In an expectedly bad week, I read an unexpectedly good book: Northwest Passage, from Oni Press. Scott Chantler's adventure comic of the Hudson Bay Company combines fun art and a great story that explores territory* few other comics do. It made my week of coding hell just that much closer to "tolerable". I'm looking forward to finishing the second volume tonight.
*Pun only slightly intended.
Friday, March 31, 2006
Thursday, March 30, 2006
WOOOO!!!!! Happy Blogoversary, Dave! WOOOO!!!!!
- Dave's Long Box is a year old, and the world is a better place for it. Now, when I read something like the beginning of the Legion of Super-Heroes: Teenage Revolution TPB, I have words to describe it, a critical language, a structure of meaning: "F*@% YEAH FILE"
- As if a 25 page preview of AiT's upcoming Continuity wasn't enough, Mr. Larry Young has now officially lost his nut and released the whole skippin' thing as a PDF:
It's my feeling that making a whole graphic novel available online at order time will only help orders in aggregate. Yes, there's always the risk that doing that will make some retailers NOT order the thing, but it's my FEELING that the orders you get by being so bold will offset the ones you don't. But there's no real way to test whether or not pre-releasing the book online to retailers has any effect one way or the other without actually doing it, and no one's that crazy.
Oh, right; except me.
Frankly, I can't stand reading comics on a computer monitor. I like honest-to-gosh dead trees in my hand. I got completely caught up in the PDF, though. The full work is a lot more complex and emotional than the 25-page preview that was originally released. It initially seemed a little post-collapse action flick, but it's a bit more Lathe Of Heaven than Transmetropolitan. Good stuff, and Larry's madness of releasing the full version definitely put the book on my radar.
- In a thrilling flirt with being an insider, I got a sneak peek at the first issue of Punks this week. Here's what I wrote to Joshua Hale Fialkov by way of comment:
It's a mad punk Young Ones, and I loved every panel. There's nothing on the stands like it, and I'll be very interested to see how the project fares. This book will become a passion for a certain audience ... I just don't know that audience will find their way into the Direct Market. Joshua has a plan, though ... the first ingredient being a kickass book. He's got that part more than taken care of.
Punks is the kind of thing you find when you wake up passed out on a friends couch with a splitting hangover. It's crumpled under your head, and as you come to consciousness, you read Punks and say : "Dude. What the FUCK is this?? Where are the rest?" .... And then you spend the rest of the day calling your buddy "Noisy McNoise-Noisenstein", and quoting lines from the book.
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
Yes, yes, yes. I know that "One Year Later" is a marketing gimmick. I know its sole purpose is to sell books. I know it's a calculated jumping-on point where new readers can be enticed by the promise of a clean(ish) slate. I know I'm being manipulated.
If the new books are good, though ... I don't care. In fact, I'm happy.
I like trying new books, and though some of the "One Year Later" issues have left me cold, three books came out last week I took the plunge on and really enjoyed. So ... thanks, Dan DiDio. Thanks for dragging me, kicking and screaming, into some cool new books.
This is one kind of "One Year Later" book: keep the existing creative team and concept, but hopefully give it a sales goose. I don't know why I waited so long, and why I needed a marketing push to try Manhunter. I've read enough good words on this title from around the WeboComicsBlogoNet to have dipped my foot in the pool ere now. But even after all that praise, I was unexpectedly surprised by just how good it was. The dialogue skips along with crackle (but without self-consciousness), the ensemble cast is really nicely developed, and I found myself immediately investing in these people. I know Joss Whedon writes comics these days, but this is the book that most captures that Buffy aesthetic for me: witty dialogue by a rich ensemble cast. This is going right on the pull list, and I'll be hunting down the back issues on eBay, I expect.
This is the other kind of "One Year Later" book: new creative team, new direction. It was the new creative team that got me on board with this one. I've enjoyed Karl Kerschl's Superman work, and was interested in Adam Beechen based off his upcoming AiT/PlanetLar book, Dugout. In general, if someone's writing for AiT, they can write. His debut on Robin allowed me to try his work at something less than the AiT trade-only price point. I wasn't disappointed in either creator: Kershl doesn't disappoint, and Beechen crafts a damn good Robin story. There's some detective work, a nice relationship with Batman, and a real sense that Tim Drake is a kid. It's not easy to write someone who's smart beyond their years, and it often comes off as an adult in an uncomfortably small body. Beechen really nails Tim's age, and that's the thing that makes Robin unique. It's a great debut, and I'll be keeping an eye on this series.
This one isn't strictly fair. I'd been hearing praise for the Waid/Kitson Legion for a while now. I took the chance last week to not only pick up the OYL issue, but also to buy the first TPB: Legion of Super-Heroes: Teenage Revolution. While the "One Thousand One Years Later" issue of Legion is a solid bit of storytelling that has a last-page reveal that must be seen to be believed, it's the series as a whole that blew me away. I forgot just how good Mark Waid can be when he's really invested in a series. Lots of interesting characters that contain contradictions and flecks of gray without being "gritty". The beginning of the TPB also has a true F*@% YEAH FILE entry, as the Legion is first revealed. Great stuff, and I am looking forward to filling in the gaps now.
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
My weekly expedition to 2005 Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer Award Winning Night Flight Comics is going to be delayed this week. Which sucks. Especially on an All-Star Superman week.
What could possibly unseat All-Star Superman as my most anticipated release? Just some guy who thinks too much. What can I say? Kevin Huizenga makes me happy.
The rest of the week is filled with some good-looking superheroics. Busiek and Johns really captured me with the first issue of the "Up, Up, and Away" arc, giving me the best Superman story this side of Morrison that I've seen in a long while ... so Action combined with All-Star means I get two great Superman stories this week. There's also much "Civil War" stuff afoot, and my personal jury is still out. It's obviously meant to be an Infinite Crisis response, but half the fun there was tracking all the threads through all the titles ... "Civil War" seems a bit forced at this point. I'm still picking it up, though. I guess I'm killing comics.
What I Won't Get, But Wish I Could: The Alias Omnibus. I just don't have the ducats this week, but I'll put it on my Amazon Wish List and hope for the best. I haven't read Alias at all, but Christopher Butcher pimping a Brian Bendis Marvel book really tipped the scale for me.
What I Won't Get, But Wish You Would: Sharknife. Tomorrow sees a new edition of this cool Corey Lewis fight comic, and if you haven't tried it ... what's your excuse? I like Lewis' stuff better in full size, but this is still a damn fun comic. If you're on the fence, maybe you should check out this Buzzscope interview with "The Rey" himself.
- Action Comics #837
- All Star Superman #3
- Green Lantern #10
- JLA Classified #19
- Superman/Batman #24
- Godland #9
- Captain America 65th Anniversary Special
- Fantastic Four #536
- Iron Man #6
- New Avengers: Illuminati Special
- X-Men: Deadly Genesis #5
- X-Statix Presents: Dead Girl #3
- Or Else #4
Monday, March 27, 2006
My thirty-sixth birthday is rapidly approaching. Every morning I have more gray hair in my beard, and my knees move closer and closer to being completely non-functional. And all I can say is this:
Thank God I'm not 18 anymore.
It's a hard age, or it was for me. It's mainly the lack of perspective. Thoughts are constantly racing around, firing at top speeds and you're liable to take shrapnel off the cranial ricochets. You're constantly aflame with figuring out who you are and who you're going to be. It all tends towards melodrama and exaggerated importance because you have no real frame of reference. And all this things need to be figured out now, because it seems that true adulthood is rushing at you and if you don't solve it at 3:30 AM, there simply won't be time. It's a formative time, but for those of a certain mindset, it's completely exhausting.
Bryan Lee O'Malley's Lost At Sea is the age of 18 boiled down to india ink and set on a page. It's about a young girl on a road trip, and about lost souls, and cats. What it's really about, though is eighteen-hood. Or eighteen-ness, whatever your preferred term is. Raleigh is a quiet girl who is often paralyzed by her own amok thoughts. Lost At Sea is a simple few days in her life when she decides to move forward. It's about the thoughts that are running through your head so loudly, they make your head feel crowded. It's a visual motif that keeps up throughout the book: thoughts that threaten to push her off the page and out of the book entirely.
What really struck me was how O'Malley was able to balance the book. Like Oscar Wilde, he realizes his characters are ultimately trivial people. Also like Wilde, he knows that triviality can utterly serious. Raleigh is both a character to laugh at and to empathize with. There is enough distance to look fondly upon the madness of being eighteen, but no so much that there's no connection.
It's not a huge journey. Raleigh doesn't end up a whole person, not quite. She doesn't come out with the wisdom of Solomon, or the perspective of an adult. She learns a little, and reaches out. When she does, she realizes the important lesson the eighteen-year-old finally do: she's not alone.
Friday, March 24, 2006
Usually the T.G.I.F. is a panel that made me smile this week. This seven-day stretch, nothing made me smile more than this link. Why?
Last Friday, I was slogging though the end of my coding day. In the spirit of procrastination, I hopped to my Bloglines. Seeing the latest Isotope Communique had gone out, I checked it. I noticed an problem in the post, something I know James Sime wouldn't want going out. I emailed him .... and he sent back the YouTube link showcased above.
He also said one was coming my way.
I show weekly love to the good people at 2005 Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer Award Winning Night Flight Comics, but if I were to move anywhere in the U.S. based solely on comics retailing, I'd move back to the Bay Area to shop at the Isotope Lounge. James Sime does things right.
He pimps strange books that catch his attention like Blurred Vision. And I thank him for it - it's a preview that really caught my interest for a book that would probably have flown at a tangent to my radar.
He backs his choices, even offering to square things because I wasn't thrilled with a book he recommended.
He thanks strange bloggers by sending them swankness taken form. The impending arrival of this simple pint glass has made my week.
Thanks, Mr. Sime.
I'm suddenly so far behind on linkblogging, you're getting a second helping today. Otherwise, I'd miss David's deadline, and I wouldn't want that.
- David Welsh is giving away a copy of Gray Horses. You have a few hours left to enter. The man is offering you free joy, take him up on it!
- What a wonderful review of Gray Horses. This is why Chris writes for the Village Voice, and I write for ... well, here.
- Things I'm sold on? Be they games or movies or comics? I don't like seeing previews. I'd rather not have half the experience gone by the time I actually get the book. I've been sold on Five Fists Of Science for a long time. I'm resisting, daily, the urge to go check out the preview that Matt Fraction has made available. I'm only getting 110-odd pages of Steampunky goodness, I want it all to be fresh. You, however, are under no such code of behavior. Read, enjoy, then buy Five Fists Of Science.
- Jason Rodriguez has revealed his new project: Postcards. It's based off the brainstorming being done at The Hive, and there's a Production Blog that will walk us through the decisions being made. I think the project sounds fantastic - something that can really reach outside the Direct Market.
- Joshua Hale Fialkov drops some new Punks art. My t-shirt is officially ordered. Now I just want the bloody comic to find a home, and arrive in my house. Already, I'm getting a bit of a Young Ones vibe, and there's nothing wrong with that.
- Chris Butcher notices the same thing I've been noticing.
- My review of Burnout: Revenge for the Xbox 360 is up at Operation Sports. On the whole, it's a solid game that's just starting to feel a little overdone.
- Justice League Heroes hit the newswires this week. With Dwayne McDuffie writing and Snowblind Studios, it looks to me like the game's in good hands. I wish this was coming for the Xbox 360, but I still have my PS2 around, and it's worth dusting off for a game like this.
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
Skyscrapers of the Midwest is a complete artistic success. There's wonderful sequential storytelling, beautiful design, insightful observation, and stunning, unique art.
And I'm never buying another issue.
That old breakup saw, "It's not you, it's me?" Well ... it is me. Back in my youth I drank my coffee black, smoked my Camels unfiltered, and wanted my art raw. "Brutal", "unflinching", and "harsh" were the codewords to my vision of the theatre. Art was about confronting the harsh realities of life, and it was only pathetic suburbanites who wanted happy endings. I'm not sure when it all changed (though I feel confident fatherhood was a big step), but artistic nihilism now seems as much a symptom of my youth as Lost Weekends and Technicolor Yawns.
Even in this first issue of Skyscrapers of the Midwest, the tone of depression is set in stone. Barely halfway through we're already joking about the bleakness of the emotional landscape. The only humor here is the kind seen in "Going to Grandma's" where the morbid punchline is the violent end of a loving grandma whose crime was showing love and affection to two small children. In Skyscrapers of the Midwest, that's a capitol offense. Joy only exists to be taken away.
I realize the seeming hyprocrisy. I readily devour the latest chapter of The Grim Fin-Headed House Of CrisisWar, yet am put off by the heartbreak of Skyscrapers of the Midwest. The difference is in the art. Batman's angst over building a killer satellite doesn't exactly fill me with empathy, but the terror of an abusive father or the cruelty of the playground does. Joshua Cotter is an artist of note, and his stories are grimly effective.
Perhaps I have gone soft. Perhaps the sneering my 23-year-old self would point my way is justified. I just can't help think that I don't need that from my art any more: I've lost an estranged father, cared for a premature child, and daily battle to be the father and husband I want to be. I don't need simple escapism, but I think now that art is just as courageous and valuable talking about dream horses and the beauty of children ... maybe more so.
I can't deny the art of Joshua Cotter's Skyscrapers of the Midwest. I tried to give it another read before writing this, and couldn't complete the book: it's powerful stuff. A decade ago, I would have fallen in love with Skyscrapers of the Midwest. I've changed, perhaps lessened by not being able to enjoy a book like this anymore. But it's a fine thing when there's so much good art to be had, you can pass on those things that simply don't appeal.
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
Dueling Ducats, Batman! There's a lot that looks good this week, in the midst of some major videogame buying I'm doing. Hello, eBay. Some on my list will have to get cut between now and my trip to 2005 Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer Award Winning Night Flight Comics. I'll be making the trip on Thursday in order to combine that trip into SLC with an audition, so maybe some early WeboComicsBlogoNet reaction will help me trim the list.
I reviewed Hope Larson's beautastic* Gray Horses last week, but still have my preorder waiting at the shop. Since my copy is currently on loan to my mother-in-law (more on that when I get her impressions), I'm glad to have the extra copy. I'll probably think of something to do with it, some contest. Or I may simply donate it to my local library ... I think Gray Horses would do Eagle Mountain, Utah some good.
There's a lot of One Year Later action I want to sample: Hawkgirl, Catwoman, Robin, and Supergirl And The Legion Of Super-Heroes all look like good jumping-on points to series I might not otherwise try. James Robinson's great Batman OYL takes its next step, and I'm interested to see OYL from the point of view of an immortal Vandal Savage in JSA Classified.
It's an unexpectedly strong week of Marvel books for me, with the only "iffy" title being the Squadron Supreme relaunch in the Marvel Knights line. I'm tempted, but the I remember reading the Supreme Power hardcover collection and finding that in 12 issues, the story hadn't even begun. Unless there's a sudden storytelling compression that's happened, I just don't need to drop that kind of money on fractional stories.
- Gray Horses
- American Way #2
- Batman #651
- Catwoman #53
- Hawkgirl #50
- JSA Classified #10
- Robin #148
- Sgt. Rock: The Prophecy #3
- Supergirl And The Legion Of Super-Heroes #16
- Amazing Spider-Man #530
- Captain America #16
- Incredible Hulk #93
- Iron Man: The Inevitable #4
- New Avengers #17
- Nextwave: Agents Of H.A.T.E. #3
- Squadron Supreme #1
- Ultimate Fantastic Four #28
- X-Factor #5
- Kingdom Hearts Vol 3 GN
- Supermarket #2
* Yes, a book so good, I'm creating a new words with which to honor it.
Monday, March 20, 2006
- Matt Fraction is writing Punisher War Journal. This is the man behind Five Fists Of Science doing a title that represents the worst excesses of the marvel glut of the 90's. I feel utterly and completely ... conflicted.
- At the latest intersection of comics and gaming stands HALO. Make no mistake: this is not a Stephen King size announcement. This will reach some new audiences, though - especially if distributed correctly. It would be nice to see these in gaming shops. While the whole thing smacks of commercial whoredom, it's hard to discount any Moebius project winging its way to the States.
- Jason Rodriguez is trying to generate some Brownsville love, and has come up with a cool plan. He intends to send his copy along to a blogger on the condition they then review it and pass it along, themselves. I'll probably do the same with my extra copy of Gray Horses when I pick it up from 2005 Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer Award Winning Night Flight Comics.
Friday, March 17, 2006
It's Saint Patrick's Day. It's the second day of March Madness, in a year where it really seems like anything can happen. It's Friday.
You say that's not enough? That you want more reasons to celebrate today? Then how about this: Spring's around the corner.
From Gray Horses, by Hope Larson.
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
Gray Horses is a simple story, really. It's about being lost and finding a home, about loneliness and friends, about bread and art, about the power of holding on and the power of letting go, about Dijon and Chicago, about distance and love, about simple courage, about dreams, about ghosts, about never wanting to say goodbye. It's about a Francophone horse that helps a little girl bury her secret. It's about a girl from France that comes to Chicago. Gray Horses is simple in plot, but it's dreamscape worlds provide all sorts of ways for the details of the story to breathe and grow.
The first pages of the book are very disorienting. The panels flow in space as both French and English wrap around their borders. Even the setting is uncomfortable: Onion City. On the map inside the front cover, it sure looks like Chicago, but the name was enough to keep me from feeling completely confident, completely confident of where I was. I spent the first few pages feeling confused and overwhelmed, unsure of how to read the panels. Of course that feeling of disorientation and disassociation is the point, as it's the plight of the main character who finds herself "on an undiscovered continent". My feeling of ease grew with every page, just as Noemie adjusted to life in Onion City. By the end, we both felt at home. It's a journey from her opening words about that undiscovered continent to her closing: "I'm not leaving for a month, but I already miss it."
Larson's loopy, flowing art is more than beautiful to look at. It serves the story in an important way by making the line between dream and the waking world a very thin one. There's not a sense that "this" is real, and "this" isn't. It's all equally real, just different. The Noemie that goes to Art History classes is no more (or less) real than the Noemie that canters through the night with a sick child on her back. All of these things, all the incidents of her life are part of her journey.
There's a good part of my reaction to Gray Horses that's very personal. I've lived all over, but having spent my formative years of high school, college, and early independence in Chicago, I consider it home. I miss it dearly, and the city itself is inextricable from my memories of it: hot afternoons with sangria and friends on the blacktop rooftops of the Ukranian Village. Though Larson calls Chicago "Onion City", a nod to the city's Algonquin origin, it's Chicago-ness is palpable. It's not the specific spot-the-landmark sense of place that Local has, but more a feel of the city. Larson understands the heat of a Chicago summer, and the quiet and beauty that's in the city if you happen to step off at the wrong EL stop.
Grey Horses is warm and wonderful and delightful. It's the sort of novel that leaves me a bit sad at the end, as I wanted to spend more summer days with Noemie and her friends in Onion City. I missed her first book (Salamander Dream), but I won't make that mistake again.
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
I just finished performing Julius Caesar, and here comes the Ides of March. Not much to beware this New Comic Wednesday, unless you feel like massive crossovers are stabbing the industry in the back: "Et tu, Marvel?"
Here's the thing for me this week: I need to cut a book from this list. When I hit 2005 Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer Award Winning Night Flight Comics last week, they did not have Sky Ape: King Of Girls. Mike showed me where the old issues Sky Apes shelved so I could get a taste of the series, and we happened to stumble upon copies of the first two issues of Skyscrapers Of The Midwest. Since Pimpmaster Supreme James Sime has gotten me excited about the book, I really want to pick up those first issues. There's the budget to consider, however: what do I bump from my list this week to pick up Skyscrapers?
Obviously, some items are sacrosanct: Paul Pope's Batman: Year One Hundred, Gail Simone's delightful JLA Classified, Seven Soldiers: Bulleteer, Busiek and Johns on Superman, Infinite Crisis Secret Files because I'm a sucker like that, and both Conan and Ultimate Extinction.
That said, here are the iffy items that could/should/might make way for Skyscrapers:
- Green Arrow has one of the more intriguing One Year Later setups, and I have always enjoyed Scott McDaniel's art. But - can I really add another monthly to the stack? Nightwing is pretty much the same issue. I'm intrigued ... just not sure if I'm intrigued enough.
- Superman/Shazam: First Thunder is the last of a four-issue miniseries. Can I really drop a series when I have 3 of 4 issues? Sure I can, when lateness has sapped my interest completely. My life would be utterly complete not knowing how it ends. Probably the title I'm most willing to skip, but I think it's on my pull list.
- The Teen Titans Annual is another title that I'll end up buying because it's on my pull list. Though I generally enjoy annuals, the romance of Wonder Girl and Superboy just doesn't interest me.
- Conan: Book Of Thoth is the likely victim of the Skyscrapers axe. I enjoy Busiek's Conan immensely, but I'm feeling I can tradewait this one.
- Batman: Year One Hundred #2
- Green Arrow #60
- Infinite Crisis Secret Files 2006
- JLA Classified #18
- Nightwing #118
- Seven Soldiers: Bulleteer #4
- Superman #650
- Superman/Shazam: First Thunder #4
- Teen Titans Annual #1
- Ultimate Extinction #3
- Conan #26
- Conan: Book Of Thoth #1
- When the DC Previews get released on the 'net, I don't even read them anymore. I just wait for "Judging _______ Books By Their Covers" over at Comics Should Be Good. Much more entertaining.
- Comics have always been about community: from letter columns to conventions to USENET to the WeboComicsBlogoNet. In communities, you make friends and you make enemies. Guy LeCharles Gonzalez writes about both in a thoughtful article that will probably stir some debate.
- For those of you reading this that have an Xbox 360 - and I may just be talking to Lil' Bones here - the preview trailer for the Superman Returns game is now available to download in the Live Marketplace in all it's prerendered glory.
- Chris Tamarri has an entirely different reaction to American Virgin than I did. His is much better written and much better argued ... even if completely I disagree. Jason Rodriguez also make a rare trip into Comics-Reviewing-Land to talk about the book, and comes up with another completely different and powerful reaction. I think it's further proof that American Virgin transcends the current Vertigo wave of hotbutton agitprop: it's hard to imagine this diversity of interpretation with Testament or DMZ.
Friday, March 10, 2006
Another Friday, another installment of Bovine Ultraviolence.
From Seven Soldiers: Frankenstein #3, by Grant Morrison and Doug Mahnke.
Thursday, March 09, 2006
Vertigo's been launching quite a few new series lately, perhaps in an attempt to capture that Preacher magic again. Though Fables, 100 Bullets, and Y: The Last Man are strong titles, none are the phenomenon that Preacher, Sandman, and Transmetropolitan were. It's hard to capture lightning in a bottle, and the didactic nature of some of these new books makes it next to impossible: DMZ and Testament wear their message on their sleeve, and never seem to move past a one-note preaching to the choir.
Approaching American Virgin, I feared for more of the same. It's about sex and the bible belt, and seemed ripe for the same sort of agitprop that's been turning me away from Vertigo as of late. It was the strength of the creators - Steven T. Seagle and Becky Cloonan - that got me to give it a try. Though there are stereotypes at work, they don't dominate the book. The stereotyping is spread to all sides of the compass - there are right-wing money-grubbing religious hucksters, but it's balanced by the idiotic stoner youth. Everyone in American Virgin is a bit of a cartoon, and it's an integral part of the story. American Virgin is a book about extremes on all sides, and one decent kid caught in the middle.
I use the word "kid" on purpose, as Adam Chamberlin is not a man. Not yet. He's a youthful pop minister who preaches a gospel of abstinence until marriage: "... I will wait for her. Forever if I have to. And I will never be with any other woman because that's what the lord expects of me ... so how can I not expect that of myself?" I expected to find Adam insufferable, and was prepared to dislike the character and the series from the get-go. He seemed a straw man, destined to be shown the empty hypocrisy of his Red State ways. That's not the case at all: Adam is a rich character who I couldn't help but like and respect, even if I think he's wrong. That's due in large part to Cloonan's endearing rendition of him with a winning, open smile that always seems earnest and open. Seagle also takes pains to put the character in extreme circumstances early, so that we can see the depth of his commitment to his ideal. Adam is no huckster, no glib sellout: he deeply believes with a fervor that will make his journey all the more compelling.
Cynicism is easy but it often makes for poor characterization. By embracing Adam Chamberlain instead of undercutting him or mocking him, Seagle and Cloonan have created the kind of character that can carry a series on his back. Like Jesse Custer or Spider Jerusalem, he's engaging and likeable and flawed and rich. One issue is too early to tell anything about a series, but American Virgin is going on my pull list, and that's rare for the current Vertigo.
Tuesday, March 07, 2006
It's a light week this Wednesday at 2005 Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer Award Winning Night Flight Comics, at least for me. This is a good thing: I need to pick up bags and boards, and there are some big must-buy Xbox 360 game releases this week. Working both habits, gaming and comics, on my limited budget is an exercise in creativity.
Having never read a Sky Ape book, King Of Girls sits at the top of my list this week. I've heard a lot of good stuff about this jetpack-enabled simian, and I look forward to seeing what all the fuss is about. American Virgin also looks mighty fine, with a mix of religion and sex that should nicely blend with my constant discomfort at living in a Mormon Theocracy. Becky Cloonan's the selling point, though.
As for the rest? More Seven Soldiers, another Fell, the start of some more Kirby-inspired Joe Casey, and another issue of Matt Wagner's Monster Men (or, as I call it, The Real All-Star Batman)
- American Virgin #1
- Batman And The Monster Men #5
- Firestorm The Nuclear Man #23
- Seven Soldiers: Frankenstein #3
- Seven Soldiers: Mister Miracle #4
- Teen Titans #33
- Fell #4
- Fantastic Four: First Family #1
- Sky Ape: King Of Girls One Shot
Monday, March 06, 2006
- Johanna has a lovely review of Nana, a manga I've been meaning to write about. I love the characters, and Yazawa's control of the pace of the page is astounding.
- Chris Butcher weighs in with his take on the Speakeasy situation, and it's well worth a read. The licensed properties he mentions could have really been something to see, and could have been one of those mythic "expand the audience" properties that are comics' current Holy Grail.
- Witty parodies are nothing new on the WeboComicsBlogoNet, but this one from Ye Olde Comick Booke Blogge is particularly delightful.
And by "delightful", I mean filled with blood and Hostess.
- I've seen some impressive screenshots for the upcoming Xbox 360 games based on Top Cow's The Darkness, and the development company has a good track record. There are the people that made a stunning game out of The Chronicles Of Riddick. Well ... the game has found a publisher, and a good one at that.
- In the vein of the excellent X-Men Legends, Activision is developing Marvel Legends. The link mentions that the games so far have been based on the Ultimate Universe, but that's not quite the case: the X-Men games were a skillful blend of movies, Ultimate, and mainstream versions of the characters. An Avengers/Ultimates beat-em up could be quite a lot of fun.
Friday, March 03, 2006
An odd, and not entirely pleasant day today. Slight hangover, crushing work, and a vague depression after finishing my performances in Julius Caesar. Four rehearsals and two performances merely whets the appetite. It's a case of actus interruptus.
I've been so busy, I haven't even opened the copy of Kevin Huizenga's Or Else #2 that Mike (at 2005 Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer Award Winning Night Flight Comics) tracked down for me. I keep gazing at the back cover, though, and its intersection of comics and sport gives me a stupid happy smile.
And stupid happy smile is what the TGIF is all about.
Wednesday, March 01, 2006
Welcome to the "Comics 'n' Gaming" Edition:
- My favorite webcomic, Penny Arcade, is spending the day in a comic book mood, as they discuss the upcoming massively multiplayer game coming from DC and Sony Online. Here's the comic. Here's the news.
- There's some kinda-sorta-not-really footage of the game that EA's releasing based on the upcoming Superman Returns movie floating around. Why the qualifications? Because, regardless of what EA might have you believe, this is not the game itself. This is prerendered footage, the same trick they pulled with their Madden release on the Xbox 360. It represents their aim, their target ... but you can expect they'll miss.
You know how I knew Crisis On Infinite Earths meant something? That it was a sea-chance in the DCU, and nothing would be quite the same again?
That's how I knew.
A story that still stands as a landmark in comics, and that ended an era. Crisis set things up, but Alan Moore's story of Superman's Ragnarok put the period at the end of the sentence and announced that something new was coming.
So - as the One Year Later experiment starts to roll out tomorrow, what did we get as a farewell to this DCU? In those final issues before the jump do any stand as the great goodbye to what was and the welcome to what will be?
This is a snapshot of what happened just before "One Year Later".
Gotham Central #40 was thisclose to being a classic. Greg Rucka put the cast through their paces, and headed them to the grim and gritty resolution the series called for. Sadly, editorial concerns robbed the tragedy of its punch. We didn't get resolution, only a coda. And a coda that was dissonant with what we'd seen so far.
Outsiders #33 was a prime example of the thumb twiddling that has marked much of DC's output the past few months. I like Jen Van Meter, and have been impressed with her writing so far. I just happen to think that one of the ground rules here is that a fill-in writer, fill-in artist, and a issue that reads like Infinite Crisis 3.5 does not qualify as the denouement I'm looking for.
When Brad Meltzer takes over JLA this summer, it's going to be hard for many to not compare him to the last relaunch the title saw. JLA #125 was part of a brilliant gambit by DC to deflect that criticism. There will be no cries of "It's not as good as Morrison!" ... rather, the masses will cheer that "Anything is better than Harras' arc! Viva Meltzer!"
Without knowing where Infinite Crisis is heading, it's hard to be sure what kind of impact JSA #82 will have. If this story is the last we see of the Earth-2 JSA with Batman and Superman as members ... it's fitting. It's s slight story, but feels very affectionate and authentic towards the old done-in-one caper comics of the pre-Crisis days.
Set in a brief timeslice between issues of Infinite Crisis, Firestorm #22 is a very enjoyable postmodern diversion as writer Stuart Moore lays bare his thinking on how to build a better Firestorm by literally "Building A Better Firestorm". I expect many would find it too-cute-by-half, but I completely enjoyed a glimpse into the decision making process involved in a character reboot. This is a title that easily could have become aimless, considering the demands the overall Infinite Crisis storyline places on the character. Moore didn't let that happen, and probably provides my favorite issue of this "One Month Before One Year".
Batman #650 wraps up much of the Red Hood storyline, has some great Joker scenes, and ends with a nice cliffhanger that adds some suspense to One Year Later. Winick seems to be the butt of a lot of jokes, but I'm enjoying his Batman. This is one book that never seemed to struggle to make it to the One Year Later break, and the fact we'll skip a year after the conclusion to this arc feels very organic.
I missed the controversy over Hal punching out Batman. Green Lantern #9 largely exists to address that controversy, and somehow set things right. There were some nice character moments, however - the discussion over methods of transportation was stupid fun, and I like the active choice of Batman holding onto his grief. It was a nice coda on two of the pivotal characters in the DCU, and left what should be a clean slate for this title to gain some momentum.
I don't follow Catwoman, and so it follows I didn't read Catwoman #52.
After reading Melchior del Darien's interesting posts on this particular issue (here and here), I think I may have missed out on something important.
Wonder Woman #225 was closure, and issue #226 was postscript. Wonder Woman is being cancelled and relaunched, and Rucka ties up the story pretty well in #225. #226 felt a bit like a "very special clipshow", but I still enjoyed the issue. It dealt nicely with the Wonder Woman/Superman relationship, and sounded the leitmotif of "The Trinity" that's been running through Infinite Crisis.
When I saw the solicits for "This Is Your Life, Superman!", the idea of a guest writer coming in and writing an arc across all the Superman titles that would serve as a summation of the character, a reflection on his history, and just so happen to feature some fantastic artists ... well, I couldn't help but think of Whatever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow?
That's not quite what we're getting here. The last issue ships today, and perhaps the arc will make some sense, but right now it features some wonderful artwork set amidst unintelligible continuity issues. Lots of promise, and perhaps haunted by an unfair milestone: not everyone is Alan Moore and Curt Swan.
This is not an exhaustive list, as I don't read DC exhaustively. DC's been playing a bit of a shell game, and I've bought in. With the promise of One Year Later (and the further promise of new creative teams a bit later, and new series a bit later than that), I kept reading and reading titles that often seemed to be killing time. I hoped for classics, for resolution ... and got a lot of filler.