Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Just A General Information Note

For the most part I think this blog has a certain tone to it and I have decided to revive a blog I started and abandoned a while book called Why Comic Books Suck.

I feel I can be totally snarky and harsh in my continual tirade about the things the I think are done wrong by the entertainment medium I love.

The posts can be shorter and I'm not tied to any deadline other then me getting annoyed with something. Post here have a different flavor.

So for what it is worth I'm back posting in two places, when I feel like it.

Click the link for a tirade about the new DCU and the kiddie corps the heroes have become.

Lee is taking this week off and Matthew has been on vacation also, so not many posts this week. 

Comics And Hall of Fame – First Inductee – Neal Adams

Neal Adams
So everyone has a Hall of Fame and almost every sport’s team has their own individual Hall of Fame or something of that ilk. I can envision a great one for comic books, but right now there is no physical comic book hall of fame. If I’m wrong, let me know where it is, it could be very cool.

I can envision it with a wing for the Golden Age, the Silver Age, the so-so age (or the Bronze Age as it is called by some) and the modern age, which seems to get longer and longer. So how about a modern age and now starting with 2009 the post modern age. I don’t know but we seem to love breaking things down into groups and stuff and the modern age is so long in tooth that it appears to be a silly name for this time frame.

My grand vision has ideas for speaking tours talking about how comic books came about, the pre-WWII stuff, the after WWII stuff, the Comics Code, the Silver Age, the direct market, the creation of Image, the bankruptcy of Marvel, the corporatization of comics, the new creator owned era, digital age and other things. You know lots of stuff, art exhibits, motion comics, comic book movies, TV shows, cartoons, all the toys and it goes on and on.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Daredevil Born Again the Artist Edition – A Review

Of late I have been very negative towards a passion that I have had for over fifty years. The advent of the new DCU has annoyed me to no end and the while some of the Marvel books have some passion and creative vision they ultimately have been lackluster. From seeing all the DCU turned into 20 somethings to seeing Daredevil being taken down by a revised Bullseye as a mastermind of cunning, it has been disappointing. I wanted to read something that I knew was a great story, so I finally sat down and read Born Again by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli. Not just any reprint, but the Artist Edition.

It is an amazing story and done in this format it is finally given justice. It is more amazing since the story was being produced as a monthly book. It is one of the best stories ever done in comic books. Yes we have Dark Knight Returns, Watchmen and many other great stories that have been told, but after re-reading this in the artist edition I think this has to be one of the best stories ever done, arguably the best.
The Omnibus vs The Artist Edition

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Comic Covers Sunday: The Blue Man

First they killed him.  Then they brought him back.  Then they killed his secret identy.  Then they brought the secret identy back.  After all that, what's a company to do with their flagship character?  Call him a clone and write him out of continuity for 2 years????  Naahhhh, that was done by the competition.  How about radically change his powers and costume?  Puuuurrrrfect.  And so was born the year long Electric Superman event.

Superman #123, [Glow-in-the-Dark Edition], May 1997

Pencils: Ron Frenz
Inks: Joe Rubinstein
What better way to celebrate a new costume and new powers than a limited edition, super rare, highly collectible glow in the dark cover?  Sadly, I don't even remember this cover.  I wonder if it's buried in my collection somewhere.  I hope not but, sadly, I wouldn't bet against it.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Hidden Gems: Shaolin Cowboy

Shaolin Cowboy.  Remember that series?  Not many do but it's worth finding.  It's completely insane and over the top and most of all, a ton of fun.  My only complaint, it was only reprinted as a crappy tpb. 

Anyway, you know how it takes years for movies to go from idea to finished product, did you know comics were the same way?

This is an excellent example of how long creators keep and work on ideas because...

This is the first appearance of Shaolin Cowboy.   Where did it come from?  Amazing Heroes #49, published June 15, 1984.

His first story was slated to appear in Vanguard Illustrated #10... too bad they only published 7 issues.

Just for reference because I love the cover, Amazing Heroes #49

Friday, July 26, 2013

This Is Excitement? – Some of Marvel’s Big SDCC Announcements

The announcements even before San Diego Comic Con have been coming out so fast and furious (one day I need to watch a couple of those movies). The one thing that struck me is that not a single announcement from DC Comics was made that I recall or at least cared about and Marvel’s announcements are borderline pathetic on the comic book side. The best thing coming from Marvel is the movies and maybe the SHEILD TV show.

One of Marvel’s big announcements on comics was another X-Men book and bringing back Nightcrawler. Yippee, wow what excitement Jason Aaron wasting his talent on yet another X book with drawing my Ed McGuiness, whose style I swear only 5-8 years can love. Less panel per page then almost any other artist. Makes writing easy. Page one – splash of Nightcrawler, page 2 two page spread as Nightcrawler teleports and other X-Men see him back. Page 3-4 two page spread of group all hugging him. Page 5 – two panel flashback as Nightcrawler remembers being trapped in a cave and wondering what happened.  That was a quick $1,000 to make for a writer. Anyway the idea that this should be exciting news just goes to show what little Marvel has left to offer.

But wait there is a new Longshot series. Wow, is that great or what. I mean with Dazzler back and Longshot in his own series we have firmly re-established the disco era is back. Put on the Donna Summer albums and let’s dance the night away. We can only hope that everyone is gay in the new series so to show how progressive and open minded we have become in the new millennium.

Listen I’m thrilled to death to see Matt Kindt and Brahm Revel doing work on Marvel characters under the revived Marvel Knights banner, but those are only mini-series. The true creativity coming from Marvel is a constant cycle or re-inventing the characters they have over and over and over and over again. Sue Storm becomes a doctor and genius because when she was invented the sensibilities were different and women played a more subservient role in society for the most part. When not let Valerie Richards grow up and run the Fantastic Four, it be more interesting then recycling the same characters over and over again. Peter Parker is now selling better then ever BECAUSE HE IS NOT LONGER PETER PARKER. Fans as so hungry for any change in the super hero books that anything looks cool, even making the hero have the mind of a mass murderer. If only Pol Pot could take over Iron Man and redeem himself.

I know it is hard to let go of the Marvel and DC stuff because I have not done it completely, but it is getting easier and easier to move on, especially when too many writers are producing epics. My main examples are Hickman with Avengers and New Avengers have over 20 plus issues and we are just moving into the “event” and Bendis with similar numbers on All New and Uncanny X-Men that has yet to hit its crescendo. What happened to telling a story and getting out and using sub-plots to build characterization or hit at the next story?

Personally I’m more excited that Jason Aaron, Matt Fraction and many many others have new series coming out from Image and other places.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Goon in A Place of Heartache and Grief - TPB 7

Frankie riding a Velveteen Horsey.  Do you need to have any other reason to buy this?  In a mere three pages Powell references My Little Pony, The Godfather, and The New Mutants, though that last may be me bringing something to it rather than Powell's intent.  That doesn't even get to the To Kill a Mockingbird reference a few pages later.  Such hilarity.  Such gore.  Such fun.

Actually, there's a lot of set up to this arc.  Not much resolution.  The chugs, as Frankie calls the Zombie Priest's latests creations, are still running around attacking Goon and others, but they're almost a background element.  Madame Elsa's burlesque house is somehow involved with the returned harpies and an even more mysteriously returned someone who looks like Labrazio but sure doesn't seem possible to be, considering his corpse is still occupying his coffin.  The order from which the Zombie Priest originates, and from which he was ejected for his betrayal of other members is now behind what's going on, I think.  They're certainly taking their pound of flesh, and then some, from the Zombie Priest. 

What does happen is that Goon gets a new ride, Norton gets a new wife, Mirna is returning to Lonely St, and Momma Norton gets a gangland demise.  Powell continues to work one of the best constructed tales I've read.  Beyond the structure of the story and his pacing, he has fantastic art and dialogue that's to kill for.  In fact, Frankie has some of his best when he's killed something.  This book's best doesn't involve a killing, though.  Having discovered that the Harpies were returned to the ability to take human form when their magic gem was glued back together Frankie observes "Hmph!  You'd think magic would be a little more difficult than that."  To which Goon replies, "Just goes to show ain't nothin' as complicated as it seems."  Just so.

Did I mention Goon fights a giant transvestite?  Yeah, there's that, too.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Indies Preview of September Part 2 of 2

More wonderful books that deserve your money!


School Spirits HC by (w/a/c) Anya Davidson
School Spirits is Anya Davidson's debut book and could be described as like Beavis and Butthead meets James Joyce's Ulysses. It is the story of Oola, a high school student with an unusual connection to the supernatural. Comprised of four chapters, each deploying a different narrative technique, School Spirits is at once funny, sexy, mystical and, above all, utterly clear. Davidson's crisp cartooning style makes even the strangest occurrences seem utterly plausible.152 pgs, B-W, 8.5x11, $19.95 See preview pages here.
Lee: What can I say I have a weakness for psychedelically colored comic books. This looks to be a nut case of a comic and the previews support my opinion. The art reminds me of Mary Fleener a lot. So bottom line… it’s awesome and worth checking out!
Thomm: Utterly clear and Joycian seem like they can’t exist in the same concept. I’ll let you check this one out.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Indies Preview of September Part 1 of 2

Lee: Another month, another huge stack of indies. Ok, not as huge as usual but still plenty of good stuff. And, with only one exception, all the books are affordable this month. That’s something new too!
Thomm: I’m just dying to see what the meaning of affordable is in the Lee cosmos.

Adhouse Books
Delusional HC by (w/a/c) Farel Dalrymple
Delusional is a book of comics and drawings by cartoonist Farel Dalrymple. You might have seen them in various anthologies, or posted on the internets, but now they are collected into one beautiful tome. Farel's previous work includes Pop Gun War, Omega the Unknown, and the occasional Prophet. 232 pgs, FC, 6x9, $24.95
Lee: Dalrymple is one of the great indie cartoonists and, unfortunately, doesn’t do enough comic book stuff. Pop Gun War was great. Omega was great. His current work on Phophet is great. It’s a little pricey for an entry point but if you haven’t seen Dalrymple’s art you are really missing out.
Thomm: Ok, so this is the not affordable title. I’ll have to take your word for it on whether it’s good. I have no experience of Dalrymple’s work.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Image Previews for September

Lee: IDW had a huge month which usually means that Image is due to crash and burn. But Image has been so good lately, and taken so much of my money, that I can’t see it happening. And it doesn’t. But there isn’t as much as I normally expect.

Thomm: You’re all over the board with that lead in. Image has been pushing new doors open in the last year or so, and, like Lee, I’m rewarding them with more purchases.

art / cover ROC UPCHURCH
incentive cover FIONA STAPLES
32 pgs / FC / $3.50
Who are the Rat Queens? A pack of booze-guzzling, death-dealing battle maidens-for-hire, and they're in the business of killing all gods' creatures for profit.
It's also a darkly comedic fantasy series starring Hannah the Rockabilly Elven Mage, Violet the Hipster Dwarven Fighter, Dee the Atheist Human Cleric and Betty the Hippy Hobbit Thief. This modern spin on an old school genre is a violent monster-killing epic that is like Buffy meets Tank Girl in a Lord of the Rings world on crack! Visit the artist here with a link to the Rat Queens facebook page. 
Lee: As soon as I read “Atheist Human Cleric” I knew I had to pick this. That line is for you Thomm! Anyway, I wasn’t thrilled with Wiebe’s Peter Panzerfaust but I’m not willing to give up on him yet. I’ll give this a try. It doesn’t hurt that Upchurch’s art looks fantastic.
Thomm: Come on. Lord of the Rings parody? That’s a great premise. Can they match the body total of the original, though?

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Comic Covers Sunday: Neil the Horse

Created in the 70's, Neil the horse is a happy, singing and dancing horse who likes bananas and milkshakes. Neil's adventures were syndicated in Canadian newspapers, published in a comic book series, and adapted for a radio musical.  The comic book series featured Neil and his friends Soapy the Cat and Mam'selle Poupée. All three of the characters sing, dance, and play music.

Don't let the sappy intro text fool you.  Yes, the characters like to sing and dance but the cat is as foul mouth'd and dirty as they come.  The series was never adult nor childish enough to be a huge hit so it didn't last long.  But the art is stunning and worth the price alone.

Neil the Horse #1, February 1983
Saba did something with his covers that few have ever managed to do, he made them fun and adult at the same time.  There's a certain amount of childish glee when you see a spaghetti legged horse and a certain amount of "something's not quite right" when the cat is smoking a cigarette.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Return of daily Life

So, while Matthew is driving across the country I shall fill in on Saturdays! Because I see Matthew’s little trip as a modern day National Lampoon’s Vacation type of event, I thought I’d use today as a return of the “Daily Life.”

This week I want to talk about home ownership, because as anyone who owns a house knows, homes collect things. I’m not talking about just physical things like comic books, and furniture, and your wife’s childhood crap that her parents have saved for 30+ years and no longer want to keep at their house. Homes also collect living things such as children, fish, dogs, cats, and if you are really lucky bats.

I got lucky this year as my house got infested with those flying vermin. Unfortunately, unlike mice which are poisonously easy to get rid of, bats are a protected species. This means you can’t trap them, kill then, or harm them in any way. You are forced to go to a pest control specialist who will “remove” them in a humane way.

So I called the pest company and the conversation went like this…
Girl answers: Hello, Acme Pest Control (not real name of said company)
Lee: Hi, yes I was wondering if… well, I’m sorry, it’s a bad pun, but I have to say it… I have bats in my belfry can you get them out.
Girl: Hum? Ok, so you have bats?

Let’s pause for a minute and review what just occurred. Granted, I said a really, really bad joke but not only was it ignored but it appeared to have confused the girl. Luckily I recognized the signs and went into business mode.

Lee: Sorry about that. Yes, I have bats in my attic and need to get them removed. Do you handle bats?
Girl: Yes, we do and I can schedule a time for a tech to come visit in order to provide you an estimate.
Lee: Great… ((provide house info, set up time, pleasant small talk))
Girl: Ok, we’re all set. Excuse me sir…
Lee: Yes?
Girl: What was that word you used again?
Lee: Belfry? As in bats in the Belfry? Haven’t you heard that word before?
Girl: Oh belfry. I’m sorry but I’ve never heard it. But, I’m 32 and still pretty young.  That must be one of those old words.
Lee, calmly: Yeah, it probably is. Thanks for the help and I’ll see the tech next week.

Thank goodness I didn’t use a three syllable word. If I had she might have called me ancient instead of just old!

And, for the record, my elementary school age kids knew the word. Granted they learned it from Bugs Bunny but at least they knew it.

Friday, July 19, 2013

IDW Previews for September

Lee: It looks like IDW is back on track because there are lots of good books this month. And, as always, it seems to be a good mix of reprints and new material.
Thomm: I’m not as much an IDW fan as Lee, but have found some good work there.

Powerpuff Girls #1 (of 5)
Troy Little (w & a) • Little x 4 (c)
Citizens of Townsville, fear not! The Powerpuff Girls are back! In this IDW debut issue Blossom, Bubbles and Buttercup are back to take down the meanest of the mean and the ugliest of the ugly! Plus, what fiendish secret is Mojo Jojo hiding? The answer is sure to surprise! FC • 32 pages • $3.99  Visit Troy here
Lee: Wheee more retro action from IDW. First it was My Little Pony, now this… what’s next Care Bears? Aside from my apathy for the series, I bet girls (especially younger ones like mine) will love this. It makes sense in a broaden the market kind of way, but not for me.
Thomm: Not for me, but I enjoyed the animated series when my daughter was into that. Being 14 now, she’s not so much into it now. Burping, farting rednecks are more her amusement now. Makes this seem like Shakespeare.
Lee:  LATE BREAKING UPDATE!  I just remembered who Troy Little is!  He wrote the Angora Napkin GN a couple of years ago which was a ton of fun.  I actually did an interview with him which you can read here.  This went from *eh* to *interesting*.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Sgt Rock: The Prophecy

I love Joe Kubert Sgt Rock stories.  For one thing, it's always easy to tell who in Easy is going to die.  No cool nickname?  Not one of the regulars in the squad?  You're toast.  It's like wearing a red uniform in the old Star Trek.  More reliable than that, actually.

Another reason to love these kinds of stories is that Kubert doesn't go in for never ending plot entanglements.  In the golden days when I read these stories in single issues there would be several separate, distinct stories in a single issue, especially if you got an 80 page giant.  Concise story telling.  A lost art too often now.  And the thing is, a lot of those stories still stick with me.  I just noticed a small pile of the old comics I'd get as a kid where the covers had been ripped off and a bunch of them sold on the cheap in a pack.  Lots of those great old anti-war war comics.

Originally published in 2006 as a six issue series, I picked up the 2007 trade recently.  I'm fairly sure that Kubert could have told the same story in a single issue if he was so inclined, but he stretched it a bit.  It's a good story, mind you, but it filled out with more character exporation of the other guys in Easy than you would usually see in the old books.  A lot of that kind of character exploration would have been handled in a stand alone story featuring someone like Bulldozer or Ice Cream Soldier in those old books.  So even when Kubert was filling in extra story that might not be necessary to the main arc, he was still adding relevant information about his cast and not just tripping down some side road.

The story itself is a curious one, but it's the sort of off the wall I expect from Kubert's Rock.  A
secret mission takes Easy from fighting in Italy to the Baltics to retrieve a prophecy that might shorten the war.  Of course, the prophecy is more like a Jewish messiah of sorts, last survivor of once burgeoning Jewish population in the area.  We have hard bitten partisans aiding Rock and Easy, with some questionable loyalties, or rather questions as to what they're loyal.  Nasty, betraying neighbors rear their heads, too.

After wiping out a good number of Nazis and losing the hapless new guys in Easy, we end up with a successful mission and a bit of a reminder for me.  When the prophecy is taken out by helicopter I thought, wait a minute, helicopters in 1943?  A little research later and sure enought there were about 700 of them in use during WWII. 

Of course, a successful mission for Rock doesn't mean a shortening of the war.  It just means they got the guy out and he might shorten the war. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Some Books You May Have Read Last Week

So you may have noticed the publishing schedule is a wee bit erratic these days.  Between summer vacations and Jim taking a break the crew hasn't quite figured it out yet.  Personally, I managed to get a new job (excellent) in a new state (excellent) which means I have been working in one state during the week (not so excellent) and traveling home on weekends (really not so excellent).  The only saving grace is that my LCS owner has graciously allowed me to couch surf his house until I get settled.   Because of that, I have managed to read a ton of books that would never have considered otherwise.


You can see what I thought below the break.

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Party is Over or The Corporate Comic Book Game

The George Perez announcement was amazing. It is not that George has never before left  the big two to do his own thing before, but what George was saying is what made it such a watershed moment.  A quote from the CBR article from Geogre confirms what I knew Well, while I have enjoyed considerable professional and personal success with both Marvel and DC, it was becoming all too evident that many of the books being produced by both companies seem to be getting more and more corporate driven. Many of the characters I grew up with were turning into strangers whose adventures were determined by factors that had less and less to do with what made a good comic story and more to do with how these properties can be exploited for other purposes. There's nothing wrong with that, I guess, but not something that I felt was particularly satisfying for me as a storyteller.”
At this point we are seeing more and more evidence how things are rapidly changing at Marvel and DC. The evidence is from Jerry Ordway’s lament over lack of consistent work, to Matt Fraction doing work at Image and Greg Rucka walking away from the big two. Add to that Brubaker saying farewell to Marvel and not going back to DC. It is also young and old creators walking away from DC (Fialkov and Robinson).  You have JMS opening up Joe’s Comics again, Jason Aaron doing work at Image and Mark Millar walking away from Icon imprint. The handwriting is not just on the wall it is scrawled across the sky in lights.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The List - June 2013

I'm probably going to be rather brief this month.  It's vacation season and I bought more than usual in June.  A lot of interesting new titles out, and that doesn't even include Miniature Jesus where I missed the second issue and am holding off on mentioning issue 3 until I get 2.  Off and running.

1. American Vampire: The Long Road to Hell 1 - I'll freely admit that this probably isn't the best title of the month.  It's just that I've not had an American Vampire fix in a few months since the book went on hiatus.  This one shot set in 1959 doesn't even have Skinner or Pearl in its pages.  No Felicia, either.  Mostly it's about a young couple who wind up turned into vampires but who try not to eat anyone who doesn't deserve it.  They find a lonely young boy in an orphanage who can tell who deserves to be lunch, but the boy isn't what he seems.

2. Invincible 103 - Anstrom Levy's back!  Angstrom Levy's back!  Hot
damn.  Somewhat disappointingly, though not entirely surprisingly, so's a Mauler Twin, who's given up on the whole twin business and claims to be the original, non-clone incarnation.  Now, I always found the Mauler Twins highly amusing and entertaining but when Oliver killed them it was a major story point.  Bringing them back, or at least one, is undermining that story.  Sure, the constant cloning always allowed for that back door, and it's in keeping with the superhero core of the Big Two, but this is Kirkman, not the Big Two. 

3. The Walking Dead 111 - Well, the cover alone is reason for this to by high on the list.  Inside Negan shows himself to be far more perceptive than the Governor ever was, despite his appearance of being far more insane than the Governor.  I have to say I was far happier with how Kirkman decided to resolve the attempted betrayal of Rick than I was in seeing the Mauler Twin back, and this book would have been over Invincible but for Anstrom Levy.  Kirkman is showing Negan to be a much more complicated character than the cut out villain he first appeared.  The Governor will have real competition in TWD lore when Kirkman finishes this story line.

4. Dia de los Muertos 3 - Riley Rossmo's cultural celebration in anthology
form is almost epic.  The variety of stories by various writers is engaging everytime, but Rossmo really anchors it with his art in every single one of them.  That's a lot of art.  As I've mentioned previously, he alters his style with each story to suit the nature of the story.  I particularly liked the Kirby-esque "Day of the Dead 3000" in this issue.

5. Fables 130 - "Junebug" is another in the long line of Fables tradition of one issue stories that serve as important points in future tales.  Young Junebug is under foot for her parents moving into the newly restored Fabletown, post Mister Dark, and is sent off to explore on her own in the large building.  No one believes her story of creatures in the basement plotting something nefarious until her parents find scratches on her back...

6. Brother Lono 1 - I was late to the 100 Bullets train but read the entire
series in trades.  No way I'm waiting around for Lono's new story to be collected.  We're in Mexico now and Lono is a Brother.  Hard to believe, but then again we have the sexiest nun (named June) since "Two Mules for Sister Sara".  Of course dead bodies are cropping up and fingers are coming off live ones.  It is the 100 Bullets mileu after all.

7. Atomic Robo: The Savage Sword of Dr. Dinosaur 1 - Come on.  It's a Dr Dinosaur story arc.  What's not to like?  A nice bit of Mole Man reference to start things, too.
8. Sex 4 - The least of the title activity so far.  The story's moving along
with some nice developments but not much action this round.  The stark cover is appropriate.

9. Wonder Woman 21 - First Born fighting has led to the death of Lennox.  Well, probably not.  No one ever dies in Big Two world, and it's not explicit that he's supposed to have died here. 
More interestingly, we end up on Orion's home world, bowing before Highfather.  For once I'm looking forward to a story involving these characters.

10. Thor: God of Thunder 9 - "Then it rained hammers.  And Thors."  Not
looking so good for the Thors Three.  This is one of those books where you know what has to happen in the end, because nothing every actually changes in Marvel (or DC), but it's a fun ride pretending that something might actually happen.  Of course, it doesn't hurt to have Jason Aaron telling the story.  Even his letters column responses are fun.

11. Unwritten 50 - A larger than usual issue for the landmark numbering and the start of a cross over into the Fables realm.  I'm not a big crossover fan, and the last time there was one involving Fables and Jack of Fables I was sorely disappointed.  This one is taking the tactic of having Tom's appearance alter how things went with the fight against Mister Dark.  In this version surviving Fables are on the run, hiding from Dark and his minions, which includes all Mundy's who are still alive.  So far it's a better start than the Jack of Fables one, and I think it helps that there's no portion of the story occurring in the Fables title.  If you just want to read Unwritten, that's all you need to do.

12. Fairest 16 - The India adventure continues with Charming.  Kind of drawn out this issue with Charming and Nala chasing the dhole to try to beat them to her village.  Not sure who the guy is working with the dhole.

13. Mouse Guard: Legend of the Gaurd (vol 2) 1 - Another 4 issue set of guest creators in Mr Petersen's world.  Lots of nice little tales here by Stan Sakai, Nick Tapalansky, Alex Eckman, and Ben Caldwell.

14. Bodie Troll 2 - Still a lot of fun in the all ages realm.  Plenty of dirty roots to go around.

15. The Wake 2 - Merpeople are fishy.  So are the survace people.  Snyder and Murphy will tie this altogether, I'm sure, but it was a little bit standard set up this issue.

16. Dark Horse Presents 25 - Lots of good stories but if you go into this expecting a Buffy story, and the cover on some issues showing her fighting vamps, you're going to be disappointed.  The Buffy story is of some tertiary fighter I don't know from the TV show.  Looks like Slayers include gay males now, not just females.  Wonder how they wrote that into the mythos.

17. The Black Beetle 4 - This was a really good, fun noir superhero series.  It's very much in the spirit of the old pulp stories, rather than a superhero, really.  Good work by Francavilla.

18. Ten Grand 2 - A lot of good books this month, obviously, for this to be down this far on the List.  The question of who's actually seen an afterlife and whether the manipulators behind the mission are who they say they are is already smacking our hero in the face.

19. The Massive 13 - The Kapital traveled a long way between issues.  When we finished 12 we were trapped in ice in Alaska.  Now we're in flooded NYC.  An aircraft carrier group is making things interesting. 

20. Batwoman 21 - This was an all Killer Croc episode.  I've seen so many versions of his origin I'm hardly paying attention to what it's supposed to be this time.

21. Mara 5 - Mara seems to be reaching Superman levels.  Killing her brother probably wasn't a good idea.

22. Lazarus 1 - I'm generally a big Rucka fan but I can't make the economics of his near future world work.  Maybe I'll be able to ignore it in future issues or it'll become clearer.  Discussiong for another day.

23. The Bounce 2 - Having a stoner as your lead character, and following things in a somewhat disjointed fashion, makes some sense but can be hard to follow.  Bouncing is certainly what we're doing so far.

24. Jupiter's Legacy 2 - It sure is pretty but the story of disaffected superpowered second generation and a jealous brother aren't exactly new.   A couple more issues and if something more interesting hasn't happened, I'll have to move on.

25. Uncanny 1 - This was a last minute impulse buy.  I like the powers the hero has and the art by Campbell is very good.  Lee thought it failed for ending at a point that completed a story so a reader could just jump off.  I think there's more than enough plot dangling to come back.

26. Damsels: Mermaids 2 - Much as I was pleasantly surprised by the first issue, I felt like there was too much reference in this issue to events that had gone on elsewhere.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Is Marvel F*cking Over DC?

I’m getting less and less involved in the actual comic books and more and more I find the politics and workings of the big two to be fascinating. Like four blind men trying to describe an elephant I can only imagine what is actually going on because I’m not privy to any insider knowledge.
From that perspective it does seem to me that Marvel is just plucking at DC and screwing with them at times for the hell of it. I say this because of two rising stars that DC had in their stable of writers but apparently did not feel it necessary to sign them to exclusive contracts. First up is Joshua Fialkov. He was dynamite on “I, Vampire” and based on what I read the trade sales were doing great. Like a Vertigo book of old this series could have survived with a little support and apparently made money with trade sales. Who knows what the digital sales were doing. In addition the constant cross-over into the regular DCU was at first a more horrifying prospect then actual vampires but Fialkov handled it so well that his Stormwatch appearance was the best that group was ever handled.

So what happens is that I first see his name on an Alpha mini-series over a Marvel. An almost try out book to see if Marvel likes his writing. DC strikes back and he gets a gig writing two GL books. Then the DC screw up happens and he walks off those books and is now writing Ultimates at Marvel. I can only imagine that as time progresses we will see him becoming a big star at Marvel and eventually parlaying his fame into some great creator owned material.
Next up is Charles Soule; he comes in and is writing Swamp Thing after Scott Snyder. Not only is he going a great job, it is a much better run then what Scott was doing with the character. Then when the GL thing with Fialkov goes to hell, DC gives Soule a GL book (Red Lanterns). Hell they have announced him on the Superman/Wonder Woman book. It sounds like Soule, who so far is a quality writer, is willing to be a company man and get what they want done. Good for him, no matter how big of an indy star you maybe, eating and a regular paycheck is a good thing. Of course I see that he is now writing Thunderbolts for Marvel. I can only imagine that this will piss off someone at DC and something else will go wrong and Soule will be full time at Marvel becoming a star with them.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

July 10 – Drops and Adds

The title says it all

Books I decided to drop


Demon Knights #22 – Decent book, but DC has cancelled and I was not that invested.

Green Lantern Corps #22– Bernard Chang’s art is not a style that I enjoy and the first issue in the new direction was a not a "wow can’t wait to see what happens next", so goodbye.

Suicide Squad #22 – An odd drop because it is decent enough, but the book is going nowhere fast and with the super elixir which brings anyone back to life, a book I can drop. Plus I’m pushing to get rid of as many DC and Marvel books as I can as I want to try out all the new indy stuff coming out.

Threshold #7 – Sort of a fun book updating all the oddball 50/60 space adventure characters, but again DC has cancelled it and I see no reason to continue to invest in the book.

Monday, July 08, 2013

Interview With Emily Muto - Creator of The Way to Your Heart

For those of you who were not readers back when I was a regular writer for Comics And..., I'd like to add a bit of an introduction. As much as I grew up with traditional comic books I find myself enjoying webcomics more and more as I get older. There's a lot of great work out there that's creator driven and often has an ending planned before the creator even starts posting. Also, with many webcomics you have a chance to have an ongoing conversation with the creator(s) through comments sections, emails, online forums and, in Emi's case, a shoutbox. I have a lot of fun reading webcomics and some of my best interviews have been from reaching out to the creators directly. If you haven't checked out some of the great comics available FOR FREE online, you should. Then, if you like them you can choose to support the creators directly without any middle man.

The Way to Your Heart (TWTYH) is a webcomic I started reading a over a year ago. I actually found it through another comic I read as Emi (Emily Muto) contributed a guest page while the creator of Red String was on hiatus. Her art work for Red String attracted me to her page and I have been an avid reader ever since. 
Without further ado: Emily Muto!
Gwen: Tell us a little about yourself.

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Superior Foes of Spider-Man #1 – A Review

I have sworn off doing a week in review but I have been reading so many positive reviews of Superior Foes of Spider-Man #1 that I have to add my two cents.

It was pedestrian at best; it was a waste of paper at its worst.

First off Nick Spencer (writer)  has failed to impress me with his work at Marvel. I’m starting to think that Nick is never going to be a star writer or that he is perhaps better suited as an indy writer or maybe he would fit better at DC. Bedlam has more pizzazz then any of his work at Marvel. Secret Avengers was horrible and so is this book. When you have the Parker adaptations out by Cooke and you have even Thief of Thieves out on the market, this sad imitation of trying to do a crime book is just not cutting it. It had no caper, it was all set up and none of the characters were appealing. Throwing in Hammerhead crapping in the john and the remarks after were the worse of the worst in playing to the bathroom humor stuff.

Next up is the Marvel habit of just taking a character and throwing out any portrayal of the character that had come before and remaking them in the fashion that the writer wants. Since it has worked so well with Hawkeye, I guess there is no reason to stop now. Bullseye was recently made over as some great mastermind in Daredevil, so why not change up Boomerang. He had been played in a very different fashion in Thunderbolts by Jeff Parker. Of course it doesn’t matter who these characters are, they are all being reworked to fit the story that Spencer wants to tell.

Finally outside of Lieber’s art the book does not even feel like it fits in the Marvel Universe. They are all losers in the book and Boomerang is being set up as the guy with a plan and it starts with him conning his way to getting bail money from his cohorts. I can only imagine that this has garnered so many positive reviews because many fans don’t buy anything not from Marvel or DC. Go out and buy the recent reprinted Scene of the Crime by Brubaker and Lark, Criminal by Brubaker and Phillips, Red Handed by Matt Kindt or get the Parker adaptations by Darwyn Cooke, they are awesome. Leave this tripe on the stands.

Comic Covers Sunday: Amazing Cow Heroes

I had a plan for covers this week.  I was all set to go... then I found the series, Amazing Cow Heroes.  It's so incredibly... (insert appropriate adjective here)... that I had to share.   Since I've never seen a single issue and didn't know the books existed before this week I have no clue of they are any good or not.  But as a piece of humor, they're great.  All issues published in 2010.

Best of luck finding a copy...

Amazing Cow Heroes #1
This is a good indication of what you are getting into but this isn't the best cover or character.  Not by far!  Read on because it gets even... (insert appropriate adjective here)... after the break.

Friday, July 05, 2013

The Gettysburg Address: A Graphic Adaptation

This is a bit different.  Well timed, too, considering the 150th anniversary of the battle this year and the 4th of July holiday around which I'm posting this review.

Jonathan Hennessey, writer, and Aaron McConnell, artist, are telling the history of the Civil War using an interesting device.  Oh, the cover blurb oversells it, but it's not too far off.  "Using Lincoln's words to tell the whole story of America's Civil War, 1776 to the present."

What they do is go through the Gettysburg Address in order and in segments to give a broad history of the Civil War, its history, and its aftermath.  It's an interesting concept, and I'm really interested to see what they did with their previous effort, "The United States Constitution: A Graphic Adaptation".  They couldn't have done it the same way because the Constitution is far longer than the Gettysburg Address.

Of course, this work, while broad, doesn't tell the whole story of US History from 1776 to now, even if using the Civil War as fulcrum.  There are a myriad of stories that are Civil War related but aren't a part of this work.  But that's publishers for you.  If you have any interest in US history, this is an excellent read.  The art is especially good.  McConnell captures both the terrible nature of the war and also provides portraits of the many historical figures that are accurate and easily recognizable.

Now, my major quibble with the book is near its beginning.  Hennessey takes "Four score and seven years ago" and posits that Lincoln chose these words as an opening salvo in the contest over states rights.  He argues that Lincoln choose 1776 as the starting point of the nation because that was the date of the Declaration of Independence.  Selecting that date rather than the ratification of the Constitution allowed Lincoln, in Hennessey's argument, to assert that the nation was formed by all of the people of what would be the United States rather than a compact among the states that allowed the states the final say in how the nation operated or even whether it continued as a nation.

I don't find that argument particularly pursuasive.  As much as Hennessey provides direct quotes from historical figures throughout the work to support his contentions, there is no direct quote from Lincoln to show that he believed that 1776 was such a key date in supporting his arguments that the states did not have a unilateral right to seccede from the union.  Furthemore, 1776 had been celebrated throughout the nation as the birthday of the country for a long time.  The Founding Fathers, regardless of whether they were Hamiltonians or Jeffersonians, celebrated 1776 as the birthday for the nation.

I think Hennessey is trying to create an argument that didn't exist for this opening section of the Address.  The combatants in the Civil War had plenty to argue about, and Hennessey does an excellent job exploring those arguments in the remaining sections, even addressing the Articles of Confederation's failure and the fight between Free Labor and Slave Labor economics that was as much a cause of the dispute as any political or moral argument.  In fact, the political and moral served as cloaks for the economic arguments that were the central dispute.

My minor quibble is the aftermath part of the story.  Hennessey proceeds with the presumption that the forces in favor of a strong central government prevailed.  While that's true it wasn't the end of the argument.  He does address the failure of Reconstruction and the apathy, if not hostility, of northern whites to the plight of blacks under Jim Crow that ran from the late 1800s until after World War II, but he doesn't address the voiciferous revival of states' rights philosophy that is the inaptly named Tea Party movement.  The idea of state superiority over the federal government continues to rear its head, almost inevitably because of the fear of the white male that he's lost or losing his power at the federal level as demographics change.  Which white male has changed and broadened from the WASP of yore to now include all white males, but that same fear of the other has kept states' rights philosophy alive.  Hennessey notes the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments and how they changed the Constitution but doesn't explicitly state how they undermine the states' rights philosophy.  I'd have liked to have seen that included.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

July 4 Bonus

Some US flags throughout the years for your perusal.  See if you can identify when each was used, either by date or occasion.

4th of July

Happy 4th of July!

Have a picnic.
Enjoy some fireworks.
Most of all enjoy your day off!

We'll see ya next week as we're all taking a vacation too!