Sunday, September 30, 2012

Comic Covers Sunday: Defenders

Keeping with the standard of alternating publishers, we're back to Marvel this week.  And one of my all time favorite series, The Defenders.  Not the later run Defenders because that was really, really bad stuff.  But sub issue #50, the Defenders shined.

Defenders #10, November 1973
Pencils: John Romita
Inks: John Romita
Of all the Thor v. Hulk covers out there, this has got to be one of the best.  And, it's every fanboy's dream to see who is stronger, Thor or Hulk. 

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Sneeze-Barfing with Jimmy Gownley at the Baltimore Comic-Con

I know you've all been waiting with bated breath for my next Baltimore Comic-Con recap installment.  Either that or you're waiting for me to move on to something else.  Well, some of you will be pleased at least.  And no, I'm not done yet, but this week you not only get read about it, you get to see it.  That's right: crude video!  It'll also give me more time to work on my LEGO Death Star (50% + done so far) and think of more collections to sell on ebay (the first one went really well -- Thanks!).

The two video's you'll find after the break show my youngest daughter "on stage" at the Kids Love Comics pavilion to illustrate the Sneeze-Barf from Amelia Rules.  And the second one is an example of how to create your own character.  I hope you enjoy them.

Friday, September 28, 2012

What I Read This Week– Sept 28

Ya know, the best laid plans and all that jazz.  If you want my version... she went nuts.  Coo-coo for cocoa puffs, fruity for fruit loops, and it was all my fault.  Oh yes it was and the truth is irrelevant!  So, because I am such a.... good person... I listened in rapt attention for over an hour to every excruciating detail of her day.  Then I topped it off with an evening of Project Runway and didn't add snarky commentary once. 

So, no daily life intro this week.  Just me... typing.  Quietly.  Expressing my... love of Project Runway.

Anyway, it was a light week for books, this week I read The Manhattan Projects Volume 1: Science Bad TP, Operation: Broken Wings, 1936, and Northlanders Vol. 1: Sven The Returned.

You can see what I thought of the rest of the books below the break.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Neil Gaiman's Murder Mysteries

Never let it be said that Neil Gaiman isn'w willing to tackle the big picture in a small setting.  Well, I don't know who would say that, really.  The Sandman did it often enough, as well as just going whole hog into the grand story.

Unlike The Sandman, Murder Mysteries wasn't created as a comic book. It started as a short story sans pictures, as well as being a radio play.  Fortunately for us, P Craig Russell adapted it to the comic book form and Dark Horse Books published it in 2002.  I happened across it at a sale, and here we are.

The Sandman stories that Gaiman did quickly come to mind because the majority of the cast is the same sort of sexless angels that he used in several of his stories in The Sandman.  This time an angel named Raguel is telling a story to a young Englishman on a bench in LA.  It's the story of the first murder.  Not Cain and Abel.  The victim is an angel named Carasel.  Raguel was charged with discovering who killed Carasel and exacting justice on the perpetrator.

Much of the story is standard detective fare as Carasel tracks down the killer.  It has the noir element of compromise, too.  Neither Raguel or Lucifer are happy with the resolution of the matter.  The great philosophical contradictions of an omnipotent and omnipresent deity are confronted, the seeds of Lucifer's dissatisfaction that will lead to the Fall are sown.

All of this ties into the young Englishman and his own actions.  Whatever he's done is never stated directly but it's not so oblique that a reader can't surmise what's happened.  Depending on one's perspective, the end implies justice done or a perpetrator escaped, in keeping with the ambiguities of a deities opaque moral code and actions to enforce it.  It's not a story from The Sandman, but it feels like it could be.

This is very much a typical Gaiman story where he presents a situation that's engaging and intriguing, includes some deep questions, and leaves the reader to bring his own perspective to what's occurred and what it means.  If you're a fan of Gaiman, as I am, you'll enjoy this very much.  And if you're a fan of P Craig Russell's great art, you won't be disappointed, either.  There's not much to say about Russells' work.  It's the wonderful quality of work that he always brings to the show.  He captures detail in small panels and dramatic grandiosity in the large.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Indies Previews for November

Lee: Gwen is taking a slight leave so everyone, please welcome Thomm to the Indies review. Let’s see how much extra money I start costing him now.
Thomm: You wish you were that persuasive.

Fantagraphics Books
Cartoon Utopia HC by (w/A/C) Ron Regé Jr.
The Cartoon Utopia is a unique work of comic art that is part sci-fi, part philosophy, part visual poetry, and part social manifesto. Regé's work exudes psychedelia, outsider rawness, and pure cartoonish joy and displays a passionate optimistic idealism that sets him apart from his peers. 144 pgs, b-w, 10x12, $24.99 Visit the artist here
Lee: I’m all for more optimistic idealism. The world definitely needs more optimism. Based on the write up, if you’re into alternative comics then this should be great.
Thomm: I’d like a bit more on the substance of the book. Is there any semblance of story? Psychedelia has its uses but a story is necessary, for me.

Seven more below the break.  Read on!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

What I’m getting September 26

I still on occasion have some big ass crazy weeks and this is one of those weeks. Unfortunately due to the way I get my hard cover books my favorite thing from this week will not ship until later. Of course if you want to see the whole list click New Comics for September 26 . So let’s jump into the list.

Let’s talk hard covers. I have tried to express how deeply I miss Joe Kubert, because even though I never met the man, he was a part of my life for decades. The Joe Kubert Artist’s Edition is out this week and it collects a lot of his Tarzan work, including his adaptation of the first novel. I just read the novel and breezed through Joe’s adaptation in the Dark Horse Archives of Joe’s Tarzan work and he did the book proud and essentially draws the book as opposed to changing it. To have the Artist’s Edition will be glorious. Also out this week is American Vampire Volume 4, I love this series so much that I happily buy the material twice. Snyder continues to blow me away with this series. Image is doing a hardcover of The Milkman Murders by Joe Casey and Steve Parkhouse and I missed this before. The preview I read made this intriguing. Here is the sales pitch from the company  The horror of suburban life explodes in an orgy of mythic violence -- and mild-mannered housewife, Barbara Vale, finds herself at its dark epicenter! And when you meet her family, you'll understand why. To see a small snippet of the book click Milkman Murders Preview. To round it out my Marvel Masterworks Iron Fist was delayed for a couple of weeks and that decided to show up this week also. Ouch!

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Week of September 19 in Review

This week I decided to read a stack of books at a time and then to write down my reviews of each book. I continued to believe that one day I can find a consistent approach on how to do the week in review, yet I have never truly found one.

Out of what I read so far the surprise of the week is Sword of Sorcery #0. It has two stories in it and I was prepared to read it and drop the book immediately. Why I was ready to drop it before reading it comes down to first the almost cartoon like cover and second the lead character is Amethyst. I’m not sure if I have ever read much about the character before but the Princess of Gemworld did not sound like something in my wheel house. Well Christy Marks and Aaron Lopresti changed that in one issue. The story is about a young girl who is turning seventeen. She has been promised by her mother that she gets to finally go home. Only she finds out home is Gemworld and everything she knew has been changed in a second. It was a great set-up that now puts Amy and her Mom in the middle of a war with Amy’s Aunt for the control of Gemworld. Amy has no clue about what is going on as her mother never did anything but train her how to fight. The second feature was Beowulf, having just read the poem a little while ago and then reading the Beowulf series from many years again I was less than thrilled with the prospect of a Beowulf story. Again Tony Bedard and Jesus Saiz surprised me with a pretty faithful adaptation of the story in some ways and yet setting it in a post apocalyptic future. Two for two with this book and I’m signed up for the series.

Fables #121 by Bill Willingham and Mark Buckingham brought the over long “Cubs in Toyland” to its conclusion. It was a bitter sweet story about Therese finally making her way home, the death of Dare and the shocking little twist that Therese is grown older as time passes differently in Toyland. In hindsight I think it was a good story, but as a monthly comic it was way too long. Still I continue to love Fables.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Comic Covers Sunday: Judge Dredd

I've usurped Lee's scheduled post this week to highlight some of the awesome covers from Eagle Comics' Judge Dredd series.  Now, if you think I have an ulterior motive, you're right.  The motive is two-fold:  First, it's a great opportunity to capitalize on the new Dredd 3D movie (hopefully to generate some good traffic for the blog) and secondly, (if all goes as planned) I plan to have an ebay link for my Judge Dredd collection at the end.  Regardless of the reason, these covers are fantastic.  Each is done by Brian Bolland and if you downloaded the Comic-con panel link from yesterday, you can hear Brian speak about his comics career.  Not only that but you'll learn the proper way to pronounce his name.

I'm not going to say too much about these covers -- they speak for themselves, but maybe Jim or Lee will choose to chime in.

Judge Dredd #1, Nov 1983
by Brian Bolland

An iconic classic.  Everything is perfect, including the lettering.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Talking Doctor Who at the Baltimore Comic-Con (Plus a link to the British Invasion Panel where Judge Dredd is mentioned)

I'm back with more tales from the 2012 Baltimore Comic-Con.  This time were focusing on the adventures of my Day One companions and the chief subject was Doctor Who and Great Britain.  My oldest son comes with me every year, but it had been awhile since my oldest daughter attended the Con (maybe four or five years).  She's a huge fan of the Matt Smith Doctor and was showing her artwork to several real-life Doctor Who comic artists.  The Doctor is her muse to be sure and as Andy Runton, creator of Owly said "everyone has to have one".  Interestingly, her love of all things Doctor Who (and consequently GB) is a direct result of Comics And!  That and the stomach flu.
Eric and Charlotte with Andy Runton (who had a Doctor Who themed wedding recently).
Find out more after the jump...

Friday, September 21, 2012

"That's No Moon...That's a LEGO Death Star!!!" Celebrating the 2nd Annual "I'm Alive" Day

Two years ago today, while driving to work I was rear ended by a fully loaded tractor trailer on I-95 just south of Baltimore.  My tiny little Ford Escort station wagon was totaled and I was in physical therapy for a number of months afterwards.  All in all, it could've been much much worse, but Thank God it wasn't my time yet.  Long time readers may recall that my Daddy was killed eight days before I was born in a work related accident.  He never saw his 32nd birthday (or me for that matter).  I've gotten to live 10 years more than he did at this point, but today I'm taking a moment to celebrate the last two years that I could've lost.  When I think about how much my children have grown in that time, the fun we've had as a family on vacations, the great music I've listened to, the comics I've read (and wrote about) and all the wonderful time spent with my wife; I'm so glad I'm not DEAD!

What I read this week - Sept 21

There are few things worse in life than 'the talk'.  Up until this point, Wife and I have managed to avoid it.  Unfortunately, with everything going on and kids talking to other kids, it was time.  Actually, it was well past time so over the summer, we explained evolution to them.

That's right, we explained the theory of evolution and the scientific basis for it.  In a nutshell, we explained how everything we know about man has come from this little theory.  We also had to explain that not everyone believes in it which led to another long, long discussion.  But, that is a topic for another day.  At the end of our family discussion, the kids understood the basics and that our family believes in evolution.

Soon after, we were at the pool, and Tiny swam over to me with a gleeful look in her eye.  She motioned me closer and whispered into my ear, "Daddy, Daddy, I can prove evolution to all the people who don't believe."

To say my curiosity was piqued is an understatement. "And, how would you do that?" I asked.

Tiny looked around conspiratorially, fixed her eyes on the biggest, hairiest man I had ever seen and POINTED. "Look at him Daddy.  He's got hair everywhere.  He's even got hair on his back so he must have come from monkeys.  See Daddy, he proves evolution."  And with that, she swam off happy as a clam that she had proven the theory of evolution.

Well, it's hard to argue with such logic.  I'm just glad the man didn't see her pointing because he would have killed me.

Anyway, as for books, this week I read Prophet Vol 1, Glory Vol 1, Peter Panzerfaust Vol 1, and The Bulletproof Coffin.

You can see what I thought of the rest of the books below the break.

Thursday, September 20, 2012


Written by Brian Azzarello and drawn by Eduardo Risso, Spaceman is short story excellence, bar none.  In fact, this may be my favorite book of 2012.  At a concise 9 issues it told a complete, engaging and thought provoking story.  If Vertigo keeps putting out books like this, Jim will have to eat his words about the weakness of the line for sure.

Set in a dystopian near future Earth, Spaceman focuses on Orson, a genetically engineered humanoid who, with an unknown other products of the same engineering, was created to send on missions to Mars.  In the present setting of the story the program has ended and the Spacemen have been abandoned to make their own way in the world.  In flashbacks the mission of Orson, Carter, Ottershaw and Spender is shown.

The flashbacks lay out a simple story.  Meteors are hitting the Mars base and a greenhouse that supplies the four with food is in need of a manual fix.  Orson volunteers for the suicide mission but survives, though the greenhouse does not.  Searching for a new mission, Carter discovers gold veins exposed by the meteor strikes.  Spender opposes the taking of the gold for their own profit and winds up dead, either accidentally or at Carter's hand.  Ottershaw becomes paranoid that Carter will kill him next, but the three reconcile eventually.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

DC Comics Presents #0: One Maddeningly Aggrevating Comic -- A Rant

So I go to my LCS today and am seriously thinking about picking up the new Sword & Sorcery book featuring Amethyst.  The art looks good, the concept is sound and I do have the unread Maxi-Series around the house somewhere.  But what really catches my eye is the DC Comics Presents Zero Issue that features Mr. Terrific, Hawk & Dove, something I don't remember, Deadman and O.M.A.C! 

O.M.A.C was one of the few New 52 titles that I really liked (other than Supergirl) and I even wrote up a couple of reviews for it (use the search feature).  Unfortunately, it was cancelled after issue #8 (way to abrupt of an ending) and then the character (devoid of its cool Kevin Kho-ness) was shuffled into Justice League International.  Despite my fondness of the series I couldn't support his other appearances, especially since they turned him into a Blue Hulk.  However, today, we had the original Didio and Giffen creative team detailing the origin (from two years previously) on ten beautiful pages. 

Ten pages of an oversized SIX DOLLAR BOOK!!!  That's 60 cents a page!  DC just collected the whole series about a month ago and this extra chapter will never see the light of day again.  I really really wanted to get it, but the principle of paying so much for so little -- Well, I just couldn't do it.  I spent a good bit of time this weekend agonizing over whether or not to pick up some brand new 70% off DC Archives from where in each volume I would get at least 240 pages for only $15.  Did I have the money to get the book?  Yes, but I'm trying to avoid impulse purchases.  Could I have read the story in the store?  Of course, but that would've just made me want to get it more. UGGGGGH! Talk about frustrating.  If you're going to abandon the character then just abandon him already -- don't string the faithful readers along with brief guest shots and paltry page stories.   This all made me give up on getting Amethyst too -- it's not like I need to add a new book to my list or anything.

To make matters worse, I ended up paying six cents more per gallon filing up my station wagon's tank on the way home.  That 66 cents would have paid for one page of the O.M.A.C story.  I guess it all comes down to how much you love a character.  I probably would've paid that amount for ten new pages of Spider-Girl by DeFalco and Frenz.

Dark Horse Previews for November

Lee: And now that we’re back in a groove, let’s look at DH for the month.

Thomm: Woo-hoo! We’re back with Previews for fun covers, hopefully content worth our time, and all around loquaciousness.

47 RONIN #1 (of 5)
Mike Richardson (W) and Stan Sakai (A/Cover)
FC, 32 pages, $3.99
Among the best-known tales in Japanese history, the legend of the 47 Ronin and their epic mission to avenge their disgraced master epitomizes the samurai code of honor. It has been said, “To know the story of the 47 Ronin is to know Japan.” Retold through the ages, the legend at last comes to comics in a meticulously researched and beautifully illustrated miniseries from Mike Richardson, Stan Sakai, and editorial consultant Kazuo Koike! Recounting this sweeping tale of honor and violence in all its grandeur, chapter one details the tragic incident that would seal the fate of Lord Asano and set forty-seven of his vassals on a years-long path of vengeance!
Lee: This is all about Sakai! I love his art and always look forward to any work he does outside of Usagi. This should be really good.
Thomm: I wouldn’t sell Richardson short, either. I’m most familiar with his editorial work, but he’s done bits here and there that I’ve enjoyed, too. And I think he knows the subject matter well.

5 more below the break

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

What I’m Getting September 19

Next week is more of where   want my list as I only have 20 items. If you want to see the entire list of comics for next week click here. All in all I have to say that this week is mixed bag with a bunch of good books but nothing that is screaming at me to be the can’t wait book of the week. Also I think I’m getting this post down to a reasonable length.

Let’s break things down a little differently this time. First up let’s talk new series. From DC we have Sword of Sorcery #0 and Ghost #0 from Dark Horse. I was never a fan of Amethyst and I’m not sure why I’m even trying this book out. Ghost #0 is a revival from Dark Horse and the truth is I remember Ghost more for Adam Hughes drawing her than anything else. I’m curious to see if Ghost is being done as a total new start up or if they are trying to build on what has gone before. I’m hoping for the later. I think Ghost would work best as a noir type series.

The standard fare material is thin with Batwoman #0, Birds of Prey #0, Nightwing #0, Wonder Woman #0, Daredevil #18 and Dark Avengers #181. I hate to include Wonder Woman and Daredevil as standard fare as both are outstanding series. I realize that DD can never truly be changed but Waid is doing a fantastic job of at least giving us a different color as opposed to just a fresh coat of paint in the same shade. Wonder Woman has been terrific as an actual different take on the character. The Wonder Woman series exist in its own corner of the DCU and never needs to see the rest of that universe in my view. Batwoman I’m almost done with.  JH Williams as a co-writer and driver of the bus is a fantastic artist but his story has been way too long and boring. Plus I miss that Amy Reeder is not the second artist on the book. I love her work and would buy a book to just see her artwork. Nightwing is another book I’m on the edge with and may drop soon. It is not bad, it is just the de-aging has made him too young.

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Week Of September 12 in Review

So this week I plan to keep it shorter. I have a long list of books so I’m writing out brief blurbs for many of the books. If the blurbs get too long or I have more to say we will call those capsule reviews. Right now I like trying to at least mention ever book I read as for some bizarro reason I think it at least acknowledges that these creators made an effort to do a good job. 

A quick sports note before the reviews the Orioles will be a 500 team (actually better) for the first time since 1997. Being a long suffering Orioles fan and having grown up with one of the best teams in baseball be reduced to a long time losing team ,there is joy in mudville again. Of course the Ravens should be a great team again this year.

Punk Rock Jesus #3 (of 6) by Sean Murphy is an incredible series. It is pretty dense, yet a surprisingly easy story to follow. The pace is quick and we have jumped ahead quite a few years as Jesus (Chris) Christ 2 is now in public school and going on the TV interview circuit. His Mom is kicked off the reality show that is Chris’s life. She tries to commit suicide and is saved by an Angel. Tim is Chris’ defacto father and bodyguard and it is all done at a breath taking lighting pace. Yet with all the subtext, all the characters and the dense story telling this book is just a pure pleasure to read and enjoy. It is easily one of the best mini-series of 2012 and just a great story. Mr. Murphy has shown that he can do a hell of a lot more than just draw.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Comic Covers Sunday: Chain Gang War

Last week it was an oddball Marvel series, this week it's DC's turn.  The series in question is Chain Gang War, written by John Wagner, art by Dave Johnson.  Is the series any good?  I'm not sure but I remember loving it when it came out.  I'm sure it's in the 25c bin these days and it's definitely worth checking at that price.

Chain Gang War #1, July 1993
Pencils: Dave Johnson
Inks: Karl Story
This cover is fine but not great.  It's foil embossed and was meant to draw the reader in.  But beyond the foil effect, it's really generic.  You'll understand why I chose it later.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Acknowledging Kevin Maguire at the Baltimore Comic-Con

Last year I was number three in line to sign-up for a Kevin Maguire head-shot.  I requested the Chris Evans Captain America wearing the "Bucky-Rescue" outfit from the movie with the army helmet, goggles, and leather jacket (with just enough of the star showing so you'd know who it was). Kevin has a column for expressions, since that's what he's famous for and I said "heroic, but humble".  Unfortunately, Kevin was super-busy last year (his first at Baltimore) attending panels and was unable to start the piece before he had to leave on Sunday for the train back to New Jersey.  Despite his protestations, I paid him the $100 in advance (and inadvertently left my reference material) knowing I'd spend the money otherwise.  Last week you'll recall I was wondering if he'd even remember the commission, since we hadn't been in contact for over a year. I wasn't even sure he'd be coming back this year until about a week earlier. Find out the rest of the story after the break...

Friday, September 14, 2012

What I read this week - Sept 14

What a week! Actually, it’s been a month or so but who’s counting. In case you haven’t noticed, we’re back! I am sure that more than a few of our readers were worried that it was the end of ComicsAnd, but I can happily announce we’re still going strong. I will say that an annual vacation might be just what the doctor ordered. What to expect going forward? More of the same that you have grown to love.

The schedule,
Monday - Jim's Reviews
Tuesday - Jim previews what's coming out for the week.
Wednesday - A deep dig into previews by one of the gang
Thursday - Thomm's Reviews
Friday - Lee's Reviews
Saturday - Matthew's Reviews
... that's a heck of alot of reviews.
Sunday - A look at the glorious covers of yesterday!

Now then, since it's Friday, it's my turn to talk about books.  Let's just go with, chances are you haven't read these.  This week I managed to read Absalom: Ghosts of London, Sláine: Treasures of Britain and Mars Attacks Classics Vol 1.

Absalom: Ghosts of London (w) Gordon Rennie (a) Tiernen Trevallion  published by Rebellion/2000 AD
The hype:  Veteran copper, Inspector Harry absalom, heads a special squad that enforces The Accord - a diplomatic treaty made in the sixteenth century between the throne of England and Hell. If any demonic entities step out of line, Harry and his team will track the infernal offenders down and sort them out for good. A miserable old bastard with a knack for finding trouble, Harry was the perfect man for the job. But years of strife are starting to catch up with him, and now Harry also has to contend with the fact that he is dying of terminal cancer...

The best of the week was easily Absalom.  Imagine an older, grouchier Constantine with a team of helpers and you will have a very good idea of what this is about. 

I'm an art guy and I have to say the art was stellar.  Trevallion has some talent and it shows.  It reminded me of Risso with smooth, flowy lines, but without the heavy inks.  I really can't think of anything bad to say, the characters were well designed, the pages were well laid out, and the story telling flowed.  You can't ask for anymore from a new artist.

Rennie's story matches the great art.  He quickly establishes our hero, Harry, as your typical crotchety old war horse and in one bit of cliche introduces the "new female recruit."  But once we're past that the story goes all out.  It's full of action and groovy monsters.  What made this stand out was the world building that Rennie did.  There are multiple subplots, and all sorts of hints to stories yet to be told. 

This was great and worth hunting down.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Morning Glories - P.E.

Whee....  It's volume 3 of of the Morning Glories trades.  More pretty young people with lots of stabbing and bleeding.

'Course, I like the cover art's use of shadow and body positioning to show invisible steps, but that's not reason enough to buy this volume.  More substantially, it does progress the story of the variously evil, psychotic, hapless and heroic students and teachers of Morning Glory Academy.  Slowly, but it does advance the story. 

I still don't know in the least what the motivation is for all the machinations by the Academy.  We've had bits of time traveling and historical dopplegangers in the three volumes to date but I still don't know why the school was founded and why its staff is hunting out kids who share a birthday.  Some of them have extraordinary abilities, while others are just cannon fodder.  And they do kill a lot of kids at this school.  Sometimes its the staff doing the killing.  Other times its peers.  Some people stay more dead than others.

Now, I do like the tricks Spencer, Eisma and Esquejo use in telling the story in a Roshomon way.  Giving various perspectives on a shared event is always going to provide a good story, so long as the characters are developed enough to have a unique perspective, as is the case here.

This arc ends with the apparent death of one of the major players in the story.  Whether that sticks we'll have to wait and see.  There's a lot that's going on that the creators haven't shared with us.  That's fair, considering the reader's perspective is that of the core group of students.  I just wish the story would move along a little more rapidly.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

IDW Preview Review for November

I’m running solo again with some commentary (unless one of my compatriots wants to add commentary after the fact) on selected IDW offerings. In general I consider IDW to be the premier publisher of hard cover collections. They will have some higher cost offerings, but every hard cover collection I have gotten from them is a quality product. The comic book offerings are a mixed bag of licensed material and original material, but the licensed side appears to be a method for a smaller publisher to guarantee a built in audience for some of their books. Also IDW appears to give thoughtful consideration to what they do with their licensed characters and care about what they produce.

Written by Duane Swierczynski, art by Nelson Daniel, Paul Gulacy, cover(s) by Zach Howard, Ashley Wood, Jim Starlin, Whilce Portacio.
In the 22nd century, crime runs rampant in Mega-City One, home to over 400 million citizens, robots, criminals and lunatics. The only line of defense between anarchy and chaos are... the Judges. And Judge Dredd is the toughest of them all. In this, Judge Dredd's 35th anniversary year, IDW is proud to re-introduce Judge Dredd to America in this all-new ongoing series. 32 pages, $3.99. 
Jim: I’m happy to see Judge Dredd back. I have not read any Dredd adventures for a long time and it is fun to see this series come under the IDW umbrella. The old 2000 AD material was so raw and Dredd was an uncompromising character. I hope those elements remain in the book coming out in a more PC time. I also loved the Cursed Earth story lines and enjoy many of the supporting characters. It is safe to say that I’m excited to see this US revival.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

"Rolling" with Billy Tucci at the Baltimore Comic-Con

My youngest daughter Faith (appropriately named), me, and Billy Tucci
One of the highlights of the 2012 Baltimore Comic-Con this year was the Sunday panel: "Christianity and Comics With Billy Tucci" that ran from 1300 to 1400 hours.  Here's how the program listed the content:

What I’m Getting September 12

This week is a little bit of a back slide as I have over 30 books on my list. Anytime that happens I immediately try to justify it and decide what to cut. My justification is giving books a second shot with a zero issue and a new series tryout. Bottom line it is just a big week. If you want to see what is coming out click September 12 New Comics for the list from Cosmic Comics, my favorite comic store.

Like any collector I’m have a slight obsession with making lists and trying to break them into different categories. What I will try and do is also use the cover from the book that I’m personally looking forward to the most with each grouping. I will also endeavor to continue to change the order in what goes first.

We will open up the week with Vertigo. I had some argument with colleagues regarding the inherent strength of the Vertigo line at the moment, but many of my favorite books come from Vertigo. This week sees American Vampire Lord of Nightmares #4 (of 5), Punk Rock Jesus #3 (of 6) and Saucer Country #7. I think Saucer Country will not last too long. I have read sales are weak and while I’m enjoying it the quirky nature of the series the premise is a tough sell. Of course having a comic about a clone of Jesus Christ in a reality TV show where the head of security is an ex-IRA member is also a hard sell. I think making it a limited series is a plus because we know the story has a beginning middle and end. Personally I think Punk Rock Jesus is pure genius and doing it in black and white goes shows off the artwork. I’d be remiss not to mention the American Vampire spin off. Scott Snyder has a wealth of great stories to tell about these characters that I will gladly buy every book he wants to write about it.  

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Week of September 5 in Review

I cut off this post since it just got way too long. I will have to rethink mentioning every book outside of maybe a quick pass or fail. Onto the books:

Green Lantern #0 by Geoff Johns and Doug Mahnke was an enjoyable issue. Instead of being a jump back it was the origin of the newest Green Lantern on Earth. Simon Baz is being set up as a morally strong character but due to personal circumstances and unbelievable bad luck is considered a possible terrorist. I could quibble about why the ring chooses him, but with everything in the GL verse being as screwed up as it is, Baz is a cool choice. First off I’m always in favor of putting someone new under the mask and Hal’s time is long, long past. Second Baz as drawn by Mahnke has a great heroic cut about him. Making him an American Muslim of course just creates all sorts of hot buttons that can be pushed and I’m sure some of the left will hate that he was a car thief (with extenuating circumstances) and some on the right will think it is pandering to political correctness. From my vantage point it makes me excited to get the next issue and find out more about Baz. I just hope his gun totting on the cover was a mistake or a light construct that he uses to focus his willpower. I also enjoyed the one page of Sinestro and Hal being trapped in a black void, at least it is no mystery they are alive. Johns has blown up the GL corps and made the Guardians almost irredeemably bad so I’m curious to see how it all plays out. Of course the easy out is the splinter group of Guardians will become the new Guardians down the road. One other feature was the who’s who page on Hal Jordan. I’m reading between the lines but I think the whole Hal goes bad and kills all the other Lanterns has been written out of his history. This is the first book from Johns that I have liked in a long time and according to some interviews Baz is based a little from his own life and often that can be a good thing for a writer.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Comic Covers Sunday: Dazzler

There were few series as... interesting (is that the right word) as Dazzler. 

Dazzler #3, May 1981
Pencils:Brent Anderson

Inks:Joe Sinnott
That's right, Brent Anderson of Astro City fame drew this!  Actually, it's a great cover and I love it.  It made me buy the book.  Too bad the insides weren't near as good.

To this day I wonder if Dr. Doom is embarrassed that he was forced into this cross-over. 

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Baltimore Comic-Con TODAY and TOMORROW!!!

When this posts at midnight, I will have already been at the show.  How is that possible without a Tardis or a Cosmic Treadmill, you ask?  Well, this year, I'm a retailer.  Actually, I'm the "local help" (one of at least two) for Superworld Comics (booth 405 & 406).  So, I got to the convention center at around 1100, started helping Ted unload around Noon and just had a blast all day long until the floor closed at six.  I saw the place dead empty and watched it come to life when the Budget (et. al) rental vans started rolling in (literally).  The big bonus, Ted has already previewed my books for sale, I've already seen some of his high-grade stuff to trade, and I don't have to wait in line tomorrow morning!!!  I predict that this will be the best show ever.  Now, if only Kevin Maguire remembered to do that Chris Evans Captain America head-shot I paid him for last year...I'm anxious to find out.

IF YOU LIVE AT LEAST ONE MILE CLOSER THAN JIM, YOU SHOULD BE AT THE SHOW.  OK, I'm exaggerating a bit, but man is it a fun place to be.  What's better than attending the show -- being a part of it!

Oh, the Flash Chronicles will continue, sometime.  I've already read up through #300 (an excellent story).  I will say that some of the "science" in the Flash books is so totally ludicrous, you'd think it was evolutionary theory.  Oops, that's my Creationist in me coming out.

Have a great weekend, I am already!!!

Friday, September 07, 2012

Jack Staff - Everything Used to be Black and White

Now that we've stopped letting Jim monopolize the return from our collective vacation, I figured I'd start with something positive.  I've been hearing good things about Paul Grist's Jack Staff for quite some time, so I seized the opportunity to get a trade of the original run of the comic while it was on sale.  A better spent $10 is hard to find, at least outside of a strip club.

Not that this is news to a lot of people.  Grist has been doing Jack Staff for a long time.  Even this trade was originally published in 2004.  In fact, Grist is working on Mudman these days, which has its own trade of its opening arc.

Still, it was new reading to me.  And excellent reading it was.  It probably doesn't hurt to be familiar with the history of British superheroes from days gone by, but it's not necessary, either.  A lot of the characters in the books are drawn from old characters not well known outside Britain, but Grist does such a good job with them it's unnecessary to know about them outside the context of Jack Staff.

Jack was a superhero during WWII.  Sometime after the war he disappeared.  Twenty years later he returned, young as ever.  That's where these stories pickup.  Jack's somewhat reluctant in his role of hero, but he does it all the same, working around his day job as a contractor.  It's not clear what Jack's powers are, but they seem to largely be of speed and strength focused through the staff he carries.

The other main character is Becky Burdock, intrepid reporter for a low end tabloid.  She seizes on Jack's return and doesn't take too long to track down his civilian identity.  She's the anti-Lois Lane, being far smarter but stuck in a lesser publication.  She also ends up turned into a vampire fairly shorlty into things.  That doesn't change her much.  She's still a reporter and still giving Jack a hard time.

The villains range interestingly from a former ally of Jack's during the war (who turns Becky into a vampire) to a retired adversary from those days who's still one up on Jack quite often.  Grist also throws in a very different alien who originates outside time but becomes trapped in time. 

Grist's art is often described as minimalist, and it is.  It's also sort of Steam Punk in how it harkens to the past.  Perspective is creative and panel layout inventive.  Grist does a lot without a jot of color.

Narratively, Grist isn't afraid to just lay out some background with a page of text if it's necessary.  Saves a lot on unnecessary exposition by the characters.

There are several more volumes of trades collecting Jack Staff stories, and now that I'm bitten, I'll have to hunt those down, too.  Looking forward to more sales to help move that along.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

The List - August 2012

Should be a shorter List next month due to a few series ending this month.  Actually, it's not too long this month, really.

1. Spaceman 9 - Like all the series that have just ended I'm going to have to re-read this to get the big picture, but even on a singles basis, this was a great read.  Orson is right up there with Willy Loman when it comes to things not working out.  Carter is a different sort and comes out on top, suckering Orson into faux selflessness.  At least Tara came out of it well.  As well as can be expected being an adopted kid of Angelina Jolie/Brad Pitt parody parents.  Azzarello's not short on social commentary with this mini, particularly pop culture obsession to the point of ignorant bliss of rising seas from global warming.  Risso's art captures the atmosphere to perfection, too.

2. Scalped 60 - I know, it's hard to believe that this isn't the top pick for the month, but Spaceman was that good.  No good comes to most of our major players in the drama of Dash's undercover mission to expose the crimes of Red Crow, which took 5 years to tell.  Carol comes out well, being just about the only character who went through a redemption, but then she wasn't corrupt like her father.  She was an addict.  Dash is gone.  Maggie's producing his heir.  Dino's far gone.  Red Crow does give Nitz his fitting salute (though I must say I find it less than believable that Nitz would be buried on the Rez).  Jason Aaron and R.M. Guera have a work in which pride of accomplishment is well founded.  At least the left the Rez with some hope when they were done.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

DC Comics Preview Review for November

So during the hiatus I have skipped a month or two and we missed all of the zero issue stuff. I will say that the zero issues will be where I pick up a book or two that I have dropped off of just to see some origin type material. As with other preview reviews I set it up with just solo commentary by me and invite my cohorts to chime in only if they feel like it.

The current DC set up does not allow for a lot of new launches as they have decided 52 is their magic number. Of course they added Before Watchmen and other mini-series, but the idea that 52 is the perfect number is an artificial construct, but an interesting game to force them to cut weak books faster Perhaps. Time will tell if the idea is a good one or not.

Written by GEOFF JOHNS
Art and cover by TONY S. DANIEL and RICHARD FRIEND
Backup story art by GARY FRANK
Variant cover by JASON FABOK
On sale NOVEMBER 21 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T
• The second chapter of a tale that lights the fuse that will ultimately explode in 2013's TRINITY WAR.
• The League must fight the mysterious Cheetah… AND a monstrous Superman! The result will radically change the dynamics of the entire team!
• Amid all this, where is Green Lantern?
• Plus: The next chapter of the SHAZAM backup epic by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank!
This issue is also offered as a combo pack edition with a redemption code for a digital download of this issue.
Jim: This book has so many problems. Number one Johns’ JL writing was horrible and I dropped the book. Next the idea of Jim Lee doing this series was never going to last, he has way too much to do with his other job and I think he has like seven kids, so he needs to help out at home. Second the book is already being used as a prelude to a cross over. I hate that neither DC nor Marvel is competent enough to make all of their books good enough to stand on their own. Third the book is relying on a backup to fill up the pages. Most modern writers take six issues to have anything happen. With a large cast the extra pages could be used to make this book something special, the backup will be collected and sold later as its own thing. I admit I am very down on most core DC books and have gone from being a Geoff Johns fan to being a Geoff Johns detractor. His best works appears to be behind him.
Lee:  I don't know if it's all that bad.  Except for the "I'm Bruce Wayne" debacle this has been decent enough.  It's a giant slug fest every month with little to no plot.  If that's what you want from your superheroes (and lots of people do) then you are getting what you pay for.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

What I’m Getting September 5

Unfortunately this is what I’m getting September 7 since the holiday pushes back when my books will be mailed. Normally they go out Tuesday and 95% of the time they arrive Thursday (occasionally Friday). With the holiday the comics are delivered on Wednesday to my store so  they get shipped Wednesday and it could be Saturday if things go wrong which all means my review of next week maybe the Tuesday post to give me time to read stuff. I know a lot of behind the scenes stuff that you could care less about. If you just want to know what is coming out next week click New Comics for September 5, for my view of what I’m getting and why, read on.

Let’s start with the “Everything Else” section which dominates my list and needs to be broken down a bit. Starting with Image I’m getting Epic Kill #5, Guarding the Globe #1, Harvest #2 (of 5), Hell Yeah #5, Mind the Gap #4, Near Death #11, Thief of Thieves #8 and Think Tank #2. Epic Kill is just a great action flick done as a comic book. Guarding the Globe I believe is being produced by Kirkman and hopefully will have a more consistent publishing schedule this time around. Harvest started out very cool and I’m looking forward to more on the illegal organ donor story. Hell Yeah is the continuation of the multi-verse story and why is everyone trying to kill every version of this one guy? Mind the Gap is a murder mystery that needs to start coming to a conclusion or else it will be too long. Near Death has almost lost me as the story of a man trying to redeem himself is not holding my interest like it should. Thief of Thieves starts a new arc with a new writer as Kirkman provides I guess the story outline and then hires a writer to make it happen. Last and not least Think Tank was a true gem or about the genius who does not give a f**k now being in the middle of a bunch of stuff. It was better than my description.

Monday, September 03, 2012

Week of August 29 in Review

So this week I have been writing capsule reviews/impressions of books sometimes right after I read them and sometimes a little while afterwards. I can’t always jump onto the computer and knock out my thoughts right away. My desire to at least give some mention to every book will make this post a long one.

Before Watchmen Minutemen #3 by Darwyn Cooke is a masterpiece in storytelling. Cooke manages to spotlight Silhouette and Nite Owl and tells a great story while filling in the blanks about the rest of the team. At the same time Cooke builds in some time jump and does so effortless without making it a confusing narrative. His storytelling ability is probably one of the best in the business. He mixes so many different ways of telling a story and layers it with emotion and poignancy that is rarely seen in a comic book. His clean line work and great panel design tells us the story and marries his words and pictures as well as anyone has ever done.  I will gladly pick up any book with his name as writer/artist or as just writer. This issue Silhouette is badly hurt taking down a ring of pedophiles (or even worse) and during the battle the girl she tried to save is killed. Her relationship with Nite Owl is unique and sadly for Nite Owl doomed to be a friendship only. Don’t miss this series.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Sunday Covers - Harvey Horror

It's hard to believe that Harvey Comics, who produced such classics as Richie Rich, Casper, and Hot Stuff produced some of the best horror comics of the Golden Age.  But, it's true and the only books that were better than the Harvey Horror line of the early 1950's were the books from EC.  I mentioned on Friday that these were being reprinted by PS Artbooks and were available for pre-order. 

Now, a selection of some of the best (most gruesome) horror covers of all time!

Witches Tales #25, June 1954
Cover by Howard Nostrand

This has got to be one of the most gruesome comic book covers ever.

Jim: I love these old lurid covers. This was back in the days before the code and everyone was trying to outdo each other. 

Saturday, September 01, 2012

The Last Run for The Flash (Barry Allen [Pre-Crisis]): Part 1 -- #270 thru #284

Thanks to the issues Jim sent me last week combined with the ones already in my collection, I finally have the opportunity to read the last great Flash epic before Crisis on Infinite Earths.  This story spans a whopping 81 issues from #270 to 350 (cover dated May 1979 to Oct 1985).  I actually don’t have the first three issues yet, but hope to pick them up next week at the Baltimore Comic-Con.  However, I think I got the gist of what happened from the letter pages and the continuous recapping in subsequent issues.  This morning I finished issue #284, which actually turned out to be the end of the first major story arc (not that we called them such things back then.)