Thursday, June 25, 2009

Detective Comics #854 - Rucka,Williams, & Stewart

I have been very anxiously awaiting this issue since I heard about it. I have been waiting almost rabidly since i first saw some of the artwork posted for it. I liked what we saw of Batwoman in 52. I have liked the character of Renee Montoya for as long as she has been used in things. Montoya as the Question has never sounded like my favorite thing, but I have to say that the 8 page 'second feature' also written by Rucka, but with art by Cully Hamner, is really good. The art is great, and despite my issues with the Question, whatever they may be, it looks to be a good ongoing read as well.

Greg Rucka, J.H. Williams, and Dave Stewart have done something pretty amazing in this first installment of Batwoman's run headlining Detective Comics. They have made a beautiful and stylish work of art that is a masterwork of layout and graphic storytelling that is every bit as well written as it is beautifully laid out, drawn and colored. The coloring and layout are like characters in their own right. I am genuinely excited by how good this comic is. I'm not doing a synopsis here, you can find those elsewhere, or better yet, buy the comic! 32 great pages for $3.99. Yes I think that is still too expensive, but you are unlikely to feel screwed after you read it.

I sure hope we get a good run at this level of quality. It certainly looks probable right now.

If you are the sort of person who likes smart well written pieces to validate what you read here, I am posting a link to the always insightful Joe McCulloch's blog, Jog the Blog, and his love letter to the craft exhibited in this issue

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Andy Bellinger's Bottle of Awesome (and Raising Hell)

Bottle of Awesome is a new Zuda Instant Winner that premiered today. The art is pretty amazing, but that should be no surprise to anyone familiar with Bellinger's work. At the moment there are only two pages up, but it looks like it will be pretty cool, the premise seems promising, and it will be updating regularly from this point on. Here is the synopsis from Zuda:

This is a story about a boy named Billy Butterman, a loser, a putz - what have you, just trying to get through grade nine. High school is a total nightmare. All the cool guys pick on him, chicks don't dig him and everyone at the school calls him "Butterpants," because he had bladder control problems till he was twelve. That is, till the day he finds a hobo in an alley. Billy notices the bum has a full bottle that he’s not drinking from and the bum tells him it is because the bottle is full of awesome and that a a sip will make him awesome as well. He warns the boy that a person can get too awesome, but will Billy heed his words?

What I imagine we will get from this series, although much different in subject matter, is the same sort of terrific art, humor, and characterization that Bellinger has proven himself to be particularly good at in his fantastic zombie apocalypse meets dysfunctional relationship webcomic Raising Hell (not for kids) at Transmission X
Raising Hell focuses on Aries & Kitty, a can't live together, can't live apart sort of couple, always on the verge of making out or beating the crap out of each other. In addition to those two, we also get a nice cast of equally interesting and well defined supporting characters. The story starts on Halloween, and we get a good long setup of the sort of folks we will be spending time with before we are plunged into gore-filled chaos and humor.

It's really good stuff, the writing and art/layout/color, are all just perfect. It moves fast and really makes it hard to pull yourself away from it.

I recommend both of these, and as always, if you aren't already making the most of Zuda and the great free comics you can get there, you really should be. I know I say it a lot, but I also say 'get free comics at your local library!' I don't get anything from Zuda but the comics I read there, I just know that there are some very good creators and and some exceptional comics there. Remember to view the comics in full screen mode for best effect!

Profiles in Awesome (and book review)

Review - Dark Entries and Filthy Rich (Vertigo Crime)

Many thanks to the good folks at the Inkwell Bookstore Blog!! Recently they did a book giveaway for folks that were following their blog. All you had to do was let them know the sort of things you were interested in, and they would try to find something that seemed appropriate to send you.

Prior to reading that post, I had already added them to my blog list, because I enjoyed their replies to my posts, and really liked what I had read on theirs. I hadn't gone in officially and followed them, but I righted that wrong and sent them an email anyway.

Not terribly long after that I got a package in the mail with a cute drawing of Oscar the Grouch on it, and marked BOOKS. It was very exciting, and even more exciting after I carefully opened the package.

They sent me two different Advance Copies of titles due out in may through the Vertigo Crime line. I have since had a chance to read both, and will talk about them briefly right here.

Dark Entries - Ian Rankin & Werther Dell'edera - This is a John Constantine mystery, and it's sort of an odd one. I am in a strange position of feeling that it was almost laughable, but also really enjoying it as well. I won't give much away here, but Constantine is paid to go on the set of a reality tv scare show called Dark Entries(I perked up at the title, as it is also a song by Bauhaus) . The show features a group of people locked in a 'haunted house' and subjected to all sorts of psychological torment. The only way they can get out of the house is to find the secret treasure room that is hidden in it somewhere. There is a problem when all of the contestants start seeing ghosts and visions prior to the real start of the game. The producers hire Constantine to go in and investigate. They put him into the game and he gets the feeling pretty immediately that things aren't all that they appear to be.

It's not a bad read. I enjoyed it, but I think some of the situations were a bit silly. The art and the writing are very good, regardless.

Filthy Rich (Brian Azzarello & Victor Santos) - This is a perfectly brilliant Hard-Boiled story of a former and somewhat disgraced football player and failed used car salesman who gets caught up in a world of privilege, sex and danger when he is hired to be the bodyguard of a spoiled rich girl with a penchant for getting herself into the tabloids. It is a perfectly fast and fluid read. The art is fantastic and only contributes to the feel and pace of the story. I have a feeling that anyone who has enjoyed Brubaker's Criminal, should enjoy this story. It has sex and doublecross, interesting characters and a glimpse at the dark side of privilege and fame. It's really good stuff. I recommend checking this out.

Just as fat, 3x as cool

A while back I saw something somewhere about Atomic Robo T-shirts. I looked into them, and found that they didn't go to my size according to the site, but the site basically welcomed any questions one might have, etc.

I emailed and asked about the possibility of getting a 3x Robo t-shirt, etc. and asked what the cost would be etc.

I had to wait a little for a reply, but it was well worth it, and I got an apology for the delay, etc. After a series of very pleasant back and forth email messages, I got the following offer. I could get three different Atomic Robo T-shirts, all 3x sized, and I could pick the colors from the stock of 3x shirt they had available, and I could get them for 30 bucks shipped*. Great customer service, great deal, and ultimately (as of a few days ago...) really cool t-shirts! I think these are my first comic t-shirts ever, which is odd given my 30+ years of loving comics.

So here is a Talkin Bout Comics Plug for The Secret Bunker (this is an unsolicited plug, I like the service and the product, so they get a shout out like I would do for anything else!)

Very easy to deal with. The products seem great, and once the payment was in, the turnaround was very fast.

*No idea if this price is available, may have been a one time thing. I am not complaining.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Apollo's Song - Review

Apparently it's Manga week at TBC... After I read Osamu Tezuka's 8 Volume Buddha (borrowed it from the library, although I hope to own the whole thing some day) I bought Apollo's Song. I have had it for quite some time, and have been keeping it near my computer for a month or two with the intention of reading it. After reading A Drifting Life, I decided it was a perfect time to tackle the other giant book 541 pages of Tezuka goodness.

This is a strange book. I found it to be brilliant, but still kind of strange. There is a lot of moralizing in it, and it comes across in a way as a sort of... environmentalist / anti-technology, I am the Lorax I speak for the trees sort of statement. That isn't the main focus of the book, but the theme of the evil men do to the planet and each other and nature, resonates in each of the sort of dream sequence stories that make up a good portion of the book.

Our young 'protagonist' Shogo has all the makings of a sociopath. He cruelly kills animals, he attacks couples, etc. His primary reason for killing the animals he does is that they are showing attraction for each other or tenderness toward each other (yes, he kills animal couples, or animal babies, etc.)

He is hospitalized, and during a course of electro-shock therapy, he sees a giant statue of a goddess that condemns him to fall in love with one woman and then be separated by death from them over and over again. We see this happen in sub-stories that happen when he is rendered unconscious. The stories vary from his being a german soldier and falling in love with a condemned Jewish girl, to his being a human in love with a synthetic being in a future where synthetic beings rule the world. In addition to these 'dreams' , his story continues to play out in the 'present' It's really well done. Tezuka really did some comics ways that I just don't see being done very often. The medium is used perfectly, it's funny and silly and profound and preachy. It's a crazy story premise, but works. It didn't even scare me off with it's half representational and half realistic lesson on where babies come from (that it opens and closes with.

It isn't a flawless piece, but I enjoyed it and it made me think about what was being said (regardless of my agreeing with it or not). This is a good book and I recommend it if you like this sort of thing.

A Drifting Life - Review

It has been pretty hard this year to not get at least a bit curious about a book that has gotten as much buzz as this one. I am not a voracious Manga reader by any means. I have read some, and enjoyed much of what I have read. My oldest daughter is certainly more into manga than I am. I have read Tezuka's Buddha, and was pretty much awed by how good it was on so many levels.

I am not a history buff for the most part either. I like knowing where things came from, and how they came about, etc. but I am lazy about it and don't seek it out very much. When it comes to comics, I am generally happy to stay well on this side of the 1950's or 60's.

I have read Scott McCloud's Understanding, Reinventing, and Making, Comics. I think pretty highly of McCloud's work for a lot of reasons, and will say that I sort of put him in the same category that I put Alton Brown with regard to food, or the Mythbusters with regard to weird stuff I'm curious about that can only be explained by blowing things up. They all show and explain things that I am extremely interested in, in a fun and accessible way that shows me the science behind it, without diminishing the joy of it in any way. I would assert that their treatment of their subject matter greatly increases my understanding and enjoyment of it.

I say these things up front because they relate directly to what I felt when reading this 800+ page memoir that takes place during the strange and wonderful early days of post-war manga in Japan. It focuses on the period between the Japanese surrender in World War II and 1960. This was a wild roller coaster ride for the country of Japan, as well as the manga publishing and 'rental book' industry. It is window into the culture of the industry and the spirit and drive of the artists that shaped it. Yoshihiro was no Tezuka, and he knew it. Tezuka was his idol and his example. Striving to be like him seemed to go hand in hand with striving to be something different and new.

In this memoir, Yoshihoro uses a detached storytelling style. The protagonist is his analog Hiroshi Katsumi. We are given a lot of insight, but it is always a third person narrative. When we read that 'later he will come to regret his decision' or something like that, it has a sense of removal from the emotion about it. It is not the same impact as if the protagonist was telling us his own feelings, even though that is the reality of it. I am not criticising this method, as it creates a definite feel of it's own by doing so. There is bit of a feel that you are watching a documentary, rather than living the story of someone's life. This works for me, as it makes the other aspects of the story stand out equally.

This is a memoir of a person, an industry, a movement and a country. You get a real sense of all of those things as you read it. The Author's life is shown, the state of manga is shown, the publishing business(specifically manga) is shown, The alternative manga movement is shown, styles are discussed, the creative process is discussed, the nature of influences on an artist are shown, it really is like you are living inside of Scott McCloud's books. Much of the sorts of things he shows in his works are served here in context. This was a large part of my enjoyment of this work (I know one has nothing to do with the other in regard to their creation, etc. but that doesn't mean we the readers can't draw from both.

The detached style kind of rounded down the emotional experience for me. The highs weren't so high, and the lows weren't so low due to the two steps back manner of story telling, but it didn't diminish my enjoyment of the thing. I was thoroughly drawn in, and eager to get to the next page throughout the entire thing. You can learn an awful lot by reading this. It is valuable to see the nature of business, it is valuable to see the nature of inspiration and influence, and so much more.

I highly recommend this book. I am also now extremely interested in seeing more of Tatsumi's work.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

CBD 6/17/2009 & not too much whining

Fantastic week - Mysterius the Unfathomable, Destroyer, Incognito, Tiny Titans, Executive Assistant Iris

But firs I revisit a thing I mentioned previously.

I am not able to go to Heroes (con) this year. I went last year with my girls and we loved it and loved Charlotte, NC. I was going to make it a family vacation, I got the cheap room at the great hotel, I got my favorite LCS owner to say he would get me in for free, I got the days off, I got the realities of some out of control spending and an economic downturn..., so...

I have adjusted my goals and am shooting for SPX this September. I will try to make that my con for the year, since it is within metro distance and it has the sort of stuff that's hard to find elsewhere, and has a very cool vibe about it.

Not driving all the way there and stretching our finances to do so is a little bit of a weight off, in a strange way, despite how much I was hoping to go. The other good aspect of this is that my family will go visit my parents for the long weekend, and that always means lots of leisure and good food and good company. Going there is always like a vacation for us, and indentured servitude for my parents (They insist on making amazing meals with veggies from their garden and my Mom's (and Dad's) amazing cooking. Plus we will do something with my Dad for father's day and it will be fun.

Oh, right... comics... Here are some lazy and tiny little reviews:

Incognito #4 - Still awesome. Brubaker and Phillips and Staples know how make the heck out of good comics. This should not be a surprise to anyone.

Mysterius The Unfathomable # 6 - Funny and smart and well written interesting stuff with fantastic characters. Parker and Fowler... I may be starting to realize something.

Tiny Titans #17 - My happy place. We get imps, we get Robin's myriad wardrobe, a battle for the cowl, and a discussion of continuity! Baltazar and Franco...

Destroyer #3 - I really love this. I think it is just very well done. Great writing, great art, a great look at a character I had probably seen, but never heard about until this series was solicited, even though he's one of the earlier characters out there. Kirkman, Walker, Staples... (more on that in a minute) This comic is violent. It also features my favorite premise, the 'hero' at the end of his lifecycle (a concept not just limited to Clint Eastwood movies, although Unforgiven and Gran Turino are both brilliant examples of this). Destroyer makes the Punisher look like he's not all that committed to making bad guys pay... Destroyer doesn't just punish... The guy Destroys for cryin' out loud. At one point he fights while covered head to toe in a sort of liquid latex-like body sheath of blood(his and everyone else's). I am not an across the board fan of this sort of bloody violence, but it is done in a tense and serious setting, and still keeps a certain sense of humor about it. It doesn't offend me in this context in the least. I am really enjoying this.

Which brings me to an observation. Every one of the books I got in my box today shares a very common trait. Every one of them has a stellar and proven creative team that knows more than a little about making pretty great comics. There is really no substitute for quality. I'm not suggesting that less experienced writers and artists can't produce amazing comics, I am suggesting that you don't have to buy bad comics. There are people out there who make some amazing stuff. Not only do you not need to buy bad comics, but big publishers don't really need to put out bad comics. It's possible to make good ones every time.

I picked up one book not on my pull list this week, and it is:
Executive Assistant Iris #1 - I haven't had time to do much but flip through it so far, and it looks great. The art is very good, and the feel of the comic is good.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Not comics specific , but still cool

A friend of mine and one of my favorite people from high school has a new blog - Geek Swag. It is well worth giving a look if you haven't already heard of it. He has a good deal of geek cred, and the site is funny and cool at the same time. Here is the blurb from it's 'about' page:

Geek Swag is a blog dedicated to the Geek lifestyle and how to accessorize for it. We’ll cover geek apparel, gadgets, home decor and stuff to do. This blog is about you and the things you can do and buy to get the most out of your geek lifestyle.

Geek Swag was started by me, Victor Wachter. I’ve spent spent my whole life living the geek lifestyle and working for the past 10 years in the dotcom and online gaming industries. You may know me from previous stints as community manager for games like PlanetSide, D&D Online, Champions Online and Star Trek Online. I started the blog because my biggest interest has always been working with fan communities to get the most out of their interests.

Go, Read, enjoy

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

CBD 6/10/2009

Billy Batson & the Magic of Shazam, Unwritten

Tiny little haul this week. Actually, I don't think two comics can even constitute a 'haul'.

I resisted picking up a couple of impulse buys this week, and opted to get out of the store for just over five bucks, which is nice.

Unwritten #2 (Mike Carey, Peter Gross) This issue certainly lived up to the first issue. I wonder if I should just stop now and wait for the trade. I like getting the whole story at once, especially the first installment that establishes everything. At the same time, though, I don't want to wait that long. The idea of our main character possibly being a character out of a book, and definitely being an expert on literary geography is really cool. The supporting characters and the sense of intrigue are also building a good case for continuing to get the singles.

Billy Batson & the Magic of Shazam #5 (Not Mike Kunkel?) - Hey, Why isn't this awesome Mike Kunkel book by... awesome... Mike Kunkel anymore? I have a feeling I missed some news somewhere along the line. I LOVE tiny titans, I LOVE Baltazar and Franco, but I loved the Kunkel-ness of this title. The energy of every page and Kunkel's dynamic style were what made the book for me. The art in this is fine, Byron Vaughns does a fine job, but it just feels like a bait and switch for me. I will probably cancel this now. I am not a huge Shazam fan. I like some of the modern takes on him in relation to Superman mythos, and liked Jeff Smith's take on him and such, but really it was the look and feel that Kunkel brought to the book that drew me in, just as Baltazar and Franco did for Tiny Titans, and Walker/Jones did for Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

American Born Chinese

I had borrowed this amazing book from the library before, and for some reason I hadn't read it. I can't believe I had this thing in my possession and failed to recognize what I had. I made up for it this time by reading it in one sitting and feeling thoroughly smart for doing so.

This book contains three separate storylines that alternate throughout the book and are obviously related allegorically at least. One is a Chinese fable of the Monkey King, One is a 'real life' story of a Chinese-American teen, and one is a 'Perfect Strangers' style sitcom about a popular white jock who is plagued by his grotesquely negative stereotyped Chinese cousin Chin-Kee's yearly visits that force him to change schools regularly. Each of these pieces enhances the effectiveness of the other, showing a fable, with it's wisdom and significance, laid against the sort of 'worst of our culture' TV show, and how each plays a part in shaping the main character of the central story.

The thing about this book, is how universal and relevant it is. Trouble with Self-image & cultural identity, prejudice and stereotyping are things that plague us as people. This book drives the point home by not focusing on general terms here, but making it very specific, very individual, and very real. The behaviors described in this book, the ridiculous and often subtle and insidious racism and intolerance toward anyone who is different from the norm in any given population (people of Asian descent in this case), are real. I would imagine that anyone reading this book can find a time in their lives when they were witness to nearly identical situations.

I am not at all trying to remove the significance of this as an Asian American experience. I think it is a very important book in that regard. I think the universal truths in it, however, make it a classic on a level well above the mainstream.

The art is perfect for the story. There is humor, as well as a great deal of cringe-worthy reality. Our hero is just as unsure and human and self-destructive as any of us are. It all resolves beautifully in the end, bringing all three pieces together to make the book a sort of extension of a fable.

I think the other thing this shows really has something to do with Myth and Cultural heritage versus the reality of a television society where advertising rules, and advertising wants us to be insecure. Advertising wants us to want to be like someone else. Advertisers assure us that our lives will be better when we buy their product like everyone else does, so that we can become just like everyone else. I re-watched The Power of Myth recently. Reading this just made me appreciate Joseph Campbell's work and world view even more. Myths and stories are important for understanding ourselves and the world around us.

This is definitely a book I will be purchasing as soon as I have some extra cash to do so.

Monday, June 8, 2009

You're a Wizard... um... Wizard...

I generally get Wizard and Previews each month due to the dearth of comic related magazines available to me. I know that Wizard tends to get a lot of hate from the online comics community in general, and it's not entirely unmerited in my opinion. For me, the negatives are mostly in the form of the juvenile and sophomoric tone that has historically run through the magazine, as well as to some degree it's emphasis on comic values. I think the 'near death' of comics in the speculation craze of the the 90's also left a bit of a sour taste in the mouths of those that genuinely love and care about comics as a medium and an industry and an art form, for the magazine that may still seem to some to be the torch bearer of that destructive mentality. So the 'evils' of Wizard are two-fold: It seems to promote speculation, and crazy pricing, which is bad for comics. The second thing is that its 15 year old boy mentality may ostracize everyone that comics could really benefit from NOT ostracizing. One could say, that while Wizard magazine may not be BAD for comics, at the very least it hasn't helped much in the past.

I usually find some news and some sort of enjoyment in Wizard. I usually find something to roll my eyes at as well, but I buy it, and I enjoy it as some might enjoy People magazine or other such major magazines that don't really contribute a whole lot save for entertainment value. This month was different. Issue 213, dated July 2009, despite having an Obama variant cover and an Obama related feature in it, was a pretty good magazine, and a better than average Wizard.

Here is a rundown:
  • one page on the Outsiders
  • one page on the upcoming Green Lantern animated feature
  • half page on the back-up features running in a number of DC comics
  • 2 pages on the Goon ten year anniversary event
  • 2 pages on BPRD 1947
  • 2 pages on Obama in comics and comic related TV
  • 5 page 'sketchbook' on Ultimate Avengers
  • 6 pages on Fantagraphics
  • pieces on the Surrogates, Mice Templar v2
  • 5 pages on upcoming 'Indie' releases
  • 2 pages on the Marvel Oz comic...

And there was a good bit more than that to it as well. This was a really good issue that looked at things covering the very wide range of my comic interests. Nothing leapt out at me as overly insulting, etc. It was a nicely balanced issue. I hope this represents the direction this magazine is heading. Maybe Wizard is going to grow up some. Maybe they took advice from Comics Foundry and 'sucked it'... Just kidding, but it would be nice if they shot for a bit of the legitimacy that CF seemed to bring with it while it lasted. The final option may be that Wizard is teetering on the brink of collapse because I was moved to say good things about it... That's a trend in my life, especially with teachers and day-care providers.

Me: We just love miss so and so... She's the best! You should give her a raise!
Them: Yeah... We just fired her because she eats her bread butter side up...
Me: I knew I shouldn't have complimented her!

That's only a slight paraphrase, sorry Wizard.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

KRAZY! - The Delirious World Of Anime + Comics + Video Games + Art

This is a review of the companion book to the exhibition that was put together by Bruce Greenville of the Vancouver Art Gallery, along with a panel of co-curators, including Art Spiegelman and Seth.

I have not had the privilege of actually seeing the exhibit that this book is a companion to. Honestly, I didn't even know there was such a thing, or realize what exactly it was until the day I borrowed it from the library.

The book covers the artists and creators featured in the exhibition. Each gets a loving and informative one page essay, and a few pages that show examples of their work. That makes this book an excellent primer for anyone interested in learning about the van guard in the various media that this covers. There were a lot of names in here that I had heard of, and a few that I actually knew something about.

The book is a 34.95 paperback from University of California Press, and is available through Amazon, and hopefully your local library. I loved reading this, as I think it goes a long way to improve my 'cultural literacy', but I am not sure it is a book that I need to own.

The book opens with a forward, and a chapter that serves as an introduction and explanation for the exhibition and what follows. It explains how it came about and how the specific subjects were chosen.

The book is then divided into seven sections for the seven different areas of focus: Comics, Graphic Novels, Animated Cartoons, Computer and Video Games, Anime, Manga, and Visual Art. For each section you get 8 subjects and 30 to 40 pages exploring the lot of them. I love how concise it is. The format made reading it very quick, but sort of leisurely at the same time.

There are a lot of people you would expect to see, but also, a lot of people that you don't see. That's the great thing about the exhibition format, is dealing with what you get, and sort of resolving it all inside the context of the other pieces. You get Chris Ware and Seth, as well as Herriman and Kurtzman, Alison Bechdel, Daniel Clowes, and Kim Deitch, among others. Over The Hedge and Gertie The Dinosaur, and much much more, including various anime and manga creators, artists, and even a brief forray into the Anime soundtrack.

It's a really great way to learn the significance of an awful lot of important creators and artists, without having to try too hard. It makes it fun at the same time. Well... It was fun for me. This may be a bit dry for some, but if you are hungry for this stuff, and not already an authority on it all, it's a pretty great book for a companion to a museum piece.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Popgun Bullets v3 p3

- Bulleted mini reviews of the entire contents of Image Comics anthology Popgun Volume Three (the next 100 pages)

  • p215 Alien Abduction - Isam S. Prado (Assistance from Alisa Stern & Amy Stern -Not my favorite piece, but not a bad piece really. The art is different enough from everything else, and well done for its style. It isn't a style that I love, but I won't say it's bad or anything. It sort of makes me think of the Rugrats cartoon in its style, and i am not a fan of that style either. It's at least a complete thought, and an original take on an aliens are real story.
  • p224 Intermission: Just Outside Circus Liquor - Dan Brereton - This is a two page illustration with evil clowns in a sort of circus setting with what looks like some Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters people thrown in. Good stuff, but not my thing really.
  • p226 Young Johnny Appleseed - Frank Gibson, Becky Dreistadt - I will call this piece sweet and unexpected. It feels to me like it was lifted right out of the 1970's for me. I remember a big focus on Johnny Appleseed then, and the cute characters look like products of that time. It's a cute thing start to finish.
  • p231 Rex Onazuka, The Japanese Wasp in the GodFather of Monsters - Mark Andrew Smith, Johann 'Ullcer' Leroux - I have in the past said some things about Popgun seeming almost like a vanity publication for Mark Andrew Smith, and maybe one or two others, given the volume of their work appearing in the first two volumes. This volume doesn't have that feel at all. I LOVE the Rex Onazuka stories. The writing is great, the art is great, what's not to like. You get around thirty pages of really great story that gives you giant monsters and real characterization and story. It is nice to see a piece like this.
  • p261 Ever Upward - Tonci Zonjic - This story made me look up Joe Kittinger. The art is great and distinctive, with a sort of Non-fiction historical cartoon feel to it. It documents a major accomplishment in test piloting, and memorializes a man who did some truly amazing things in his long lifetime.
  • p267 Father of Two - Amanda Becker, Janet Kim - This is a creepy and wonderfully done sort of horror short. The art is amazing, and the story is just awesome. This is another story that seems to have the horror anthologies of old as its spiritual successor, but this is better than most in all ways. It focuses on two sisters living with their Father who has signed on to make monsters for the Nazis. Good stuff!
  • p271 There's Always a First Time - Michael Dialynas - Cute and funny little love story featuring the Grim Reaper. I like stories like this a lot. Death meets a girl he is taken by, and dates her, but can't touch her. It ends how you might expect it to, and is just lovely.
  • p285 Cave Pat and the Early Femenist Movement - Alison Acton - It's tough being a smart and independent woman in the time of cavemen. This is a pretty good one also. The art is really well done, and it's funny. I would love to see more antics with these characters in this setting.
  • p299 Same Again - Ray Fawkes, Justin Randall - We end this on a string of really high notes. The art is stunning, and the setting and premise of this sort of put chills down my back. Seriously. I consider this a perfect anthology piece. It's four pages and uses all of them and requires not a single bit more than that to tell us a story that resonates and gives us something that will stick with you.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

CBD 6/3/2009

Atomic Robo, Batman and Robin, New Mutants, Agents of Atlas

Just a few things this week, but it's all good stuff.

Atomic Robo: Shadow Beyond Time # 2 - This issue is a completely different sort of ride from the first issue. This time around, our heroes and the giant tentacled creature from beyond our universe take it outside for a car chase and a good bit of action comedy. The banter and comedic timing are still perfect. I could gush all day about this comic and it's creative team, but I will spare you for right now.

Batman and Robin #1 - I can't say this was better than I thought it would be, as I thought it would be very good. It is indeed a very good comic. I liked it a lot, but odd as this may sound, I am not sure I care about it. Morrison's writing can be great, and it is in this book so far. Quitely's art is always fantastic, and it is in this comic. I will give this a few issues, I am sure it will be great. Not sure what it is, but I have a tiny bit of apathy counter-balancing my inclination to go all fanboy over this.

New Mutants #2 - The art on this is good, and the writing is pretty good as well. I love picking back up with the characters I loved so long ago, and the characters are recognizable and distinctive. The story itself has a very creepy element to it and an interesting psychological horror sort of vibe at the moment, since the primary antagonist is Legion and a lot of the action is in his head. It juggles the action inside and out pretty well, and hopefully I will be able to keep up with it for a while.

Agents of Atlas #6 - I am crazy about Jeff Parker's writing and his considerable talent. I am also absolutely crazy about the character of former SHIELD agent Derek Khanata. I am planning to go into greater detail on that at some point, but man is that a compelling and well written character. We are under water for most of this, and we get a lot of insight into Atlanteans and their realities. Good stuff.

Talkin Bout eCOnoMICS

I have been a bit apathetic with regard to posting, lately. A variety of things are responsible for my feeling that way, and none are particularly good reasons.

One big thing happening in my life, as in yours, I bet, is that money is getting tighter for me. This has had a variety of small impacts on my life, but not anything that has felt too much like a big squeeze to me, yet, thankfully.

With regard to my hobbies, I have gotten off fairly easy so far. I have continued to pick up my comics pretty much weekly. I have continued my 1 at a time Netflix Subscription with instant watch. I previously paid for a year of Marvel Comics online, and we have no plans to cancel our cable any time soon.

On average I spend less than 20 bucks a week on comics from the shop. That can seem like relatively little, or that can seem like a ton of money. I get a relatively small number of comics on any given week, and I try to drop titles as soon as they aren't justifying their expense to me, but I do pick up impulse buys, and sometimes I use really slow weeks as an excuse to pick up a trade, instead of using it to lower my expenses.

Most of my financial situation is a result of my over-dependence upon credit cards, and I am still inclined to want to get everything I want as soon as I want it and let the magic cards take care of everything. The problem with this, my wife assures me, is that the cards aren't actually magical. All of the expenses are revisited upon us with interest and finance charges apparently.

We have been able to live with this so far, and not feel too much of a pinch, and pay all of our bills on time, and live fairly well while doing so. We aren't rich, we have lived beyond our means, but as i said, we pay our bills on time.

Recently I found out that my company is cutting staff salaries by 10 percent for at least a quarter. I am a nearly twenty year employee, and that is a pretty decent hit. What it isn't, is a loss of my job, and for that I am grateful. I think we can handle this without my youngest having to quit tae kwon do, or my oldest having to skip girl scout camp this summer, but I am not sure things that will pretty instantly seem frivolous to me will be able to make the cut that will inevitably have to come to handle such a reduction in income.

I am not sure what I will be able to pick up. I am sure that I will greatly reduce my pulls, and probably have to cut out impulse buys. I imagine I will cancel netflix, and be very careful with my purchases. What I won't have to do, for certain is give up comics.

I have a book case filled with trades, and a dozen or so comic boxes (yes, only a dozen or so) that contain my accumulated comics collection that I started building since elementary school. I have a good public library system, and computers that can tap into a bounty of online comics (the legal kind). I won't stop thinking about them, and I certainly won't stop talking about them.

I am reluctant to mention things like this, as I realize how fortunate my family is right now that we are facing such a relatively minor setback. My heart and prayers go out to anyone facing similar issues or worse. There are tough economic times for everyone, and even when we can see an end to some of the tough times, it will still take a while for people to climb out of the deep hole that's been dug. The good news is that we can still have our passions and our interests, and we can still discuss and enjoy them on at least some level.