want real adult action, stories, and all that encompasses. WW is one of those books that any woman, or young girl, should be able to pick up and enjoy. Hera walking around naked all the time is not that.

Thomm: What? As far as Hera appearing naked, it’s not like we’re seeing any of her “naughty bits.” Those are always strategically obscured. We know she’s naked but we don’t see her naked. And why shouldn’t she be? She’s the goddess of women and motherhood. She’s extremely jealous of her husband’s infidelities. Why wouldn’t she walk proudly, nakedly, but for her peacock feather cloak? It shows her pride in her appearance and her feeling of superiority. It’s not like you’re objecting to Poseiden appearing as some sort of giant mutated fish or Hades as a boy with lit candles on his head. Neither of those are traditional depictions of those deities, either. I love the innovation in these portrayals. Hell, why not object to Apollo incinerating his muses or Ares appearing tired and weak? I think this level of creativity is a much better gateway than the same old lame portrayal of Diana that we’ve had for years now. From what I’m reading in Jim’s JLA reviews, Wonder Woman is just that lame in that book. The same old superhero approach is not going to bring in new readers.

Lee: You state the fact that Hera walks around naked as if every woman does that. I think that is far, far from reality. It makes the book very… sexist. That’s not the right word but it makes the book very much a male fantasy book. I would argue that it’s far more offensive to a larger portion of society than bad dialogue. I can give someone a book with some cheesy words and it’s ok. I can’t give everyone a book full of naked, no matter how “covered”, and get the same level of acceptance.  WW is a book that you should be able to give to an average person and have them enjoy.  If said person enjoys lots of violence and titillation then there are plenty of other books that I can start with.  

Thomm: But let’s get into the great characterizations of Ares, Apollo, Poseidon, and Hades. Ares is a broken god, weary of his interminable existence. Apollo is a cold manipulator. Poseidon is full of righteous rage, quickly diverted into amusement at Diana's manipulations, while Hades is petulant and vengeful at the same manipulations. These are fully fleshed characters, no less or more so than Diana.

Diana goes from her initial regal appearance with Zola to banter with Hermes to outrage at the disclosure of her true heritage. She also feels guilty for not being present when Hera transforms her mother and the warriors of Paradise Island. She's quick witted enough to alter her plans when the confrontation with Hades and Poseidon doesn't go as planned, too. Deus ex machina she's not.

Lee: I have to admit that I liked the characterizations of all the Greek gods. It was interesting and they moved the story forward as needed. Although the presentation of Hades was very interesting and I’m not sure how close that was to the myths. But, it was different and I was willing to accept it. I really liked Ares as old and tired. I agree with you there. But, they were villains, or tertiary cast members. What about Zola? Remember her, in issue six she has SIX dialogue balloons, 3 of which have one word in them. She is the reason Diana is in this situation and she has no personality. That’s not true, she’s a brat with little to no social skills. If I replaced Zola with a singing sword or some other inanimate object would the story be any different? I think not.

Thomm: Again, I disagree. Zola’s very lack of discretion in sexual partners is a key mover in the story. It sets Hera after her in the first place. Her decision to grab onto Diana so that she’s returned to her farm with Diana in the confrontation with the centaurs is also important. Inanimate objects aren’t going to do either of those things. Yeah, she’s something of a cypher, but, again, this is not her book. I don’t want to spend significant time exploring her history in this first chapter. I want to know about Diana. We have lots of that. It even comes back around when Zola stays where Diana told her in London, but Diana has to come back to rescue her when the centaurs show up again. Zola did what she was told. She wasn’t a brat who continued to confront Diana without reason. She learned something in that first issue but still wound up in danger.

So, after having re-read the same issues that encompassed the trade Lee read I think we read two different books. I see a great start to what is a very literary endeavor. Lee sees something significantly divergent from the superhero history that the character has had. I think that’s akin to objecting to Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns because it wasn’t like what had come before. Not that Azzarello has reached that level. And I’ll grant that The Dark Knight Returns wasn’t set within the DCU proper, but its influence clearly altered the Batman character in the DCU.

Lee: I think we went in expecting different things. I freely admit that I had a bias in this. I wanted a superhero story that was just that. A superhero story that was still Wonder Woman and that I might be able to share with my little girls before they were 16. This wasn’t that.

In conclusion, I don't think that Thomm or I managed to change each others minds but hopefully we clarified our viewpoints for y'all.  If it reads choppy, well that's the trouble with trying to have a debate via email. 

Lee and Thomm discuss Wonder Woman: Blood Pt 1

Thomm: A week (or so depending on when he gets around to posting this) ago Lee reviewed the first trade of Azzarello's Wonder Woman and was disappointed. Reading his review I wondered if he was on to something when he said it had deficiencies that might not be so noticeable reading single issues as he found them in the trade. Unlike Jim, I keep my singles, at least for a while, so I went back to the first six issues and read them again.

I'm not seeing what Lee sees as deficiencies. Here's the main thrust of what Lee said:

"There were some great ideas such as the various children of Zeus. But, Azzarello managed to make it all seem… pedestrian? WW is on a mission to save the latest woman whom Zeus loved from Hera. And, she has the personality of a stone. Seriously, she could have been a crown, or sword, or some mythical treasure for the amount of personality she had. Azz reduced her to a plot device. The same could be said of Strife WWs sister; nothing more than a plot device. There are several points when the voices sounded like they belonged to characters from 100 Bullets instead of a Wonder Woman book."
Lee: WHOA WHOA WHOA! What’s going on here? If ya wanna discuss let’s discuss.

*Ding ding ding* Tonight’s main event. The Master of Mayhem. The Leader of the Pack. The Luscious Leeeee.

And in the other corner. The annoying Thomm!!!!  And the crowd roars. Now then were were we?

Thomm: Annoying only to Lee. Entirely correct to everyone else.  Just call me the Maryland Mauler.

I'm not seeing Diana as a plot device at all. The story jumps right in with her being an established person in the DCU. There's no back story set-up. Hermes sends Zola, the latest paramour of a now disappeared Zeus, into Diana's London apartment while Diana is asleep, saving Zola from a pair of centaurs Hera created to kill Zola. Diana immediately (after getting dressed) jumps into hero mode, returning to Zola's Virginia home to save Hermes from the centaurs, while also saving Zola who tagged along.

Lee: I agree completely. I should have been clear that I never believed Diana was a plot device. ZOLA was a plot device. She gets the story moving and that’s about all she does. She’s the ‘fair maiden in distress’ if you will and little else. I will say, at this point, Zola wasn’t annoying me. The first issue was set up and achieved its goal. I did like the first issue.

Thomm: Well, with that shift to Zola as the plot device, there’s less in dispute. At this point Zola is a plot device. She’s clearly impetuous and not particularly choosy about her sexual partners, but other than that we don’t know much about her.

In issues #2-4, the story goes on to a highly emotionally charged visit to Paradise Island, where Diana faced childhood bullying for her different origin and is now subject to disdain for bringing the male Hermes to the island.  Diana has an emotional reaction to her just revealed half-sister, Strife, exposing her actual parentage.

I don't see the lack of characterization in Strife, either. She's manipulative. In fact, that's the core of her power. She arrives at the island, and for no reason at all, deceives the warriors into fighting one another, resulting in several fatalities and a lot of injuries. She then reveals Zeus and Hippolyta as Diana's parents, knowing that Hera will then be aware and seek to exact revenge, which she does by turning Hippolyta to stone and all the warriors to snakes. Strife is full of malice, thinly veiled.

Lee: Let me point out, that in your description of issues #2-4 you don’t mention Zola. This is where I really started having trouble with her. She’s this ‘thing’ that Diana is supposed to be protecting. All this stuff is supposed to be happening because Zola is soooo important, yet she gets dropped for 3 issues. I think that’s bad story management. Not bad storytelling, but bad story (plot?) management.

Let’s look at the Strife character because I had trouble with her too. Let’s ask the basic question: Who is Strife? I ask it because she is supposed to be some sort of godling but I can’t really tell. I recognized Zeus (in name), Hera, Hermes, and Apollo. I don’t recognize Strife. Let’s call that a minor annoyance. So, the question becomes: what’s her motivation?

We have a scene in which she is talking with Hera but it isn’t clear if Hera sends her to Paradise Island or she just goes on her own. Her power is her power and some Amazons get killed. I’m fine with that. But, at the end of issue #2 she just announces that WW is the bastard child of Zeus. Again, why? There is no motivation of the character other than plot device.

Thomm: Well, you’re missing something in the reading of the dialog between Strife and Hera. Strife is clearly the daughter of Hera and Zeus. At this point, of all the children of Zeus that we see she’s the only one whose mother is Hera. I also think it’s clear that Hera doesn’t send her to Paradise Island. Hera has no idea that Diana is another of Zeus’s bastards until after Strife visits and proclaims it. As to Strife’s motivation, I’d have to say that her name sums it up neatly.

But back to Zola. She’s not dropped out altogether. She’s not important for a bit while we delve into what’s happened on Paradise Island after Diana left with Zola and Hermes, but then, neither is Hermes. They both show up in ongoing moments in the issues but aren’t the focus. In fact, it’s some of those moments that bring out more of Zola’s character. Regardless, though, I don’t have a lot of issue with Zola being a deus ex machine, particularly in Chapter 1 of a longer story. After all it’s not her book. It’s Diana’s book.

Lee: And here’s where reviewing trades is different from reviewing single issues. At this point, you and I are pretty much in agreement. Zola is a plot device but it is Diana’s book so I’m letting it ride. But, in another 2 issues, you’re going to see that Zola isn’t much better.

As for Strife, it depends on your level of acceptance. I re-read myself and it’s stated that she is the daughter of Hera-Zeus. The random decision to travel to Paradise Island still feels forced but it is keeping with her name. As a villain I wasn’t particularly impressed with her and as a lawful-evil ally she was kinda ho-hum too. For comparison, Deimos and Phobos, the Greek villains that Perez introduced in the last great WW reboot were far more interesting in a shorter time.

I guess it’s safe to say, through 4 issues we are still pretty much in agreement. But tomorrow, we discuss issues 5, 6, and more minor annoying points.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Image Previews for May

Lee: Image is getting more and more interesting every month. They have such a good blend of new material and trades that it’s hard to know what to get. The best part is that most of the material is really, really good.
Thomm: I think Image has the best selection, on a month to month basis, of any of the publishers right now. With Vertigo putting out less, Image is rising all the more in my interest, with Dark Horse a close second.

story J. Michael Straczynski
art / cover Ben Templesmith
32 Pages / FC / $2.99
Joe Fitzgerald was a mob enforcer until the day he met Laura, who convinced him to leave that world behind. Before quitting, Joe agreed to one last job, little realizing that the man he'd been sent to kill was deeply involved in demonlogy. He survived Joe's attempt and came after him, fatally wounding Joe and killing Laura. As he lay dying, an angelic force (who may or may not be what she appears) pointed out that where she is going, he can't follow, and where he is going, he wouldn't want her to follow. But if he will agree to work for them as a different kind of enforcer, they will bring him to life and keep on bringing him to life every time he is killed in a righteous cause. The reward: for those five minutes of death, he will be with Laura again. Would you endure an eternity of pain and death, dying over and over, to be with the woman you love for just five minutes each time you died? Most people might say no. But Joe Fitzgerald isn't most people.
Lee: Straczynski was kinda hit/miss for me until his Before Watchman series. It seems that he’s gotten some of his mojo back and I, for one, am happy to read it again. This certainly sounds interesting and with Templesmith on art I am sure it will look great. This is by far, the easiest pick of the month.
Thomm: I’m not so sure it’s the best pick of the month for Image, but it does look promising. My concerns with JMS over the years have been less about the quality of his work and more about his seeing it through to the end.

written by Joe Casey
art and cover by David Messina
32 Pages / FC / $2.99
Meet the ultimate slacker superhero for the 21st Century! Jasper Jenkins is a super-head AND a super-hero! He's relatable AND reliable and he's embarking on the adventure of a lifetime! The sensational debut of the new feel-good hero of the decade! You can't afford to miss it!
Lee: This write up is terrible! The hero(?) makes me think of Speedball but I can’t believe Casey would write that. Casey’s ideas are too big and, actually, whacked out for something so straightforward. I like most of Casey’s stuff so my interest is piqued but I wish I had a better idea of what the series was actually about.
Thomm: Having read the first issue of Casey’s Sex, I find this to be the more interesting book than Ten Grand. I’m looking forward to seeing how Casey overcomes the inherent adversity between the inactivity of a super-head and the hyper-activity of a super-hero, embodied in one person.

story Jonathan Ross
art / cover Bryan Hitch
32 Pages / FC / $2.99
Too many Americans with too many the government decides it's time to wipe them all out and start from scratch. Nobody ever said it would be easy.
Lee: It’s only taken a year to get 7 issues out. Did anyone make it to the end? Is it any wonder why I trade wait?
Thomm: Yeah, this is definitely trade material. I see Ross is employing what a friend and I called the Mexico Plan when we were in college 20 plus years ago. Kill ‘em all and start over. I suppose it’s really the Noah Plan.

story Ed Brisson
art / cover Michael Walsh
136 Pages/ FC/ $14.99
Reconnect agents Mark and Seth go back in time to save people from their untimely demise – for a fee. But, when a rescue mission goes awry, both agents find themselves trapped in the past and on the run from both the FBI, who want to jail them, and their own employers who want to kill them to protect their own dark and deadly secrets. Collects COMEBACK 1-5, plus never-seen-before extras.
Lee: Then again the problem with trade waiting is you don’t remember all the series. Take this one for instance. I do not remember this at all. It sounds great and for $3/issue it’s not all that bad a deal.
Thomm: It’s a bit like buying just one chapter of a book, though. At only 5 issues you’re not getting far into the story, I’ll bet.
Lee: So I just looked this up because I can't believe I missed it and found out this was the story with the illegal time travel operation.  That's what we liked about this, "illegal time travel'.  That's a hook.  This writeup doesn't do the series concept justice. 

’68 JUNGLE JIM 2 (OF 4)
story Mark Kidwell
art / cover Jeff Zornow & Jay Fotos
32 Pages / FC / $3.99
The skies over Vietnam rain liquid fire as Brian Curliss, AKA Jungle Jim continues his epic quest to find the rotting, undead remains of Sergeant Jim Asher. Jim’s search carries him across the border into war-torn Cambodia, where the struggling occupants of an isolated French mission hold their own against hunger, madness and the ravenous dead.
In the dripping shadows of the rainforest, human life hangs on a hair trigger and to save himself and those who need him, Jim will have to face more than the living dead and swarms of vengeful Viet Cong… because here there be tigers.
Lee: IT’S JUNGLE JIM! We know him! He writes for us allllll the time. And check out that cover, wasn’t Jim saying something about heads on pikes just yesterday (several days ago by the time this actually sees print). I think Jim should get this and tell us how it is.
Thomm: Considering our Jungle Jim buys just about everything published I’m guessing he’s already ordered this series. With his affinity for heads on pikes this would rank up there with a monkey on the cover. Being set in the jungle, maybe he’ll get that in a future issue.

story Steve Niles
art / cover Tony Harris
22 Pages / C / $2.99
Al Capone is dead. Shot through the skull by Shaw’s cursed slug, the gangland legend lies dead before Eliot Ness could drag him to court on tax evasion. Shaw’s interference has uprooted history and now Ness wants it set straight. The shot also alerted Shaw’s enemies of his presence in Capone era Chicago, and they are coming for him. They took his skin last time. This time they'll have his eternal soul.
Lee: Zombies and gangsters, I guess it’s a new idea. Unfortunately I’ve been less and less thrilled with Niles output over the last year or so. Not that it’s bad, but not that it’s good either. It’s just not held my interest.
Thomm: Yeah, I tried out a Niles title a couple years ago and was underwhelmed. Besides, why would Ness be upset that Capone is dead? It’s not like he knows how history was supposed to go. As far as Ness would be concerned, a dead Capone is a good Capone.

DIA DE LOS MUERTOS 3story Alexander Grecian, Kurtis Wiebe and Joe Keatinge
art / cover Riley Rossmo
40 Pages / FC / Golden-Age Format / $4.99
Inspired by the Mexican Day of the Dead, artist extraordinaire, Riley Rossmo, interprets stories from three of today's top writers. From Kurtis Wiebe (Peter Panzerfaust) comes a heartbreaking love story--in this world or the next. Joe Keatinge (Glory, Hell Yeah) offers up Day of the Dead 3000. As Ultra Muertos falls at the hands of Mother Slaughter, his grandson takes over the mantle with a death wish for all-out apocalypse! And New York Times bestselling author Alexander Grecian (Proof) tells a tale of ghost children.
Lee: Jim sent the first issue to me and I am glad he did because I wasn’t getting it otherwise. Basically this is an anthology around the Mexican Day of the Dead. Rossmo’s art is the real draw here, but it looks like the writers are getting better as the issues progress. If you like Rossmo’s art then you will most likely enjoy this.
Thomm: I liked Rossmo’s work on Proof, and I have some fondness for anthologies. I may have to take a look at this when I hit the store today (writing on a Wednesday).

story / art / cover Ted McKeever
24 Pages / BW / Golden-Age Format / $3.99
Critically acclaimed writer/artist Ted McKeever returns to the theater of the bizarre, as a small-town Pastor thinks the eight-inch Jesus that descended from a cross on the church's wall is the devil's work. Meanwhile, a recovering alcoholic's fractured reality battling his own demons is becoming all too literal.
Lee: When the phrase “theater of the bizarre” is combined with McKeever then you know it’s gonna be out there. McKeever’s last book, Mondo Bizarro, was a visual masterpiece but the story was bizarre. McKeever visited similar topics to this in his Metropol series which was excellent. I am sure this will be good.
Thomm: This raises an interesting question for me. When something out of the ordinary occurs a lot of people decide it’s either a work of god or a work of some demon. Who decides? In an omnipotent, omniscient theology is there a difference?

Thomm: I went into this figuring on The Bounce as my first choice, but now I’m looking at Dia de los Muertos and Miniature Jesus, too. Ten Grand might be more of a wait for the trade like Lee.
Lee:  I'm all over the map this month.  So much of this looks good I'm not sure which one I like the best.