Tuesday, September 30, 2008

City of Dust #1 - Spotlight Review

Publisher : Radical Comics

Writer : Steve Niles

Art/Colors Zid

First and foremost let me just say this book is great. It drips with coolness. This book combines a future setting, film noir, a Frankenstein story line, a fascist government and Fahrenheit 451, stirs gently and produces a book that you should buy, take home and read and enjoy a great story.

The first thing that usually draws me to a new book is the writer and Steve Niles is a proven winner, with Simon Dark, Gotham After Midnight, Dead She Said and on and on and on.

The second thing is the artist and I was unfamiliar with Zid, but I could tell from his cover that he was an excellent artist and he really delivers.

The third thing is the premise. "From the dark mind of STEVE NILES (30 Days of Night) comes a story set in the aftermath of our world's collapse. This chilling vision of the future unveils a world where the police now patrol for crimes of the imagination. Religious beliefs, along with any tales of false heroes, idols or gods, are illegal. The world is anew and the enemy adapts. Detective Philip Khrome doesn't enforce Imagination, he works homicide; that's where the action is, and he's seen it all before. But criminals evolve and the world's forever changing. When a killing spree hits his city sector, Khrome finds himself face to face with killers born of grim reality with old world superstition and everything is not what it seems. " This is right up my alley and I'm interested going in.

The final element is the publisher. Radical Comics has proven that they will deliver a quality product. From selecting strong premises, to finding artists that just deliver superb rendering to the actual production value of the book. You can almost just order any new series from Radical knowing that it will be professionally done and a superior product.

This story opens with Khrome killing a criminal because he thought he was drawing a weapon and it turns out he was reaching for a cross. Fortunately the automatic court and trial that Khrome's computer runs said the person's verdict would have been death anyway. But the event causes Khrome to start questioning the government and what he, as a police officer, enforces as the law. The next part of the story we get to learn more about who Khrome is and find out he rather have a hooker for his girl friend then the hottest cop on the force. Khrome's association is also illegal, so we establish he is willing to not follow all the rules. At the same time there is a killing spree going on in the city and we find out that some Frankensteinesque monsters have been killing people. The story ends with Khrome investigating an area that it appears these creatures have been and finding a book. Worse he decides to read it against strict orders and is caught by the higher authorities reading it. What a great start to a new series.

Zid's art has a strong realistic quality to it and is very easy on the eyes. When we met Khrome's girl friend you understand why he would want to be with her, no hetro male would not want to be with her. Zid pulls off the futuristic setting and manages to make it film noir all at the same time. His work is as strong as the movie Blade Runner was for creating a dark film noir future.

The actual story will remind you of a good old time detective story and Judge Dredd, all at the same time. Overlaid with some solid Orwellian themes of an oppressive central government. I loved the first issue.

Overall Grade A

Tagline: Film noir meets Judge Dredd and we win.

Best to Worst of Last Week

I’m looking to do another commentary one day about the direct market. I’m convinced that the direct market is now a hindrance to this market and no longer the saving grace it once was. Also with the economic situation looking rather bleak this is a good time for the market to rethink how they can expand as I’m sure the direct market will be contraction. For the record I think that no bailout should be done. I think any intervention will just prolong the pain. I agree with a comment I heard of just give every taxpayer a million dollars, it will be cheaper then the bailout (is that true?) and everyone can afford their mortgage and consumer goods will fly off the shelf. Of course no one will be playing the lottery after that.

Madam Xandu #4 - Writer Matt Wagner, Pencils Amy Reeder Hadley, Inks Richard Friend, Colors Guy Major. This book is a beautiful book. The art by Amy Reeder Hadley is just captivating. The story is equally well done. The little bits that tie into the regular DCU are just so subtle and well played that as a long time fan I can’t help but to appreciate all the work that has gone into this series. This issue we see Madam Xanadu try to get a relationship going with the Phantom Stranger. She saves Khan’s fourth consort from being brutalized and killed, but not in time to stop the rape. She makes Marco Polo a hero and he is given a reward and chooses a green lantern (Alan Scott’s lantern) that has great mystical powers and reawakens a spark of Madam Xanadu’s old powers. A short review cannot do this book justice, but this is the best series coming out of Vertigo right now and has to be my favorite new series of 2008 (so far).

Samurai #1 (of 4) – Writer Jean Fracois Di Giorgio, Art Frederic Genet, Colors Delphine Rieu. I may have issues with Marvel comics and some of their plans, but I love that they are publishing some of Soleil’s books. Samurai is a beautifully illustrated book and a well told tale. We start off with a Warlord and a discovery that is said to be a threat to the empire. Then we flashback 16 years ago and catch up with a Samurai on a mission to find his brother and gets caught up in saving a young girl. The story is very well done and this is an excellent start to this series, I may have to get the hard cover.

I Kill Giants #3 (of 7) – Writer Joe Kelly, Art JM Ken Niimura. This is an excellent series and this issue we get a lot deeper into Barbara’s problems. It is not clear if any of her fantasies have any truth to them, but we do know that Barbara has a troubled life. She also has issues with her big sister, who seems to be doing all she knows how to do to help her. We see the school psychologist trying to help Barbara as best as she can and she seems to be making limited progress. At the same time the fantasy aspect of Barbara’s world has gotten a lot scarier and you still are not 100% if some of it is possibly real. This is a story that mixes so many things together, but manages to really make you feel for Barbara and hope for her to make it through this time in her life. The cartoon nature of the artwork manages to be both light hearted and convey the deep emotions that resonate in this story.

Dead Ahead #1 (of 3) – Writers Clark Castillo & Mel Smith, Additional Wordsmith Paul Birch, Illustrator Alex Nino, Colors Moose Bauman. I had no clue that Alex Nino was doing all of the art for this story. That alone is enough to make me buy the book. When I was younger Alex’s style was so different from what I had seen before I was not enamored with it. As I got older and started to appreciate different styles more and more I realized just how great of an artist Alex is. His work has not fallen off and looked terrific. The actual story itself is a good one as the Zombie plague hits while a fishing boat is out at sea. This group of mainly strangers has to learn how to survive in a world that has gone to hell. The one part of this book that hurt it for me was the lettering being put directly into the art. Between the small font, stylized lettering without text boxes it made it hard to actually read parts of the narration. I know they were trying to avoid impacting the beautiful art, but the solution left something to be desired.

Northlanders #10 – Writer Brian Wood, Art Dean Ormston. This is a very good series. This issue was the second part of Lindisfarne. Here we see the Vikings conclude their raid of a Saxon town and the boy watches as both his father and older brother die. As he pretty well hates them (with good reason) he has no problem seeing them die. He manages to draw first blood in a battle with a Viking he befriended in order to win his way into being taken back with them. We then cut to years later and we see he is now a Northlander and part of the raiding forces attacking his home country. This story had a lot of emotion and just a very cool and tough tale.


Fables #76 – Writer Bill Willingham, Art Michael Allred, Colors Laura Allred. Last issue we were promised a new status quo, so this breather issue was a little bit of a disappointment, but not the actual story itself. First off Mike Allred was the guest artist and his unique style worked fine with this issue, but Pinocchio did look so different as it took me a second to recognize him. The actual story of seeing how Geppetto is going to fit into Fabletown was well done as we see the nasty and still a true bastard Geppetto interact with Fabletown walking around the city. We also find out why this deal was struck and why King Cole and company think it is not a big deal. Fables continues to be a great series and looks like it could easily go on another 75 issues.

Daredevil #111- Writer Ed Brubaker, Pencils Clay Mann, Inks Stefano Gaudiano, Colors Matt Hollingsworth. This issue was the introduction of Lady Bullseye and I’m not really sure what to make of the character at this time. What was very interesting is seeing what happened with Matt and Dakota this issue. Matt and she fall into bed together and Matt immediately has a guilt trip. Matt’s personal life is more interesting than Daredevil’s adventures right now. Lady Bullseye is involved with the hand and they are looking to take out Danny Rand, the Tarantula, Wolverine and an unnamed old man. They specifically want DD to be kept out of their business and LB has apparently framed DD for murder. A very good start to this new arc and Clay Mann with help from the normal inker and colorist did a good job on maintaining the high quality of the artwork.

Solomon Kane #1 (of 5) – Writer Scott Allie, Artist Mario Guevara, Color Dave Stewart. This was a good start to this series. I’m not familiar with Solomon Kane so I needed to learn about whom this guy is and what he is about and this issue did exactly that. In this story he is a wanderer who goes about killing those he feels are evil men. He encounters thieves in the woods and takes them out and save a man from a hanging. Then he meets up with another traveler and decides he will check out the owner of the local castle to see if he is the one who is in need of killing. The artwork was great, the story was well told and I’m looking forward to issue #2.

Back to Brooklyn #1 (of 5) – Story Garth Ennis & Jimmy Palmiotti, Writer Garth Ennis, Art Mihailo Vukelic. The number two man in the Brooklyn crime family comes to the police to give everyone up. He first wants his family saved, but the head of the family already has them. Bob (the #2 guy) tells the police to leave him alone and he will go to Brooklyn and save his family and come back and give up the entire operation. Bob’s first actions are to find a safe house and kill everybody to try and find where his family is being held. This was a tough and violent opening for a very good story. The art is good, but has the feeling of being over photoshopped or something. The backgrounds and figures do not have the feeling of being one organic whole. Even with the art issues I have, this looks to be an excellent shoot’em up action/adventure.

All Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder #10 - Writer Frank Miller, Pencils Jim Lee, Inks Scott Williams, Colors Alex Sinclair. I enjoyed this issue, in that it slowed down the story and gave us a ton of vignettes that featured Batgirl, Jim Gordon, Batman, Catwoman and Black Canary. Each character was given a little more depth and we learned quite a lot about each one. Jim Lee’s art is beautiful and Miller gives him tons of big pages and double page spreads to show off. The only problem I have with this series is it does not come out often enough.

Trinity #17 – Front Story Writer Kurt Busiek, Pencils Mark Bagley, Inks Art Thibert, Colors Pete Pantazis, Back-Up Writers Kurt Busiek & Fabian Nicieza, Art Scott McDaniel & Andy Owen, Colors Allen Passalaqua. The pacing of this story is just spot on. We are one third through the story and it looks like Morgana, Enigma and Despero have replaced Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman. In the front part we see the spell is cast and the Kronos is apparently released from the Cosmic Egg. In the back-up we learn who Konvict is and we also see the reality wave pass through Earth and change everything. Trinity continues to get better and better and the pace and timing of how the story rolls out is done very well. A good series is getting better and better and starting to strive to become a book you don’t want to miss.

Legion of Super Heroes #46 –Writer Jim Shooter, Pencils Francis Manapul, Inks Livesay with Mark McKenna, Colors Jo Smith. Jim Shooter has this book firing on all cylinders for me. He has the overriding story of the Destroyers going on and at the same time continues to advance other sub plots and build characterization all at the same time. A large group book is one of the hardest things there is to do and Shooter still does it as well or better then almost anyone else writing today. I enjoyed the interplay with Saturn Girl, Lighting Lad and Ultra Boy as this romantic triangle develops. Of course being steeped in all versions of the Legion it is odd not seeing Ultra Boy and Tinya as a couple and it still takes a little getting used to.

Nova #17 – Writers Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning, Pencils Wellington Alves with Geraldo Burges, Inks Scott Hanna, Colors Guru eFX. This issue worked out very well. It manages to be a legitimate Secret Invasion book and at the same time advances the Nova story line. Nova comes home, has to go see what is happening where his brother works and helps Darkhawk fight off skrulls attacking Project Pegasus. Also in an effort to use the Worldmind and re-boot it, it appears as the Wendell Vaughn Quasar is brought back to life. A lot more happens, but it was an issue that typifies when this series is at its best developing Nova and what may or may not ever be the restarting of the Nova corps.

Superman Batman #52 – Writers Michael Green & Mike Johnson, Art Rafael Albuquerque, Colors Cris Peter. This was an oddly endearing two part story featuring the Li’l Justice League. The overall story ends with a loss of innocence for the Li’l heroes and we see Bat-Mite and Mr. Mxyzptlk were behind the entire episode. The artist did a nice job of keeping the book lighter in tone, let letting the emotion of the death of Li’l Superman come though very well. I would never have imagined that I would have enjoyed such an odd premise, but it was really done very well. The story manages to be cute, funny and still tell a moving story.

Batman Gotham After Midnight #5 (of 12) – Writer Steve Niles, Art Kelly Jones, Colors Michelle Madsen. Kelly Jones art is almost impressionistic at times and it often seems almost a little sloppy, but the more you see his work the more you appreciate his line work. This issue the villain Midnite and Batman face off, but Midnite gains the upper hand and leaves a gruesome message to Gotham about their Batman. This creative team is delivering a very enjoyable and over the top story about Batman, his rogues gallery and exploring Bruce Wayne’s character a little bit. If you are skipping this book, you are missing a great maxi-series.

Superman #680 – Writer James Robinson, Pencils Renato Guedes, Inks Wilson Magalhaes, Colors Hi-Fi. This was a great issue of Superman. Krypto to the rescue. Super dog comes in and will not give up against Atlas. Atlas continues to try and get rid of Krypto but he keeps coming back and coming back. Superman figures out something is wrong and realizes Atlas has magic on his side. While Krypto continues to fight Superman gets a magic shield and comes back to kick Atlas a**. It all works due to Krypto giving Superman the time to do what he needed to do. Super dog is a really stupid and lame concept, but James Robinson made it work.

Hellboy The Crooked Man #3 (of 3) – Writer Mike Mignola, Art Richard Corben, Colors Dave Stewart. This little mini-series had a good ending. I enjoyed Corben’s work immensely on this series and his “Crooked Man” was especially well done. My favorite part of the book was after they defeated the devil, when they turned the witch at the heart of this trouble back into a horse.

Ultimate Spider-Man #126 – Writer Brian Bendis, Pencils Stuart Immonen, Inks Wade von Grawbadger, Colors Justin Ponsor. This was a good issue of this series. Peter has been absorbed by the symbiote and is Venom. As the Ultimates show up to fight him, we get to hear Peter crying out in horror in his mind as he cannot control Venom at all. Thor hits him with a lightning bolt and then Peter wakes up in bed, normal again. Peter finds out Nick Fury had taken care of everything and that the creature is in the government hands. It just was a great issue of what is a very solid series. It also shows why the Ulitmate Universe needs Nick Fury in it.

Cthulhu Tales #5 – The Doorman Writer Michael Alan Nelson, Art Mateus Santolouco; The Current Chaos Writer Todd Lepre Art Milton Sobreno. As much as I love anthology books sometimes I wonder about eight page stories and how much of the Lovecraft themed material I want to read. Then an issue comes along like this with just two stories that are both are extremely well done. The second story is about ambition funding a horror. The first is about a Doorman who protects the world from the horrors on the other side. The first story was especially well done.

Teen Titans #63 – Writer Sean McKeever, Pencils Eddy Barrows with Allan Goldman, Inks Ruy Joes and Julio Ferreira, Colors Rod Reis. Bombshell is the central menace this issue as I don’t even remember her being killed 20 issues ago, so her resurrection was not a big deal. Marvin (of Wendy and Marvin) is dead and we find out that Ares son was behind the attack. We also see that Wonder Girl’s powers are fluctuating and as she is the Teen Titans heavy hitter that is a big deal. This book is getting better as the multiple plot lines are being handled well and we got so good action going on with the Titans fighting Bombshell, who may not be a bad guy. Barrows’ artwork continues to improve and he is moving up in the quality of his work almost every issue.

Proof #12 –Writer Alex Grecian, Art Riley Rossmo, Colors Guzowski. This book is always a great read. This issue Proof is still fighting his fever which causes him to hallucinate. Also the leader of this religious cult takes Proof to a cave to see the “angel” they have been caring for. We also have Ginger in the sewers of New York looking for a golem. Finally we have a Chinese Ink Monkey and a fairy fighting it out inside the lodge. This is a great series were plot lines both big and small, tons of characterization and a great cast.

Black Panther #41 – Writer Jason Aaron, Art Jefte Palo. Ignoring the illogical factors associated with this story (such as the skrulls invasion force is repelled and killed by Wakanda way too easily) the feel of this book had a nice vibe to it. Jason Aaron gives you the emotional punch and you can’t help but root for the Black Panther and not cheer when his plan works out. The art is also well done, if not a little too muted in its coloring. The problem is when you step back from the book the internal logic inside the MU falls apart. The skrulls were too easily defeated, the Panther technology is ridiculously advanced and Storm killing people left and right leaves me a little cold. At the end it was still a good read and entertaining book.

Blue Beetle #31 – Writer Matthew Sturges, Art Andre Coelho, Colors Guy Major. This series just flat out rocks. This issue Blue Beetle gets unexpected help from Dr. Midnight who is trying to save the bad guys who were injected with a strange drug. Blue Beetle’s Mom helps out when bad guys invade the hospital she works at and we see Blue Beetle be set-up by a politician. I love seeing this hero in training continue to learn and grow within the super hero community and his own. This book continues to vie for best young super hero book on the market and is a very good series period.

New Avengers #45 – Writer Brian Bendis, Pencils Jim Cheung, Inks John Dell & Jay Leisten, Colors Justin Ponsor. This was an enjoyable little issue. I say little because little happened, but the art was great and the story of what happened to the embedded skrulls during the “House of M” event and the impact of the Annihilation wave played out well enough. We are seeing a good deal of effort being put into how much background Bendis has tried to establish and how much he has tried to think through the Skrull Invasion. The problem I have is the more logic you try to piece together the more you can see tons of holes in the story. I’m now curious to see how this will impact the MU.

Night & Fog #3 (of 6) – Writer Alex Leung & Matthew Bradford, Art Tomas Aira, Colors JM Ringuet. This book is doing a really good job with this horror story. We have the fog turning people into monsters. We have the hero trying to save the people inside the research facility and save his family. We have the wife trying to protect the kids hoping her husband (the hero) can save them. We also have the imminent threat of the US government annihilating the place to contain the threat and more sinister governmental secrets being exposed. This is a strong story that keeps you totally engaged. The art is competent and conveys the story but shows the artist still has room to improve.

Captain America #42 – Writer Ed Brubaker, Pencils Steve Epting & Luke Ross, Inkers Steve Epting, Rick Magyar & Fabio Laguna. Colors Frank D’Armata. Hurrah, yahoo, whoopee! This issue felt like we finally came to an end of a story arc. Captain (Bucky) America takes down Sin, saves the day and wins over the heart of America that is he is Captain America. The Red Skull gets defeated and survives, but only as a consciousness inside a robot like Zola. Sharon Carter is finally rescued, but is pretty well broken at this point. Cap and the Black Widow appear to be an item. Lots of plot threads were left dangling and many mysteries are still out and about, but it appears like we can now move past the Death of Captain America and maybe start Bucky’s career as the new Cap in earnest.

Wildcats #3 – Writer Christos Gage, Art Neil Googe, Colors Carrier Strachan, Back Up Writer Christos Gage, Pencils Mike McKone, Inks Andy Lanning, Colors Carrie Strachan. Since I’m not versed in all of the WU this issue had stuff in it that I’m sure was meant to have more impact then it did for me, but I thought it was a strong issue. The Wildcats are looking past their small enclave and run into a possible technological jungle in Nevada. They find out Paris (from Stormwatch PHD prior to Armagedon) has built a sanctuary for animals and these animals are super powered people who can shape shift. The back up was totally worthless as a have no familiarity with Team 7.

Station #3 (of 4) – Writer Johanna Stokes, Art Leno Carvalho, Colors Andrea Barreto. This issue has a great cover. The story is a classic locked room murder mystery and this issue two more crew members of the station are killed and you have to wonder if anyone will get out alive. The last panel makes you wonder what the endgame is as the Shuttle is jettisoned away from the Space Station, so if the idea was to kill everybody and yourself, why not blow up the Space Station? This is another well done and taunt thriller from BOOM.

Reign in Hell #3 (of 8) – Writer Keith Giffen, Pencils Tom Derenick, Inks Bill Sienkiewicz, Coors Mike Atiyeh. Dr. Occult Back Up Writer Keith Giffen, Pencils Justiniano, Inks Walden Wong, Colors Tom Chu. This series continues to intrigue me. It has not gotten me looking forward to each issue, but each issue is better then the last. This issue we see Zatanna paying a price for getting Blue Devil to hell and Blue Devil being used as cannon fodder to distract Etrigan. We catch up with Ragman, Nightshade and Enchantress as they bathe through hell and find out that the Creeper is tied into hell. Lots of great bits and good story telling going on and the back up with Dr. Occult is tying in nicely with the main story. A series that I almost skipped, but I’m happy I did not. The mix of Tom Derenick with Bill Sienkiewicz inking him is a great combination for this story.

Jack of Fables #26 – Writers Bill Willingham & Matt Sturges, Pencils Russ Braun, Inks Jose Marzan, Colors Daniel Vozzo. Okay we have the whole Bookburner story line going on and we are learning the history of the Paige sisters, but the end of this book was so great and is a perfect picture of what this book is about. At the end of this issue we get the cliff hanger of Humpty Dumpty flipping over the van Jack and friends are in and we see he has been put together again as a “deviled egg”. The book is both absurd and humorous and yet still manages to impart a sense of drama when needed. This is a good arc for this book.

Fall of Cthulhu Godwar #2 (of 4) –Writer Michael Alan Nelson, Art Mark Dos Santos, Color Renato Faccini. This issue we see the writer pulling everything he has been setting up together. While this is listed as a mini-series, he is pulling together elements that he set-up back in issue #1 when it was an ongoing series. I love it when a series can pay off like that for a reader and you can start to have those “a-ha” type moments. The problem I have with this issue is the artist. His work and skill set for telling a story is fine, his style is almost an animation style and comes across too clean and almost light hearted for such a dark story.
Contract #3 (OF 3) – Writer Garan Madeiros and Charles Shell, Art Ariel Padilla, Colors Danimation. This was all out fun. That is not to say the story did not conclude its adventure without adding some characterization and showing Jessie to be a good person, but it was fun. The mercenary team completed their contract with an issue involving a lot of action and showed both heart and then some humor in the last four pages.

X-Men Legacy #216 – Writer Mike Carey, Pencils Phi Briones, Inks Scott Hanna, Colors Brian Reber & Paul Trevino. I’m starting to come off of this book. At first it seemed to be an exploration of what is identity and Professor X was exploring his life via other memories. This issue it is all about Emma with Scott showing Professor X how horrible he has been for manipulating people with his telepathic powers. At least at the end he seems to have buried the hatchet with Scott, but the point of the series is starting to be lost on me.

Ambush Bug Year None #3 (of 6) – Plot & Pencils Keith Giffen, Dialogue Robert Loren Fleming, Inks Al Milgrom, Colors Guy Major. Not as bad as the last issue, but not even close to be as funny as the first issue. Outside of a great cover and a few occasional chuckles here and there I was less then impressed with this issue of Ambush Bug. There is so much material that is ripe for satire in comics and Ambush Bug is missing it since the first issue.

Thunderbolts #124- Writer Christos Gage, Art Fernando Blanco, Colors Frank Martin - I now wished I had skipped this arc altogether as the story is just not up to Gage’s normal standards. It feels almost disjointed as we see Norman Osbourne action as a field commander as the Thunderbolts fight the skrulls in Washington, DC. There as a few nice moments here and there, but the drama is lost due to the odd pacing of the book and the artwork being such a drop off from Mike Deodato.

Ultimates 3 #5 (of 5) – Writer Jeph Loeb, Art Joe Madiueira, Digital Paints Christian Lichtner. So not worth the wait. The story made a modicum of sense, but they added some crap about Dr. Doom at the end to make sure it was even more nonsense. The story left a bunch of mysteries floating around and they muddied the hell out of Joe Mad’s art. What a horrible series. Jeph Loeb has earned a pass from me on anything that has his name as writer.
Resurrection #6 – Too much time between issues and I have lost interest in what was a very promising comic. Canceled.

M-Theory #1 (of 3) – Too much of a cartoon and just too much going on. Missed being a pulp sci-fi tale and missed being a humor tale. Canceled.

When I cancel a book I have decided to not include the credits. My thought process is just because I did not like a comic it does not mean the creators did not do a good job, taste is subjective. Therefore I do not want anyone to think it is a critic of any creator.

Monday, September 29, 2008

What I’m Getting Wednesday

I know this is a five Wednesday month, but my Marvel list is so thin as to be non-existent. It has been an education for me watching my list change over time. I remember when I owned a store and read even more then I do now that the overwhelming preponderance of super hero material drives you to reading more independents and Vertigo type material. Still if I cut way back I would always have some super hero stuff in the mix. And that I think is the hurdle the independents have to get over, most comic fans at their core still love the super hero stuff. A fan base for graphic story telling needs to be developed that was not raised on the capes (IMO).

City of Dust #1 - Radical Comics has fast become a name that I trust. Once a publisher establishes themselves as a known commodity it is easy to order the first issue of any series. City of Dust #1 has two pedigrees - Radical Comics and Steve Niles as the writer. The hype " From the dark mind of STEVE NILES (30 Days of Night) comes a story set in the aftermath of our world's collapse. This chilling vision of the future unveils a world where the police now patrol for crimes of the imagination. Religious beliefs, along with any tales of false heroes, idols or gods, are illegal. The world is anew and the enemy adapts. Detective Philip Khrome doesn't enforce Imagination, he works homicide; that's where the action is, and he's seen it all before. But criminals evolve and the world's forever changing. When a killing spree hits his city sector, Khrome finds himself face to face with killers born of grim reality with old world superstition and everything is not what it seems. 48 page prestige format book." Can't believe I forgot this book for this post!

The Alcoholic Hardcover – This sounds rather odd and very different, but interesting enough for me to spend a few bucks to check it out. The word “Jonathan A. is a boozed-up, coked-out, sexually confused, hopelessly romantic and, of course, entirely fictional novelist who bears only a coincidental resemblance to real-life writer Jonathan Ames, critically acclaimed author of Wake Up, Sir!, The Extra Man and What's Not to Love? For the fictional Jonathan, writing and drinking come easy. The hard parts of life are love and hope. From a touching relationship between Jonathan and his aging great aunt, to an inebriated evening with an amorous, octogenarian dwarf, to the devastating aftermath of 9/11, Ames's first original graphic novel, with gritty, poignant art by Dean Haspiel (THE QUITTER), tells a story at once hilarious, excruciating, bizarre and universal, about how our lives fall to pieces and the enduring human struggle to put things back together again.”

Authority #3 – I don’t remember if this bad guy was one that I have ever seen before. Either way this current iteration of the Authority is entertaining. The hype “The Midnighter confronts the Eidolon and his Army of the Mad... but can even he overcome an entire army alone? And the Engineer makes a startling discovery in the bowels of the Carrier that could turn the team's fortunes around in this desolate new world! Plus, the second chapter of the Marc "Backlash" Slayton backup story continues by Christos Gage and Mike McKone.”

Batman #680 – Since Batman is my favorite character of all time and I love it when a “real” change is made, RIP has my interest. The penultimate chapter in this arc. The word “It's "Batman R.I.P." part 5 – and this issue features two events so monumental that one comic can barely contain them! First, Batman faces off against The Club of Villains. Then, The Joker makes his stand, challenging the Dark Knight to the ultimate battle of wits. Will Batman survive either of these threats – or could this be the end of Gotham City's greatest hero?”

El Diablo #2 (of 6) – This issue needs to be an improvement as last issue left me a little cold. The company line “The new El Diablo learns what it means to have a legacy name in the DCU. Expect new villains, old scores to settle and ancient evils to align against Chato Santana. With the 170-year-old Lazarus Lane in tow, El Diablo runs from the law and goes after the man who crippled him.”

Hellblazer Presents: Chas the Knowledge #4 (of 5) – I have been enjoying this series a lot. The mid-life crisis and the demonic crisis all at once and Chas is our semi-ordinary person caught up in both. What’s inside “Red vs. Blue. The demon possessing Chas's would-be protégé, Nicky, has unlocked the secrets of "The Knowledge," and now it's looking to rip the soul right out of London. And where better to start than a football match between two of the city's most heated rivals? The ensuing chaos creates a moment of decision in the life of Chas.”

House of Mystery #6 – Out of all the new Vertigo books lately this is my second favorite, only surpassed by Madam Xanadu. An excellent series so far. The hype “Every haunted house has a scary basement, sure. But this is the House of Mystery – this is the basement the other basements are scared of. And yes, we're going down there. And we're going to stay awhile. Meanwhile, Pirate Queen Ann Preston stars in a bloody symphony of lust, greed, desire and deception that begins with buried treasure and ends with buried bodies. Hit the high seas in a swashbuckling tale illustrated by Tony Akins (JACK OF FABLES). This issue also features a free preview of the new monthly series THE UNKNOWN SOLDIER!”

Jonah Hex #36 – This is always a good book. Out of 35 prior issues there have been maybe 2 that were just okay issue in my book. The company line “There's a reason why Jonah Hex wears the uniform of a Confederate soldier, and the truth is sometimes an ugly thing. On his way home from fighting in the Civil War, Hex tries to settle an old score but soon finds himself in the middle of a misunderstanding that could have grave consequences.”

Justice League of America #25 – This has been a weak version of the JLA so far. I keep hoping this book can stop being a spotlight for lesser lights of the DCU. The word “Vixen and Animal Man journey into the sacred Tantu Totem to solve the mystery of their altered powers. But Anansi, the African spider god responsible for these changes, has only begun reshaping the powers and histories of the Justice League, as eight-year-old Bruce Wayne shoots the burglar who killed his parents, Wonder Woman retires from the JLA after the tragic death of her husband, Superman, and The Green Lantern Corps quarantines Earth after one of their number destroys an American city. With the team's history changing before Vixen's eyes, is the JLA we now know gone forever?”

Manhunter #35 – This book has actually gotten better since its hiatus as the plots and sub-plots are more developed then before. The company line “Kate uses the Fed's own weapons against them, and Manhunter does the same to the DCU's biggest heroes. And the most shocking secret of Ciudad Juarez is revealed!”

Nightwing #149 – Wow, we are only one issue away from #150, a great run for any book. This story appears to take place after RIP. The hype “A "Batman R.I.P." tie-in! With Batman missing in action, Nightwing faces off against The Dark Knight's most dangerous enemies – Killer Croc, Penguin, Mr. Freeze, Poison Ivy, Two-Face and The Joker – to save the life of a woman marked for death.”

Supergirl #34 – This is this books final chance with me. If Gates and the whole “New Krypton” saga does not make this book work, I will finally cancel this puppy. The uninspired hype “Beginning the new direction for SUPERGIRL, which will tie the book and character firmly into the Superman franchise!”

Terror Titans #1 (of 6) – Not sure what the demand for a spin-off from a so-so series was, but I know DC is pushing the Titan franchise, so I will check out issue #1. The word “They stood against the Teen Titans, and now the Terror Titans spin off into their own miniseries! Clock King hatches a plan for his team of teenage legacy villains, as well as their deadly new member – the Teen Titans' own Ravager! But if he's to succeed, Clock King must first stabilize the underground metahuman gladiator arena known as the Dark Side Club! Join TEEN TITANS scribe Sean McKeever and artist Joe Bennett (52, CHECKMATE) for a journey into the darkest, coldest and most brutal corners of the teen psyche!”

Top Ten Season Two #1 (of 4) – I wish Alan Moore was still writing this book, but I’m hopeful that this will be an enjoyable return to Top Ten (which deserves an Absolute). The company line “AMERICA'S BEST COMICS. A new season dawns in the science-city of Neopolis! A new commissioner, along with some new rules, comes to Precinct 10, as Slipstream Phoenix, a rookie cop with an ugly secret, fights for respect among his new peers. Meanwhile, Shock-Headed Peter and the Dust Devil investigate a mysterious, ancient drug dealer, and a very public multiple homicide sets Captain Jetman and Lieutenant Peregrine scrambling for answers. The police procedural crime and intrigue continue in this new series based on concepts and characters created by legendary writer Alan Moore (WATCHMEN, V FOR VENDETTA).”

Tor #6 (of 6) – The final issue of Joe Kubert’s story of a fictional prehistoric caveman. The word “In the final chapter of this epic miniseries, Tor heads home – and he's bringing his surviving companions with him. But before they complete the journey, they encounter a giant obstacle: another survivor in this primordial world! Joe Kubert brings dynamism to the comic page as only he can in this age-old tale of man vs nature.”

Trinity #18 – Last issue was the first major turning point, so I’m looking forward to this issue to see what happens now that the Trinity have been replaced. The hype “Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman no more! The heroic Trinity have met their fates at the hands of their villainous counterparts in the Troika. Now the Earth trembles helplessly in the hands of the villainous group while Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman's accomplishments are being forgotten!”

Vixen : Return of the Lion #1 (of 5) – I’m not sure how this fits in with her continuity in JLA, but it seems to me that it has better make sense or else featuring her in two different continuities at the same will not help make her a bigger star in the DCU. What’s inside “On a mission against the mega-mobsters of Intergang, the Justice League makes a stunning discovery revealing the truth behind the death of Vixen's mother. Long ago, poachers were fingered in her murder, but stunning proof arrives exposing the identity of her real killer! And the man responsible is still alive, making a vicious play for power in the homeland Vixen left years ago. This groundbreaking 5-issue miniseries by rising stars G. Willow Wilson (OUTSIDERS: AQUAMAN/METAMORPHO, CAIRO, AIR) and Cafu (Black Panther) plunges the League's animal-powered warrior into a deeply spiritual, but instantly deadly, quest for vengeance – and draws the League itself into the newest chapter of Intergang's ever-expanding race for domination.”

Sub-Mariner The Depths #2 (of 4) – The first issue was well done and did not even have Subby in the book. The company line “Atlantis. Throughout the ages, a few men have wondered if this fabulous place actually exists. Fewer have imagined that the city is protected by a wild and vengeful being, the very embodiment of the untamable depths themselves -- the Sub-Mariner. When a legendary adventurer named Randolph Stein travel deep into the dark belly of the Marianas trench in search of a missing deep sea expedition, he is about to encounter things that supersede his wildest imagination. There is something down there in the murky depths -- something far closer to God than man -- and it has been waiting for Stein for a long, long time.”

Challenger Deep #2 (of 4) – I loved the first issue of this thriller from BOOM. I also get amused that both underwater stories about the Mariana trench come out the same week. The hype “Take a deep breath. Hold it. Now, imagine you're on a-I didn't say breathe!- on a sunken submarine at the bottom of the ocean, teetering on enough methane ice to blow the world in half if you make the slightest wrong move. And five world governments are sending underwater commandoes your way right this second! Heart racing? Getting lightheaded? That's the skill of writer Andrew Cosby, creator of the hit Sci-Fi show Eureka!”

Four Eyes #1 – I’m not 100% sure why I was getting this, although the cover is cool, but now that I have fallen in love with “I Kill Giants” by Joe Kelly, another title by him is an easier sell. The word “Brooklyn 1930. America struggles in the grip of the Great Depression, and ten-year-old Enrico is willing to make any sacrifice to take care of his mother. Even if it means taking a job in the one place he’s forbidden to go…the ring of fire where dragons are trained and fought for cash and glory.”

Sparks #4 (of 6) – I have already had a chance to read this issue and this book is getting better and better. Sparks is really tough great noir look at a golden age hero. The company line “by Christopher Folino & JM Ringuet William Katt's critically acclaimed monthly superhero noir thriller continues as masked vigilante Ian Sparks unravels a mystery that's haunted him since childhood.”

Beyond Wonderland #2 (of 6) – The first issue of this sequel has me hopeful that the return can be as strong as the original mini-series. The hype “Calie Liddle is still trying to adjust to her new life in the big city. But her new job and new friends hang by a perilous thread. Wonderland is closing in around her, and she is more alone in a city of millions than she ever expected, being watched from afar by all-too-familiar eyes. Meanwhile, her brother, Johnny, adapts to his new realm, the same place his own sister sent him to months earlier!”

Creature Feature #1 (of 2) – See my review here and see an interview with the executive producer of the series here. The official hype “Do you remember when your local drive-in was rocking on a Friday night and all of the monsters were the result of nuclear waste and government conspiracies? Creature Feature is your chance to relive your youth or visit a joyous time of cinematic insanity done right for the first time. Welcome back to the 70s and 80s because the first Triple and a half Creature Feature of the new millennium is set to begin! This issue features three and a half scintillating tales of monstrous horror done right - over the top and gratuitous with a super-cool soundtrack. (Readers are responsible for providing their own tunes.) Grab a date, leave the kids at home, and stuff as many friends in your trunk as possible for out of this world terror in Abducted by Chris Yost, hot girls and feathery friends in Hooters by CB Cebulski, creepy crawlies in Why Did It Have To Be Spiders? by Andy Schmidt, and the first half of the rocktacular Rockenstein by Brian Smith, a tale so demented the drive-in is only willing to screen the first half of it lest they get shut down altogether for public indecency!”

No Hero #1 (of 7) – Another new Avatar series by Warren Ellis. I’m enjoying Ellis exploration of super heroes. Black Summer was very well done and I’m looking forward to No Hero. The word “Dead heroes in the dirt. A killer capable of almost supernatural tortures. Five generations of the world's only superhuman group. A forty-year legacy of standing for the rights of freedom and safety. A young man obsessed with the need for street justice. How much do you want to be a superhuman? How badly does he want it? Bad enough to bring on the last days of an American legend? If he even gets to survive that long? Forty years ago, a group of superhumans emerged in San Francisco, guided by the man whose unique new drugs gave them their incredible powers. But the team is not the only thing that's advanced over the years, and there are no easy victories when their luck finally begins to run out!”

Doktor Sleepless #9 – Last issue was good enough to keep me coming back for more. Now I’m convinced that Sleepless is mad. The company line “Doktor Sleepless begins its exciting second season with this can't-miss issue! Whether you've been tuning in to the Doktor's broadcasts from the beginning, or are just looking to jump into the series, this issue marks the start of a new story arc - and we guarantee you won't want to wait until 2009 for the collected edition! It may be that the good Doktor has pushed the city too far. People are sick. People are dying. But, then again, maybe nobody in Heavenside minds, right? Well, not the nice people in Central, behind the pay-cop barrier. But what do you suppose will happen when it turns out that an invisible barrier won't stop all the nice peoples nice things from falling apart, too? Warren Ellis' satirical-political science fiction novel continues its on-going run!”

That wraps up a very modest list for me this week and actually a welcome breather as I have been busy with other things and can use a light week of comics.

Finally – What’s up with Thomm stealing my title????

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Baltimore Comic Con - A Short Report

I was only there Sunday and on one hand it was very enjoyable as it was not that crowded. On the other hand it was in a smaller room, there were less booths then other years and it felt a little blah.

The named artists had long lines, people had costumes and were dressed up, but the panels were hardly crowded and for me it felt a convention that has lost some status compared to how it felt the last two years.

It could be that I had no real interest in buying anything this year and while I had intended to try and introduce the blog to some creators and line up some interviews I decided against it. Also this is the first time I have attended the second day of the convention and maybe it is always a little off the second day.

I did enjoy the Bernie Wrightson spotlight panel and was amazed to realize that except for a correspondence course in commercial art the man was self taught.

What I'm Getting Wednesday?

by Thomm

I have no idea. I never do, really, until I read what Jim's getting. I barely have time to get to the store on Wednesday and then read my paltry few books each week, what with wife, kids, work and house upkeep requirements. If it wasn't for the fact that I'm doing this post at work most of the time, I'd not get this done, either.

But I digress. I use our boy Jim as a sort of filter for my own buying, which is significantly less than his. In fact, I average about 6 books a week and only rarely pick up a trade here and there. So, I live vicariously through Jim's reviews and previews a lot. But, I also get to leave out a lot of junk that I might otherwise view as a mistake to buy.

This week was a particularly good week. The six books I got were amongst my favorites being published now.

Top of the heap has to be Fables #76 (it was #2 on my all time top 20 list after all). Neither Geppetto nor the residents of Fabletown are particularly accepting of one another. In fact, the war is still on as far as everyone but Pinocchio is concerned, Geppetto's amnesty or no. No major plot develpments, but plenty of foreshadowing of things to come, and the usual excellent writing by Bill Willingham. The art, though, was a trifle distracting. Guest artist Michael Allred did a good job with the adult characters. They were clearly within the parameters of the usual depictions but with his own style. It was the depictions of the kids that was off. Pinocchio, of course, is forever a boy, but he's always been depicted as almost a small adult, with the sort of complex facial expressions that adults are more likely to have, and oftentimes a scowl you wouldn't expect on a kid. Here he looks like a naif, all wide eyed innocence. To make matters worse, Snow White's and Bigbe's brood of kids also appears and they're entirely indestinguishable from one another except for hair color. In fact, Pinnocchio could be part of the family for all the distinction there is in the drawing of the kids that appear in this story. It's odd because the adults are so much more individually drawn and given clear facial expressions to reflect the moment. All the same, this is still my favorite for the week because I love the story that's come so far and the arugment between Snow White and Geppetto this issue. And, if she were really flesh and blood, Snow would be some kind of MILF.

Second on the list is Northlanders #10. More art commentary from the non art guy. Dean Ormston's art fits this book perfectly. The rough, washed out appearance fits with all our concepts of the Middle Ages in North Europe. Bleak, harsh, brutish. It's everything you'd expect of stories set in the end years of the Vikings as pantheists. I think I like this 2 issue Lindisfarne story better than the 8 issue opening arc, too. Brevity in story telling is an under appreciated art. The story of how a Saxon boy came to be a Viking warrior who's still viewed as an outsider after 20 years resonated with me, a guy who moved to central PA as a kid and was always the outsider. Not that my new neighbors and I went back to suburban Philly and killed off all my old neighbors.

The Walking Dead #52 comes in at third mostly because of the return of Michonne. What's not to like about a woman who prefers to cut off the heads of zombies with a sword? (Although it sometimes reminds me of a friend's grandmother who used to go around with a butter knife cutting off the heads of gypsy moth caterpillars.) That and the fact that she's smacking Rick up side the head and getting him out of his self pitying funk. Not that he doesn't have reason to feel bad after the disaster at the prison. As a reader, though, I only want to see so much of that before he gets back on his feet, and it's been a couple issues with a weak Rick. By contrast, the development of Carl's character has been welcome addition to the story. I would expect a kid in this environment to be thrust into adulthood much sooner than what we're used to.

Proof #12 comes in at fourth. The wordless fight between the ink monkey and the faerie alone would make the issue one of the best fight scenes ever and keep the book high in my pantheon. The philosophical conversation between Proof and his captor come host, with a tinge of hallucination due to Proof's illness, was also a highlight. Grecian and Rossmo have a unique creation here and clearly have a solid vision of where they want to go with that creation. Until this issue I wasn't aware that Proof was set in the same reality as Image's superhero books. The Walking Dead clearly inhabits its own little universe, but with the appearance of Savage Dragon, Proof is now in the same universe as Invincible, Dynamo5 and the rest. Which means some interesting meetings could occur, but I hope that Proof largely sticks to its own course.

Number five on this list is Jack of Fables #26. I know this isn't one of Jim's favorites, but I enjoy the tongue in cheek nature of the whole thing. Although it comes out of the same mileu as Fables, it's entirely different in tenor and objective. Jack is a horse's ass, after all. There's no way you're going to be affectionate toward him the way you can be with Bigbe, Show White, Prince Charming and the myriad populace of Fabletown or the Farm. But Jack's a sort of paragon of what not to do and the consequences of being a continual srew up. So, anyway, this issue centered on Priscilla, one of the three sisters at the Golden Boughs. A dork at heart who's masqueraded as a hot chick, she's having a hard time of it with Revise due to some perceived mistakes on her part. It's all a part of a long term conflict between Revise and Bookburner that we're only beginning to find out about. The reveal of who is Priscilla's father, and that she's not a full sister to one of her sisters, isn't nearly as much fun as the reappearance of Humpty Dumpty with attitude.

Last but not least is Madam Xanadu #4. Not that it's really any worse than Fables. Like I said, they're all great books this week. I did question the sort of abrupt attraction of Madam Xanadu to the Phantom Stranger. Well, it's abrupt to the reader. I suppose from the character's perspective, not so much. But in the first two issues she didn't know who he was, then was really not happy with the role he played, and pushed her into playing, in the fall of Camelot. Now, she's in the court of Kublai Khan a few hundred years later, so I suppose all those years, while other people lived and died, she'd have time to fixate on the Phantom Stranger, but to me, it came across as her going rather suddenly from dispising him to wanting to spend eons with him, jumping his bones. In the end we have her having to flee the court and the Phantom Stranger leaving her in the desert to flee on her own, so I suppose her feelings will be back to a more ambiguous place after this incident. For an immortal woman with arcane knowledge and a lot of power, she often seems insecure and dependent on others, whether it's Merlin or the Phantom Stranger. Maybe she can meet Dream of the Endless and try to hook up with him, too. I hope she takes on a more independent character as the book develops.

That's my six for this week. Not being wedded to any particular topic, I may or may not continue with this idea of reviewing. We'll see.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Indies Preview Review for November Part 3 of 3

Wrapping up the indies reviews with Part 3 !

The Hero Initiative
Stan's Soapbox: The Collection SC By Stan Lee & Various
The wit and wisdom of the caliph of comics is on display for all to see in one mighty volume! All of Stan Lee's groundbreaking, legendary Stan's Soapbox columns from 1967 to 1980 are collected for the first time ever! And that's not all! Columns are presented in a historical context, so you can immerse yourself in the flavor of the day, and get a sense what was happening right outside Stan's window when he penned 'em. Some are poignant, some informative, some touching, and some funny. But they're all memorable! Add to that, a bountiful bevy of celebs also write about their most memorable columns, including Marvel Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada, Marvel Studios President of Production Kevin Feige, X-Men movie producer Tom DeSanto, and a vast variety of great names from the fields of comics, literature, politics and academia. No comics historian will want to miss out on the historical heavyweights contained within this titanic tome!
Pages: 144, 7x10, B&W, $14.99
Lee: I’ve been reading Marvel comics since the 70’s but I can honestly tell you I’ve read five or less of Stan’s soapbox. I can’t believe they are collecting them. Honestly, I wonder about the “historical value” the hype calls it.
Jim: This stuff was never meant to be words for the ages. This was Stan Lee just having fun 95% of the time hyping Marvel books. I would not pay a dime for this.

Hill & Wang
Isadora Duncan: A Graphic Biography HC By Sabrina Jones

Myth and controversy still swirl around the dramatic figure of Isadora Duncan. The pioneering modern dancer emerged from provincial nineteenth-century America to captivate the cultural capitals of Europe, re-invent dance as a fine art, and leave a trail of scandals in her wake. From her unconventional California girlhood to her tragic death on the French Riviera fifty years later, Duncan's journey was an uncompromising quest for truth, beauty, and freedom. Here Duncan's art and ideas come vividly to life. Each page is a unique dance of words and images, reflecting Duncan's courage, passion, and idealism in a way sure to inspire another generation of admirers.
Pages: 144, 6x9, B&W, $16.95. More about Isadora Duncan here.

Lee: I hate to admit but my collection of biographical comics is quite thin. It’s never been my thing. But, something about this struck my fancy so I did some research and found out that Isadora Duncan was quite the interesting person. She lived from 1878-1927 and made quite the impression. I’ll probably check this out.
Jim: Yawn. Oh I’m sorry just reading about this book put me to sleep. Modern dance is crap and this just sounds like something that I would have no interest in.

IDW Publishing
Fishtown HC By Kevin Colden (W & A & C)
Originally serialized as a weekly webcomic, IDW is proud to collect the entire story into deluxe hardcover form. Inspired by real events, Colden's story explores what led the teens to commit such a heinous crime. Fishtown is an absorbing read that compels the reader to explore a world they hope to never experience. Pages: 120, 6.5 x 10, FC, $19.99 Visit the artist here
Lee: I wonder if the readers get bored with all the true crime picks. I can’t help it if there’s lots of this material in the indie world! The art looks solid and the story sounds great so I’m sold.
Jim: True crime and fictional crime books are great. I mean cop shows abound and we always see crime on the news, it is interesting stuff.

Mohawk Media
Mr. T By Christopher Bunting & J.L. Czerniawski

Armed only with his fists, acumen, and a business card that reads, "Next to God there is no better protector than I," bodyguard Mr. T becomes as renowned as many of his clients. But will even the moniker of "The Greatest Bodyguard in the World!" make any difference when old enemies return and new foes and unseen faces conspire against him? The graphic novel uses its real-life star as a platform to address controversial "hot potato" real-life issues, such as kidnapping, gun crimes, and sex offenders. With his assignments taking him around the world, Mr. T soon becomes embroiled in the center of a complex web of events. This leads to a shocking conclusion, as Mr. T begins to realize that perhaps the true target isn't his clients, but himself! Includes exclusive interviews and a personal introduction by Mr. T himself.
Pages: 128, 7x10, SC, FC, $16.95
Lee: There as demand for this? Seriosuly?
Jim: I pity the fool who don’t think there isn’t a demand for this. Don’t make Mr. T come to your house Lee and have to thump you’re a**.

Why I Killed Peter GN By Alfred & Oliver Ka
Peter was a populist priest. He was cool. He was funny. He was no priest, just a regular guy. It's like I had another uncle. A great one, who laughed, who sang, who tickled. Until he took us for summer camp. Until we were so close, temptation came in the picture. Based on a true story that the writer experienced himself, this graphic novel presents very simply the grey areas in such a situation, how he had tucked the whole episode deep within him but then how his rage and self-pity let it all out and finally revisiting the man when close to death and his coming to grips with his past. This topical and important work, is both moving and sensitively presented.
Pages: 112, 6x9, HC, FC, $18.95. Preview pages here
Lee: I read lots of hype so often I pick things for whatever superficial reason and then try to determine what that reason was later. In this case, as in most cases, it was about art. But, going back and reading the blurb made me realize just how moving this tale could be. I’m not sure if I will get it but if you liked Blankets, with similar themed material, then you should try this.
Jim: Wow this sounds intensely personal and tragic, almost like it was therapy for the creators.

Optimum Wound Comics
King of Nekropolis GN By Danijel Zezelj

Ras Casal is a private detective, haunted by demons and old memories, addicted to drugs and on the verge of complete madness. Casal is hired by Professor Noah to find an old colleague, Theobald Hall, a brilliant computer scientist who has disappeared under mysterious circumstances. The hunt to find Theobald begins as does a long and terrible descent into personal hells for Ras. His journey into the heart of Nekropolis becomes his last chance at redemption!
Pages: 104, 7x10, SC, B&W, $11.95
Lee: More Zezelj! Optimum Wound is reprinting Zezelj’s early material and it’s fantastic.
Jim: Daniel Zezelj is a fantastic artist and makes such incredible use of spotting blacks and still doing some incredibly detailed work. A true artist and his material is well worth the money.

Rampart Press
Cleburne GN By Justin Murphy, Al Milgrom & J. Brown
During the American Civil War, as Union armies marched deep into Confederate territory, Confederate General Patrick Cleburne advanced a plan to enlist slaves to fight for the South. According to Cleburne's proposal, every African American who served the Confederacy as a soldier would receive freedom upon enlistment. This was a revolutionary concept for its era, and by making his proposal, it sent Cleburne's life spiraling down a perilous road. Set during the critical year of 1864, and culminating in the bloody Battle of Franklin, Cleburne is a tale of unbeatable courage in the face of racism, conspiracy and war.
Pages: 208, SC, FC, $24.95
Lee: Yet another historical graphic novel but more importantly is the return of Al Milgrom! I’ve been a huge Milgrom fan since his days on just about every Marvel title. I’m glad to see him back at work. The story sounds interesting too.
Jim: Now I was never a fan of Al Milgrom. His pencils left me cold and his inking was I think more on par with a Vince Colleta (too heavy and all thick lines). The actual historical event sounds fascinating as I was not aware of this history.

Best of Tharg's Futureshocks SC By Various

Out in the vast reaches of the universe, there are an infinite number of stories waiting to be told. From the lowliest swamp denizens in backwater galaxies to rulers of entire star systems, anything is possible in these twisted tales. Abandon your preconceptions, expect the unexpected and take a trip beyond the edges of the imagination.... Pages: 160, B&W, $26.50
Lee: Tharg’s Futureshocks are 2-3 page shorts with twist endings that orginally appeared in 2000AD. They are mostly notable because many of the early ones were written by Alan Moore. Now I have the Futureshocks by Moore collection but I’m not sure if I want the rest of them.
Jim: Especially for 160 B&W pages for $26.50.

Complete Ro-Busters SC By Pat Mills, Kevin O'Neill, Dave Gibbons, Mike McMahon & Mike Dorey
Together for the first time in one volume are the classic Ro-Buster tales written by 2000AD supremo Pat Mills, with art by some of the biggest names in the industry including Dave Gibbons and Mike McMahon! Marvel at the adventures of Ro-Jaws and Hammerstein as they take on some of the toughest jobs in the universe and plan a liberation of the robot slaves!
Pages: 336, B&W, $30.99
Lee: This is a collection of classic Starlord (2000 AD’s competition) British strips. I love this material for the classic art and interesting stories. It’s always fun stuff.
Jim: Some of the 2000 AD material is fantastic and here you are getting a better bang for your dollar with 336 pages for $31.

Sparkplug Comic Books
Hot Breath of War GN By Trevor Alixopulos

The Hot Breath of War takes seemingly unrelated episodes of life during wartime and entwines them into a single narrative. This subtle and well-written novel explores love amid conflict and the seduction of violence itself. Alixopulos displays artistic abilities well beyond his years, and his stories offer some of the most thoughtful insights on the nature of war and its effect on human existence available to comic book readers. His drawings are loose and comfortable but sharp and graphic. The Hot Breath of War is perfect for fans of Joe Sacco or Jules Feiffer but stands as a unique work of graphic art. Pages: 128, 6x8, SC, B&W, $13.00
Visit Trevor here or follow the link to his sketch blog here and his online comix here
Lee: I believe this is a novel with lots of illustrations. Or maybe lots of single panel cartoons with heavier bits of text. Either way it sounds very interesting.
Jim: It does sound fascinating. This is another book I want to page through before I decide if I will buy it.

Top Shelf Productions
Man Who Loved Breasts By Robert Goodin
Meet Stanley, a man who has worked a dead-end job his whole life. While looking for a way out, he has epiphany that the secret to happiness is to make a living doing what you love. And while the title may tell you what he loves most, where his ambitions take him? The back-up stories are equally fun, with George Olavatia: Amputee Fetishist involving a fertility clinic and a man with specialized tastes, and A 21st Century Cartoonist in King Arthur's Court, where we find out how useful a cartoonist would have been in the Middle Ages. A quirky and engaging one-shot comic book by animator (Rugrats) and comics illustrator (McSweeney's) Robert Goodin!
Pages: 32, 6x9, SC, B&W, $4.00 Visit the artist here and previews here
Lee: Like I said, sometimes I pick books because of the art, sometimes because of the content. This is an ART book. Solely picked this because of the art. Yes-sirrrr-eee. Art book. Actually, the art is outstanding. Visit Goodin’s site and see what I mean.
Jim: Sure, it is, sure it is. All for the art. I guess this is Lee breast of the --- er best of the month.

Alter Ego #81
Get ready for Alter Ego's ever-haunted Halloween issue! Behind a new Frank Brunner Man-Thing cover, Richard Arndt throws a spooky spotlight on the late-'60s black-&-white horror comic Web of Horror that featured early work by Brunner, Bernie Wrightson, Jeffrey Jones, Barry Windsor-Smith, Walter Simonson, Dave Cockrum, and Howard Chaykin - plus an interview with Web of Horror editor and award-winning science fiction writer Terry Bisson! Then, an amazing interview by Jim Amash with comics and fine artist Everett Raymond Kintsler! Plus, Roy Thomas' 1971 origin synopsis for the first Man-Thing story, and more of Bob Rozakis on "The Secret History of All-American Comics, Inc."
Magazine $6.95
Lee: I don’t get Altero Ego on a regular basis but I always get the Halloween issue. These are great and I loved every single one. And, Web of Horror is one of the greatest horror magazine every produced. With an outstanding artistic lineup that hasn’t been matched since. Visit ebay and see if you can get a copy because it’s worth it. As for me, I’m going to get this and read about the “behind the scenes”
Jim: Lee is more of the expert on this material as I read very few (hardly ever) magazines on comics.

Back Issue #31
Back Issue salutes the comics and animation career of the late, great, and groundbreaking writer Steve Gerber, beginning with an in-depth look at his most famous creation, Howard the Duck. Plus, "Gerber's Gruesomes" (Marvel horror series such as Man-Thing), Omega the Unknown, "Gerber in the Marvel Universe" (offbeat superhero work, from Defenders to Foolkiller), Crazy! Magazine, Metal Men, Mister Miracle, and the animated television favorite Thundarr the Barbarian. An all-star lineup of comics and cartoon creators pay tribute to Steve Gerber, with art by and commentary from Frank Brunner, Rich Buckler, Gene Colan, Michael Golden, Stan Lee, Paul Levitz, Pablo Marcos, Val Mayerik, Jim Mooney, Martin Pasko, Mike Ploog, Dave Simons, Roger Slifer, Walt Simonson, Ron Wilson, and many, many others. And Howard the Duck turns barbarian in a cover painting by Frank Brunner! (Twomorrows Publishing)
Magazine, $6.95
Lee: As a 70’s Marvel guy, Gerber is one of my favorite writers. I wouldn’t miss this issue for anything.
Jim: This could be the exception to my passsing on most magizines, too often we fail to appreciate someone until after they have died.

Girls and Corpses 2009 Wall Calendar
Get ready for hot Girls and cold Corpses twelve months a year with the Girls and Corpses 2009 Calendar! The perfect gift for your pastor, cellmate, or parents - or even the calendar for your office! It's just that easy when you hang this beautiful glossy calendar on your wall, the perfect gift just in time for Corpsemas! (Rhine Ent) $12.95
Lee: Ummmm… just because.
Jim: I’m sure your wife will understand (LOL).

Illustration Magazine #2 (2nd printing)
This is the first magazine devoted exclusively to the fine art of illustration in America. This spectacular second issue features the art of Norman Saunders (creator of the Mars Attacks! and Wacky Packages cards) in the most in-depth and extensive article ever printed on this artist's work (written by his son, David Saunders). Also featured is the work of Frank Frazetta, Perry Peterson (a prominent and prolific magazine illustrator of the 1950s) and an interview with Russ Cochran on the history of comic art auctions and collecting. Book reviews, a gallery guide, and more round out the issue. Illustration is printed in full color throughout and features dozens of reproductions taken directly from the original art. (Illustration Magazine) (NOTE: See Norman Saunders artbook from Illustration Magazine located in the BOOKS SECTION.) Magazine, $15.00 Visit the site here which also has pdf’s of other issues and lots of previews.
Lee: And, if you ever want to read about ART, then pick this up. Illustration Magazine is a great read. Even if you don’t get this you should visit the site to learn more.
Jim: Again I defer to Lee on this material.

Lee: Overall, a very good month. And I can’t wait to get my new calendar!!!
Jim: There really is never a bad month with the Indies because we have so many publishers and such a wide variety to choose from.