Saturday, August 29, 2009

Casanova v1 TPB

I have had Matt Fraction's Casanova: Luxuria for about a year or so. I have tried to read it a few times prior to this and just wasn't able to. The very beginning of it is kind of dense. What i understand now is that instead of getting confused and setting the book down, you just need to give it a few more pages. Don't stress out if you don't fully understand it as it starts out pretty fast and gets the confusing stuff out of the way pretty quickly. It quickly turns into a sort of joyride if you just go with it.

Casanova is another thing that I will call a love letter to comics. You really get a sense that Fraction just loves the hell out of comics in the way this is written (including the statement 'I love Comics' actually appearing in the book, but that isn't what I am talking about). You get a lot of fun comic conventions all over the place in this. Mad scientist, evil mastermind, super spy, robots, giant robot, time travel(time/space/dimensional travel), life model decoys, multiple earths, death that isn't final, psychic duels, advanced civilizations, and much more are packed into this story.
Casanova Quinn is the son of the leader of the big law enforcement organization E.M.P.I.R.E. His sister Zephyr is also a super spy/agent. After his sister is killed, Cass is pulled into another timeline where the Casanova there had been killed, and the Zephyr there had not. From that point he is enlisted by Newman Xeno to be a double agent, and to run missions for W.A.S.T.E. The AIM to EMPIRE's SHIELD. The missions are sometimes just piggybacked onto his EMPIRE missions, but are often counter to the objectives. He is constantly facing off against his sister and Xeno and other elements. When the volume ends he is in a good position to start anew, with a base of operations and a freshly assembled team.
It's a romp, a wild ride, it's a well done story with a lot of humor and a great deal of cleverness about it. The art is by Gabriel Ba and works very well with the story. If you've never read it, here is a link to a good CBR article on it that includes a preview of the entire first issue

Friday, August 28, 2009

Lucifer, the first 4 Trades

I think I have re-read most of the first volume of the Lucifer trade about five times. I have enjoyed it every time, but for some reason I have waited to read any further than that, even though I got the first three trades for my birthday a while back, and have had volumes 4 and 6 since last year (half priced trades at Heroes I think, and I still need to pick up v5.
In the past five days I have read the first four trades. This amounts to issues 1-28 of the comic. If I had the fifth volume right now, I wouldn't be writing this.
Lucifer is a spin off from Sandman. Lucifer was a character in certain storylines in Sandman, and one of the things that happened there was that he abdicated Hell, and had Dream, of the endless, cut his wings off. If you have read any Sandman at all, you know that not only is it very well written, but it is also a very dense and I would say fertile work. It is very thick with characters and worlds and possibilities. As you read Sandman, you get a feeling that all of those places existed outside of the storyline, that they were real things with their own histories and futures, and that
whatever we saw in the comic was just a glimpse. It is a very rich work in that regard. There are a lot of possibilities for stories that could be picked up and told. Some of them have been, and many have not. According to the introduction in volume 1, Lucifer is the character that Neil Gaiman most wanted to see 'spun off'. I think it was an ideal choice for that honor, and I think it is clear that Mike Carey really was the right person to do it.
The character of Lucifer is one that I think would be hard to write well. He is clever and sly, he is an individualist, as well as a being of great power. He is called the prince of lies, but as the comics make very clear, he keeps his word. His intellect and his cleverness are such that he seems to operate exclusively in the 'very big picture' view of things. You may think you have him at a disadvantage, but you can't be sure he hadn't already allowed for that, and built it into his plan before you even started to formulate yours. He is a master of negotiation, a master of the bluff, and he is always aware of the true rules that govern any situation. He also commands respect, and may not tolerate it when people don't know their place.
The beauty of this series is in the telling. When you are reading it, you are always seeing multiple angles. You are never perched on Lucifer's shoulder for very long, but you see the plot building through the points of view of a great number of supporting cast. Sometimes the supporting cast are recurring characters, and sometimes they are almost just incidental. In one, we see two unfortunate 'pilgrims' who happen into Lucifer's home uninvited, in another we get a wonderful story of a female centaur that was born in Lucifer's realm outside of creation. She sees the future and seeks to warn him as he is their creator.
My favorite character in the stories is Elaine Belloc. When we first see her she is a young girl whose friend was killed, only to remain her friend as a ghost. Elaine sees ghosts, and is able to call on the spirits of her Grandmothers to give her guidance. We learn a lot more about Elaine as the story goes on, and due to his saving her life and always being honest with her, she is considers Lucifer her friend.
Ultimately the stories relate to Lucifer's rebellion against heaven, and his desire to have a creation of his own where no-one bows down to anyone, and religion is the only thing that is truly forbidden. He makes a lot of enemies in the process, and their machinations are rolled into the story as well, creating a compelling and interesting series of stories and events.
I truly believe that this series is brilliantly done. I would say that it is every bit as good as Sandman, but I think it's standing as a byproduct of that series makes it hard say that. It's the flawless heir in my opinion, a very worthy offspring to a very good comic. It takes the character (and some of the supporting ones) and continues them in a way that just moves naturally from everything we saw about them in the first place.
I strongly recommend giving this a read if you haven't already. If you aren't a Sandman fan you should give it a read anyway. (If anything, just give Sandman: Season of the Mists a read before you start this).

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Heartbreak Soup

I am not sure that I have given Gilbert Hernandez and his work the love they deserve. Since I first fell in love with Love and Rockets (in the mid to late 80's) it was more about Jaime and the Locas stories. I read a good bit of Palomar stuff, but I never REALLY read it. It could be argued that I did that with a lot of the Love and Rockets stuff I had in general, at first, anyway. I got the Locas hardcover when it came out a few years ago, but didn't pick up Palomar, and then felt stupid when it was no longer available. A few months ago I picked up the lovely 2007 Heartbreak Soup paperback. and last week I ordered the second volume that covers Palomar stuff, Human Diastrophism.

I think a lot of my dismissiveness in the past is probably due to a lack of maturity on my part. When I was first encountering this stuff I was maybe 17, and the punk edge of Maggie and Hopey appealed to me more than the goings on in a small town. Twenty-two years later I must have matured enough to appreciate it. I started reading it and could barely put it down until I finished. It was a good meaty read, and not something you could just speed through. It's about 285 pages of comics, and it is very dense with dialog and characters and intertwined plots. There are also very helpful little pronunciation guides at the bottoms of the pages that help with character names. I am ok with Spanish pronunciation, but still found it helpful.

In this volume there isn't really a single theme, a single steady plot that drives the volume, etc. We get a good number of individual stories that all exist in the same basic setting, using some amount of the same characters at various points in their lives. It really functions as a window on a small town in Mexico and focuses on the lives, loves, heartbreaks and triumphs of the people that live there. I was trying to think of something that it brings to mind, and I guess two things really struck me as being evoked in the stories. The first is the Eisner's Contract With God Trilogy, and how it really highlights a location as the central focus and we see the world that revolves around that spot, and the people that come and go. The other is the Andy Griffith Show. Palomar could be Mayberry. Both are filled with characters you might find in any small town, and both, despite their size and distance from a big city will not tolerate being made to look like bumpkins or let their 'simple country nature' be taken advantage of.

Gilbert's art is a masterwork of cartooning skill. Palomar comes across as a fully populated, 'living' town. Every character is distinct. Every character shows a real range of feelings and emotions. Faces are expressive, but body language is also clearly communicated through the art. If there is one place that I personally believe he excels the most, it would be in his portrayal of children. The stories are filled with children. If not in the foreground, then in the background. They are delightfully, and perfectly portrayed. There is that sense that kids can be kids regardless of where you put them, or what situation they might be in. I just found them to be real.

I can't speak highly enough of this. If somehow you have made it this far in your life and you haven't given this a read, then you owe it to yourself. The paperback is 14.95 and can be picked up online for less. I can't imagine that anyone has captured the human condition any better than this. The stories are sweet and sad and sometimes optimistic, and sometimes not. It's a lot like life, only with better writing and art.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

CBD 08/26/2009 - a really good week for #comics

Invincible Presents Atom Eve, Detective Comics, Batman & Robin, Wednesday Comics, Shazam

Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam #7 - I am pretty sure I asked my LCS to cancel this for me, but I am pretty happy they ignored me. Each time I see it in my stack, I can't bring myself to not get it. This issue may be the best in the series so far. It just has everything going for it. It is fun and has real plot and action and humor in it. The art is very good, and the overall style just works for the sort of comic it is. I think this is a kids comic that embraces that fact and at no point talks down, or has any other agenda than to tell a good story and entertain. Dr. Sivana is at his evil genius best in this. I sometimes think Baltazar and Franco should just write every kids comic. Byron Vaughns art is also just perfect.

Batman and Robin #3 - This series, despite the lack of Bruce Wayne as Batman, is probably my favorite Batman treatment in a long time. It has the true spirit of Batman and Robin in it, but also the dynamic of trying to fill big shoes, and a sort of reluctant partnership. We know what Dick Grayson can do, but being Batman is another thing entirely. This issue continues with the two main characters not working together. You know they should be, but they aren't. It ends with a better understanding of why the partnership is important. The story continued to be really creepy and edgy, without being too far over the edge.

Detective Comics #856 - JH Williams makes this title worth getting even if they stopped putting any words in it. The layouts are every bit as lovely as the art itself. The writing in this is no slouch either. I've seen reviews that speak a bit critically, but I just don't see where anything is being done wrong in this title. Developments in this issue ramp things up even more, and I am excited about how this is going. We get to see a little bit more of Kate as a person in this one, and it is very well done. I think Rucka is portraying his characters as real and fairly rounded people. We have a main character who is a lesbian, but I don't think we are getting just a caricature or a stereotype or worse, a school boy fantasy, we are getting a complex character. I know this is another Alice in Wonderland themed villain, but I don't have any issue with it, and kind of love it, regardless. I am loving this so far.

Wednesday Comics #8 - I will be really sad when this is over.
Kamandi - still the prettiest thing ever.
Adam Strange - Very well done, still liking it more than I want to
Wonder Woman - Still not trying to read it yet
Green Lantern - I do a shot every time he says Dill. I thought this week was better than most. Green Lantern is in it and there is something happening.
Flash - still a solid story.
Teen Titans - Maybe the best week for this. Still should be way better, but I do want to love Galloway's art.
Supergirl - Honestly, I think it's humor and awesomely cute art make this one of the best entries in a field of strong entries.
SGT Rock - I like the art a lot, but the story is a bit underwhelming so far
Superman - I like the art and the scale of this, but it is pretty slow moving. I don't hate it though
Demon/Catwoman - I LOVE this this week. Maybe it's picking up. I want to like this, and haven't really until now.
Metal Men - Not a big fan of them, but I liked this week, and may enjoy the rest of it
Metamorpho - This is another lazy writer installment. Instead of a game board we get a periodic table... part one of two...
Deadman - I am really enjoying this. The art and writing pair perfectly. It's fun stuff.
Batman - still solid
Hawkman - Still pretty crazy good. I am not a fan of everything Baker does, but I like this

Invincible Presents Atom Eve (collected edition) - I picked this up when it came out as a two issue... series of two issues. I like this format better. I like the heavy cover and having the whole story in one piece. Definitely pick this up, especially if you didn't read it yet. You do NOT need to be a regular reader of Invincible to appreciate this. This is good comics. I swear I got a lot more out of this by reading it again. It is very funny and very well well written. The art is also well done and very expressive. This story also has a pretty sad element to it, and that is done very well, balanced nicely with the humor. Benito Cereno and Nate Bellegarde are talents very much deserving of recognition. Look for their upcoming continuation of Eve's story in the Atom Eve and Rex Splode mini series coming out in October, and Hector Plasm: Totentanz coming in November. Benito is also going to be writing the new ongoing series for The Tick which starts in November as well.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Zuda - August competition - Vote Rogue Royal

As is true every month, there is are a lot of great entries in the competition this month. My vote this month goes to Rogue Royal. It is a comic Sci-Fi space adventure strip, and it is awesome. The art is cute and stylish and fun. The strip is extremely funny and well done. The first 8 pages introduce us to our heroine, Ember Zeram, Space Princess, and how she acquires her weapons. Go check it out, and vote for it if you like it. I recommend reading all the entries, but this one gets my vote

Rogue Royal

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

CBD 08/19/2009

Wednesday Comics, Tiny Titans, Atomic Robo Shadow From Beyond Time

This week I also picked up Empowered V5. I am not including a picture. But if I did, it would double the number of hits I get here. I haven't read it yet, but I had meant to pick it up for a while, and they were out of my first choice which was Planetary V1.

Wednesday Comics - Another good, enjoyable issue. Notable this week: Metamorpho isn't a cop out writing-wise, and Green Lantern appears in more than one panel of the Green Lantern strip. Kamandi continues to look like a frame-worthy homage to classic newspaper strips. Supergirl gets another extremely funny and cute page with Aquaman, Deadman is also striking this week in it's full page layout, and looks sort of like Eisner designed a page and had Kirby draw it. Strange Adventures and Hawkman continue to be very good comics. I think they should make this year round and sell it for 2.50. That would be a comics revolution. Do it in X #week runs, and switch up at the end of each run while continuing to focus on Art and design coupled with good writing and 'classic comic strip' sensibilities.

Atomic Robo Shadow From Beyond Time #4 - If Atomic Robo is on the cover, it's like a written guarantee that you will enjoy the contents. That isn't hyperbole. Even taken out of context with the series it is in, I have not read an issue yet that didn't make me laugh, and didn't leave me feeling satisfied about how I spent my comics dollar. That isn't hyperbole either. It may actually be understatement. This series moves through time, making each issue like it's own separate thing, even though all of them contribute to the whole. The best part of this one is Carl Sagan as a kickass Rambo... of SCIENCE.

Tiny Titans #19 - This is another sure thing for me. It is sweet and nice and fun. It is geared toward young kids, but makes me smile as much at 40 as it would have when I was a little kid. My daughters routinely read this before I get my hands on it, and enjoy it at ages 10 and 15 too. at $2.50 it's perfectly priced as well. This issue focuses on friendships, and highlights Bumblebee and Plasmus, as well as Monsieur Mallah and the Brain. Lovely stuff as always.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Age of Bronze: Betrayal, Part One

I picked up the hardcover of this Eric Shanower comic at the library a few days ago because I wanted to finally give Age of Broze a read. I had picked it up a few times and was scared off by how dense it seemed, and the historical aspect of it, even though I am a big fan of mythology(Greek and otherwise) and generally like things about ancient civilizations and the warfare of those times.

I was at the library and resolved to give some things a chance that I had avoided in the past for whatever reason. I am sort of running out of things I haven't read from the comics collection at my local branch and figure that I should broaden my scope even more than I already have. I borrowed this book, as well as a Star Wars graphic novel, Ranma 1/2 , 2 Justice League themed audio books on CD, and a Cartoon History of the Universe.

What I didn't realize at the time is that I sort of had the wrong book in my hands, and had picked up not Age of Bronze #1, but Age of Bronze Betrayal #1. I still want to pick up the initial stories, but my lack of background on this was no barrier to enjoying it.

Age of Bronze Betrayal starts with the Trojans and the Achaeans on more than just the Brink of war. All the gears are in motion, and preparations on both sides are in full force. We get a very good 'story so far' recap and detailed maps to help make sense of everything that's happening. It helps a lot, especially since I haven't read the previous installments. This is apparently part 3 of 7, but again, It is a great read on it's own. It reads like a history, but it is shown in a way that keeps the humor and drama and intrigue at the forefront. There are a TON of heavy hitter type characters, and all are dealt with as individuals. I think this might be the best format for this sort of story.

The art is clean and beautiful, and even though the story contains at least a hundred dark haired guys with beards, all of the characters become easily identifiable as you get farther into the book. It was engrossing and compelling and made me keep my eyes on it until I had finished reading it. It's an excellenty done historical fiction account of the Trojan War. I recommend it if you like any of the sort of elements that it is composed of.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Potential - Ariel Schrag

I recently picked up Ariel Schrag's Potential at borders in the remainders section. It was $2.99. I was browsing the aisle and it caught my eye as 'looking like comics' and indeed it was comics. I also picked up Best American Comics 2006 at the same time for the same price.

I am a sucker for comics autobiography. I have a very high tolerance for some things that seem to bother other people. I actually tend to appreciate the sort of 'here's what I did today, isn't it special?' sort of web comics that I have seen panned in books and articles about webcomics. That isn't to say that I don't like exceptionally good stuff (Fun Home, A Drifting Life, Persepolis, etc.), just to say that I am not a snob with this stuff.

Potential was written in the summer of 1997 after Ariel Schrag's Junior year of High School. It is part of a series of comics she drew each summer during HS that dealt with the prior school year. It is drawn in a pretty rough style that while occasionally difficult to distinguish characters by looks, is still really expressive. The style itself seems to reflect the situations it depicts, making it feel like you are reading the author's emotions at the same time you are following the story and the characters. The facial expressions as well are very good, and you can feel the character's ups as well as the too frequent downs.

The story is one of self-realization and experimentation and awkward High School social drama. It is also a look at what life can be like when everyone knows you are documenting everything. It is also about reconciling your sexuality with your preconceived ingrained notions of the way things need to be. In the book, Ariel is really only sexually attracted to girls, but considers herself a virgin until she has sex with a guy. I don't think there are any apologies in this, or attempts to make things like that look reasonable either. It is a good representation of the sort of chaos that can constantly bombard you in adolescence.

This comic has a lot of nudity in it. It also seems to have a requirement that the word 'dyke' be used twice in every line of dialog. I love lesbians, but am not a fan of the word dyke. I guess that is something I should get over, but it always sounds like an insult rather than a non-judgmental sort of label. There are a lot of words like this, and in general I'm not a fan.

I enjoyed this book. It made me really sad in places because I understand a number of things she was going through better than I would like to. Almost everything she goes through is at least an offshoot of a sort of universal theme, if not a universal theme itself. That's the great thing about autobiographies, as you read other people's stories you find that you are not really as unique or alone as you might think.

I will most likely get the rest of the books relating to her HS days at some point. It is doubtful that I will get as good of a deal on them.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

CBD 08/12/2009

The Unwritten, Wednesday Comics, Marvel Divas, Hero Comics, Ultimate Avengers, Ultimate Spider-man

The Unwritten #4 - Mike Carey & Peter Gross - This is one of those things you really need to read from the beginning in my opinion. If you haven't jumped on board this title yet, I recommend it, but but you will really be best served if you can get all the issues, or hopefully the trade when there hopefully is one. This is to literature as Phonogram is to writing. It's well done, written and drawn. My favorite line is delivered by a menacing figure stalking through a house
murdering people. To a victim hiding behind drapes after running from him he says "You know what's really guiding you? controlling you? Pushing you on?" in regard to the victim's actions. He then supplies the answer as he closes in for the kill. "GENRE conventions." It's good stuff so far.

Marvel Divas #2 - Aguirre-Sacasa, Zonjic - With two issues away, I can say for certain that I love the art in this. I really just enjoy the art an awful lot. The writing is ok, the story is ok. It's a lot of not too much happening and kind of a lot of talking. It also seems to be setting itself up for a sort of predictable series of next steps, but I am hoping I am a bit wrong about that. I like the angle this is taking. I like seeing supportive friends show how a
super-hero community and super-hero friends might deal with a friend having cancer, etc. It has a lot of 'very special Blossom' feel about it, but that doesn't have to be damning either. So... Love the art, have hope for the next 2 issues.

Hero Comics - There was exactly one of these at my LCS today and I grabbed it. It was the Wagner Grendel cover, so I feel like I won the lottery! This is a hero initiative Benefit book put out by IDW. A number of the entries are like presentations during a telethon, but so what, it's still comics for a comics related cause, so go out and buy 5 of it. There is a short American Flagg piece by Chaykin, and an extremely good piece about pop directors directing stories from the bible. It's good stuff. and it's worth picking up. All Proceeds from this title go to the Hero Initiative, which works to help people in the industry who have fallen on hard times, in many cases by helping them get work.

Wednesday Comics #6 - I have not loved every weekly comic that has been made available to me by DC over the years, but I sure love the idea of weekly comics. When I was getting it I really enjoyed getting Spider-Man nearly weekly as well. Happily, there is enough in Wed. Comics to have me excited to pick it up weekly. Here is a quick take on where I stand on the various features.
  • Kamandi, Batman, Metamorpho, Hawkman, Superman. are all very good, some of them are better than others, and Kamandi in particular is beautiful.
  • Supergirl is cute as heck, which is good, as Amanda Conner has stated that Cute was her strategy in this. It is refreshing to have it there, although there are a couple other light offerings.
  • Teen Titans gets my vote as most disappointing. I LOVE Galloway's style, but in this format everything seems to bleed together and it is hard to get into it.
  • Caldwell's Wonderwoman is beautiful, but so small and busy that I look at it for it's loveliness and don't even try to read it. I will read it when I have all the pages.
  • I think Sht. Rock is great, but we are six pages in and he is still tied to a chair at the start of this one. It's good though, and the art is awesome.
  • I like Deadman, but need to see where it goes.
  • I just can't love Metal Men. I'm not sure why.
  • I am not loving the Green Lantern series here, but it could be worse, it could be blackest night.
  • I am also unable to get very excited over the Flash, although I like the Flash too
  • I think that Adam Strange is the best of the offerings so far. The art and the writing are great. I wish that wasn't the case, but I really think it's true.
Ultimate Comics Avengers #1 - Millar, Pacheco - I Loved the Ultimates. I sort of Liked Ultimates 2. I stopped getting Ultimates 3 and cried a little about how much I disliked it at that point. I didn't follow Ultimatum, but I looked forward to some post Ultimatum Ultimate comics. After this first issue, I think it is not out of the question that I will really enjoy the Ultimates again, regardless of what they are called.

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #1 - Bendis, LaFuente - I hate Peter Parker's hair in this, but I like the art a lot. I enjoyed this issue and think it will probably be a pretty great series again. I had kind of weened myself off of Ultimate titles, but have always had a good bit of affection for that universe.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Taking Issue (anniversary edition director's cut)

Planetary #1 - Warren Ellis & John Cassady.
Value-Added Anniversary content - Taking Issue is one of a few named features I have tried to introduce in the year I have been blogging here. Others are 'My Marvel Year' and 'Popgun Bullets'. I first used 'Taking Issue' to talk about Nightwing #149 after it received a LOT of attention for the amount of violence and blood in it. I felt very clever, and thought it would be a nice banner to do various single issue reviews under. My intent was not that it solely deal with controversial stuff, or that it would be a soapbox for things I had a problem with. The name seemed like a catchy sort of pun, and I liked it. So why have I only used the thing twice? The answer is that I am always afraid that maybe the title DOES sound like it needs to be about comics for which their is some sort of controversy, etc. So there you go...

Now back to the issue at hand. I picked up Planetary #1 when the $1 'After Watchmen' Issue hit the shelves. It was one of the few of those that i hadn't read already, and I am a sucker for full length comics for a dollar, and I know that both of the names on the cover are as close to a guarantee of good content as you get these days. I then proceeded to not read it for a while. I happened onto it again as i was bagging up some of the piles of singles I had laying around and decided it's time had come.
One issue into Planetary and I am committed to giving the first trade a go. It was honestly more like 3 pages in that I made that decision, and it just got better from there. I know that some people consider comparisons of comics to movies undesirable, but I'm not one of those people. I think that good storytelling is good storytelling. I think pacing and character and plot development can be very similar in a good comic and a good movie. Obviously that doesn't apply to every comic or every movie, but for some, it is really ideal. I feel this way about Ed Brubaker's Criminal and Jason Aaron's Scalped as well. I think there are genres that benefit from a well 'directed' cinematic feel. Crime and action, horror to some degree, and 'realistic comics'. In my opinion, Planetary, a comic about a small team of people with super-human abilities, investigating other super-human happenings, and wildly improbable concepts, is a realistic comic. It has a very authentic 'comic book realism' to it.
First off, the characters seem to have real personalities, and skew toward 'gritty'. Secondly, there is a strong bit of comic book realism, or sensibility to it. This may work better if you have read a lot of comics, or have a particular affection for them, but everything is familiar enough to seem reasonable, and is presented in a straightforward way that makes you just nod.
Planetary is a 3 person organization. The old 'third man' is no longer in action, so they get a new one. That opens the issue. By the end of this issue, we can only assume what his powers are, because we don't really SEE any powers being used by anyone really. There is a character called the Drummer, and we are told he communicates with machines. There is a character named Jakita Wagner, and we assume she has strength and invulnerability to some degree, as she hops out of a helicopter. We meet Elijah Snow and assume he has some sort of cold related power, but it is never really mentioned.
The team immediately sets off to investigate a complex that has been found in the Adirondacks. We are told that it is the last place that someone named Doc Brass was known to be (back in the 40's). We are also told that no-one had even heard of the guy until recently. It is a sort of statement about the type of book this is, and the type of team this is. They seem to be a secret team that will be dealing with secret teams and such.
When we meet 'Doc Brass' He is immediately recognizable as Doc Savage(Man of Bronze). We meet him, he's alive and he tells his story. The story he tells inside of our story is the closest we get to action in this issue, but that doesn't mean the issue isn't compelling and interesting and a page turner. In his story, we hear that he was part of a team in the 40's that harnessed a super computer, a quantum brain, that created and destroyed infinite earths so to speak, in a quest to perfect our own and solve our problems. In the course of looking across these infinite possibilities, they found that there were others looking back.
I read all of this, and I thought... 'sounds right to me'. All of the ideas are ones that you have seen in one form or another enough times, that when they are presented to you in a reasonable way they seem perfectly reasonable. They have a sort of genre realism that works when executed smartly.
I am anxious to read more and see if it maintains that level. I kind of imagine that it will.
John Cassaday's art is just great in this. It works perfectly for the story, and has a level of realism to it that goes right along with what I was describing to make everything seem perfectly plausible inside the initial conceit.

Good stuff all the way around. I would be surprised that i hadn't read this before if it weren't for the sheer volume of good stuff out there that i haven't yet read.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Popgun Bullets V3 P4

- Bulleted mini reviews of the entire contents of Image Comics anthology Popgun Volume Three (the final installment)

  • 303 The Jailhouse Swing - Jamie S. Rich, Joelle Jones - I particularly like the style of this 8 page narrated piece about a down on his luck palooka and the Angel that loves him regardless. The art goes heavy on the lines in some places, and uses a very sketchy style when showing bits of his fights.His girl seems always drawn with a bit of delicacy. It has a little bit of the feel of something you might see related in Ed Brubaker's Criminal (not the only piece in this review that made me think of that).
  • 311 50 Miles to Marfa - David Hopkins, Daniel Warner - The art in this piece sits on a weird line for me. I am not sure if I love it or if I hate it.The lettering got on my nerves a little, but as I sit here going over the whole thing again, I will say that I really like the art. It's bright, and certainly conveys the setting well, also, the hot-headed character is so expressive he is almost manga-like. The story itself is funny and well written. It is a clever double-cross, and I kind of love those.
  • 319 Cuffs - Derek McCulloch, Peter Krause - Speaking of double crosses and things that could be right out of Criminal, this story has at least three twists in it. The art is very good, and yet again a different style. It's a decent story all the way through.
  • 333 These Kids Today... - Eric Skillman, Connor Willumsen - I love Willumsen's art in general, but I don't love the coloring on this piece. This is a narrated piece that is 3 pages long and a bit abrupt. It isn't badly done, I just don't like it very much. It may just be the theme.
  • 336 Tackle Goes Fishing - Robbie Lawrence - This is a single page bit, and is really cute. I have a hard time saying anything negative about it. It's a kid fishing for birds with a balloon. It's brightly colored and whimsical. I looked at it a few times and thought... ok... graphic mixtape... I get it.
  • 337 Eternal Warrior: Endings - Paul Grist - I like Grist's work a lot, and like this piece as well.
  • 345 The Real Incidentals in Kill Phil - Zac Gorman - I really liked the art and the humor in this one. This is sort of a super heroes meet Captain planet rings that summon embodiments of music styles. The enemy they are tackling is Kill Collins who ruins parties with his insipid Lite Rock. There are a lot of embedded jokes in this thing to look for, The art and color are great. I enjoyed it.
  • 349 Sanz Pantz: Home Al-Owned - Chris Moreno - I love Sanz Pantz. This is another good piece. Every aspect of it is polished and well done. Nothing wrong with Ninja Platypus in my book.
  • 355 Curse of Silence - George Gousis - This is a good efficient anthology piece. It tells a complete story in 4 pages with a twist and good distinctive art. The art and writing are equally strong and both contribute to the story.
  • 359 Bunnyboy - Robb Mommaerts - A cute little girl, a cute little bunny and an atomic chemistry set. This entry takes those three things and remains cute through the entire bit, even when it's horrific and gross. Facial expressions are especially well done in this, and I liked it.
  • 367 Lumberjack in The Root of All Evil - Stephen Reedy, Greg Titus - I loved this piece. The art is very slick and polished, the colors are great, and the writing is sharp. If this were a serious super-hero bit, I would probably not like it, but it is the story of a larger than life, plant hating lumberjack who seems to exist solely to eradicate plant based threats to humanity. He sort of reminds me of the Tick in a way. There is a vibe about it, rather than any direct correlation. He spouts lines like 'My ass will be wiped by your children's warm leafy bodies!' as he leaps in with axes and chainsaws flashing. It commits, takes the risk and succeeds.
  • 379 Avocado Allegrando - Maximo V. Lorenzo - I don't love the lettering in this piece, but that's about it for things I don't love about it. It has a strong manga flavor about it with dynamic layouts and intense one on one duel action. The action is a musicians' battle between a guitarist and a violinist. It is clever and very well done.
  • 387 Deathnaut: Emotional Baggage - Danilo Beyruth - Deathnaut is another very slick good looking entry. It's another one that is a bit tongue in cheek in it's delivery, while not being jokey at all. It works for me, although I am not sure I would want to take this in much larger doses than this. It's solid, but isn't particularly exciting to me. It IS very well drawn and written, though.
  • 403 Londown - Alberto Mielgo - I am sadly mixed on this one. The story is brilliant and touching and kind of lovely. It is a strange sort of super-hero love story with a strong de-emphasis on the super part. The art is my issue. I loved it at first, but after a while it really started feeling like it was done entirely by drawing over top of pictures. After that got into my head it somehow brought down my opinion of the art and got in the way a little. I still think it is very artfully done, and it isn't like I don't consider it a top notch comic even if that is the case. It tells it's story pretty well and I like that story a lot. I don't love the odd text effects it has and the way the word balloons are done, but on a whole, they just cement it's uniqueness whether I love them or not.
  • 421 Failure After Failure - Vassilis Gogtzilas, K.I. Zachopoulos - this is kind of a sweet little sketchily drawn piece lifted out of a relationship between two currently jobless people. It is more a slice of life/moment in time kind of thing that shows the tensions, but also shows some hope. The dialog is a little stiff, but it's nice. Some of the text is hard to read.
  • 429 Olympus: They Say... - Christian Ward, Nathan Edmondson - gorgeous art. The story isn't so much of a story, but the art is just beautiful, and the piece is decent regardless.I like the underwater color effects in particular.
  • 435 Found In The Attic - Olaf Brill, Donald Hello - Time travelling 'secret in the attic' creepy twist sort of story. It works well, and definitely captures the flavor of the sort of story it is patterned after.
  • 443 The Young Macaw - Derek Yu - This is pretty funny. The last page is a bit of a surprise, and should put a smile on your face. The art is well done, and pretty different from anything else in the book. It is set up as a cultural/tribal coming of age ceremony and it fits that pattern well. The pacing is good, and I think the payoff is cute. Plus it has an owl bear in it, and that is worth something.
  • 453 King's Hollow: The Trade - Ryan Cody - I love this piece. I love the main character Nissa, I love the art. I love it and I may just marry it. It really feels like something there should be more of. It is a nice self contained bit, but it really feels like there should be a graphic novel of it somewhere. It looks like there is a one-shot with the same character in it, and I think I will seek that out at some point.
  • 461 Hairballs - Gary Fields - I don't love this. It is an itchy and scratchy sort of piece by way of the campy unfunny Sunday funnies. It's all puns and things that look like puns. I get it, but it isn't my favorite thing. Not badly done for what it is, but not my thing.
  • 463 Mickey Maus - Erik Larsen - It is what it sounds like. It is a one page gag about Mickey Mouse being in a concentration camp and not getting it. Atrocities are funny! I would like to see an edition of this with no Mark Andrew Smith, and no Erik Larsen. No offense to them, but really, make this about other things and other people's work. Innovative and widely varied stuff.
  • 464 Twilight - Michael Woods, Nic Klein - Wow. This is stunningly beautiful and equally sad. The art is lovely, but man is it sad. It's both lovely and haunting. It's a hard situation to face, but the idea of the piece is a good one. It involves a child in a coma, but paints an extraordinary world around them. It will probably stick with me.
Thoughts, opinions, comments? let me have it!

I enjoyed this volume, and if I can afford it, I may very well try to continue this project when the next volume of Popgun comes out. I like this series best when it is giving me really different and innovative stuff, or when it is giving me a very broad range of styles and subjects and genres and art, etc. It's nice to get to see 50 things or so I wouldn't have otherwise seen, and get a maximum number of creators in front of my face. I really do want to experience as much as I can, and this continues to be a decent way to do it. It also forces you to think about short works and anthology pieces as a very different thing from serialized comics or long form graphic novels, etc.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Talkinboutcomics - One year anniversary

Roughly a year ago I started this blog. Prior to that I posted pretty frequent comics related posts on my Live Journal. The Live Journal was and remains mostly friends locked these days, although I often didn't protect the comics related posts. I wanted to really try and make a go of having a real blog that was out there for anyone to see, where I could post about things I was reading, or interested in, and encourage discussion, and otherwise interact with others who share my interests, or at least my love of comics. At the time I had been reading a number of other blogs, and decided that I would do this with my normal good natured geeky voice, and not play it overly harsh, or try to come off as something I'm really not... like a scholar of any sort. I would stick to reading everything I could read, and giving my honest opinion (which is inclined to skew on the positive for whatever reason).

I did several things when I first started. I created all of my accounts with more or less standard branding. I made a talkinboutcomics gmail to go with the talkinboutcomics blogger account, and when I eventually got a twitter account I made it talkinboutcomx to stay within the link restriction. I read a lot of other blogs, and tried to comment whenever I had something to say. I consider commenting in that way to be good blogosphere citizenship. That doesn't mean you ever need to comment on anything, but if you have something to add, do so. If someone solicits responses, do so. A hope in the early days is that if people appreciate your point of view, they may track back to your blog. I don't think anyone likes people who obviously comment only to shill their site in the middle of a normal discussion, but I certainly go to the blogs of people whose comments intrigue me.

I watched what other people were doing. I added a stat counter that I saw someone else using. I joined comic blog elite as a way of trying to get my site listed in a place that some people might look. I want people to read my blog, but the existence of my blog and my continued posting are in no way affected by the number of readers I get, or even if no-one ever reads it at all. I have the luxury of that, as my well being and my livelihood are not tied to the relative success of this blog. I do indeed WANT people to read it. I want people to read it, and I would love to meet people at conventions that I have had conversations with online, etc.

I am not the most socially gifted person. I have a great deal of social anxiety, and have tried to use my convention going as a way of muscling myself through it. The blogging is sort of an extension of that. I picked a name that was anonymous enough, and still don't generally through my whole name around. I think a consistent presence is probably more important than my full name, but who knows.

The good thing about this so far, is that it has given me exactly the sort of forum I had wanted. I have had little pieces of my reviews used on the web sites of products I genuinely love, and I consider that pretty cool, even though I understand that it doesn't mean anything beyond that. I have people whose opinions I value, and whose writing I love to read, fairly regularly comment on things I post. I have gotten a free copy or two sent to me to review, and several requests for me to read online material and review it. I do not do this to get anything for free, and I am always straightforward when I get free copies, even though 'the pros' may say that is amateurish. I say it's being honest and straight forward.

If I ever valued the statistics of my stat counter, I can't say that I really value them now. I like to see that my site is getting a steady stream of hits, and I like to see whatever I can divine from the patterns, but mostly that behavior leads to heartache. Once in this past year, I was somehow linked through 'stumbleupon', and that lead to an uncharacteristically high volume of hits. I have also had reviews linked to through Red 5, and through a site related to Supergirl(cait8g). Those returned a lot of looks, as did my blurb about visiting Forbidden Planet in NY which somehow got linked to some travel thing, or something. Truth be told, I think I accidentally figured out how to get a ton of hits, if that is your goal. I would rather get 3 that are reading and sometimes commenting, than 1000 that think they will be able to download a Batman The Brave and the Bold episode from me because I posted episode reviews, or the unending stream of people that come to my blog from a search for pictures of the scantily clad heroine Empowered (awesome and funny, but I don't think those are the qualities these hits are looking for). I also posted a review of a Ghost whisperer comic where all the teen girls were drawn with visibly protruding nipples, and I still get a lot of hits from nipple seekers.

The most recent thing I have done, is reluctantly enter into the world of Twitter. The more I thought about it, the less reluctant I became. My desire to have a Twitter presence started when I saw the little window on people's blogs that showed their recent twitter posts, and intensified when I saw that you could have it tweet a blurb and a link whenever you posted to your blog. I quickly realized that I didn't really want my twitter to show up on my blog. I didn't want someone's first glimpse of my blog to include what might be a seemingly inappropriate, or incomprehensible reply to something they aren't seeing, so I took that off, and don't really miss it. anyone following me on twitter can certainly see every dumb comment I make, and I don't mind that. I am who I am.

All of that said, and all of that aside, I think it has been a pretty good year. I've had fun doing this, and it has helped me to some degree connect with comics and appreciate them even more than I used to. Much of that comes from the flipside of having my own blog, which is reading and appreciating other people's blogs and their insight and opinions regarding comics. In keeping with that thought, I must say that I genuinely appreciate the people who have routinely replied and offered opinions and insight here, especially Eden from Comicsgirl, Sandy from I Love Rob Liefeld, John from Witwar, and the folks at the Inkwell Bookstore blog. If you somehow made it here, and aren't already aware of those 4 very good comics related blogs, you should certainly go check them out.

Thanks for stopping by, feel free to comment any time you'd like. I appreciate what others have to say about all aspects of the comics medium. I hope to keep doing this for as long as I am still reading comics.

Anniversary Reprint-My first post is relevant again


Written by Benito Cereno, art and cover by Nate Bellgarde.

The creative team behind Invncible Presents: Atom Eve return to their original creation, a modern-day member of an ancient cult whose duties dictate that he roam the earth to protect the living from the dead...and occasionally to protect the dead from the living. It's the follow-up to the book WIZARD MAGAZINE called one of the top 200 comics released during its publication history.

48 pages, $5.99, in stores on Nov. 5.
***(2009 ship date is 10/14/2009)***

I will do something here that I promise won't be an everyday occurrence. I am recommending that you buy this before I have even read it. Hector Plasm: De Mortuis is the previously published volume of Hector Plasm stories, and having read that I can recommend that you buy it if you can find it (Copies were still available through Diamond a while back, and may still be as far as I know). Benito Cereno and Nate Bellgarde have created a compelling character with wit and intelligence... Wit, Intelligence and lots and lots of untold stories.

Hector is a Benandante, a 'well-walker' or 'do-gooder' He wanders the earth with his blade astayanax, his companions Sinner and Saint who are in the tradition of the angel and devil that sit on your shoulders, only much bigger, and the humors within his body that he manipulates to his needs to aid him in solving problems, helping the living and the dead, and fighting evil.

The stories so far range in their pacing and level of action, much in the way that Hellboy stories do. Sometimes the story is about the legend as much as it is about the title character, sometimes more, sometimes less, but always enjoyable. De Mortius is good to pick up as it has the sort of origin story 'Born with a sillyhow', Sillyhow referring to the caul Hector was born with, the layer of amneotic sac that covered his head. The Caul is taken as a sign of good luck and that he will grow up special.

It's good stuff, Well written, well drawn with a style of it's own and packed with folklore and supernatural goodness. Buy it, you'll feel smart that you did.

Note: I re-read Hector Plasm: De Mortuis again before I wrote this, so that my opinion was fresh on it again. I enjoyed it as much this time as I did the first several times. If you get it and read it, tell me what you think here, or in email - The same goes if you have already read it. This place should be about discussion and exchange of ideas and opinions.


2009 Edit - The Previews code for this item is AUG090299. DeMortuis is being offered again and its code is AUG090300

This same creative team is doing a 3 issue Invincible Presents:Atom Eve and Rex Splode series. Issue 1 ships in October as well, and its diamond code is AUG090292.

Friday, August 7, 2009

New Hector Plasm shipping in October!

Hector Plasm Totentanz - I have been waiting for this to come out, and it finally is. It will be shipping in October. You should go put your request in for it now. Hector Plasm is a great supernatural themed comic, with humor and style. Well worth picking up. It is written and drawn by Benito Cereno and Nate Bellegarde. This is the same team that did the 2 Issue Invincible spin off Atom Eve, and has a 3 issue Atom Eve and Rex Splode comic also coming out in October that you should also pick up.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Destroyer #5

I picked up Destroyer #5 yesterday. This was the 5 issue mini series by Robert Kirkman and Cory Walker, with colors by Val Staples, and obviously the last issue came out yesterday. It's a Marvel Max product that was in the works I guess prior to the image partnership thing. It had been solicited before and then came out a good bit later (I believe)

The Miniseries picks up with Keene Marlow, the hero from way back, known as the Destroyer. He's like the Punisher and Rocky mixed together. He knows he's at the end of his life cycle, and has set about to clean up certain messes, certain potential threats that he never completely eradicated. He does this in the most direct and badass bloody ways possible.

In addition to this persona, and this mission, he is a husband, a father, a grandfather, a mentor, and he cares deeply about his family. The thing that completely makes this comic awesome, is that it could easily be a one dimensional splatter-fest, and it would still be a pretty good comic, but instead, it has these layers of real humanity to it. Keene and his wife Harriet genuinely love each other. They are an old married couple in a world where super heroes exist. I don't feel that this aspect is heavy handed at all, but it makes everything else matter more. They have a daughter, and a son-in-law, and a grand-daughter, and all of them come across as real, living breathing characters with a real stake in things. This whole series has been very well written, very well drawn, and excellently colored. I recommend it highly.

This issue specifically is great. He literally fights death, and the ultimate resolution of the story is done without a lot of the standard things that usually happen in stories like this. I think this issue makes the series. I won't elaborate too much right now, as it is just out, but it is certainly worth a read.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Benefit of the doubt? - LCS edition

I wonder sometimes about my loyalty. I wonder also about my need to like things that I want to like. I think that my desire to be friendly and happy, and enjoy the things I surround myself with, causes me to act as though I like things that I have no great incentive for liking, or to artificially inflate the degree to which I enjoy/appreciate them.

The comic shop I go to is the only one to survive an extended time in my immediate area. It is clean and brightly lit. It has a good amount of titles on the wall, a hefty collection of Trades, as well as Trading card games and Heroclix and comics supplies. It has a section set aside for all ages and kids, and bins that have additional trades and some bagged sets, etc. It has a good sized manga section and some figures and plushies.

The staff are all good people. All nice guys. I have no issue with anyone that works there on any sort of a personal level. They are nice to me, they know my name, they are nice to my kids, and I have witnessed them tell people to watch their language, etc. when kids are in the store. The times my wife has gone in to get things for my birthday or Christmas, they have always been good to her and have steered her in the right direction, even though the air in comic shops makes her chafe.

Going over all of that, I guess I see why when I feel a need to speak critically of the store, I generally say they have a very conservative ordering strategy, or something similar to that, to explain away why they seem to generally underpurchase anything that isn't Blackest Night or items of a similar vein.

They really seem to have a disdain for anything even remotely 'alternative'. In this case I am going to call Incredible Hercules 'alternative. When I first started getting into that title I was chatting with the owner and made a comment about how good Incredible Hercules was, and his only comment was a grunt about how it didn't matter because a Hercules title wasn't going to sell.

Another time, recently when talking about SPX I mentioned seeing Brian Lee O'Malley there (interviewed by Jog, in what was a very enjoyable scheduled event. His response was 'That would be great if I knew who that was." When I brought up Scott Pilgrim he made a dismissive comic like 'whatever... wasn't that a webcomic...?" Which I guess is also dismissive of webcomics.

I'm not sure what I expect of my LCS, but I guess it's more than that. There are other things that happen and that are said that make me feel like if they could just get away with selling the top Marvel and DC titles, they would. Even when they get in something out of the ordinary, it is generally in such a small quantity that it is gone before 5pm on the Wednesday it comes in.

These things combined with other similar incidents make me a little sad in some weird way. I have been cutting down my pulls pretty heavily. I still have titles I will get, and I still add new ones when I see something that interests me in Previews, but if not for Previews and the comics internet, I would never have any idea what else was out there. The pull system at the shop I go to is entirely run on index cards. This results in a lot of titles that just don't get ordered and dropped for me, or sometimes titles that continue to be dropped long after I have canceled them. They are really good at getting me any issues I have missed, and would never make me buy anything I didn't want, but it still adds to a feeling I get about the place and the whole process.

If I already have to be aware of everything I might possibly want well prior to it coming out, and I get no real extra value from being at the store, and there is no benefit to browsing, as only the bigger mainstream titles will be on the shelf, then do I really need the store?

I went to two different comic shops when I was in New York earlier in the year. One was Forbidden Planet, and the other Was St. Mark's Comics. St. Mark's was like a hole in the wall filled to overflowing with everything imaginable, including some Love and Rockets singles and various underground and alt comics in pretty high volume. Forbidden Planet is slick and has an enormous selection of trades including a large variety of independents and lesser known works. I imagine there is probably something, somewhere in the DC area that would give at least some of that, but it certainly isn't anywhere close to where I live.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Watchmen on DVD

I watched the Watchmen movie this weekend with my dad and my brother. Neither of them had seen it, and neither of them are active comic book readers. Both of them have read and enjoyed some comics in their lifetimes, but neither of them pick them up for themselves, nor had they ever read Watchmen.

I was at my parents house this weekend. My brother was there as well for the weekend. I went out to pick up ingredients for dinner with my dad and picked up the Watchmen DVD so that we could all watch it the next evening. Sometime between buying it and watching it I misplaced it and asked my mom if she had seen my watchmen video... She thought I was talking about some sort of handheld device. I almost laughed at her, but had to admit that it did sound like that.

I thought the movie was thankfully long. I thought the movie was very faithful to the comic, and that the change to the ending was smart and didn't really hurt anything. As a big fan of the brilliant comic, I think the movie was nearly perfect. It did a great number of things well, and made what I see as a handful of minor adjustments to make the movie a little easier for general audiences to grasp. The original plot in the comic, and the original resolution are a bit of a stretch when you look at how reasonably things were tied up in the movie. In the comic, it was a perfect plot for people who are into comics. There is a lot more too it than the movie, but I think general audiences would have had more issues accepting it.

I thought that the movie hit all the right notes, and gave us a living breathing Rorschach in a way that could only be suggested at in the comic. Jackie Earle Haley's performance was perfect, and he left the same impression on my dad and brother, that the character in the comic had. I also love that this is the guy that played Kelly in the original Bad News Bears movies. Who didn't love Kelly when he showed up all badass delinquent on his motor bike. I am really happy that he is getting a bit of a renaissance.

At the end of the movie, after commenting on not realizing just how long it was (although I do think we watched the long director's cut). Both of them wondered why the movie had been panned so much. They thought it was very good, and very much a comic book movie, albeit a dark one. I asked them about the dialog, as I know a lot of it was right from the comic, and comes off a bit wordy or slightly strange being said by real people, and they felt it really just affirmed that you were watching a comic as a movie.

I was very happy with it, and my two impartial observers were happy with it as well. It is a movie that tries at the expense of mass audience appeal to be true to its source in my opinion. I will go slightly off course now and compare this briefly to the first Harry Potter movie. That is another situation where a movie tried to stay extremely faithful to the source. The first movie came off as a long slow animated storybook that I don't think really succeeded as a movie on any other terms. The HP movies in my opinion, have gotten progressively better as they have started really tailoring the story the deliver to the screen. Yes it means that they leave out important things, but it also means you are getting a better movie experience in my opinion, and one that can carry over just fine to people who may not have ever read the book.

Watchmen as a movie delivers a bit of both of those ideas. It is long and very faithful to the source. It made some changes in the translation to the screen, and it could be appreciated by people that hadn't read the original. However, I think that given the source, and the need to have at least something of a comic book super-hero background to really appreciate what you are seeing, I don't think Watchmen could be pared down and still mean anything in the same way that the HP movies have. Watchmen isn't an ongoing story in the Way the Harry Potter Volumes are. If you are making a movie of it, you need to really include all of it, or none of it.

I recommend it. If you like comics, watch it. If you love Watchmen, it shouldn't hurt you at all to watch it. If you really haven't ever read the comic, now is the time to do it.