Friday, October 31, 2008

Why My Love for the DCU is slowing Dying

So I was having an e-mail conversation with Lee where points out a blog post by Brian Hibbs that rips Secret Invasion and states a lot of things that I and many others have been saying. He then talks about DC’s Final Crisis and has some different things to say about them and goes on to point out the weakness in DC’s overall line. Basically after Grant Morrison and Geoff Johns, DC has no comic book line.
I thought about it and while I’m a big DC fan, he maybe right. So I took the DCU books from November and cut out Geoff Johns books and projects he is involved in and Grant Morrison books and what are we left with:

TRINITY - An enjoyable series that has some sparks of being very good, but basically a solid entertaining weekly read, but nothing more. Grade C


AMBUSH BUG YEAR NONE #5 – First issue was funny after that pretty forgettable. Grade D

EL DIABLO #3 – A mediocre book at best. Grade C.

VIXEN: RETURN OF THE LION #2 – An okay beginning. Grade B (being nice).

SECRET SIX #3 – Solid book, well written, great start. Grade A

TERRA #1-2 - TBD

TEEN TITANS #65 – Very uneven. Grade C.

TITANS #7 – Rough beginning. Grade D.

TERROR TITANS #2 – Okay start. Grade C.

RANN/THANAGAR: HOLY WAR #7 – Convoluted, but fun for an old DC fan. Grade C.

REIGN IN HELL #5 – Again for a die hard DC fan only and even then questionable. Grade C.






NIGHTWING #150 – Grade A


BATGIRL #5 - Grade C.

BATMAN: GOTHAM AFTER MIDNIGHT #7 – Grade B (but a very narrow audience)


ROBIN #180 – Grade C.

SIMON DARK #14 - Grade A – but again a narrow audience.

SUPERGIRL #35 – Grade C and only lately.




BIRDS OF PREY #124 - Grade B (barely, moving towards a C)

BLUE BEETLE #33 – Grade C (borderline B at times)

BOOSTER GOLD #14 – Grade C. The concept was a mini-series.

THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #19 – Grade C (Last two issue were horrible).


THE FLASH #246 – Grade D

JONAH HEX #37 – Grade A

MANHUNTER #36 – Grade B

GREEN ARROW/BLACK CANARY #14 – Grade D (use to be an “A” a few months back)


WONDER WOMAN #26 – Grade C

THE LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #48 – Grade B (sometimes a C)

Now realize Manhunter and Legion of Super Heroes have been cancelled. Flash is going on hiatus and rumors are Batman Confidential may bite the dust. Subtract the big three from that list of books (any books were they play a prominent role) and you have.






TERRA #1-2
















What you have left is one or two new super hero books that I would label as I would really miss (Secret Six and GL Corps). I love Simon Dark and Jonah Hex, but they could be Vertigo books just as easily. That is not much of a base and the mini-series are all pretty weak.

While I applaud DC in letting various books have their own stories and not be interrupted by Final Crisis I do want to know how the timeline plays out in broad strokes. Even if it would hurt Batman RIP or Trinity. At least put a footnote stating that these stories will come together after both story lines are concluded or something. While I do not need tight continuity it is like I’m reading about five different Superman characters within one month’s reading. The Superman in Action/Superman is one of them, the one in Superman/Batman is another; the one in JLA is a third, a fourth in Final Crisis and a fifth in Trinity. An editorial saying that there is a plan at least would be nice, but I get the feeling there is no plan.

I also get the feeling that the story editor they hired is not doing his job, why else are Busiek and Johns running down the road with one version of Hawkman and Starlin is fixing his past in another series. If Starlin has Hawkman pull him out of the other books. If Trinity is before Final Crisis and Rann/Thanagar is after Final Crisis let me know.

It does not have to be perfect. If Batman is holding a batrang in his left hand on page one and it is in his right hand on page two I can live with that. But if Batman is crazed and been so shattered he has left everything behind, then who the flock is running around in Trinity. In Superman/Batman Kryptonite is taken out of the equation, not mentioned anywhere else.

So DC looks like they are floundering and lost at times. They have a weak line of books absent Johns and Morrison projects. They have lost cohesion in the DCU, like I said it doesn’t have to tie together perfectly, but things are done in book A and no one every picks up on it (see James Robinson’s restart of Batman One Year Later and then see that work ignored).

DC has some great books and some great titles, but the universe needs to be pulled together and books need to have a rationale for existing and should have one to two years of plots laid out before launching a book (see Flash, BATO, WW, etc).

Fire Mike Carlin or Dan Didio or Paul Levitz (not Paul), but shake up something people or DC will be fighting Dark Horse and Image for market share as Marvel becomes half the market permanently (which is a bad thing for the industry).

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Marvel F**KS Their Fans Again

Dear Marvel,

I just purchased Astonishing X-Men Ghost Boxes #1 (of 2) from the store today. I’m a big fan of Warren Ellis’ writing and have been disappointed in the regular Astonishing X-Men book because while the concepts have been very cool and interesting the dialogue and artwork have killed the book for me. The concepts are great with the idea of a different type of mutant or mutants from alternative realities, the Chinese X-Men, all great ideas that can lead to the expansion of the number of mutants in the world and alleviate the problem of only 199 mutants being left. The dialogue and almost teen-age sexual drive that is running rampant does not feel like these characters. Then the art with the horrible poses and ink washes have made the book a muddled mess.

It was with great anticipation that I saw this little two issue mini-series was coming out and with Alan Davis (a favorite of mine) on the art chores I could maybe get back into this book. Of course the $3.99 price tag that you have for all mini-series does not please me, but for something special I can handle the extra buck.

Well I have to hand it to you, you F**KED me again, maybe someone can send me a kiss and at least it won’t feel like rape. It is only one half Alan Davis, but it is ONLY 16 PAGERS OF NEW STORY AND ART.

Let’s check the original online solicitation:

48 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99

Hey, I messed up it is clearly spelled out that Alan Davis is not the only pencil artist, but you said it was 48 pages and it is only a 32 page comic and ONLY 16 PAGES ON NEW ART for an EXTRA DOLLAR. The fill in is Warren Ellis’s script. Maybe a nice addition to the hard cover or trade down the road, but when you solicit the book you should have the decency to tell me you are producing 6 less pages of art and giving me a copy of Ellis’s script instead.

Marvel was 50% of all sales via Diamond for a recent month and you have been king of the hill for a long time. If I was running Marvel I would sign Joe Quesada to a three year extension of his contract and have a signing bonus, plus other incentives. He has done a great job of maintaining market share. The fact that he has lost some of my business is inconsequential compared to what he has done for the Marvel brand.

So whose decision is it then to F**K the customer? I mean you have raised the price of all your mini-series to $4 and DC hasn’t. Not even a stop over at $3.50 land, just a blatant money grab to go for the $4 price point. Then add insult to injury you cut down the amount of actual new material in this mini-series by six pages (27% of a regular comic) and charge us more.

You got me once, but issue #2 is staying on the racks at my store. I hope more people wake up and stop supporting these series, especially supporting something that is enriching you at a time when the economy is hurting most of your customer base.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Spotlight Review of Hexed #1 from BOOM Studios

Hexed #1 (of 4)
BOOM Studios
Writer: Michael Allan Nelson
Art: Emma Rios
Colors: Cris Peters
Coming this December

So BOOM Studios is putting the full court press on this book. I have seen Mark Waid conducting an in-house interview on Newsarama, which is always a fluff piece when the EIC is interviewing the book’s creators. I mean how hard hitting is that going to be? Then I see an early review is up on CBR and I know that Marketing and Sales director Chip Mosher is making the pitch to eveyone, and even small sites like this one to get reviews of Hexed out in the public as much as possible.

I have great empathy for BOOM and other small press companies, because for the most part every new comic they release has to be promoted to the hilt to try and get it noticed. You seldom have a built in audience and you are still establishing a core audience for the writers and/or artists as you usually do not have the “big name” talent on these books. But still I feel like there is an extra push and an extra emphasis being put on Hexed.

After reading issue #1 I know why I feel that way and it is because BOOM has a book that by all rights should be a hit comic series. Listen ever book BOOM puts out they try and make it the best they can, but we all know in our jobs, when playing sports or meeting a certain girl, when it all clicks, when you start the swing and you know you have hit the ball spot on. It is that type of feeling that Hexed generates. The writer has crafted a great story and the artwork not only captures the essence of the character and the story, she defines it and makes a great story even better.

Emma Rios has a fluid style and a light line that has a real natural quality to it. It is not heavily realistic, but it is not in the animated cartoon style either. She conveys both the underside and darkness that inhabits this book and still conveys the beauty and charm of the lead character Lucifer. She gives life and personality to everyone she draws. Check out the couple pages of art to see what I mean. She has the technical skills to tell a story and the artistic skill to make you want to stop and just admire the art.

The story is also excellent. I know Lucifer (full name Luci Jenifer Inacio Das Neves) from the Fall of Cthulhu books, but in reading this book I did not need any of that background. She is a thief and a con artist who has a dark and mysterious past. She has had to be on her own for a long period of time and has done things that most people could not have done or come out alive or sane on the other side. Some of this I intuiting from Fall of Cthulhu, but its all here in issue #1.

The magic type material in both Marvel and DC has been on the back burner or just doesn’t seem to work anymore. Ellis has been trying with Gravel as a combat magician, but Hexed gets it right and brings magic back into comics. Lucifer has to make deals with various devils to try and get by in the world and the first deal we are getting a glimpse of is a pretty nasty piece of work. What she has to do to just get started on her task at the end of this issue is enough to make your skin crawl.

Overall Grade A

Hexed is a four part mini-series and hopefully just the first in a series of mini-series. You better make sure you tell your store to order it as it is due out in December and you don’t want to miss it. Lucifer is a magician for the 21st century and this book is well worth the price of entry.

In fact I’ll give this book the Comics And… guarantee. Buy issue #1 and if you don’t like it mail it to me with a receipt from your store and a 50 word essay on what was wrong with it and I’ll send you the cover price of the book. GOOD ONLY FOR THE FIRST 25 CUSTOMERS AND ONE TO A CUSTOMER!

Hexed is what Dr. Fate and Dr. Strange could only hope to be, young, sexy and dangerous and living in an unseen world.

“Punk Rock and Trailer Parks” by Derf

It’s not often that a book strikes enough cords for me to review it here. Jim, Gwen, and Thomm do enough reviews that another one isn’t needed by me. I enjoy providing the irritating sidebars that starts a lively discussion or just… well irritate people.

But this week I read “Punk Rock and Trailer Parks” by Derf and, as silly as this sounds, it spoke to me. Let me cut the snotty comments off at the pass, not like “little voices spoke to me”, more like “I remember being in the same situations as the characters” spoke to me.

The story is about a group of seniors in High School near Akron Ohio in the late 70’s, and how their lives intersect with the local Punk Rock scene. The ‘main man’ is Otto Pizcok, the typical nerdy, Tolkien quoting, band geek who finds local punk music scene and finds himself as the same time. This sounds like a cheesy rehash of a million other coming of age stories but this one is different. This one involves punk music!

It all starts when a couple of guys need a ride to the show one night. The only person willing to take them to the show is Otto. After the show, Otto is completely enthralled with punk music and the local scene, becoming an immediate fan of both. Because of his size, Otto is hired as a bouncer at the club, and the rest of the book involves Otto’s encounters with Punk music. Otto manages to experience everything from bowling with punk rock stars, arguing music politics with a critic, to drug crazed band mates.

For me, two things really set this story apart from all those other coming of age stories, humor and punk music. Most coming of age stories involve some tragic event that forces the person to grow up, or come to terms with themselves, or their mortality. This story doesn’t have that tragic event. It’s just a person growing up as an outcast and being very happy there. That’s what made the story so memorable for me. Otto was an outcast but he never cared that he was. In fact, Otto relished his outsider status and felt sorry for those on the inside.

Otto’s relishing his outsider status brought back many happy memories of my own high school life. I was very much the outsider and I thoroughly enjoyed my place outside of the system. I was friends with the jocks, and geeks, and art nerds, but I still hung out with the “pit-sters” who smoked in between classes. I was the smart kid that listened to “that kind of music.”

I remember finding unity in my music with others. When Otto rails against the corporate radio stations and “how can people listen to that crap by Journey”, I remember saying the same things. I may have said it about Poison and Bon Jovi but it’s the same thing. When Otto goes to the football game and proceeds to talk to loudly about how much the team sucks and how hypocritical the fans are, I had flashbacks to my own days in the bleachers.

I really enjoyed the music portions of the story too. I may have grown up on Heavy Metal but it’s roots lie in the punk rock scene. The rebelliousness of the punk scene was no different then the music that I listened too. Derf did a great job of having Otto encounter some of the great band of the punk movement including the Ramones and the Clash.

Derf manages to capture all the elements that make high school so awkward. At the same time, he captures all the elements that make music such a unifying element for kids. This is an excellent graphic novel and a must read for fans of the punk music, or any alternative music for that matter.

You can see a 14 page preview here

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Best to Worst of Last Week

I was going to do a full blown review of Strangers in Paradise (Pocket Book #1), but over 340 pages of work by Terry Moore included so many things that I did not think I could do it justice. Still the complex love triangle of Francine, Katchoo and David is one hell of a good story. The involved background of Katchoo was a surprise to me and this book is never 100% what you expect it to be. Also it is a totally different book then Echo, but it is still well written and great art. Moore seemed to be a different artist back then, with heavy use of inks and a lot more use of blacks. Finally Echo feels like a story that is already completed with a beginning, middle and end. Strangers in Paradise feels like more of it is being created on the fly. I have now picked up Volume 2 and I highly recommend Volume 1.

Superman New Krypton Special #1 – Writes Geoff Johns, James Robinson & Sterling Gates, Pencils Gary Frank, Pete Woods & Renato Guedes, Inks Jon Sibal, Pete Woods & Wilson Magahaes, Colors Hi-Fi. What a great issue of Superman setting up this current story line. With Geoff Johns and James Robinson at the helm of the two Superman titles we appear to be in a renaissance period. This story picks up with the death of Jonathan Kent and the funeral. The touching scene of Clark on the floor of the barn obviously distraught while going through the things he and his father had put aside was highly emotional. This issue also incorporated the Jimmy Olsen special, showed that Brainiac is still a menace to contend with and showed just how dangerous having 100,000 super people will be for the world. It was sometimes subtle and other times overt, but it appears to me that there is some question as to the mental status of these Kryptonians and they have a definite sense of superiority. The conflict with Lois and her sister Lucy was also nicely done. We also get the shock ending that Lois’ Dad is alive and behind a unit that was tasked with killing Superman or at least being ready for it. Add to that Lex being recruited by General Lane and you have the beginning for one hell of a great arc in the Superman titles over the next couple of months.

Final Crisis #4 (of 7) - Writer Grant Morrison, Art JG Jones, Carlos Pacheco & Jesus Merino, Colors Alex Sinclair. This was a very cool issue. The Earth has fallen like never before and is being turned into Apokolips. The main story is being narrated by Detective Turpin who we discover is being possessed and/or turned into Darkseid. This was a powerful issue as we see the anti-life equation has taken over most of the planet. We find that heroes have gathered at six Watchtowers around the world trying to hold back the evil that is taking over the planet. We see Barry and Wally have a touching if brief reunion, we see Black Canary have to say good bye to Green Arrow as he covers her and others escape. We see Iris Allen taken over by the anti-life equation only to be freed by a kiss from Barry Allen. At the end we see Detective Turpin lose his battle and become Darkseid. DC could have easily let this take over their entire line of books and allowed all the rest of the DCU come to a crashing halt. It was a bold move to not do so and how this book is ultimately incorporated into the DCU will be interesting to see. Still despite the art woes and other headaches this series has had the internet all buzzing about, so far this stands as a very well done series that will be one I want to read again.

Scalped #22 – Writer Jason Aaron, Art R.M. Guera, Colors Giulla Brusco. This issue again focuses on Red Crow and we flashback to 35 years ago when he lead a group of activists. Red Crow discovers evidence that leads him to believe that they have an FBI informant inside of his group. Red Crow determines who it is and kills the man with his bare hands. In the present day story line Red Crow is trying to live a better life to help Gina Bad Horse soul cross-over as he has been entrusted with her soul bag. He also is given information that his organization may have an FBI spy planted in is organization (and we know that is Dash Bad-Horse). The story flashes back and forth and shows some of the repercussions of what Red Crow did then to what life is like today. This is an incredibly powerful series and really deserves to be collected in a hard cover format. This is Jason Aaron’s best work.

Daredevil #112 – Writer Ed Brubaker, Art Michael Lark & Stefano Gaudiano, Colors Matt Hollingsworth. This issue was very strong and read very fast, yet conveyed a ton of information and moved the plot forward at a good clip. Dakota wakes in Matt’s bedroom and instantly regrets last night’s decision. As she looks for Matt she sees he is being arrested. She ultimately gets to the police station and provides Matt with an alibi for the murders he was framed for with that occurred last night. Of course that means admitting to or at least insinuating they slept together. Lady Bullseyes’ plan is being slowly revealed as we see she is testing Tarantula and Iron Fist. The issue ends with an odd man showing up at Matt’s townhouse asking for Matt’s help in destroying the hand. Ed has done a good job on Daredevil for the most part, but has now moved up his game up on this book to very good or even great lately.

Criminal #6 – Writer Ed Brubaker, Art Sean Phillips, Colors Val Staples. “Bad Night” has been my favorite story so far in this series (including volume 1). This issue Iris and Jacob dump the dead body of Iris’ boy-friend and clean up everything as well as they can. Iris and Jacob decide to split up for awhile until things die down. Jacob gets a knock on his door from a police Detective who could never prove Jacob killed his wife. He has evidence that is linking Jacob to a dead FBI agent. Jacob gets worried and tracks down Iris, only to find she is in cahoots with the Detective and the whole score was planned to be a cross and a double cross.
Samurai Legend #2 (of 4) – Writer Jean-Francois Di Giorgio, Art Frederic Genet, Colors Delphine Rieu. This book is what you would expect from a Samurai story or at least what I expect. A solo trek across the country turns into a mission to save a young girl. That girl turns into a key to a mystery that could take down an Empire. It also contains lots of sword fights and plenty of action and some great characterization. Add in some terrific artwork and you have an excellent comic.

Final Crisis Submit – Writer Grant Morrison, Pencils Matthew Clark, Inks Norm Rapmund, Rob Hunter and Don Ho, Colors Tanya and Richard Horie. I read this after Final Crisis #4, which is out of order, but it did not hurt the story. Grant gives us a great little spotlight by showing us the Earth as it exist since Darkseid has won. He does this by focusing on one hero Black Lighting who is apparently acting as news carrier as the printed word is the only way to keep the free people informed. Black Lighting ends up helping to save Tattoo Man and his family. Tattoo Man realizes that there is no good guy versus bad guy anymore; it is humanity fighting for its existence. So while Black Lighting is captured and turned into a justifier, the Tattoo Man carries on the message Black Lighting was delivering. The art was good, but they drew Black Lighting way too young given he has two grown daughters. This story was another one to put in the plus column for Final Crisis.

Challenger Deep #3 (of 4) – Story Andrew Cosby & Andy Schmidt, Script Andy Schmidt, Art Chee, Colors Andrew Dalhouse. This is just a great action/adventure story. This issue they get to the sub and just as time runs out he deactivates the missiles and saves the day. Unfortunately turmoil inside the sub sends the sub over the side of an oversea cliff and the missile timer resets to 12 hours. This is a very enjoyable tightly plotted and fast paced adventure.

Hellblazer #248 – Writer Andy Diggle, Art Leonardo Manco, Colors Lee Loughridge. This issue sets up the finale of Andy Diggle’s run. John takes out Mako and Lord Burnham and sets them up in a trap for all eternity. Afterwards John is musing things are going along way too smoothly and looks up Chas to go out drinking with. He has an epiphany and comes back to her hotel room and yells at the mirror saying that he is onto him. I have no clue who that is, but next issue should be good.

Echo #7 – By Terry Moore. This issue as this was more of a character building chapter of the story and a slow paced one at that. Oddly enough that does not bother me with this book as I’m not looking at this to be an action/adventure type pace, but more of a drama or a novel type pace. We do get some good scenes showing Ivy Raven tracking Julie down and a funny scene with a guard monkey. Also the man who has another part of the suit is out roaming the highways and maybe coming after Julie to get more of the suit.

Batman Gotham After Midnight #6 (of 12) – Writer Steve Niles, Art Kelley Jones, Colors Michelle Madsen. This was a wild tale of the Joker and Midnight teaming up to try and take down Batman. Instead once they have succeeded they argue amongst themselves and leave Batman an opening to take them down and save the day. This series reminds me a little of the Longest Halloween and Steve Niles is taking us on a tour of Batman’s rogues gallery and letting Kelly Jones just cut loose.

Captain America #43 – Writer Ed Brubaker, Pencils Luke Ross, Inks Fabio Laguna, Colors Frank D’Armata. A good issue of Captain America and one that has starting to like Bucky as Captain America. It was recently I said that Ed had not hooked me onto Bucky being Cap and this issue delivered a story that is starting to make me hope that Steve Rogers is as dead as any comic book character can be. It was done as a flashback of a WWII adventure and the current time story where Bucky stumbles onto a robbery by Batroc and fails to stop him from stealing some data. The bad guys discover the new Cap is the former Winter Soldier and I get the sense the WWII story and Bucky’s Winter Soldier years and his new identity as Cap are all going to collide in this story. Luke Ross is the artist on this arc and while his art is decent, it is a step down from Epting and Guice.

Rest #1 – Writer Mark Powers, Illustrated by Shawn McManus & Lizzy John. The zero issue was all set-up and a little background, but this issue served the exact same purpose, which I guess is okay, but it felt a little redundant. I’m still waiting to go into the deeper part of what this story will be about. The idea of a drug that can make you stay awake 24/7 is crazy enough, but it apparently it increases your stamina and makes you better in other ways. You know there has to be a downside and we are shown two pages of a crazed killer who may have been another guinea pig for the drug. This was still a very good start and lots of intrigue and plenty of mysteries to get the series off to a good start. The crux of the story is John’s (the central character) old college friend and roommate recruits him to be another volunteer to take Rest. What was very impressive is how they made this story so current by having the radio having a news story playing about the $700 billion bailout plan. I’m guessing that gimmick will be used again, but it is a very cool idea to make the comic set firmly in today.

Invincible #54 – Writer Robert Kirkman, Pencils Ryan Ottley, Inks Cliff Rathburn, Colors FCO Plascencia. I enjoyed this issue a lot. Invincible has his first real date with Atom Eve. Right as the date begins a glowing portal opens up next to them and Mark is taken into the future. He is taken to a future where Immortal has gone crazy after being alone all these years running Earth for Mark’s Empire. Mark stops Immortal and tells the guys from the future how to keep him from coming back to life. Mark is upset over what he learns about what he may become. Thanks to the magic of time travel he comes back right when he left and after a little soul searching with Eve their date resumes and ends with each professing love for the other. I like the occasional happy ending. Invincible has been an excellent series again, after the slight malaise that hit this book.

Unknown Soldier #1 – Writer Joshua Dysart, Art Alberto Ponticelli, Colors Oscar Celestini. A good beginning to this new Vertigo series. It did not knock my socks off like Madam Xandu, but it has definitely grabbed my interest. The central character is a Dr. Lwanga Moses, whose family fled from Uganda and then raised Lwanga in the USA. He becomes a Harvard trained medical doctor and has gone back to Uganda and has a beautiful wife Sera who is also a doctor from Uganda. The timeframe is 2002 and the violence in Northern Uganda and the amount of displaced persons is extraordinarily high. Many of the details of the story are based on facts, once we get into what ever is happening to Lwanga is obviously not based on fact. It appears the soul of the Unknown Soldier possesses him. This possession is causing nightmares and Dr. Moses to be able to take decisive and violent action in order to save his life. It is also causing Lwanga Moses to question his sanity.
Fear Agent #24 I Against I (PT 3 of 6) – Main Feature Writer Rick Remender, Pencils Tony Moore, Inks John Lucas, Colors Lee Loughridge. I felt cheated by this book as the book is late and the main story has been cut down to just being the lead feature and was only 14 pages long. The 14 pages were good and we get to see Heath’s father now show up after Heath and Charlotte have reconciled, but you also have this feeling none of this world is real The back up feature was worthless and boring, it was not a good Fear Agent story at all.

Aethheric Mechanics GN – Writer Earren Ellis, Pencils Gianluca Pagliarani, Inks Chris Dreier. A good read, but essentially a single idea that wrapped up way too quickly. The idea is that a bunch of different books were made into what this scientists assumed is now the real world. In that world Sherlock Holmes (called a different name for copyright rules) figures out what is going on and he is told he is not real and is a fictional character. His ego can’t stand the idea so he kills the scientist who was going to set things right. It should be pointed out that England was being destroyed by an invading force and this scientist would have saved England from that fate. The ending was so quick, that it left me feeling Ellis had this idea, but did not want to take it that far and ended it the way Ellis ends many books with killing someone.

Birds of Prey #123 - Writer Tony Bedard, Pencils Michael O’Hare, Inks John Floyd, Colors Hi-Fi. This is still a good read, but I really do not like Platinum Flats as their headquarters. The confrontation with the Joker did not really occur as the Joker thought of Babs as a tech in a wheelchair and did not realize she was Gordon’s daughter until later. The Birds pick up the calculator and are going to use him as bait to draw out the bad guys, but the calculator is using them to set up a trap. As he springs his trap, the Joker realizes who Babs is and turns around to go after her. A good set-up up for what should be the concluding chapter next issue.

Ultimate Spider-Man #127 – Writer Brian Bendis, Pencils Stuart Immonen, Inks Wade Von Grawbadger, Colors Justin Ponsor. The one problem I have with this book is keeping Peter Parker so young, but the book itself is usually a quick and entertaining read. Of course the series has been blessed with having only two artists and both have been excellent for this book. In this issue we see Carnage (who takes the form of Gwen Stacy) escaping from custody. She ends up at Peter’s house and now he has to deal with her. At the same time Eddie is threatening to expose Peter if he doesn’t get him the Venom suit again.

Noble Causes #37 – Writer Jay Faerber, Art Yildiray Cinar, Colors Jacob Baake. I can’t believe this series is ending in three more issue as I have really been enjoying it. If Jay Faerber is being straight that the series is ending as he has nothing else to say about the characters, then I can live with that. But if the sales are good enough, he should hire a writer to take it over. The main story this issue was the fight between Invincible and Slate. The question was Slate fighting Invincible over jealousy about his wife liking Invincible or to help his sister escape from Invincible.

Trinity #21 – 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 Owens, Colors Allen Passalaqua. This issue we get to see what happened to the “new” trinity and we find out that it did not work out like they had planned as Despero was really Kanjar Ro. This causes Morgana and Enigma to be very powerful, but not connected to the source of power like they had planned to be. A nice unexpected twist and the front story gave us a quick origin of Morgana and Enigma. The back-up has Firestorm going to John Stewart for help in trying to set things right and we find out John has some techno organic thing in him that takes most of his will power to hold in.

Blue Beetle #32 – Writer Matthew Sturges, Art Andre Coelho, Color Guy Major. Blue Beetle, his Dad and Traci hunt down some of the guys who were used by Intergang as human test for a drug that gives someone powers and then kills them. The current Dr. Polaris goes off on a long diatribe while recruiting two henchmen that gives us his origin. A decent issue but still the overall plot to this arc is being dragged out too much. Also the political view being espoused about why the illegal immigrants are just poor people trying to find work was a little preachy. At least it makes sense given Jamie is of Hispanic descent and lives in El Paso, Texas that this issue would be front and center.

Zombie Tales #6 – Writers Monte Cook, Ian Brill and Pierluigi Cothran, Art Jeremy Rock, Toby Cypress & Todd Herman. Another three short Zombie Tales. Headshot was cute, but I say the ending coming a mile away. I Don’t Like Henry Crave was very enjoyable and a nice unique take on using a zombie. Devil Dogs was a really odd tribute band. This was a solid read and a good anthology book.
Wildcats #4 – Writer Christos Gage, Art Neil Googe, Colors Carrie Strachan. Back-UP Writer Christos Gage, Art Pete Woods, Colors Carrie Strachan. This issue we find out that some character named Tumbleweed is behind the forest being grown in the middle of nowhere. He can only do that trick around where he is and if he leaves the forest would die. Looking back over this two issue arc it was a wasted story as the overall plot was not advanced at all. I found the back-up to be meaningless also as I have no clue who Cybernary is and could care that she is confronting her father in a duel to the death.

X-Men Legacy #217 – Original Sin Part 2 – Writer Mike Carey, Pencils Scot Eaton, Inks Andrew Hennessy, Colors Jason Keith with Nathan Eyring and Rain Beredo. Instead of getting anywhere with what “really happened” between Wolverine and Professor X when Wolverine first joined the X-Men, we get a lot of Draken. Also we see Ms. Sinister acting very feminine and I believe Mr. Sinister was just reborn as a woman. The Hellfire Club and Shaw’s machinations to retake power seem to be the main story line at this point. The whole story is not working and a promising prologue has fallen flat.

Wolverine Manifest Destiny #1 (of 4) – Writer Jason Aaron, Art Stephen Segovia, Colors John Rauch. Jason Aaron is one of my favorite writers and for that alone I tried this mini-series. I find I amusing from a marketing standpoint that Marvel labels almost everything something, so I have no idea what “Manifest Destiny” is supposed to be about in all the X-books, but it appears this should be a stand alone story. It opens as pretty much as a standard fare story with Wolverine lately. Now that he has his memories he goes back to stuff to set things right, but it is still all cloaked in mystery to us. The set-up Wolverine goes into Chinatown in San Fran gets in a big fight and some girl he hung with from 50 years ago shows up with a big gun pointed at Wolverine. She of course is older, while Wolverine is not. Nothing really new or different here.

Secret Invasion #7 (of 8) - Writer Brian Bendis, Pencil Lenil Yu, Inks Mark Morales, Colors Laura Martin & Emily Warren. The entire book was one massive fight scene. It had a few nice moments such as Clint Barton picked up a bow and arrow and apparently shoots and kills the Skrull Queen. But essentially one massive fight scene where it was often difficult to tell who was who. What this issue showed me is the power of George Perez and his pencils. Lenil Yu’s massive fight scenes did not look good and Perez would have made this a killer book. I’m now convinced that Yu was the wrong choice for the artist on this book. It ended with whatever was given to the Wasp being activated by the Skrulls and she is now radiating some force that is causing pain to all the good guys. As always these event books live and die or how it ends.

Tangent Superman’s Reign #8 (OF 12) – Main Story Writer: Dan Jurgens, Pencils Wes Craig, Inks Dan Davis, Colors Kanila Tripp. Back-Up Writer Ron Marz, Pencils Andy Tong, Inks Mark McKenna, Colors Dom Regan. This series is falling apart a little in my opinion. First off the strong art team has been replaced by talent I have never heard of before and while they are competent, they are not as strong as the art was in the beginning. The Tangent Superman shows up on “New Earth” (I prefer Earth-1) and fights the New Earth Superman. The Tangent Superman destroys the White House and then moves on from there. We have the heroes from both Earths trying to figure out how to stop the Tangent Superman and in the back up story we see an underground organization trying to overthrow the Tangent Government. This series would have been better just being about the Tangent Universe and maybe one or two guest starts from New Earth. This series seems obsessed with showing us the same named heroes side by side so we can see how different the TU is.

Ghost Rider Danny Ketch #1 (of 5) – Writer Simon Spurrier, Pencils Javier Saltares, Inks Tom Palmer, Colors Dan Brown. This issue is all set-up and begins with Danny Ketch roaming around being a drunken and a brawler. Apparently since the curse was exorcised from Danny he has been lost and he wants to be the Ghost Rider again. I’m not sure how this plays into the regular Ghost Rider book except as a prelude. I’ll hand out for one more issue and then may drop it.

New Avengers #46 – Writer Brian Bendis, Pencils Billy Tan, Inks Matt Banning, Colors Justin Ponsor. The Hood and his band of super villains discover skrulls in Shield. They are not sure how to use this information and the Hood goes off to contemplate what to do. He confronts a mirror and asks the source of his power to reveal who it is. We find out it is Dormammu the Dr. Strange villain. This shock just bored me to tears, as certain villains belong with certain characters and Dormammu works best as a straight up Dr. Strange bad guy. This also feels let a set up for future stories and so far is limited in how it ties to Secret Invasion.

Thunderbolts #125 - Writer Christos Gage, Art Fernando Blanco, Color Frank Martin. Mercifully this cross-over is over. It does have the odd happenstance of having almost the same pages from Secret Invasion #7 being drawn in this book so I guess we see the villain perspective. Thunderbolts went from a very good to a very mediocre book very fast. If Andy Diggle was not coming on as writer next issue I would have canceled this book.

I’m really thinking about dropping the two new Marvel mini-series I started this week, as Marvel has decided to price all their mini-series at $3.99 per issue and not $2.99. So dropping the Wolverine and Ghost Rider book saves me $28 in cover price. If Marvel wants to up the price point to $3.99 then the mini-series needs to be extra special and neither of these two really fit that description. Hell I just talked myself into it. GHOST RIDER DANNY KETCH AND WOLVERINE MANIFEST DESTINY CANCELLED!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Spotlight Review Punisher Trade Paperback Valley Forge, Valley Forge

Punisher Valley Forge, Valley Forge – Trade Paperback
Publisher Marvel
Writer Garth Ennis
Art Goran Parlov
Colors Lee Loughridge

I have picked up the Punisher Max run by Garth Ennis as trades and have sent them on, but I have loved the series so much I have also picked up the 12 issues deluxe hard covers for my own bookshelf. It was with a little bit of sadness that I finally got around to reading Valley Forge, Valley Forge, as this was Ennis’ swan song on the Max Punisher (who is essentially in his own little corner of the Marvel Universe). This is not the same Punisher in any other book this is the “real” Punisher.

By saying he is the real Punisher, Garth has crafted a portrait of a hard man who has transcended himself and become a living legend among the underworld and intelligence operations. He is one of the more real feeling characters under Ennis pen in then almost any other “super hero”. Frank looks and feels like he could be 50/60 years old and just a mean big nasty tough as nails son of a b*tch who can take down any operation and fight off any bad guys.

Seminal runs are rare in comics. The medium has a seventy year history and I would be hard pressed to name more then two dozen or so seminal runs. So a true seminal run has to define a character in ways the character has never been defined before or create a character and define them in such a way that it will always be looked at as a shining moment in the character’s history . Garth Ennis’ sixty issues on the Punisher is a seminal run. This character has been defined like never before. You can feel and understand Frank’s harsh set of morals. You feel Frank’s anger, lack of remorse, hate, sense of loss and even that tiny spark of humanity. Frank Castle can walk out of the book and you would know him and be able to talk to him, since you know him so well. When you look back at all the Punisher stories and go over all his history in comics, you can throw it all away and just read these books and you have what Frank Castle is and will be in my mind for a very long time. Thank you Garth for giving us this portrayal of this character.

I guess you know by now that I liked Valley Forge, Valley Forge a lot. It tied together almost the entire run and put a nice bow on it, by using the site where Frank met death in Viet Nam as the center piece (Valley Forge). The story is simple enough as Frank ultimately takes out some generals who as part of the military industrial complex that had it in for Frank for f**king up a lot of their plans. It is the emotional content of the story that will always stay with me. Frank hates the killing, but feels doomed to be a part of it. He is not scared of dying, but he will not go gently into the good night. Frank believes in right and wrong and not the law. Frank Castle maybe classified as an anti-hero, but in some ways he is the hero for doing what we can not or will not do.

Valley Forge, Valley Forge – AN ABSOLUTE “A” as was the entire run.

What I’m Getting Wednesday

I’m going to comment on the economy again because I do not want anyone to get complacent and think that we have put the worse behind us, because we have not. Easy credit is one reason we are in this mess, continuing to make credit easy is not a solution to get out of this mess. Rewarding companies that screwed up with government back guarantees is backasswards. If a business fails, let it fail. Yes the pain and consequences will be harsh and severe, but what is the plus in delaying the inevitable. Printing more and more money does nothing but devalue our currency and feed into inflation. If yesterday you had $10 and tomorrow you have $20, it is meaningless if bread is now three times higher then what it was. If I had a lot of money I would be moving it out of this country into a numbered Swiss bank account and making sure it was not in dollars. Remember this collapse is not a failure of capitalism, it is a failure of a debt driven economy and eventually debt must be repaid. Hang onto your hats boys and girls because the ride has just begun and neither Presidential candidate has a clue how to fix it.

The books I looking forward to the most:

Hellboy in the Chapel of Moloch – Mike Mignola writing and drawing a one-shot on Hellboy – what is not to love? The Migolaverse is a place I always enjoy visiting and to see Mike on the drawing board again is a special treat. The company line “On the heels of the second Hellboy feature film, legendary artist and Hellboy creator Mike Mignola returns to the drawing table for this standalone adventure of the world's greatest paranormal detective! Hellboy investigates an ancient chapel in Eastern Europe where an artist compelled by something more sinister than any muse has sequestered himself to complete his "life's work."”

Thor #11 – JMS has me looking forward to this book all the time, but the lag time between issues is becoming worrisome. I hope he is not leaving the series. The word “As Thor ventures further beyond the walls of the Shining City into Midgard, the sinister Loki begins to tip her deceitful hand. In spite of her promise to reform since being restored to life by the God of Thunder, Loki’s insidious moves against Balder, Thor, and the rest of Asgard start bearing poisonous fruit.”

Final Crisis Rage of the Red Lanterns #1 – Geoff Johns is setting up “Blackest Night” which is fast approaching, how that ties to FC is beyond me, but Johns on GL stuff is something I would always look forward to reading. The hype “The prelude to "The Blackest Night" begins here! They come from a place of great anger and hatred. They are the Red Lanterns and they will have their revenge against the greatest Green Lantern - Sinestro. That is, unless the Guardians have theirs first."

Joker Original Graphic Novel Hard Cover – The hype “In the all-new, hardcover original graphic novel JOKER, writer Brian Azzarello (100 BULLETS) and artist Lee Bermejo (HELLBLAZER covers) – the creative team behind the acclaimed miniseries LEX LUTHOR: MAN OF STEEL – show an even darker and more disturbing side to the most dangerous man in Gotham: The Joker.After yet another stint in Arkham Asylum, The Joker finds "his city" divided among mobsters and costumed villains. Not content to settle for a piece of the pie, The Joker vows to take back the whole damn enchilada by any means necessary. Look for appearances by a slew of Gotham's most wanted, including gritty takes on Two-Face, Riddler, Killer Croc, Penguin, Harley Quinn and even Batman! Not since THE KILLING JOKE have you seen such a powerful tale of The Joker – you won't want to miss this one!” I enjoyed the Lex Luthor mini-series and I believe Azz is okay in the super hero world telling tales of the villains.

Madam Xanadu #5 – In the span of five issues this has become my one of my favorite series. Matt Wagner’s story is so much fun as he uses the regular DCU all the time and weaves it into Madam Xanadu’s origin story. Amy Reeder Handley’s art is just breathtaking and beautiful. The word “Madame Xanadu returns to Europe as mystic advisor to Marie Antoinette, and as political tensions begin to boil, the Phantom Stranger makes his return. This time he seeks to kick-start the revolution and ensure that Paris's streets run red – a blood sacrifice that will keep certain demonic forces at bay. Interfering in this cruelty, Madame Xanadu discovers that the price of saving others may be her own immortality.”

Garth Ennis Battlefields Night Witches #1 (of 3) – Ennis writes some of the best war stories I have ever read. His work in this area is phenomenal. Check out War Stories Volume 1 and Volume 2 from DC to see what I mean. The company line “Late summer, 1942. As the German army smashes deep into Soviet Russia and the defenders of the Motherland retreat in disarray, a new bomber squadron arrives at a Russian forward airbase. Its crews will fly flimsy wooden biplanes on lethal night missions over the German lines, risking fiery death as they fling themselves against the invaders - but for these pilots, the consequences of capture will be even worse. For the pilots of the 599th Night Bomber Regiment are women! In the deadly skies of the Eastern Front, amidst the carnage of the Great Patriotic War, they will become a legend known, to friend and foe alike, as the Night Witches.”

That is just what looks to be the crème de la crème of my list, the rest of the list is below.

Checkmate #31 – The final issue in this series and it should have been cancelled after Rucka left the book six issues ago as it was apparent no one had a clue what to do with this concept. What’s inside “All the pieces on the Checkmate board have converged on China. Is it the end of the world as we know it in this series finale issue? Or will Chimera save the day?”

Ferryman #2 (of 5) – The first issue was interesting seeing the Ferryman find his fare and then deliver him to the devil. Last issue the Ferryman tried to quit, but the devil told him he can’t quit. The company line “In issue #2, Ferryman Gideon Thorne won't let a little thing like being dead keep him from getting a job done, because when you're a Ferryman, failure is not an option. The question is: who's his target . . . and who is Thorne really working for?”

Jack of Fables #27 – This arc has been one of my favorites with the focus being on the Paige sisters. Plus the Bookburner is headed to town. The hype “Hillary Page is the gal who stole away to Americana to find her father and ended up kicking Jack Horner square in the tacklebox. Now she's held captive with no hope of escape, and it looks like all of the good guys are about to be murdered by a malicious ovoid and a camel. Can Jack save the day?”

Justice League of America #26 – Last issue we left off in the middle of the convoluted story involving Vixen and Animal Man. What’s inside “The JLA stands helpless against the power of Anansi, the African spider god who has warped their histories. Vixen makes her final stand, brokering a deal with the powerful villain. But will she be forced to sacrifice the JLA and Animal Man? Or does her last-ditch effort mean something far worse.”

Legion of Super Heroes #47 – I’m bummed out that this series is ending with #50. This incarnation of the Legion had the shortest lifespan. It is sad to realize we will not have a Legion book on the stands after this series ends. Hopefully another re-launch will be forthcoming. The hype “While war looms and a traitor plots against the Legion, Brainiac 5, whose dreams are haunted by the ghost of Dream Girl, seeks help from a spiritualist. It all leads to supernatural possession, savage action and…a marriage proposal! Introducing the marvelous Meander, mistress of the mysterious!”

Northlanders #11 – Looking forward to this next arc, as each arc focuses on a new person and we are not locked into one central character. The word “A new Northlanders epic kicks off here! Taking place during the tail end of Viking rule in Ireland, a series of mysterious murders and arsons against wealthy citizens leaves the Viking occupiers worried that a potential uprising might ignite. When surprising details involving the crimes are revealed, though, their jobs become much harder.”

Rann Thanagar Holy War #6 (of 8) – This series with the one-shots, has been going on for close to a year. I also find it amusing that Starlin is revamping Hawkman’s history but Busiek and Johns are writing him like he has been since Johns brought him back. The company line “The opposing forces of Lady Styx and Synnar threaten to tear Rann apart as Styx's fleet enters the planet's airspace and Synnar establishes his basecamp on the surface. Is there anything that Adam Strange can do to stop the tides of war from engulfing his adopted home planet? Or is it too late for him and his galactic allies to win the day?”

Reign in Hell #4 (of 8) – An eight part series for this type of story feels too long and I think six issues would have been better. I’m not vested in either side in this battle andin that way it reminds me of out current US election. What’s inside “A "Sightings" tale! It's the unlikely return of a major character as a mysterious prisoner is discovered during the war between Neron and Lord Satanus. Also, prolonged exposure to Hell begins to take an unexpected toll on the DCU heroes who have been forced into the underworld.”

Superman #681 – The first chapter in “New Krypton” was excellent and I’m looking forward to the rest of this story a lot. The hype “"New Krypton" Part 2! Picking up directly from SUPERMAN: NEW KRYPTON SPECIAL #1, 100,000 Kryptonians have descended on Earth. But their introduction to the world follows a bumpy road, and humans and Kryptonians alike are wary of one another. Meanwhile, Clark must say goodbye to a long-standing member of his supporting cast while the threat behind Atlas makes his next move against the Man of Steel!”

Superman/Batman #53 – This writing team has been doing a great job on this book and while this series does not seem to impact regular continuity, the stories are entertaining and well done. The company line “Superman's powers leap into the body of The Dark Knight! Now Batman contains the incredible abilities of a Kryptonian while the Man of Steel stands powerless. How will they adjust physically and psychologically to these bizarre changes? Part 1 of the 4-part "Super/Bat," featuring art by Rags Morales (IDENTITY CRISIS).”

Superman / Batman vs Vampires and Werewolves #2 (of 6) – The first issue was a surprise to me as I guess I had limited expectations. Tom Mandrake’s art and the story line have me looking forward to issue #2. The word “A man is killed by a mysterious creature – his body drained of blood. A woman is savagely attacked by a ferocious beast – her jugular ripped out. Bat wings flutter across the moon and the howl of a wolf echoes through the streets, for the creatures of the night have risen from the grave, and humanity's only salvation is the combined might of The Last Son of Krypton and The Dark Knight Detective. Blood will run red when Superman and Batman face off against vampires and werewolves for the fate of the entire DCU!”

Superman/Batman Search For Kryptonite HC – This arc was so well done I wanted to keep a copy and I might us well pick it up as a hard cover. This volume contains “The epic adventure from SUPERMAN/BATMAN #44-49 by Michael Green and Mike Johnson, two of the writers of the hit TV series Heroes, is collected in hardcover! The World's Finest team has a new mission: collect all Kryptonite from across the globe — no matter who gets in their way!”

Teen Titans #64 – Last issue was a decent issue, but I still think this team can not ever be the same as long as characters in this book have other ties (Robin). The hype “The Teen Titans uncover the mystery and motivation behind Bombshell's origin, and no one is more surprised at the answers than Bombshell herself! Meanwhile, Wonder Girl is confronted with the figure behind her recent misfortunes and discovers why family reunions can be absolute hell.”

Trinity #22 – So we have seen how the world has changed with the Trinity being replaced and we have seen what happened to the evil Trinity, what happened to Bruce, Clark and Diana? The company line “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!”

Astonishing X-Men Ghost Boxes #1 (of 2) – I dropped the regular series, but I wanted to read Ellis on the X-Men with a different artist as I keep thinking it is the art that is killing the book. The word “You met Subject X in the pages of Astonishing X-Men! But what was he really doing and who he was doing it for? Find out in this essential 2-issue tie-in series to Warren Ellis and Simone Bianchi’s opening salvo on Astonishing X-Men! Ghost Boxes is about the choices that man made and could have made, and the ripples they cause. Ghost Boxes is about the real stakes of the Ghost Box storyline, and what will happen if the X-Men fail to solve the mystery.”

Captain America Theater of War Operation Zero Point – I thought I would try out this one shot books highlighting Cap’s career. The company line “The first in a series of specials covering the length and breadth of the larger-than-life legend of Captain America, as told by the industry’s leading experts in the field! First up, it’s 1944, and wouldn't you know it? Them sneaky Nazis have managed to crack the secrets of electro-magnetic physics…yeah, that's right: apples may fall down in the free world, but schnitzels are falling up in the skies over a mysterious lab in a Polish forest, thanks to a little help from a nearby forced-labor camp. Sure, we could send in the Marines, but why bother when we've got Captain America?! But even Cap may be meeting his match against the lab's sadistic cybernetic commandant. Because everyone knows, the only thing worse than a Nazi is a Robot Nazi!”

Essential Marvel Horror Volume #2 – I know I have sworn these books off, but this was ordered a few months ago. This volume contains “A voodoo virtuoso. A devil-tainted demi-druid. A half-mad minister. A creature of the crypts, a man-mountain of marble and a giddy giggling ghoul -- these are the horrific heroes who protect the world from forces even more frightening than themselves! Demons, zombies, warlocks and terrorists -- all in these nightmarish narratives from the shocking scarefest of the seventies! Guest- starring Spider-Man, Spider-Woman and the Thing! Collecting SUPERNATURAL THRILLERS #5 and #7-15 (Living Mummy); STRANGE TALES #169-173, TALES OF THE ZOMBIE #6 and #10 and MARVEL TEAM-UP #24 (Brother Voodoo); HAUNT OF HORROR #2-5 and MONSTERS UNLEASHED #11 (Gabriel the Devil Hunter); STRANGE TALES #174 and #176-177, and MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE #11 (Golem); MARVEL CHILLERS #1-2 and MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE #33 (Modred the Mystic); and DEAD OF NIGHT #11, MARVEL SPOTLIGHT #26 and MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE #18 (Scarecrow).”

Iron Fist #19 – This arc by the new creative team has started off strong and I’m certainly hanging onto this book for now. The hype “Danny races to discover why all the previous Iron Fists except Orson Randall have died at age 33. But Danny’s just turned 33 himself, and a mysterious man with abilities too weird to fathom has shown up out of nowhere to kill him. So, yeah, that might have something to do with it. What killed every other Iron Fist, this one guy? Nah, couldn’t be. Unless…is this ultra-powerful man more than just a man? And how did the last Iron Fist, Orson Randall, dodge the inescapable fate that apparently killed all 65 of his predecessors? Don’t miss this blood-chilling chapter in the ever-growing mythos of THE IMMORTAL IRON FIST!”

Marvel Masterworks Volume #106 Journey into Mystery – My last Atlas Era horror collection that I plan to buy. After a point this material is very familiar and I will have plenty in my collection. The volume contains “Written by STAN LEE & VARIOUSPenciled by GENE COLAN, RUSS HEATH, JOHN ROMITA, JERRY ROBINSON, DICK AYERS, JOE MANEELY, TONY DiPRETA, ED WINIARSKI, JACK ABEL, PAUL REINMAN, JOHN FORTE, MORT LAWRENCE, SAM KWESKIN, CAL MASSEY, MAC PAKULA, VIC CARRABOTTA, JAY SCOTT PIKE, HOWARD POST, CARL HUBBELL, DICK BRIEFER, ED GOLDFARB, BILL BENULIS, AL LUSTER, C.A. WINTER & VARIOUS Cover by RUSS HEATHThe MARVEL MASTERWORKS are taking a macabre JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY this October, and you’re invited! It’s a ten-issue fright fest from the pre-Code days when the scare reigned supreme, and the only thing more horrific than not having a dime in your pocket were the stories inside! Featuring artwork by a collection of the Atlas Era’s finest, you’ll be wowed by the gruesome turns of future Marvel Age greats Gene Colan, John Romita and Dick Ayers, and taken into a whole new world of horror by such titans of the 1950s as Joe Maneely, Tony DiPreta, Paul Reinman, Jay Scott Pike and more! So take one foot out of the grave, wrap your hands around a murderous intent to scare, and reserve your copy today! Collecting JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #1-10.”

Nova #18 – One of my favorite series from Marvel as this book is consistently good and is usually moving the character forward. The hype “The Skrulls are assaulting Project Pegasus, and only Nova - and a roster of unexpected allies - stands in their way. But whatever happens, Richard Rider's life will be changed forever!”

Ultimate Spider-Man Annual #3 – Suppose to be about Peter and MJ having sex for the first time. Not sure this needs to be a comic book story. The word “The relationship between Peter Parker and Mary Jane is one of the most iconic and popular romances in all of comics -- and in this very special issue by series writer Brian Michael Bendis (SECRET INVASION), and red-hot artist David Lafuente [HELLCAT], that relationship delves into an area never before seen in any Spider-Man comic! Destined to be one of the most controversial issues of the year!”

Wolverine Origins #29 – The Original Sin storyline has been less then scintillating. The company line “Continued from X-MEN LEGACY 217! It’s WOLVERINE versus the HELLFIRE CLUB as he seeks his missing son, DAKEN! The bodies will fly and the blood will run as PROFESSOR X learns the secret of Wolverine’s early days with the original new X-MEN! Things were not as they seemed—but who was deceiving whom? And is there time to save Daken’s soul?”

X-Men First Class Giant-Size Special #1 – I hear that this series is coming back again as a mini-series. I hope so as I’ve enjoyed this revamped looked at the X-Men’s early years. What’s inside “Just in time for Halloween, The Beast starts conducting investigations into his own "X" files around the world! Are there aliens among us- or things even weirder? Featuring special guest-star artists and classic material too! And emboldened by the safety net of Nowlan inks, Parker even drew the cover!”

Freedom Formula #3 (of 5) – This series is another winner from Radical comics. What impresses me is the great artists they find for these stories and the stories themselves are all terrific. The company line “The mystery of Daedalus deepens, and it becomes increasingly clear that he is somehow tied to Zee's past. Meanwhile, the corporation's stranglehold on the city tightens, and more street racers are being hunted and executed. As they close in, Zee makes a fatal mistake!”

Astounding Wolf-Man #9 – The monthly pace is going to be a big help on this series as I actually remember how last issue ended. The hype “Gary Hampton is on the run. His identity is public, and he is wanted for murder. His life has taken a drastic turn for the worse at a time when things seemed their darkest. Now he no longer uses his newfound abilities to help others, he must use them to stay alive!”

Proof #13 – Every time I see a new issue is coming out I just smile as each issue is something to look forward to. The company line “The Image universe invades Proof on Halloween night! Savage Dragon helps Proof and Ginger search for the missing Dover Demon. Plus, 'Thunderbirds: Part Four,' in which the origin of the golem is revealed. With a special section written and drawn by the SCREAMLAND creative team!”

Savage #1 (of 4) – Having Steve Niles as part of the writing team is a draw for me and the premise seems interesting. The word “Peter is a shoe salesman desperate for a life transformation. Sam is a hunter of things that would scare the hell out of lesser men. These two will collide in the middle of an epic battle between vicious werewolves and the legendary Big Foot. And that's just the beginning.”

Sword #12 – Okay, when last we left Dara her legs were chopped off and her sword was out of her reach. This series certainly took an unexpected turn, which is a good thing. The hype “What happens when a human attempts to kill a god? Dara's battle with Zakros comes to an end.”

Roadkill: A Jim Kowalkski Adventure - GN – The premise was so over the top, I couldn’t resist trying it and it was only $10. The company line “A biological contagion that turns the living into cannibalistic mutants has been unleashed, and it's up to paranormal trucker Jim Kowalksi to stop it! Jim, along with his talking dog and G.P.S. crystal skull, lead this full-throttle adventure into overdrive. Our heroic trio must battle their way through monster insects, zombie truckers, a crazed country musician, and a doomsday cult led by the insane Reverend Baba-Yaga Boogity.”

Solomon Kane #2 (of 5) – The first issue was well done and I’m anxious to see who is behind the slaying in the forest. The word “Mysteries emerge during Solomon Kane's stay in the Castle of the Devil--the beasts that prey upon the local peasantry make their presence known, and another body is discovered. Kane begins to doubt the legends about the ancient chapel beneath the castle. Did a devil--worshiping monk really die there at the hands of his brothers, or was there something even more sinister afoot? And what lives down there now?”

Beyond Wonderland #3 (of 6) – This sequel has been very different from Return to Wonderland, but equal strong, my favorite Zenoscope book. What’s inside “With her boyfriend missing and best friend murdered, Calie is beginning to realize that she may not have returned from Wonderland alone! Who is the mysterious being stalking her every step and what answers does he hold of her destiny in the battle between this world and Wonderland? The answers he holds will change everything you thought you knew about Wonderland, and pull Calie back into the world she prayed she would never see again!”

No Hero #2 (of 7) – The first issue started off with promise and I usually enjoy Warren Ellis’ examination of what a “real” super hero would be like. The hype “Josh Carver has been recruited into the vigilante superhuman 'rescue team' The Front Line by Carrick Masterson. Which means Josh must become a superhuman by taking Masterson's secret drug FX7. But FX7 could drive him irreparably insane! How much does he want to be a superhuman? Would you take it? 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!”

Resurrection Annual #1 – I’m basically done with this series, but heard the annual wraps up the first story arc and decided to ride out the ending. The word “When the 'bug' known as Spock escaped from his cell in Judy McCreary's cabin, he nearly disappeared without a trace - 'nearly' being the operative word. Spock was spotted by a group of human survivors still hiding in the forest, unaware of the new status quo. How do these refugees deal with the alien in their midst? Is the group hungry for justice - or just revenge?”

Sheena Dark Rising #1 – Sheena is never the strongest title, but it is usually a light read that is entertaining. The company line “Forced against her will under the 'protective' wing of her billionaire grandfather, SHEENA has been trapped in the concrete jungle of Val Verde City for months. But deep in the jungles of Val Verde lies a deadly secret, a relic from the glory days of Nazi Germany that will threaten SHEENA and all that she holds dear!”

Streets of Glory #6 (of 6) – Wrapping up Ennis western from Avatar. It has been a while between issues and I forget where we left off. The hype “Garth Ennis' powerhouse saga of the Old West comes to its blood-drenched conclusion! The epic end to the series is so huge that it needs a super-sized issue to contain the carnage! The times are changing, and Colonel Joseph R. Dunn is a relic of the past, no longer welcome in Gladback. But no one has ever had luck forcing Dunn to do anything he didn't want to, and he's not interested in leaving, not while his daughter is in danger. Before he is done making things right, the bodies will pile up while the streets run red with glorious blood. Ennis teams with Mike Wolfer for this epic full color series that promises to thrill every fan of Garth's powerful story-telling and brutal violence.”

All in all this week looks to be a good one . We have reprint and original hard covers, trade paperbacks, some new series and some series wrapping up. I know that I still need to cut my list back further, but with so many interesting books out there it is hard to say no. Where I have succeeded in cutting back is letting mini-series lapse and not picking up as many new ones.

Update: Forget to add the book you should be buying, but not enough people are- This week I'm pushing Proof - a true gem that is coming out on time and it is an obvious labor of love for the creators.