Friday, December 30, 2005

In Passing...Bulleteer to Generation M

So I finally got a chance to catch up on my comic reading since the craziness of Christmas. Here are my mini-reviews for last week's comics...

Seven Soldiers: Bulleteer #2 (of 4) - One of the best Seven Soldiers issues to date. In this issue, we get the answers to some burning questions from Seven Soldiers #0, like what exactly happened to the heros in Arizona? What were the circumstances that brought them together? The answers involve racism and monsters. Just awesome. 9.4/10

The Book of Lost Souls #3 - J. Michael Straczynski and Colleen Doran's "Icon" book continues as our mystery man visits another soul content with destroying herself, this one being an artist whose boyfriend overdosed. I liked the issue, despite a nagging feeling that the writer was being a little pretentious. 7.1/10

Runaways #11 - The runaways continue their adventure in the Big Apple as they confront Spider-man, bluff drug pushers and are inevitably attacked by a certain superhero group on the lookout for Cloak. There was plenty going on in this issue, bouncing between three different pairs of kids. 7.8/10

Manhunter #17 - Manhunter finds her family missing in the wake of accepting Mr. Bones' offer to be his hero-for-hire. But they haven't been taken by anyone she expected... I was really surprised by the ending and it got me really excited for the issues to come. 9/10

Generation M #2 (of 5) - The mutant killer strikes again after columnist Sally Floyd reports the killer's photos left at her doorstep. There are a couple of guest appearances of ex-X-Men in this issue, with a minor surprise at the end of the issue that you could see coming a mile away. 6/10

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Another Christmas come and gone...

What I got for Christmas this year...

Graphic novels/Trades:
- The Cute Manifesto
- Excaliber Classics (volume 1)
- Catwoman: When In Rome

Novels:
- The Historian

DVDs:
- Anastasia
- Closer
- Open Water (I actually went to rent movies at my mom's and it was 20 cents more to buy it, so she just got it for me...) (I also watched War of the Worlds and Sideways on Xmas Eve)

misc.:
- lots of candy
- a burned Xmas CD
- chardonnay
- a book light
- a wallet
- socks
- DVD-Rom cases
- utensils
- money
- lots of Barnes & Noble giftcards
- a Target giftcard

I already used part of my Target card on House of Flying Daggers the DVD and picked up Robotika #1 and Sword of Dracula #1 from Big Brain in Minneapolis (and food) with my money.

And Patrick got...

Graphic Novels/Trades:
- Essential Spider-woman (volume 1)
- DC Showcase Presents...JLA (volume 1)
- Night Fisher
- Bambi and Her Pink Gun
- Hino Horror (volumes 1 and 2)
- Marvel Masterworks: Fantastic Four (volume 9)

Novels:
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

DVDs:
- Serenity
- Lord of the Rings: Return of the King
- King Kong (Original)

misc.:
- Lord of the Rings calendar
- several burned CDs
- crockpot
- pillows/a throw
- candy
- lots of Barnes & Noble giftcards
- a Target giftcard
- money
- a shirt
- pajamas
- socks/underwear

(Patrick already bought the Ganzfeld (volume 4) magazine at Big Brain, as well as King-Cat #64)

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Spider-woman: Origin

Like most people around this time of year, I've been busy at work and shopping for presents, so I haven't been updating as often as I wish I could. I'll be going home for Christmas for a few days starting tomorrow as well, so I won't have time to read comics, let alone discuss them, but I promise to be more consistent when I return. Yesterday, a UPS truck broke down on its way to Wisconsin, so no Wisconsin comic stores received their shipments until today, which was annoying enough, but hey, I got them and that's what counts, right? (well, all but Grimoire #7 and Mome, but that's the local store's fault for not ordering enough) But anyways, I did have time to read a comic before I resume packing and head in to my last day at work before having a five day stretch off...

Spider-woman: Origin #1, written by Brian Michael Bendis and Brian Reed, with art by the Luna Brothers (favorites of mine)! The rise of Jessica Drew... This issue was pretty basic, lending its origin from the Hulk movie for the most part. I thought that Jonathon Luna was a little stiff with his art this time around, which was a little disappointing, but for the most part, he did a great job. I may be the only one who sees this, but I swear there's a little Hernandez Brothers influence in his artwork. I wouldn't be surprised at all if he said he was a huge Love & Rockets fan. Even though I wasn't blown away by this issue, I'm certainly not ready to write it off yet. It's about on par with most superhero stuff out there - I just hope it improves as it goes on, like the ending of this issue seemed to indicate it would...

Saturday, December 17, 2005

X-Factor

The debut issue of another X-Factor series launched this past week, from the minds of Peter David and Ryan Sook. If you recall, a few years ago Peter David wrote a Marvel Knights mini-series called Madrox, about the Multiple Man who we see in this new series leading a band of detective/heroes through his X-Factor Detective Agency. The new X-Factor is a sequel of sorts to this story, including the likes of Strong Guy and Wolfsbane, who were seen in that initial mini, as well as bringing in some fresh blood in the forms of Siryn, Rictor and M (who did not appear in this first issue, although she was mentioned). Madrox's relationship to his clones was explored in that mini-series, including the idea of him sending clones out over the world and reabsorbing them (and the information they gained), as well as his lack of control over the personalities and actions of the clones he produces. This interesting idea is picked up in the new series, indeed almost immediately, as Madrox confronts a former teammate from his X-Factor days via one of his clones. As the issue progresses, we learn that one of the cases that X-Factor investigations is taking on is about "M Day," when 90% of the mutant population awoke without their powers (thus, the big "Decimation" logo in the corner of the front cover), as well as some smaller cases like one Siryn is in the midst of working out (with the help of a new trick Siryn realized she could do with her voice). All in all, this issue was really solid. I'm really excited to see what David and Sook have in store for the characters they lovingly reintroduced to us, as the first issue certainly captured my interest.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

In Passing...DMZ to Secret War

Fables #44 - Part three of the "Arabian Nights (And Days)" storyline deals with the repercusions of Sinbad's friend, Yusuf, letting the djinn out of the bottle last issue, as the conflict is diffused in an unexpected way thanks to some astute Fabletown citizens. 8.5/10

Secret War #5 (of 5) - This has been a pretty lacklustre series. The art, painted by one Gabriele Dell'Otto, is great, but that's about all it's had going for it. This issue is all about the explanations, which were nothing that warranted this series to have been conceived of in the first place. 2.8/10

DMZ #2 - Intern Matthew Roth explores a dangerous "war zone" city with Zee, who keeps him alive long enough to talk him into carrying out his news crew's assignment and report on what really goes on in the DMZ. 6.4/10

And from the pages of Shojo Beat (Volume 2, Issue 1)...

Nana - Nana attempts to find bandmates for her roomie as she realizes she's been acting unfair to her boyfriend. Meanwhile, new characters are introduced to the series that may complicate some relationships in the near future. 8.9/10

Absolute Boyfriend - Riiko's mail-order boyfriend Night gets a fan club who goes haywire if any girls are caught talking to the poor guy. And Riiko's friend Satori isn't exactly the person she believed her to be. 7/10

That's all for mini-reviews this week. If any bloggers are reading this, I should let you know that there's a site for bloggers to recognize the best comics and artists of the year. If anyone else wants to give credit to their favorites, post them at The Comics Journal's message board! I, of course, posted mine based on my favorite ten of the year!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

In Passing...Spider-man to Mr. Miracle

Ultimate Spider-man #87 - Despite the disappointing "cool down" issue of the previous Ultimate Spider-man story arc "Warriors," Bendis has been on top of his game lately with the old Webhead. This new arc "Silver Sable" is just plain awesome (and not just because I'm partial to the obscure mercenary!) The Wild Pack mistakenly kidnaps Flash Thompson, thinking he's the man behind Spidey, while Mary Jane is completely jealous after seeing Peter with Kitty. Ayeyay. The high school soap opera, as always, is just as interesting and suspenseful as the heroics. 9.5/10

Necromancer #3 - What started out as a very promising series falls quickly into a silly "girl using magic" comic with this issue, as a mentor figure arrives out of nowhere to save Abigail from the clutches of...government officials in league with demons? Ugh. The only Top Cow book I've ever liked has just become another Top Cow book I'll never read. 4.8/10

New Excaliber #2 - Another book that had my hopes soaring with the last issue flounders. I loved the original Claremont/Davis Excaliber series, and actually had a shred of hope that this would be decent. The first issue was actually good, despite a few faults. This one takes those silly faults and magnifies them until there's nothing left of what was good. There are a lot of those really intricate moments like in the first issue where the team works together to make Dazzler's heart beat again, amid silly instructions from a single teammate (now, Kitty, massage her heart!). This issue is just page after page of that sort of drivel. I can't imagine anyone enjoying this sort of thing. Sorry, Claremont, I know you had some talent way back when, but by god, bow out gracefully! 3.8/10

Seven Soldiers: Mister Miracle #2 (of 4) - Now, if there's anyone you can rely on to turn a crappy comic week into a great one, it's usually Grant Morrison. Unfortunately, this week it was Bendis, as another comic fizzles. This is the only Seven Soldiers book, really the only Morrison book, that I can not stand. It just doesn't make me care at all about what's going on. I don't like the characters, the story's dull and hell, the artists on the series can't even retain their interest, so why should I? 2/10

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Y-the Last Man #40 (Spoiler)

Brian K. Vaughan's Y-the Last Man #40 is another stand-alone issue focusing on secondary characters of the series. And is it just me or do the stand-alones seem to be better than the on-going plot? This series has gotten pretty silly as it's progressed, but there are still a few decent things happening beyond all of the crap. This particular issue is kind of a follow-up on events from a while back, where Yorick meets a woman named Beth (not his girlfriend Beth, but another one) who is hiding out in a church. Finally, we get the answer to questions brought up at that time - about what has become of the catholic church since the plague struck. It was a little disappointing, as they're merely searching the world for miraculaous conceptions. A little desparate, I guess. We also get to find out what little secret Beth's been hiding since Yorick took leave of her - particularly the little bun in her oven (did anyone out there believe that that wasn't going to happen?) Despite these few disappointing notes, however, it is an entertaining story as we get to see a strange relationship form between Beth and Yorick's ex-Amazon sister Hero. And it's kind of cool how Vaughan turns our expectations around on us and gives us a baby girl where a boy was expected.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

My Favorite CDs of the Year

1. Confessions on a Dance Floor - Madonna
Key Tracks: Hung Up, Sorry, How High, Push

2. Bleed Like Me ~ Garbage
Key Tracks: Why Do You Love Me, Metal Heart, Boys Wanna Fight, Why Don't You Come Over

3. Plans ~ Death Cab for Cutie
Key Tracks: Marching Bands of Manhatten, Summer Skin, Your Heart Is an Empty Room, Crooked Teeth

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The Walking Dead: Heart's Desire

The fourth collection of Robert Kirkman's zombie saga, The Walking Dead collects issues 19 - 24 of the ongoing series, this story entitled "The Heart's Desire." But if you're looking for zombies this time around, you're going to be hard-pressed. Aside from the opening scene where another character joins the small group, there is little zombie action, but instead focuses on the delicate relationships between the existing characters within the safety of the prison they stumbled upon with the last collection. The new character that joins the group, Michonne, makes her debut slicing and dicing the zombies with a sword like a swashbuckling superhero, two zombies in tow without arms or jaws to render them incapable of attack. An unsettling appearance, but thus is the world left for the ones who have survived. There's an over-the-top speech given at the end of the volume that causes one (or maybe just me) to roll their eyes, but other than that, it was good clean soap opera fun, with just a spray of blood in the mix to sate the desire of those following the book for the horror aspect of the story. I expect that something must come along soon to stir things up and put people in danger once again because as it stands, the book's getting a little dull.

Monday, December 05, 2005

In Passing...Fell to Kitty Pryde

Fell #3 - Another self-contained issue of Warren Ellis and Ben Templesmith's noir series came out this past week, with our favorite law enforcer caught in the sights of a suicide bomber. I didn't like this issue as much as the first two issues of the series. I just thought it was a little dull in comparison without any real detective work and just a lack of action overall. Ellis showcased the quirkiness of Snowtown once again via a stroll through the street, where we saw a couple of shady figures, including the always-present nun wearing a Richard Nixon mask. 5.4/10

New Avengers #13 (spoilers) - The Silver Samurai confronts the Avengers and Ronin's true identity is revealed as Echo. Now, Echo as Ronin? Thirteen issues of being on the cover and then she decides to stay in Japan at the end and not be with the Avengers. Marvel needs to settle down with the cover campaigns as usual, instead of jumping the gun. The reveal was a big letdown, as anyone who hasn't read Daredevil for the past year wouldn't get who the character was, and the rest of us probably don't care anyway. I thought that the whole point of the New Avengers was to showcase the big guns of the Marvel universe on a team together. Echo doesn't exactly scream "big gun" to me. I doubt she could even headline her own mini-series at this point. Another problem: why is Echo in disguise? Why is she dressed like a man? Just to get the Marvel fanboys psyched up for the underwhelming revelation? Next time it had better damn well be Elektra under that mask if Marvel pulls a stunt like this again. Oh, and let's see Finch draw like...let's say, nothing else for this series. But anyway, the rest of the issue was decent! 7/10

Season of the Witch #2 (of 4) - I don't really care for the rapid pace of this mini-series, however it's inherent in the series' design, as each issue represents a season of the year (this issue being "Summer"). The issue does slow down at times to draw attention to key points in this character's development, but I get the feeling of being rushed when I'd like to slow down and take things in a little bit more. Our heroine isn't exactly the savior this world of magic and sorcery had probably hoped for, as she's fairly gullible and she gets into the bloodshed a little too much, but hey, this makes for an interesting character at least. 7.3/10

Generation M #1 (of 5) - This series wasn't exactly what I thought it would be. It is about mutants who have lost their powers but I was thinking more along the lines of each issue being a self-contained story about a specific mutant (this one being Chamber since he's, you know, plastered over the cover). Not the case, however. This series follows a columnist who battles her self-destructive past in the wake of her daughter's death to create a column that she feels needs to be told. Amid the "decimation" of the marvel universe, she decides to revive a failed column about mutant lives and highlight mutants whose lives have changed as a result of losing their powers (many of whom are still harrassed by people who rally behind the phrase "once a mutant, always a mutant" or are now physically impaired as their bodies can no longer function normally with their physical deformities). This could make for an interesting series with some things cropping up that are sure to thread through the entire series, like a rash of pictures sent to the columnist showing murdered mutants with signs thrown over them proclaiming "not enough died." 7.9/10

Kitty Pryde: Shadow and Flame #5 (of 5) - The mini-series concludes here with Kitty overcoming all of her obstacles and returning home. Of course, plenty of stuff leads up to that. This issue is pretty much one big battle as Kitty betrays Ogun's disciples, the Path of Destiny (who were about to betray her anyway), and turns them over to the mysterious J.D.S.S. and to the Silver Samurai (who is cropping up in a lot of books as of late). Meanwhile, she retrieves her beloved friend Lockheed and the green dragon she came to Japan to find in the first place. Paul Smith's art has been stellar throughout the series, this issue being no exception. This is probably the best Kitty Pryde mini-series out there. 8.5/10

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Soft Anchor

My autobiographical comic (mini comic) Soft Anchor is now available at Quimby's. The first issue is about events in my life that took place when I was seven years old. I grew up in an abusive household and my first real sexual experience with a neighbor boy take place during this year. I sent a preview copy to the store, so they should be posting a review sometime in the near future, and I will be sending copies to other stores as well, so be on the lookout if you don't want to pay for shipping! The first issue is entitled "Not a Ladybug." I'm presently working on the second issue which I have no name for as of yet.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Obligation fulfilled

I actually kept my New Year's resolution this year. Since graduating with my English BA degree, I haven't read much in terms of novels. Last year, I read only three books the entire year. Which was totally pathetic, having had to read two or three books a month in college. So, my New Year's resolution for this year was to read at least one novel a month. And I did.

January: Mansfield Park ~ Jane Austin
February: The Folding Star ~ Alan Hollinghurst
March: Northanger Abbey ~ Jane Austin
April: From Hell ~ Alan Moore/Eddie Campbell
May: Pride and Prejudice ~ Jane Austin
June: Little Women ~ Louisa May Alcott
July: Persuasion ~ Jane Austin
August: The Mysteries of Udolpho ~ Ann Radcliffe
September: Mysterious Skin ~ Scott Heim
October: The Diary of a Teenage Girl ~ Phoebe Gloeckner
November: Madame Bovary ~ Gustave Flaubert
December: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone ~ J.K. Rowling

Obviously I finished my December book well ahead of schedule, so if anyone thinks From Hell was a cheat since its a graphic novel can be rest assured that I will have completed the next Harry Potter book by the end of the year.

I definitely loved The Mysteries of Udolpho the best of all that I read. Pride and Prejudice, Mysterious Skin, The Folding Star and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone were among the best of the rest. Little Women was the worst of the books, with Madame Bovary ending at a close second. Any of the other books I would recommend however, but I'd start with Pride and Prejudice for the Jane Austin books and Ann Radcliffe above all else.