Wednesday, October 31, 2007

This Week In Television

So, with a little luck, I should be back to regular posting. Lately, work has taken over my life and that is never fun. But, while there isn't any fun to be had at work, there are always good times around the house.

For instance, this past weekend we went to a kindergarten birthday party. Of course, said birthday boy invited his ENTIRE kindergarten class and EVERY SINGLE one attended so it was just like another day of school. And this kindergarten class is no piece of cake, it's 2-1 boys to girls so it's extra full of energy. It should be noted, after dealing with an entire kindergarten for 2 hours, my perception that teaching a kindergarten class would be easy or a "piece o'cake" is so incredibly wrong that I will admit I was wrong.

But, back at the party, I discovered the origins of "keeping up with the Jones's". The birthday boy gave a tour of his room and showed off all his toys and of course, Boy was suitably impressed. But, the thing that impressed him most… beyond the race sets, beyond even all the spiderman action figures was the fact that his little friend had a television in his room.

Now, we won't get into the ridiculousness of a 5-6 year old having a television in his room, but Boy was in awe. So much so, we discussed it later.
Boy: Daddy, I want a television in my room for Christmas.
Daddy: That's nice but we don't have televisions in our rooms. Mommy and I don't have one. Girl and Tiny don't have one, so you can't have one.

The boy is used to hearing no to his endless requests but the TV in the room was apparently too impressive to let go. He continued on....
Boy: Well, when can I have a TV in my room?
Daddy: When you have your own house then you can have one.

Personally, I thought this was a good answer. If he asked, I could ramble on about saving money and hard work and so forth and so on. Or, better yet, he would be stumped and the issue would pass. But, the conversation took an unexpected turn....
Boy: When can I buy a house?
Daddy: When you're 18
Boy: I wanna go live at Grandma's

Once again, Daddy is outwitted by the little Man.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Best to Worst of Last Week

All in all a lot of really entertaining books this week. Image certainly launched some good titles and two books that I was contemplating dropping turned in their best efforts to date and kept my interest going. Only one book got dropped and that was a new Marvel mini-series.

Action Comics #857 – The conclusion to the Bizzaro storyline by Johns, Donner and Eric Powell as artist. I hate the Bizzaro stuff as the dialogue is impossible to read and I imagine a nightmare to write. What sold this book for me were Eric Powell’s art and the relationship of Superman and his father Jonathan Kent. A really great arc and one that I would buy as a hardcover if they add some extras to it.
Crawl Space XXXombies #1 (of 4)- Just an out and out fun book. If you told me mixing a Zombie story with a group of 70’s porn stars would be so damn funny and entertaining I would not have believed you, but this was a really good opening. Crawl Space is the overall title of a planned series of mini-series doing different horror stories.
Blue Beetle #20 – Another excellent issue that was only parenthetically tied to the Sinestro War as a yellow ring shows up for Peacemaker. Jamie continues to shine as a young hero who tries to do the right thing and succeeds.
Walking Dead #43 – Normally I get this as a trade, but was told to read this issue and I’m glad I did. Kirkman brings back the governor and really sets up the battle between the two groups of humans. Kirkman really pays off long time readers of this and Invincible.
Hellblazer #237 – John Constantine is outwitted by the bad guy at the end of this arc. John manages to at least shut down part of the operation, but ultimately loses. Diggle continues to keep thinks interesting as we now have a foe who appears to be Constantine’s equal at least.
Criminal Macabre My Demon Baby #2 (of 4) – Cal McDonald is trying to save the child of satan, from the devil and the church. His aide de camp (who is a zombie) is one of the better supporting characters in comics. When he ask him to distract the police watching his apartment he picks up a mailbox and throw it at the cop car, priceless.
Green Arrow Year One #6 (of 6) – An action packed slam bang winner of a series. A great ending showing Ollie at his best. One of the top mini-series of this year.
Potter’s Field #2 (of 3) - Very nice. Liked that this book continues with the unexpected and has John Doe up to his a** in danger.
Uncle Sam and The Freedom Fighters #2 (of 8) – This series is so well done. Last issue focused on the Red Bee and still told an overall story, this issue focuses on Phantom Lady doing a Lindsay Lohan impersonation and still telling an overall story.
Proof #1 – So Bigfoot and FBI Agent Ginger team up to fight supernatural menaces. Another concept that sounds interesting, but also a possible total miss. This was not, obviously the writer and artist have put a lot of effort into this book to make it both fun and tell a good story.
Fear Agent Last Goodbye #4 (of 4) – A good ending of Heath’s origin. Heath apparently destroyed seven trillion of the enemy who attacked Earth, but did not know the attackers were not representative of the population.
Neozoic #1 – See my review on this book from before. Dinosaurs and kick ass woman in an Earth that could have been. Very good start to a new series.
Green Lantern Corps #17 – The Sinestro War is just so well done and this issue is no exception as the war moves to Earth and the action just keeps on coming. Sodam Yat the daxamite GL is given the power of Ion to and next issue Ion vs. Superman-Prime.
Superman/Batman #41 – Really enjoying this arc of Superman/Batman as Superman is under Darkseid’s control and Batman is fighting to save him and being caught up in Bekka’s spell. The Batman/Bekka love affair has been great.
Teen Titans #52 – Really enjoying the future titans stuff, but I must say the addition of Blue Beetle to the Titans mix maybe my favorite part. Sean McKeever keeps Blue Beetle very true to his characterization in his own book.
Thunderbolts #117 - Good issue, the group attacking the Thunderbolts is cool, the whole dynamic in the book with all the characters is played out very well. Only complaint is it moves a little slow.
Tales of the Sinestro Corps Superman Prime #1 – Another great issue that enhances the main story and still does not force you to buy this to understand the main series. Superman-Prime is shown as way too powerful for my taste, but all in all very entertaining. The back up “Tales of Sinestro Corps” by Johns’ protégée Sterling Gates was well done and appropriately creepy.
30 Days of Night Red Snow #3 (of 3) – Concluding Ben Templesmith’s three issue tale of Vampires and Nazis in Russia. Love Templesmith’s art work and the story was well done.
Fall of Cthulhu #7 – Was told I’m the only person at my comic store getting this book and that is a crying shame as this book is creepy and horrifying in subtle and overt ways.
Robin #167 – A fill-in story by a writer I have never heard of (Brandon Thomas) that was really well done. Robin is out fighting crime and on edge as it is an anniversary of his father’s death.
Streets of Glory #2 (of 6) - Good issue and you can Ennis putting all the pieces together for this western tale.
Madam Mirage #3 (of 6) – This issue saved this book for me as the back story for the character was revealed and now I really enjoy the character a lot more. Even the girl who plays Madam Mirage said she is impossibly endowed, but by putting to context of the story out there I’m more vested in what happens.
X-Men First Class #5 – Always an entertaining read. This recounted the X-Men first run in with the Hulk. A lighter toned book that is a nice change of pace from so many of the darker and more dramatic toned super hero stoires.
Gotham Underground #1 (of 8) – Nice start as we see a lot of Gotham’s super villains being captured by the Suicide Squad. This is part of many mini-series that DC has building up into Final Crisis. The whole event feels more organic then Infinite Crisis did as the lead-in mini-series for that felt forced to fit Infinite Crisis.
Ultimate Spider-man #115 – Immonen has made this book his own and the layouts and action that he drew this issue was great. The story of Kitty Pryde going into save Peter was terrific.
Flash #233 – Nice to see Freddie Williams take over as artist and glad this first arc is over as I really did not enjoy the alien menace. The best part of this story was Wally dealing with the JLA and the back up story featuring Jay Garrick.
Doktor Sleepless #3 – Another book that saved itself from being dropped by me by revealing some of the back story surrounding the central characters. I’m not locked into this book yet, but I’m willing to continue with it for a couple more issues.
Daredevil #101 – I thought this was a good issue as you could feel DD’s desperation about Milla, but when the Hood showed up at the end, it really hurt this book.
Gen 13 #13 – The best issue of this series to date as the characters are really shown to be each others family. Gail Simone really never writes a bad issue that I have read. Even on books like Gen 13, where I’m not invested in the characters, I appreciate the stories that she tells.
She-Hulk #22 – Peter David’s first issue and it was an okay start, but a lot of set-up and appears as Jen and She-Hulk are now separate entities. David has earned my trust so I’ll hang on for a few issues.
Loveless #20 – Second to last issue in this series apparently (or maybe it is bi-monthly now), either way it is ending soon. The book just has a great feel to it, but with such an obtuse story telling style and change in artist, it was doomed to failure.
Countdown #27 – Feels like this series is starting to become something worth reading again. Jason Todd apparently switches sides and takes out Donna Troy. I still think he is from the Crime Syndicate Earth and has been posing as New Earth’s Jason Todd.
JSA Classified #45 – This arc about J’onn J’onzz and his telepathic fight with a remnant of his brother has gotten more interesting as each issue progresses. Looking forward to its conclusion.
Annihilation Conquest: The Wraith #4 (of 4) – The series fell a little flat for me as it ended. I guess the Wraith’s powers just seemed too perfect to stop the Phalanx’s weapon.
X-Men #204 – All set-up and treading water waiting for the Messiah Complex story line to begin.
Authority Prime #1 (of 6)- An okay start to this mini-series, but it is all set-up. Wildstorm really seems to not be able to pull their act together to keep any consistent momentum on their main super hero team.
Superman #669 – The “Third Kryptonian” turns out to be a “who” and even worse “who cares”. Also Rick Leonardi’s style does not suit what I like to see in Superman.
Wetworks #14 – This series is ending after next issue and I really won’t miss it. The opening nine issue arc took to long to grab reader’s attention and then the series floundered after that.
Foolkiller #1 (of 5) – Overall it was not horrible, it just did not cut it. The scene showing a bunch of lacrosse players raping some girl and then being killed for it, just came across like the writer is the only idiot in America who thinks the Duke players were guilty. Ultimately I almost hung on to this title, but if the first issue of a mini-series causes me to think that many negative thoughts it needs to be cut, so I dropped it off my list.

Well that wraps up another week. Halloween is this week and I’m never failed to be amazed at how celebrated and how much money is spent on this “holiday”. Plus I think that the holiday has been totally co-opted by adults and should remain the province of children, but that is just my opinion.

Monday, October 29, 2007

What I’m Getting Wednesday

A decent size week of books, thanks to DC. I'm really glad that I have gotten harsher on mini-series as I really need to ratchet down my list. Still with American Virgin and Loveless being cancelled and I stopped the Wonder Girl and Metamorpho mini-series that is four more books off the list, but that is not enough.

This post takes a fair amount of time to pull together and I would wager that it is the least read post of the week. Which would make sense as it is rather self centered. I’m having an internal debate as to whether to continue this weekly posting or not. If nothing else it lets me learn what is happening as I order months in advance and usually don’t always remember what was going on in what book.

52 Aftermath: The Four Horsemen #3 (of 6) – This series has surprised me. I really thought I would pick up issue #1 and then drop it. Keith Giffen has done such a great job with this book and his dialogue between Batman, Wonder Woman and Superman has been fantastic.

Action #858 – Superman, Geoff Johns, Gary Frank and the original Legion of Super Heroes – are you frelling kidding me! This is one of those stories that I did not think we would ever get to see and to have this level of talent producing it, well I’m happy. Can not wait.

Batman #670 – Both Batman and Superman have what promises to be interesting storylines beginning this week. Batman has “The Resurrection of Ras As Ghul” starting. This story is running through all the Bat titles and has Talia, I-Ching, Damian and the Sensei as guest starts, plus Tony Daniel takes over as the artist with Grant Morrison as writer. Sweet!

Countdown to Final Crisis #26 – The change of title is heralding a uptick in the level of what should be happening in this book and we also have Scott Kolins doing the pencils. Has the potential of being the best issue to date and hopefully is the beginning of good things for this book. Only six months till Final Crisis. Which fills me with dread as they are never as company wide cross overs are never all that they should be (exception Crisis on Infinite Earths).

Countdown Presents : Lord Havok and the Extremists #1 (of 6) – This group is from Earth 8 and is being given a spotlight as I assume they will have a role to play in the Final Crisis and the series is touting them as critical to the fate of the multiverse. I normally would be less then enthused about this type of series, but my hopes are a little higher as the writer Frank Tieri has proven himself to be a solid writer and Liam Sharpe is a very good artist.

Countdown to Adventure #3 (of 8) – It appears Starfire, Adam Strange and Animal Man maybe plague carriers as both planets are showing the victims of the same disease. The backup tale has Forerunner encountering mystical versions of Superman and Batman. I’m enjoying the return of a comic carrying two features, especially with an expanded page count so both stories have enough room.

Countdown to Mystery #2 (of 8) – Really enjoyed the first issue a lot as the new Dr. Fate has a lot of potential. I thought it was a little too cute to have him have the exact name as the original, but as he is a relative so it makes some sense. The Eclipso back up was also well done and I like seeing her role being defined more in the DCU. I read that Dr. Fate is not tied into Final Crisis, but Eclipso is going to have an impact.

Crime Bible: Five Lessons of Blood #1 (of 5) – Greg Rucka and Tom Mandrake bring us a mini-series focusing on the Crime Bible and a monk sowing the seeds of the Dark Faith. The new Question is following him and trying to save an author who has written an expose of the Dark Faith. This is a thematic follow-up to 52 and should be good with Rucka writing and Tom Mandrake as artist.

DC Infinite Halloween Special – This specials contain lots of short stories and has plenty of “names” doing the work. They are usually fun books with hits and misses, still as an occasional event I think they are worth the bang for the buck.

Death of the New Gods #2 (of 8) – This book is coming out at an accelerated rate to get it started and that is fine by me as the first issue was really good and I’m looking forward to issue #2. Starlin is the perfect choice to do this book since Kirby is no longer alive to do it. Issue #1 ended with a bang as Big Barda is dead. So it becomes a who dies this issue game.

JSA Classified #31 – The concluding chapter in the three issue “Mr. Horrific” arc that is focusing on Mr. Terrific. This has been a so-so story so far and I can honestly say that I’m not eagerly anticipating this book. Still I’m curious to see if they can make the ending at least pay off.

Justice Society of America #10 – Now this book is one that I’m very anxious to read. The introduction of the Kingdom Come Superman into our Earth should have some major ramifications about what is going to be happening in Final Crisis. I have to say that Geoff Johns has really hit an incredible streak lately as Action, Green Lantern, JSA and Booster Gold are all really good books and Johns is in the zone like he never has been before. Always a good writer, Johns is now moving to great writer status.

Robin Annual #7 – Annuals are often waste of paper or try outs for new people, but every once in a while you get a gem. Lately it seems that Annuals are used for a specific reason and the Robin Annual’s main story focuses on Damien and ties into the “Resurrection of Ras As Ghul” story line.

Showcase Presents Teen Titans Volume #2 – This collects a lot of the silver age Teen Titans material and is written by Bob Haney and Steve Skeates and has artwork by Bob Haney. I was never a big Bob Haney fan until recently when I read up on him and saw some of his cartoon strip work. Haney was a hell of an artist and the more I pay close attention to art, the more I can tell that Haney was more of an illustrator who loosened his style for comic book work.

Supergirl and the Legion of Super Heroes #35 – The “Quest for Cosmic Boy” continues. This arc has been so enjoyable that while it is interesting that Jim Shooter is returning to the Legion, I was very happy with Tony Bedard’s run on this title. Tony seems to have been DC’s ultimate pinch hitter and it is no wonder as he writes good books all the time. I hope he gets a series to call his own soon.

Superman Confidential #8 – This book has been coming in fast now that they decided to just publish the last issue of the first arc whenever it is done. This 3 issue arc is about Superman’s first meeting with the Forever People of the New Gods. Written by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning with art by Chris Bastia and Cam Smith it should be a good story.

Trails of Shazam #9 (of 12) – I have really enjoyed this series and look forward to it concluding as I hope to see Freddy take his place among the DCU as the new Shazam. Howard Porter’s took such a radical shift in his work with this book, that I think that has slowed down production, as this book has taken too long to come out.

American Virgin #20 – Bittersweet issue as I learned the series ends with #23, but truth be told I did not think the book had a strong enough premise to last more then 24 issues. I was wrong and hate to see this book bite the dust. Last issue it looked liked Adam was about to lose his virginity, so this issue should be good.

Crossing Midnight #12 – Buy this book! It is Mike Carey’s best series to date. The official hype “Comb. Mirror. High-heeled shoe. The clues have come together, and Kai has finally figured out the mystery behind the killer tracking Tokyo date girls. But will it do the teenage boy any good against a magical killer who's now set his sights on him?”

Jack of Fables #16 – This sounds like a great issue as we go back in time and learn about Jack when he was Jack O’Lantern. Always a good read.

Midnighter: Armageddon - The start of the Armagedon series inside the Wildstorn Universe. Written by Christos Gage, so it has potential. This issue Void of Wildcats returns and takes Midnighter to a future where London is destroyed by the crashed carrier. Not sure what to expect, but it sounds interesting.

Essential Werewolf By Night Volume 2 – This volume collects Werewolf by Night #21-43 and some other issues. I was iffy on buying this as Werewolf by Night was never the strongest series and was best remembered by me for early Mike Ploog artwork. Still I remember it as being a light read and one day will get around to re-reading it.

Marvel Masterworks Volume 85: Atlas Era Strange Tales – This is some of the pre-code horror cooked up by Stan Lee, Russ Heath, Bill Everett and others. I don’t expect to get around to reading this any day soon, but it deserves a space on my bookcase.

Annihilation Conquest Quasar #4 – Wrapping up the mini-series and leading into Annihilation Conquest. Quasar quest for the savior ends here and we find out just who is the savior. This series has fallen off the rails for me with Moondragon turning into a dragon. She is now Quasar’s pet and still her lover. I guess a lesbian relationship wasn’t enough, so they added a little bestiality.

Daredevil Annual #1 – Again annuals have always been strange ducks, at least Ed Brubaker is the writer (along with artist Andre Parks), still not really going in with any great expectations.

Iron Man #23 – This arc has been okay, but the whole background story with Mandarin is more interesting then the main story. Plus doesn’t the cover look like it has a Star Wars Storm Trooper on it?

Anita Blake Vampire Hunter First Death #2 (of 2) – The first issue of this little mini-series was good, but it seems like it has been awhile between issues. I guess all the brouhaha with Marvel and Dabel Brothers threw a monkey wrench into everything.

Sub-Mariner #5 (of 6) – The penultimate chapter in this mini-series. I have enjoyed this series for the most part, but I wonder what they are setting up with this series. Will Namor be an anti-hero again and can Atlantis be saved?

Ultimate Power #8 (of 9) – This book sucks. Last issue we had a big reveal on the whole entire convoluted plot and then ended with another world's version of Squadron Supreme showing up. Does anyone remember the Squadron Supreme book? Didn’t that thing end on a cliff hanger or something? Anyway, this book was written by JMS for three issues, Bendis for three issues and now Loeb. It reads like it was handed off with no direction and done as a game between the writers.

X-Men Messiah Complex – The opening bell in the big X-Event. Now I have glanced at the two bigger “news” sites and both seem to say it is a good book, but some of this sites kiss the “a**” of the big two to maintain access. Let’s just say I’m leary going in as I'm suffering from event burnt out and not looking forward to this, the next Hulk event, “Who Do You Trust” or “Really it is the Final Crisis” from DC.

Secret History Book Three & Book Four – So last week Archaia Studios put out two issues of Killer (and of course my store was shorted issue #5, so I have #6, but not #5 *grumble, grumble*). So this week we are getting two issues of this book which is one of the denser books on the market. Why?

Bonds #2 (of 3) – Not 100% sure why I stayed on this title as it is a lot of earth magic and a murder mystery all tied together, but just didn't work for me. Still it was a three issue book. As my remarks indicate I have a low level of expectation and I could drop it before it concluded.

Mouse Guard Winter 1152 #2 (of 6) – Now this book I continue to love and look forward to each and every issue. Really this book is one of the best all ages read on the market and is far superior to Mice Templar and better then the “Redwall” trade that I’m in the midst of reading. David Petersen’s work is truly captivating.

Tales of the Fear Agent 12 Steps in One – I have no real clue what this issue is about as I totally missed the solicitation for this book. I know it is a one and done story for this character and I love Fear Agent, so it should be good.

Dynamo 5 #8 – In addition to this being one of the best super hero team books on the market; it comes out on a regular basis. Each issue building on the one before as it tells good super hero yarns as well as moves the characters forward. Always looking forward to another issue of Dynamo 5.

Wasteland #13 – Another perennial good series. The storyline has been in high gear for the last few issue as a massive revolt is taking place inside the city. Hard not to enjoy this vision of a post apocalyptic world.

Lots of great stuff to look forward to, but I have to say that it is the return of the original Legion of Super Heroes in Action Comics that I really can’t wait to see. I loved the original version so much and would buy it in Archives as a monthly hard cover collection (even covering the down years) because that group was always near and dear to my heart. Add the Ras As Ghul cross-over, Mouse Guard, Wasteland and the beginning of an X-event and it promises to be an interesting week.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Proof #1 - A Review

Proof #1 – Image Comics By Alexander Grecian Writer and Riley Rossmo Artist.

I ordered this book based solely on the premise. The simple one liner is Bigfoot as a covert operative looking for supernatural menaces. In my mind, it was X-Files with Mulder being replaced by Bigfoot. Neither of the creators were names that I had ever remembered and I do not believe I have ever read or seen any of their work before. Essentially I was possibly wasting $3, but new stuff always intrigues me and many of the new creators have some great ideas. This book was indeed a great idea and a fantastic start to what I hope is a long running series.

The book starts with a woman disappearing into a cave, we then switch to what appears to be a group of people trying to hunt down a Bigfoot. It turns out that this is just an exercise where Agent John Prufrock (the Bigfoot) is playing a war game with the other agents. We meet John’s new partner Ginger and learn of the danger they will be chasing. Then we switch to Ginger’s story and back up a week or so and then have her story blend into the opening story. We are now set for next issue where Ginger and John will be chasing down a creature known as the Goatsucker.

The story was well written and interesting. I immediately liked the main two characters and had a great sense that they will be an excellent couple in the issues to come. The set-up of the covert operation was well done and the Goatsucker is a very nasty piece of work that will make a great adversary for our new team. My one gripe is the Cryptoid stuff. These were caption boxes giving us random facts to help fill in the blanks or give us information the writer thought we needed. I counted over 20 of these Cryptoids and while at times interesting, often they slowed down the pacing of the comic. My advice use them in limited quantity in the future. The footnote on page one as a character is grumbling was very funny and should be used again in the future.

The art was really nice. I’m not sure how to describe Rossmo’s style as it has both a dramatic feel to it and a cartoonish quality to it in some ways. John Prufrock is done so well, that I can only image other people aping (pun intended) his style when they draw a Bigfoot. I’m guessing Riley is a younger artist and I have a feeling his style will evolve as time goes on. I see influences from multiple artists in his work right now and it feels like his style has yet to fully mature. Still it has so much energy and passion in the work that you can feel it.

Alexander Grecian is also a new name to me and a brief search on the internet reveals he left an advertising career to be a free lance writer and is most proud of being a parent. The background material is positively leaping off the page at the end. If Rossmo’s art is energetic Grecian is hyper energy that could light a small city. Needless to say I enjoyed reading his background material and as I said the story itself was a great start.

Bottom line, I’m hooked and I can’t wait to read this book each and every month.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

The Arrival by Shaun Tan - A Review

We were hopeful of having all three of us do the review but Lee had to beg off as his real world job has kept him busy and salivating over his two Boston teams has taken up a lot of his time. I will share with you that Lee did "read" this book and he enjoyed it also. So onto the review by Gwen and I.

Jim: This was a really wonderful graphic novel. From the design of the book itself to the story it was a truly amazing. The graphic novel is wordless, but tells the story of an immigrant leaving the impoverishment of his land and coming to a new land. He leaves behind his wife, child and all he knows to try and find work in this new world. It takes time and he is often very lost and is trying to adjust. Ultimately he finds work and makes enough money to bring his family to the new land. A very simple tale, but made new by the images that Shaun Tan uses in his book.

He creates an almost magical and Rube Goldberg (google it) type world with his illustrations. The cityscape, the animals, the machines are all very strange and almost totally unfamiliar. It really puts you into the shoes of our new immigrant and makes you think how hard is it to come to a new land and have to understand all the strangeness that would be associated with such a venture. You feel his courage in learning to find his way and you feel his loneliness for the loss of his family.

It was such a wonderful idea to take a straightforward tale and by using only visuals you really get to know what it is like to walk in his shoes. Nothing is familiar, nothing works like it should, and the world that was once a familiar and comfortable place is full of strangeness. You are out of place and alone and almost have a feeling of being lost.

Having never had to experience a relocation of that magnitude, it made me appreciated what people coming to a new land have to overcome to make a life in a strange world. This book is well worth seeking out. The illustrations are beautiful and the empathy that it evokes makes you have a better understanding for what it means to be a new world.

Gwen: I loved this book. I'm so happy I was able to experience it and it has been added to my list of comic books that should be taught in a classroom as literature. Shaun Tan's grasp of symbolic expression is masterful. I was amazed at how much I, as someone who's hardly had the opportunity to travel to unfamiliar places, managed to lose myself in the protagonist's world.

Actually, now that I think about it further, they should use this book to supplement history classes when they teach about Ellis Island. When I went to Ellis Island as a child on a school field trip it was just a museum at the end of the day. As much as there's a certain silence to the place I just felt as if there was some understanding just out of my grasp. As someone who was born and grew up in one country I couldn't truly empathize with those who had come before me. The Arrival is presented in such a way that anyone can understand, at least a little, what immigration must have been like for those who move to another country seeking a better life.

Shaun Tan makes the settings just fantastical enough that you lose your equilibrium and have to adjust to the new and confusing setting right along with the protagonist. Yet, the settings are still grounded enough in reality that you have no trouble following the story.

Two things I absolutely adored about this story were one, the fact that every family seems to have a familiar (a pet of sorts for those non gamers) which adopts them when they arrive in the new country. Two, the way we get to learn the stories of others who have immigrated to this new place through the protagonist's interactions with others. Tan's symbolism and strong sequential style really shines in this area.

I also included scans of two pages that show the contrast between the protagonist's old and new life. I thought that it was a good way of showing the amazing work this book presents.

Overall: you should buy this book, read this book and share it with all your friends. I hope to see more work on this level from Tan in the future.

So there you have two opinions of The Arrival. This is a great book to seek out and put on your bookshelf and loan to anyone who wants to know if graphic novels can do more then tell a tale of super heroes.

Friday, October 26, 2007

side note...

Yes, I know I already posted for Friday, but I had to share these two things.

First: Fantasy Congress. Seriously. I couldn't stop laughing.


That is all. Back to your regularly scheduled program...

Savage Brothers: Review

Story by Andrew Cosby and Johanna Stokes
Art by Rafael Albuquerque

Is your mom a zombie? Sis? Dad?! Who you gonna call? Savage Brothers!

Have an undead loved one that needs retrieving?Call Dale and Otis Savage--they'll hop in their Ford F-150, bring'em back, or put 'em down. But when they get hired to retrieve a zombie scientist who holds the key to the supernatural apocalypse--are they selling out the human race? And when did the Savage Brothers start making bid decisions like this? And who is the mysterious guy with no body they call...The Head!?!? Anybody got some more barbecue.

Bonus: FEAR THE DEAD - Michael Alan Nelson's complete guidebook to the wondrous world of the undead, as seen through the eyes of one survivor of the Zombie Apocalypse! Featuring art from tons of today's terror titans!

I never had the chance to read the single issues of Savage Brothers so the TPB was my first exposure to this story. These days, it seems as if there are zombie stories aplenty in the comic book world. From Kirkman's Walking Dead and Marvel Zombies to Wormwood Gentleman Corpse and everything in-between the undead are everywhere. Honestly, as much as many of these books are well done I have been getting a bit tired of zombies. But Gwen, you say, how can anyone get tired of zombies!?! Alas, as much entertainment as zombies can bring, I have to say that I've been a little burnt out. Then, I read Savage Brothers and my joy in undead rampaging was renewed!

As much as the zombie apocalypse has almost become a stereotype in comic books (movies too I guess) this book adds a new and fun element to the setting: zombie bounty hunters. Dale and Otis Savage make their 'living' hunting down zombies for people who wish to put a loved one to rest - except it's hard to tell zombies apart. Pretty much the brothers make their way through the apocalypse as con artists and yet their characters still manage to be somewhat endearing.

The premise of this story is that Dale and Otis get hired to retrieve a specific zombie, but as soon as they get a hold of him living people start shooting at them. Along the way they rescue a stripper who's about to be sacrificed by a head in a jar who seems to lead many of the zombies. The three of them have to survive the undead, the Head and the people who hired them in the first place all the while trying to figure out why the zombie they have captured is so important.

The thing I enjoyed the most about this story was the characters. They are all somewhat shallowly developed (as the comic books isn't a lot of time to develop characters) and yet somehow this makes them work better. Honestly I have a hard time imagining a funnier scenario than rednecks and a stripper trying to reverse a zombie apocalypse. The humor is bordering on slapstick and is almost as much fun as bad pirate jokes. Also, the idea of a virgin stripper fighting zombies... honestly I couldn't stop laughing at the absurdity while reading this story.

The art is somewhat loosely done but it works for this type of story. I found it easy to follow, good at facial expressions (especially on the zombies) and very nicely laid out.

My major complaint about this TPB was the follow up story. It was depressing and dark and didn't seem to work with Savage Brothers at all. I didn't think it was the best choice to put these two stories together. Fear the Dead wasn't bad as much as it was misplaced. It was an interesting idea with some very nice horror-style artwork, but it certainly brought my mood down after reading Savage Brothers. It may have been better to leave Savage Brothers by itself and make it a small $10 book.

Overall this TPB was a good time. If you enjoy a good zombie book you should definitely check it out!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Random Thoughts

It has been a while since I just rambled on and on about various things and as this week's blog schedule got changed on short notice I decided that it was a good as a time as any for a whatever type of post.

First off, I hope people are really looking at the Ron Paul candidacy. Out of all of the candidates floating around out there he is the only one who really and sincerely seems to believe in what he says. I strongly feel that this country is in need of a revolution and that can be a bloodless revolution of ideas and not an armed overthrow of the government. I believe that there is a larger and larger portion of the population who are building an intellectual dissidence.

The Ravens are not looking that good this year. I know they have had a lot of injuries, but they are looking old this year and with our second half schedule we will be lucky to get to 9-7. Still you never know because except for the Patriots and maybe the Colts, the other 30 teams are all relatively close. Still no matter what the Patriots are already the Super Bowl favorite. If the Colts and Pats meet each other as undefeated teams and the Patriots win, they could go 19-0. As they are an entertaining team to watch, I hope they do it. I have always thought Tom Brady was the best in the league and leading a team to 19-0 will cement his place as one of the best of all time.

Red Sox versus the Rockies, this should be a good World Series and I used to love baseball, but I could care less. Maybe 10 years of the Orioles dashing my spring time hopes has killed my passion for baseball, but it is not longer there. Baseball is a sport to have on as background noise as I read or do some other project, but not to watch intently on my TV screen.

Comic book collections have become my "true" collection as any monthly books that I get I pass onto to Gwen, Jeff and now Jamie (in fact I get a few books as duplicate copies for some series so more then one person gets to read them). I could easily get the actual "comic books" that I consider to be mine into two long boxes. The other eight or so long boxes I'm holding for Gwen and Jamie. So back to the trades of the comics. I recently started looking and I think that even that collection has gotten to an extreme point and I may have to start picking and choosing what I really want to keep. Masterworks is up to 84 (I will soon skip one), Archives are well into the 80 plus categories, EC Archives is growing, Absolutes, Omnibuses are all continuing to add up. I still have about ten more hardcover collections on order this year. The Essentials and Showcases are piling up rapidly also. Net, net I need to re-evaluate the softcover side. If I don;t have time to read something in soft cover, I can probably pass on buying it. Collecting is a funny thing, it is enjoyable to do, but I really believe if I can't get around to enjoying it, it is just an object and really has no value.

As I said a random post.

We should be back to reviews and hope to have a couple more creator interviews shortly. One thing being in contact with the people behind the comic has shown me, that this industry has a lot or really decent people in it.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Midnight #1 - Red 5 Comics - A Review

Midnight #1 - Published by Red 5 Comics - Created by Tom & Terri Hodges, Script Paul Ens, Pencils and Colors by Tom Hodges, Inks by James Bukauskas. Coming out this November.

The premise of the book is that a husband and wife team are a doctor and assistant DA during the day and Midnight and Knightgale super heroes by night. If that wasn't enough to make you tired just thinking about it, they also are raising a daughter with the assistance of a nanny/ aide de camp, think Alfred younger and in a skirt.

Going into to this book I was a little hesitant as it all sounded too cute and just a little pedestrian in its concept. As I started reading the book I was still feeling the same way and the artwork was skewed towards an animation style which is not my favorite, but as I read the story I was transformed into a fan of what was going on. We are immediately introduced to our ultimate "power couple" on a rare date. We get to know them as a couple in a relationship for a couple of pages. The interchanges between rang very true for me and the visual exchanges are dead on to what all couples share.

After we met them as a couple, we get to see them in action as heroes and finally back home as a family, leading into their day jobs and a solid cliff hanger. The dialogue between David and Tarilyn (small aside I dislike her name) whether as a couple, heroes or as parents really worked well and I had an immediately feeling of a really strong relationship and want to know more about the family. Even the brief glimpses of the nanny and their child were well done and you immediately know the central cast within the span of one issue.

The actual powers that they have was ill defined, but it is very early in this series. There is so much here with both back story and going forward that I can see this series having a really long life. My one hope is that they allow people to get older as time goes by, because if you add a child you cannot let the child remain six forever. Well, you can, but I prefer to see growth in characters as they learn from experience and to see that reflect somewhat in their aging. In other words you can age slow, just age a little. Invincible is doing a great job with this right now.

The art was an adjustment for me as I grew up falling in love with Neal Adams as the ultimate super hero artist and when I read super hero titles I expect a little more realistic look. Again as the story progressed my opinion changed and the animated style really fit hand in glove for the overall feeling of the book. Now Tom Hodges has redefined square jawed hero to be "square jaw" and his wife has the pointiest chin ever created, but it works, it really works. The pacing and layouts of the book are excellent and as you read it you will occasionally get a smile as the personal interactions ring so true. Tom captures a wide range of emotions in his art and does it well.

Last and certainly not least this is a great all ages book at this point. Enough depth to the story and the relationships that an adult can relate to, but a nice fast moving story that a child would enjoy and be able to follow. In a comic world that has too few books to be able to read and enjoy with younger children, this book is a welcome addition.

Tom Hodges provides an excellent background piece at the end of the comic telling you why an idea that he has had since 1997, took ten years to make it to the stands. This book looks to have a huge upside and I can see little bits and pieces of the back story being added even as we move forward. There are so many stories and ideas with the premise they have set up that it will probably be a tough job to try and fit it all in.

If you are looking for gore and misery, skip this book, if you are looking for a fun book that is about fighting crime, being married, raising a family and holding down a job, sign up for Midnight.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Best to Worst of Last Week

We had our first creator interview on the blog and I was very happy with the way it turned out. We hope to do more in the future as we continue to focus a good portion of our efforts on the Independent books.

For the week being rated, I enjoyed the vast majority of what I read, since I try to buy what I hope I like, that should be the norm. The one book that I dropped this week was not because it was poorly executed, but because the bang for the buck was not there.

Death of the New Gods #1 (of 8 ) – Jim Starlin is the perfect choice for this book as writer and artist and we jump into it with both feet as the Black Racer and Big Barda are both killed in the first issue.
Highwaymen #5 (of 5) – A great series and a solid ending as the two retired black op guys save the girl and the girl helps to save the day. Secret agendas, fast cars, car chases, humor and a good story with really nice art.
Catwoman #72 - Very good issue – sad and poignant story about Selina giving up her baby.
Checkmate #19 – “The Fall of the Wall” arc is really exciting as Amanda Waller has pulled out all the stops to take down almost every other leader of checkmate as they seek to prove her duplicity.
Fables #66 – The addition of Haven inside the Empire is another element in the impending war between Fabletown and the Homeland.
Justice League of America #14 – Great stuff, McDuffie has me in love with the JLA again. Superman and Black Lighting against the Injustice League and they lose.
Brave and Bold #7 – Geroge Perez is the best super hero artist in the business and his work is a pleasure to look at. Mark Waid is crafting an overall story as he tells the “team-up” stories.
Umbrella Academy #2 (of 6) – I read issue #1 this week also as I had heard a lot of good things about the series and it has captivated me. The seven powered children who are now grown up and facing a menace is an enjoyable read. The book has a vibe unlike any other series and I can’t quite put my finger on it.
Suburban Glamour #1 (of 4) Jamie McKelvie’s art is just pleasing to look at and so easy to follow and read in a comic. The actual story so far by McKelvie has not done that much, but his characters ring true.
Grimm Fairy Tales Return to Wonderland #3 (of 7) – Now this issue was really cool. Alice’s daughter is trapped in Wonderland and the Mad Hatter is quite the pervert, but she kicks his a** and really puts the screws to him.
Penance Relentless #2 (of 5) – Penance is going after Nitro and appears to be willing to do anything to accomplish his objective.
Shadowpact #18 - A really enjoyable series, that I like because of the characters in on the team and the solid writing. Also the stories move everything forward.
Birds of Prey #111 – Solid job by Tony Bedard and a good tale of Oracle and Calculator facing off.
Lazarus #1 (of 3) – Very nice start. The character is definitely a Lazarus, but the overall story feels like it could be too short. Of course the Shadowline imprint (under Image) has done other 3 parts to just start a story and then do a second 3 part story to continue it.
Conan #45 – The penultimate chapter of the “Born on the Battlefield: story by Busiek and Greg Ruth. This has been a good story and once it is collected together I may succumb to buying it as a trade.
Aquaman #57 – Final issue, the jarring change from Busiek and Guice to Williams and McManus was probably a death knell for the sales of this book.
Programme #4 (of 12) – This series has really improved as it has continued and would be higher on my list is the damn thing would add a captions every now and again to say “10 years ago” or “Now”, the shift in scene changes and time frames are never mentioned and it caused some confusion when reading it.
Killing Girl #3 (of 5) – Still a solid story but the lost of the artist really hurt the book. The stylistic shift in a 5 issue mini-series was a little jarring. Maybe by next issue it won’t be as bad of a shock.
Terror Inc. #3 (of 5) - An over the top gross out blood feast that is so well written and drawn you can’t help but to enjoy Mr. Terror’s battle to save himself.
Captain America #31 – Still a good book, just felt like Brubaker’s weakest effort to date. The last couple of issue instead of feeling 100% right have felt too much like it only happened like that because it was written that way.
Countdown #28 – The series is on an upswing and is a good read again.
Superman Confidential #7 – An okay ending of the Lori Lemaris story, but ultimately nothing “new” examined about Superman’s early years, which I thought was the premise of this series.
Abyss #1 (of 4) – A new series from Red 5 about a young man who finds out his Dad is the baddest villain in all the land and he tires to fix it. Decent start, still not sure if it wants to be a humor book or a dramatic book. I know you can mix the two, but this book almost pulled it off, but not quite. Still I’m in it for issue #2.
Mighty Avengers #5 – Pretty artwork and a “major” title, but it is a read it and forget it type of book.
Inannas Tears #2 (of 5) – The simplistic lines of the artwork almost made me drop the book after one issue, but the overall story of an ancient city at a crisis point is interesting.
Snakewoman Tales of the Snake Charmer #4 – I loved the first series about Snakewoman, but this series has put me within a hairs breadth of dropping the book. It is more about origin, mysticism and so much back story that it has lost the edge it once had.
Marvel Comics Presents #2 – Really as a comic it does not belong here as the stories and artwork are all done well. I realized that for $4 I wasn’t buying what I wanted, so I dropped it. 8 pages about Guardian and 8 pages about Taskmaster mean I maybe paying $4 for 16 pages of stories that were interesting, but not that compelling. So I dropped it.

A good week that saw a heavy amount of my top books being from DC. As the year starts to wind down I’m starting to thing about my favorite ongoing series, mini-series and other top moments of 2007. I mention this because Highwaymen is one of my top mini-series for the year. That’s a wrap for this week.

Monday, October 22, 2007

What I’m Getting Wednesday

Well so much for having a few lighter weeks in number of books. This week has 19 DC books, 14 Independents and 10 from Marvel. Ultimately I still have to be a little harsher on my DC list, but I have succeeded in reducing Marvel and enjoy trying out the independents. Still I’m more then willing to cut any book that I don’t get some measure of enjoyment out of off my list. At least with DC I have dropped two mini-series after the first issue and with Aquaman biting the dust and American Virgin being cancelled with issue #23, the list grows incrementally smaller.

Action #857 – Just look at the cover and try not to smile. Johns and Donner with a huge assist from artist Eric Powell have crafted one of the best Bizzaro stories ever done. This three issue arc deserves a stand alone hard cover, with Johns/Donnors scripts and Eric’s sketches to fill it out.

Blue Beetle #20 – A rare “Sinestro War” tie-in issue. I think this is this only cross-over to the entire Sinestro War series in the GL books. Since it is about a yellow ring showing up in El Paso, I trust the writer John Rogers is just using it as an element in his story and it is not a true tie-in.

Countdown #27 – This book is not a top tier book of any week, but it has definitely turned the corner and improved. Now whether this is due to Keith Giffen coming back onboard or the fact that we are getting to the halfway point I can’t determine, but this book is fun to read again.

Flash #233 – This is a good series because of Mark Waid. I believe that Freddie Williams has taken over as artist (if not then next issue he is coming on) and I think that will vastly improve the series. Daniel Arcuna’s style was ill suited for this book. Also a back-up series begins that explores the life of Wally, Linda and the twins after Infinite Crisis.

Green Arrow Year One #6 (0f 6) – The grand finale of Andy Diggle and Jock’s updating of Green Arrow’s origin. This has been a rock solid mini-series and has done a wonderful job of enhancing the origin, but still remaining true to the series. One of my favorite mini-series this year.

Green Lantern Corps #17 – Continuing the Sinestro War series. This is the last issue of what has been one of the best stories ever done about the Green Lantern corps and is also the last issue for the writer Dave Gibbons, who has done a terrific job with this series. Fortunately we are getting Peter Tomasi onboard as the new writer starting next issue.

JSA Classified #45 – Continuing the “Ghosts of Mars” arc focusing on the Martian Manhunter and the telepathic ghosts that haunt him. This has been an okay series.

Robin #167 – Really a fill in issue as a guest writer (Brandon Thomas) and series artist Freddie Williams take a look at Robin skating close to the edge. I’m not familiar with Brandon Thomas so I’m curious to see how he handles this issue.

Superman #669 – Part 2 of the “Third Kryptonian” and it appears as we finally get to met who it is. Superman has been a solid franchise since “One Year Later” but has been plagued with late books and I hope that except for the final chapter of “Camelot Falls” and “The Last Son” in Action, that we are past those problems as Busiek, Johns and Donner have made Superman eminently readable again.

Superman/Batman #41 – The best arc that I have read of this series. Batman is fighting against Darkseid to save Superman from being under Darkseid’s control. This has been an enjoyable story arc and appears to be part of Darkseid’s overall plan within the DCU.

Uncle Sam and The Freedom Fighters #2 (of 8) – Last issue’s opener was a great continuation of the last mini-series and I really enjoyed what was going on with splitting up of the group and Red Bee’s problems. I wish this book would get the green light for an unlimited series, but I’ll have to settle for this right now.

Tales of the Sinestro Corps Present : Superman-Prime #1 – The first two of these specials have been really well done as they enhance the main story with background, but are not essential to the core story. As Geoff Johns is writing this one I’m sure it will be just as good or even better.

Gotham Underground #1 (of 9) – Written by Frank Tieri and art by Jim Califore. An odd premise for a mini-series as all of the rogues are disappearing and the Bat cast is left with a less dangerous Gotham. As the premise implies nature abhors a vacuum and who will rise to take over the criminal empires? Sounds interesting and Frank Tieri has done some decent work and Jim Califore is a solid artist, still going in with almost no expectations.

Teen Titans #52 – Sean McKeever’s run continues as the “Titans of Tomorrow” fight Starro. I think Sean is posed to take Titans to a new level of excellence in the DCU and maybe can make it a top seller again.

Hellblazer #237 – Andy Diggle’s fantastic run on this book continues. The official hype “"Joyride," Part 4 of 4. John Constantine finds himself trapped in a web of corruption and depravity at the heart of middle England. But as he struggles to bring it to light, dark forces are converging to bury the truth — and Constantine with it!”

Loveless #20 – This has been a really good western, but Brian Azzarello’s story telling style is so obtuse, that I lose what is going on at times. Still this book just has a really great “feel” to it. Wes and Ruth Cutter are one of the best couples ever created.

Authority Prime #1 (of 6) – Well since the Grant Morrison / Gene Ha Authority series seems to have tanked and may never come to life again, we have a new Authority mini-series and with a creative team of Christos Gage and Darrick Robertson as the creators it should be good. The premise is the Authority and Stormwatch Prime come into conflict over a secret base of Henry Bendix’s design.

Gen 13 #13 – The continuing adventures of the Gen 13 kids by Gail Simone and Carlo Barberi. The official hype “In recent months, the kids have fought their way through the Authority, Liberty Snots, and even the Authori-teens…but their greatest threat is here! So begins the final, climactic showdown with the Tabula Rasa and the ultimate revenge of Gen9 member Megan.” Never my favorite book, but still an enjoyable read.

Wetworks #14 – I think this is the second to last issue of the series as Wetworks and the Night Tribes are fighting it out. I believe that the nine part opening of this series was too dense to bring in many new readers. I was new to Wetworks and it took awhile for this series to grab me and by then the series had already lost too many readers.

Growing Old With BC A Celebration of Johnny Hart – The official hype “One of the most beloved comic strips of all time is comprehensively collected here for the first time! Features personally hand-picked strips from the master himself, Johnny Hart, prior to his death in April 2007. This edition celebrates the prehistoric hilarity which was B.C. Each chapter lovingly captures the best strips from each decade of the comic strip from the 1950's through the 2000's. This volume features detailed descriptions of the real people Johnny patterned each individual character in the strip after and discussion by Johnny Hart of the strip with foreword by Bobby Hart. Also included are rare never-before-published concept art drawn by Johnny Hart just prior to the launch of the strip, and also a newly drawn cover done by Mr. Hart shortly prior to his death. 200 pages.” – BC was a really great strip and I’m looking forward to t book.

Crawl Space : XXXombies #1 (of 3) – The premise is that this is an ongoing book featuring ghoulish tales of horror. The first story is a three part story entitled “XXXombies” by Rick (Fear Agent) Remender, Kieron Dwyer and Tony Moore with art by Kieron Dwyer. This series combines sleazy porn movie stars and production crew, and a Zombie menace. So this will either be over the top fun or out and out a total miss and some poor tree died to make it happen.

Madam Mirage #3 – I’m still on the fence on this series. While Madam Mirage is a caricature of a woman, she is called Madam Mirage, so I’m thinking this is not who she really is. The series is just okay at this point and is apparently planned as a series of mini-series. This story is ending on issue #6.

Proof #1 – I decided to give this book a try strictly based on the premise. The official hype “When FBI agent Ginger Brown got a promotion, she didn’t expect her new duties would involve tracking down the world’s most mysterious creatures. The Loch Ness Monster, Mothman and El Chupacabra are now on her "most wanted" list and her new partner looks an awful lot like… Bigfoot! “ I’m unfamiliar with writer Alex Grecian and artist Riley Rossmo, so reading people who are new to me is also an enticing part of it.

Conan Volume #13 TP – Collection the old Marvel Conan series, includes issues #92 and #101-#108, the next volume is the last of the Roy Thomas issues and is my point for dropping this trade series of the old Conan stories.

Criminal Macabre My Demon Baby #2 (of 4) – I decided to try out a Cal McDonald series and after only one issue I was hooked. Steve Niles has crafted a down on his luck PI that is at rock body and hip deep in the supernatural. Just an out and out entertaining book with a character you can’t help but appreciate.
Fear Agent: The Last Goodbye #4 (of 4) - Heath Hudson and the Fear Agents in a final battle against the Dressites for the fate of the Earth. Rick Remender’s signature creation continues the “origin” story line. Really just an excellent character and each story adds a little more depth to the character. Humor, action, drinking, space ships and alien creatures all in one of the coolest series to come along.

30 Days of Night Red Snow #3 (of 3) – The conclusion of Ben Templesmith’s tale of Vampire’s and Nazi’s in Russia. Ben’s work just continues to impress me, the little vampire girl is the same he used as a corpse for Wormwood, but that is a minor quibble. I hope to see the movie “30 Days of Night” this week.

Doktor Sleepless #3 – The one Warren Ellis series I have picked up this year that has not really impressed me to date. I will give it one or two more issues, but I may just end up dropping this one as it hasn’t really grabbed me. Although last issue’s ending insinuating there are more then one Doktor Sleepless was a decent cliff hanger.

Fall of Cthulhu #7 – This ongoing horror book playing with Lovecraft’s themes has really been quietly one of the better horror books coming out. The horror or at times overt and other times subtle and underplayed. Very good series so far.

Potter’s Field #2 (of 3) – The first issue was fantastic and I’m looking forward to John Doe’s next mission and learning a little more about the character. Mark Waid has started off at BOOM with a bang (pun intended). A great first issue of his own book and what appears to be a reworking of their scheduling. It appears that BOOM is on track to make an impact in ’08.

The Killer #5 & #6 (of 10) – The is the excellent story of a contract assassin. Why Archaia is publishing is putting out two issues at once is beyond me, but I’m actually happy with it as it has been a long hiatus from issue #4 to #5. The story is told from the killer’s point of view and is worth reading.

Neozoic #1 – My favorite comic from Red 5 and just an out and out great series. I’ve had the chance to read this book a while ago and as my review stated "a comic book that does what comic books do best." Pick it up and try it out.

Streets of Glory #2 (of 6)- Garth Ennis’ western published by Avatar press. The first issue was interesting enough to make me want to read #2, but I’m not sold on this mini-series yet. I think it was over hyped as a reinvention of the western so that my expectations were so high it was easy to miss the mark.

Annihilation Conquest: The Wraith #4 (of 4) – Wrapping up the mini-series that are leading into the actual Annihilation Conquest series. I have enjoyed the Wraith and he is certainly a very powerful addition to Marvel’s space pantheon. I assume the series does not end so much as lead into the main event.

Avengers Assemble Hardcover Volume #5 HC – Concluding Kurt Busiek’s run on the Avengers, which was the best run in many years. I know Bendis has crafted a higher selling title, but Busiek's run was truer to the spirit of the group and written ten times better.

Daredevil #101 – What Marvel is calling the second chapter of “Without Fear” which is actually the continuation of the story line began about eight months ago. Bottom line Ed Brubaker has been writing a really good version of Daredevil. I don’t think this is a definite run on the book, but it is certainly a rock solid entertaining book.

Foolkiller #1 (of 5) – I’m going in with zero expectations, I don’t really remember this character and I have never seen a comic written by Gregg Hurwitz (what is the extra “g” for?). So this was based on Lan Medina as artist and the premise that when the Foolkiller kills the punishment fits the crime.

Marvel Masterworks Nick Fury Agent of Shield – I HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR THIS ONE. I swear this is the last of the early silver age stuff from Marvel and why it took so long to put it in a Masterwork I have no idea, but I glad it has finally made it to the stands. It was delayed for about a month due to a printing error.

She-Hulk #22 – The first issue in the Peter David run. I have intentionally avoided reading anything about it as I want to see how David is going to handle this series, but I will be quick to drop it if it is too standard. With David writing it, I believe it will be a good series under his direction, different then what was happening, but still good.

Thunderbolts #117 – When Ellis took this series over it seem to be really exciting and was well written and had so much going on it was almost impossible for it to fit in one comic, but for me the book has lost some of its dramatic impact. It could be just timing as the book has not been coming out monthly.

Ultimate Spider-Man #115 – “Death of a Goblin” part 4 of 6 is in this issue. Stuart Immonen has done a great job of taking over as artist and was a perfect choice to follow Bagley. Also this story examining Norman Osborne has been really well done.

X-Men #204 – An Epilogue to the end of the last story line and more like a trending the water issue to get to the big X-Event starting soon.

X-Men First Class #5 – The novice X-Men have a encounter with the Hulk. Just a solid and well done book reinventing the early years of the first X-Men. I'm a little bothered that they are running into the Hulk as I’m a little tired of the Hulk at this point.

Well a huge list of book, trades and hard covers, but a whole lot of great material to look forward to reading.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Space Doubles - A Review

It appears that our little blog is getting more and more notice. This week, Th3rd World Studios, another small publisher, contacted us about a book they produce called Space Doubles. The creator of Space Doubles and business director Scott Closter was kind enough to send us a review copy.

Jim: As the name implies Space Doubles is really two stories in the old flip book format. What is very cool about this book is the throwback feel to it. It reminds me of Outer Limits episodes or EC Weird Science stories. It is horror-science fiction at its most fun. I think the horror science fiction genre grew up in the fifties because the prospect of true space exploration was in the air and anytime we are dealing with the unknown it can be a scary thing.
Lee: I am really glad that Scott contacted us. I loved this cover the first time I saw it. It was strong, vibrant, and had a great horror feel to it. The claw on top of the helmet is just perfect. AND.... Outer Limits, Jim??? Wasn't that the name of the first monkey in space???
Gwen: I really enjoyed these books! Old school sci-fi at its best with good art to boot! This is something I'd have missed if we hadn't been asked to do this review. I definitely glad I got the chance to read this.

The first story was Red Rain – writer Mike Raicht and artist Alecia Rodriguez with grayscaler David Barkmann.

Jim: The moon was hit by an unknown object and the impact surrounded the moon in a red cloud. The United States gathered a team to send them to the moon to investigate. Once they arrive they find that things are not what they imagined them to be. I don’t want to do a full story summary, because I want you to pick up the book and try it out.

The twist ending and the actual story itself is not an shocker or even a wholly new idea, but the story reads very well and evokes a little of the old time feeling that I had when the US space program was beginning. The ending had a really nice tone to it and conveyed the proper feeling. I’m unfamiliar with the artist Alecia Rodriguez, but while John Cassady and Frank Quietly aren’t quaking in their boots, it was a well done job. Solid layouts and a clean depiction of the story. A really great job of showing emotions on the faces of the characters. My one complaint is that since it is entitled Red Rain a judicious use of the color red with the gray scale would have really added that extra pizzazz to the story.

Lee: I have to agree with Jim. This was a really good story and Mike Raicht did a fantastic job with the few pages he was allocated. Raicht wrote a first person narrative from the viewpoint of the head of the Space Mission which really helped to ground the book. He also did a great job of not only instilling the characters with original voices but creating a believable response to the event. The small details such as some of the astronauts being too young to know who the Beatles were and NASA creating action figures of the astronauts to generate revenue really helped set a tone for the story. It became very believable. The art was solid and conveyed the story well. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't Neal Adams or Gil Kane, but Alecia has a good handle on the basics and enough personality that it will be fun to watch her art grow in the coming years.

Uuummm Jim... When the space program was beginning????? Maybe, in your free time, you could post what it was like seeing the Wright Brothers flying for the first time too.

Gwen: Geeze Lee, it's like the pot calling the kettle black - you're both old men!

Anyway, this was my favorite of the two stories. I'm not sure what it was like when the space program was just beginning, but having gone to space camp (twice!) as a kid I'd have to say this story creates a fairly realistic setting. It also reminded me a bit of Fear Agent with the overall feel of the plot. The aliens were excellent and even with only brief introductions you felt as if you got to know the characters. I really enjoyed the art as well - very accessible and nice paneling (especially considering the amount of space to work with). In general just a fun comic book!

The second story was Project Obeah written by Leah Moore and John Reppion, Art Jeremy Dale and Inker Jason Roth.

Jim: Okay first off Scott Closter wrote the introduction for both stories and the first one is straight up why I’m involved in doing this book. The second was just downright amusing.

This story starts with a narrator but he "disappears" after the
second page. Overall, this is about an expedition to build and or terraform another planet for human habitation. The story is told well enough, but suffers from having a similar ending to the first story. Since I didn't' know what Obeah meant, I looked it up prior to reading the story. Apparently Obeah deals with West Indies “occult power”, so I was expecting the story to have something to do with that and it did not. Still a solid horror/science fiction tale and very similar to the beginning of a Robert Kirkman story.

Again I’m unfamiliar with the artist but I enjoyed the more fluid nature of Jeremy Dale’s work and believe that Jason Roth added a lot to the final product.

Lee: It's interesting that we read the same story, had the same basic reaction, but managed to "read" different things. I agree the story was told well enough but I felt it suffered from generic ideas instead of similar endings. Actually, I felt the endings of the two stories weren't similar in the least. And, the twist ending is the only thing that saved this story from being pedestrian. Writing a good hook into a 11 page story is an incredibly difficult task. Raicht managed to do it in the first story but Moore/Reppion somehow miss the mark.

The art was good and Dale shows some promise. His style wasn't as distinctive as but handled the story well.

Gwen: This story was a bit more predictable, although still entertaining. Then again, I find it hard to go wrong with zombies in space. In fact, zombies are almost always entertaining. I digress - The story was well paced although I felt that it was hampered by its' length. Still, there were some good ideas and the ending was well done. The art was nice and shows potential to become even better with time. This story worked well in concert with Red Rain.

Jim: Bottom line I have ordered this book and will sign up for future issues. It really has an enjoyable feel to it and definitely is an enjoyable read. If you liked the old time science fiction / horror comics of the fifties and enjoyed the Outer Limits, you should get a kick out of this book.

Lee: I'm really on the fence with this book. I really enjoyed the art because I really like seeing the up and coming artists. I also liked the difference between the styles. Rodriguez went for the Cary Nord pencil look with the gray scale while Dale went for the traditional Derek Robertson, hint of Pander Bros style. Both guys have lots of potential. On the other hand, one story was good while the other was ok. Jim best described the book with the 50's sci-fi feel. Although I might have gone with Twilight Zone which people under 40 have a chance of knowing v. the cult classic Outer Limits, Jim was accurate in the description. Bottom line, this is worth your time investigating.
Gwen: You know... I know what the Outer Limits is too Lee. Actually I think the Outer Limits is a closer comparison than the Twilight zone. Either way, I enjoyed Space Doubles. I liked Red Rain better than Project Obeah, but felt that they worked well together. If you want a break from overly involved and overbearing comics I'd give this book a try. Sometimes it's nice to just out and out have fun reading a comic book.

The diamond order # OCT073781

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Red Sox!!!!


GGGOOOOOooooooooo Red Sox!!!

10-1 at the end of the third.

We're going to game seven boys and girls!

RAH RAH Baseball.

In less important news, Ravens v. Bills tomorrow. Bills looking good these days.

DC Preview Review for January

Jim: Not a lot of new numbers one from DC, but that’s okay as a fair number of titles are having new creative teams taking over and some good jumping on points. Plus I enjoy occasionally focusing on the series themselves as opposed to just the shiny and new.
Gwen: Some good things and some bad things this month. DC looks to have a solid start to the new year planned out, as well as a few things thrown in for fun.
Lee: Maybe this will be DC’s year. A chance to wrap everything up for another big mega event! WHEEEE!!!!

TEEN TITANS: YEAR ONE #1 Written by Amy WolframArt by Karl Kerschl & Serge LapointeCover by KerschlWriter Amy Wolfram (Teen Titans animated series) joins rising star artist Karl Kerschl (ALL-FLASH #1, ROBIN) for a colorful reimagining of how the Teen Titans came together! See how these teammates bonded, and overcame the sheer awkwardness of being teenagers in this explosive 6-issue miniseries that guest-stars the Justice League of America! You may think you know Robin, Wonder Girl, Kid Flash and Aqualad…but you don't really know the original Teen Titans!On sale January 2 o 1 of 6 o 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US
Jim: I hate to start on a down note, but I’m a little hesitant on this series. Lately DC has been putting out some mini-series that are not grabbing my attention. I have dropped Wonder Girl and Metamorpho Year One after one issue and this could be another one issue sampler and forget it.
Gwen: Why are we re-imagining this? *sigh* I'd like new stories please, not variations of old ones.
Lee: I really don’t know who this is for. Does anyone want the original Titans???? And, I do believe that is the worst drawn Aqualad ever. Kerschl did know that Aqualad is alive right????

TEEN TITANS: THE LOST ANNUAL Written by Bob HaneyArt by Jay Stephens & Mike AllredCover by Nick CardyDon't miss the TEEN TITANS LOST ANNUAL, featuring the original Teen Titans: Robin, Kid Flash, Wonder Girl, Speedy and Aqualad! Classic Teen Titans writer Bob Haney sends the Titans into space to rescue President John F. Kennedy in this story illustrated by Jay Stephens (The Land of Nod) & Mike Allred (Madman, X-Statix)! Meet new alien races, witness a startling betrayal, and more! It's a secret space adventure that couldn't be told…'til now!On sale January 9 o 64 pg, FC, $4.99 US
Jim: The flip side is this book. A Nick Cardy cover and the last story written by Bob Haney. DC has sat on this book for a couple of years and Mike Allerd has championed getting it published. Sound like it is a wacky story that will not be a modern story, but hell just to read a great contributor from yesteryear one more time and a great Nick Cardy cover, I’m ordering this book. I know Lee may get it just for the cover.
Gwen: This looks amusing. I mean, how can you possibly go wrong with Aqualad?
Lee: It’s Bob Haney! He is to DC as Bill Mantlo is to Marvel. But, Jay Stephans is excellent so there’s still a chance this might be good.

GREEN ARROW/BLACK CANARY #4 Written by Judd WinickArt and cover by Cliff Chiang
The second story arc of this hit new series begins with a tragedy for Oliver Queen!On sale January 9 o 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US
Jim: Judd Winick has been writing his a** off n Green Arrow and now Green Arrow / Black Canary since the one year later jump of over a year ago. I hated bringing Ollie back from the dead, but now with Winick at the helm this book is one of DC’s best paced series.
Gwen: Sometimes I have fun with Winick's GA, and it has potential. I'll reserve my opinion on this for now.

ROBIN #170 Written by Chuck DixonArt by Chris BatistaCover by Freddie E. Williams IIWith the return of new series writer Chuck Dixon (Robin, Nightwing, Batman) and art by fan-favorite Chris Batista (52, Legion of Superheroes), Robin #170 is the start of a new era no one will want to miss!After a life-changing battle with Ra's al Ghul in Nanda Parbat, Robin comes home to Gotham to find there's a new girl in town, wearing a color he can't ignore. The new vigilante calls herself Violet, and she steals from the rich to keep for herself…and Robin's going to find out that's not all she's playing for. Plus, the return of an old friend with something to hide!On sale January 16 o 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US
Jim: Chuck Dixon is one of my favorite writers of all time and I bet he has written for more comic book publishers then any other comic writer. He knows how to tell a story and keep it moving. Robin has remained a good series for a while and I’m happy to welcome Chuck Dixon back to the book he started.
Lee: Dixon always knew how to write a good story and this is good news for Robin.

NIGHTWING #140 Written by Peter TomasiArt by Rags Morales & Michael BairCover by Michael BairGuest-starring Batman & Robin! A new era of Nightwing begins from writer Peter Tomasi (Black Adam: THE DARK AGE, Light Brigade) and the incredible art team of Rags Morales and Michael Bair (Identity Crisis)!When the bodies of nefarious villains and fallen heroes begin to disappear from their final resting places, Dick Grayson is drawn into a mysterious, life-altering adventure!On sale January 2 o 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US
Jim: Now I’m really happy with this creative team I think Nightwing is in the best hands that this book has been in for year. Peter Tomasi certainly knows the character after being the Bat editor for years and his writing is very strong (see the Black Adam series for evidence). Rags is one of the stellar talents in comics and really should be a super star, but I believe personal issues have side tracked him from taking a regular gig that would get him noticed.
Gwen: I'm really looking forward to the team on this book. Wolfman helped to bring Nightwing back from the black pit Devon Grayson threw him into (not to mention the 1YL fiasco) and now I'd like to see Nightwing become one of the better books around. Hopefully Tomasi can make that happen. Also, I'd still really like to see Nightwing and Babs get back together. Really.
Lee: OOOHHHHH Rags on a monthly book. This will be beautiful to look at.

BLUE BEETLE #23 Written by John RogersArt and cover by Rafael AlbuquerqueThe Blue Beetle's family and friends are targeted by an all-out supervillain assault - so why is he abandoning them in their darkest hour and leaving Earth?On sale January 23 o 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US
Jim: Okay this series in a class with Invincible, yes it is that good. A truly well done book about a young boy becoming a man and a hero. Excellent series and continues to improve. (Yes Lee I said as good as Invincible). Gwen will back me up – right?
Gwen: Actually I think I like this book better than Invincible - they are about on par story-wise, but Blue Beetle is more of an all ages book and makes me enjoy it even more. I get a bit turned off by all the blood and gore in Invincible at times. Blue Beetle is a fantastic series - definitely in my top 10 this year!
Lee: Sigh. If Jim calls it that good I might have to try it.

GREEN LANTERN #27 Written by Geoff JohnsArt by Mike McKone and variousCover by Ivan Reis & Oclair AlbertThe build-up to FINAL CRISIS continues in Part 2 of "The Alpha Lanterns"! In the aftermath of the Sinestro Corps War, a select few have been chosen to undergo a transformation that will leave them forever altered and forever committed to the Green Lantern Corps. But what other laws are the Guardians unleashing, and why do Hal Jordan and John Stewart want to stop them? Plus, a visit to Oa's Death Row!On sale January 23 o 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US
Jim: I include this book as the “Sinestro War” was great and now this arc looks to be another fascinating story. Johns has rewritten the GL mythos and is making this book one of his best runs ever and will go down as a definite run and defining run on GL. Anything can happen in this book.
Gwen:GL is a lot of fun these days, but I'm still hesitant about the direction things are going. Ah well, I suppose only time will tell whether I end up really enjoying this or not.

THE SPIRIT #14 Written by Sergio Aragones & Mark EvanierArt by Mike PloogCover by Jordi BernetJoin the new SPIRIT creative team of writers Sergio Aragones & Mark Evanier (Groo the Wanderer) and Mike Ploog (Abadazad) for a case of murder! A string of killings is plaguing Central City…and the Spirit - with Commissioner Dolan - is on the case!On sale January 16 o 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US
Jim: Darwyn Cooke left and we get Sergio Aragones & Mark Evanier as writers, that is not too shabby at all and a good choice to replace one of my favorites Darwyn Cooke, but how do you replace him as an artist. WELL YOU GET MIKE (FRIGGING) PLOOG. I hope he is the regular artist and by regular I’ll take four issues a year by Mr. Ploog.
Gwen: You certainly have great love for Mr. Ploog...
Lee: Mike Ploog is a great fit for this series. I can’t wait to see this! And, I can’t wait for the inevitable hc which will also be coming home.

ADAM STRANGE ARCHIVES VOL. 3 HC Written by Gardner FoxArt by Carmine Infantino, Murphy Anderson and othersCover by Infantino & AndersonHead to the far reaches of space in this volume collecting Adam Strange stories from MYSTERY IN SPACE #81-91, HAWKMAN #18 and STRANGE ADVENTURES #157 (1963-1967)!Advance-solicited; on sale March 26 o 232 pg, FC, $49.99 US
Jim: :) - Bliss!
Gwen: hahaha, I don't know about bliss, but I can see how an Adam Strange Archive would be a lot of fun to read through.
Lee: These stories are so much fun and great to look at too.

JUSTICE LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL HC Written by Keith Giffen & J.M. DeMatteisArt by Kevin Maguire, Terry Austin and Al GordonCover by Maguire & AustinA new hardcover collecting the classic JUSTICE LEAGUE #1-6 and JUSTICE LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL #7 from the late 1980s! Can an unlikely new Justice League line-up work as a unit to stop terrorists at the U.N., a brigade of Rocket Reds, the Royal Flush Gang, and other threats - or will they succumb to in-fighting and bad jokes?Advance-solicited; in stores March 12 o FC, 192 pg, $24.99 US
Jim: Impossible to pass this up. I think I have the trade, but really more then happy to upgrade this material into a hard cover. If I have the trade, it will be coming to you Gwen.
Gwen: I may have already stolen it from you at some point *coughs* This was one of my all time favorite runs of the Justice league. Ever.
Lee: Another I CAN’T WAIT! This material was so good and so fresh. I bet it reads as good today as it did then.

DIANA PRINCE: WONDER WOMAN VOL. 1 TP Written by Dennis O'Neil & Mike SekowskyArt and cover by Sekowsky & Dick GiordanoIn this volume, featuring stories that have never been collected before from issues #178-184 and SUPERMAN'S GIRL FRIEND LOIS LANE #93, Wonder Woman faces Mars, god of war, the murderous Dr. Cyber, and more!Advance-solicited; on sale February 6 o 176 pg, FC, $19.99 US
Jim: I have to get this, I believe this is when Wonder Woman has no powers and is running around in a white mini-dress and getting all kung fu on us. I have not read this material in a million years and I’m sure it is dated, but I want to re-read it.
Gwen: What little I've been able to read of this I've loved. It's so bad it's good. Kind of like watching Wishmaster except with Batman in a racing car!
Lee: This is indeed “Liberated” Wonder Woman with no powers. I’ve never read these issues but I have always wanted too. I hope the original covers are included because Jeff Jones did some great stuff.

WILDSTORM: REVELATIONS #1-2 Written by Scott Beatty with Christos GageArt by Wes CraigCover by Ivan Reis & Richard FriendExploding out of the pages of WildStorm Armageddon comes a biweekly 6-part adventure to save the WildStorm Universe by writers Scott Beatty (BATGIRL: YEAR ONE) & Christos Gage (STORMWATCH: PHD, WILDSTORM ARMAGEDDON) and rising-star artist Wes Craig (TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE)!The rogue Coda warrior Nemesis, following her harrowing post-apocalyptic vision, must find Backlash and Savant to help her unlock the secrets of the coming destruction. But can anything stem the tide of darkness? Step one to fitting together the pieces of the intricate puzzle: infiltrate the world's most powerful and influential super-humans' headquarters and raid their database!Issue #1 on sale January 2; issue #2 on sale January 16 o 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US
Jim: I feel sorry for the Wildstorm heroes as their re-launch was pretty much a dismal failure due to the lack of being able to actually produce their two big titles (Authority and Wildcats). Not sure if this is there re-re-launch or what, but Christos Gage is attached to it, so that is a big plus.
Gwen: Having recently read Alan Moore's run on WILDCATS I have to say that the Wildstorm Universe continues to confuse me. Although I enjoy Welcome to Tranquility and Gen 13. As for 'Revelations' I'll probably have no clue what I'm reading about if I get the books.
Lee: It is too bad that Wildstorm crashed and burned. My question, why not focus on the books you have and insure quality v. doing a big crossover/reboot which will likely drive more people away? It makes no sense to me.

HELLBLAZER #240 Written by Andy DiggleArt by Leonardo Manco Cover by Glenn FabryVertigo's flagship title reaches its 20th anniversary issue with "The Laughing Magician," Part 1 of 3! The streetwise, chain-smoking con-magician John Constantine finds himself in receipt of a most perplexing birthday gift: a memory wrapped up in a warning. As Constantine tries to figure out what it means, the brutal African war-mage known as Mako hits London - and he's taking no prisoners...On sale January 23 o 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US o MATURE READERS
Jim: Right now this is a top flight series under Andy Diggle, but I’m mentioning this book because it is now 20 years old. One hell of a run.
Gwen: I don't get Hellblazer, I think that's one of the books Jim sends to Jeff instead. Still, it's hard to go wrong with a good John Constantine story.
Lee: 20 yrs…. Yeesh. I remember buying the first issue off the stands. I have been collecting for far to long.

Four DC characters are presented here as they were portrayed by some of their top artists! This inaugural series includes Superman by Curt Swan, Batgirl by Carmine Infantino, Hawkman by Joe Kubert, and Jonah Hex by Tony DeZuniga. Each figure features multiple points of articulation and a base.Advance-solicited; On sale June 18, 2008 o Action Figures o PI
Jim: Okay DC has a great month in my mind, powerless Wonder Woman reprint, Adam Strange Volume 3, Mike Ploog artwork and a Jonah Hex action figure!!!
Gwen: whee, more action figures that aren't the Legion of Superheroes ones that I want ><>Lee: I think they need an Infectious Girl action figure before Shadow Lass!

Jim: I’ve already said it, great month of material. Also glad to have a chance to focus on ongoing books and not just new number ones.
Gwen: Like I said, looks like there's some fun stuff to look forward too, much better than the last solicitations for DC. I'm looking forward to another year of comics from the DCU. Also, if you can't tell, I never know what to say in these overview comments. Maybe I'll start leaving reflective comic quotes instead: "Dogs don't make judgments like that." ~Top 10
Lee: Yep… the intro and outro’s are real killers! *groan*. Eh, a good month on the reprint front but I am not really looking forward to a year of “Build up to Final Crisis.” Maybe I’m wrong but it seems like it will be a long year for DC.