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Showing posts from January, 2006

Dungeon

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Is this good timing or what? I finished Joann Sfar and Lewis Trondheim's first volume of Dungeon, "Duck Heart," just as Trondheim becomes the grand prix winner at the Angouleme Festival. I think this was a great introduction to the acclaimed creators. Dungeon is one of those books that seems like a no-brainer to have in comics, but once you've read it and look around for similar books, they're noticeably absent. It's a very cartoony, fun, and just wacky book full of monsters fighting goofy heroes. The closest thing to this in American comics is probably Jeff Smith's Bone, but this takes that sort of fantasy to another level. It's wildly creative in a way that just breathes life into the pages whereas a majority of the medium is stale. There is no peer for Dungeon, though its premise is simple: that of a dungeon where warriors come to fight monsters to win treasure. We see more of this type of thing in cartoons on Saturday mornings than in comics…

The Secret Voice

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I finally got around to reading the comic that everyone's been talking about and I have to say that I'm impressed. Zack Soto's The Secret Voice is a treasure to be sure, an ongoing comic that showcases characters from his Secret Voice Universe, including that of the main story of the issue, "Dr. Galapagos," as he battles rock trolls in a mainly silent story. Lots of action and creativity are invested in all of Zack Soto's stories. "Day 34"
follows a man in a life boat as he stumbles upon some weird things in middle of the ocean, while "Smog Emperor" became my favorite of the stories, following a young boy who is troubled by the superpowered being he has the ability to turn into to deal with his problems. Between the stories, there's a page of plugs and an editorial explaining the goals of the comic, but what I enjoyed most of all were the pages "excerpted from the Official Handbook of the Secret Voice Universe," which fea…

Nextwave

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Warren Ellis is awesome. Throwing together a team of D-List superheroes including Elsa Bloodstone, Machine Man, The Captain (haven't ever heard of him), Monica Rambeau (a previous incarnation of Captain Marvel) and Meltdown (or Boomer or Boom Boom) of X-Force, Ellis has created a force to be reckoned with. From the awesome Stuart Immonen cover (citing the phrase "healing America by beating people up") to the theme song on the back cover (taking a cue from James Kochalka's Superf*ckers), this comic is awesome. It was smart to use a bunch of characters not on Marvel's radar of "we have to keep them iconic because, oh my God, the movie!" so Ellis could really have the creative freedom to do these characters justice (and reinvent them really). Before even reading the comic, I could tell who my favorite character would be - Elsa Bloodstone. I read the Bloodstone mini-series a few years back and...well, I never finished it because it sucked, but I knew - I…

In Passing...The Pulse to Polly

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I am going to review Next Wave #1 very shortly, but until then, here's the mini-reviews:

New Avengers #15 - The new team goes public with their roster in this issue told from the perspective of Ms. Marvel as she goes to witness the event. Tensions are high before the big moment, as teammates are unsure of the decision and how their place amongst the members may reflect their image negatively in the public eye. 7.1/10

The Pulse #13 - Following the events of New Avengers #15, Jessica Jones is in labor and doing the usual screaming and cussing as Luke Cage does the typical daddy-to-be-unsure-if-he's-helping thing. I was hoping for some moments that we haven't seen elsewhere here. Oh, and Ben Urich confronts D-Man in the New York sewers. 6/10

Season of the Witch #3 (of 4) - Jessica continues to wreak havoc among the king's men in an effort to free the peasants of Asamando from his tyrannical reign, and going about it the wrong way as usual, becoming a tyrant herself. Nicola …

Previews: April 2006

Highlights of the recent Previews catalogue from Diamond (lacklustre as the issue was)...

Archaia Studios Press:
Mouse Guard #2 - This book looks so beautiful, I just can't help but mention it all the time...

Dark Horse:
Scary Book (volume 2) - More horror manga goodness as Kazuo Umezu's anthology series continues...

DC:
Fables #48 - Bigby Wolf has been missing from the pages of this series for awhile, so it'll be fun to see what the grump has been up to.

Seven Soldiers #1 - Finally! The conclusion of the Grant Morrison saga!

Fantagraphics Books:
The Complete Peanuts (volume 5): 1959-1960 - I'm behind on these, but I loved what I've read so far. And Patty's on the cover!

Nymph GN - This sounds cool and has a great cover. I will be checking this Frank Thorne book out.

:01 First Second:
A.L.I.E.E.E.N. SC - I'm a sucker for cutesy comics. Weird cutsey comics fall into that.

IDW Publishing:
Adventures In Oz tpg - Collecting five Eric Shanower Oz books, IDW hits a new hig…

Confessions...

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When I was in junior high, I began reading my first novels (outside of school). I'd gone up to my aunt's house in Grang Forks, ND for a week and brought along a set of books I'd gotten for Christmas so I wouldn't get bored. They were paperback teen thrillers. There was a Diane Hoh book, an R.L. Stine...but those young adult thrillers shaped how I thought of books growing up. I loved them and began to consume them like mad. They were obviously really trashy books, but I had a lot of fun reading them. I kind of became obsessed with them after awhile and (let's just say I didn't have many friends at this stage in my life) I went so far as to do a yearly awards ceremony for young adult thrillers, called the Feary Awards. I bought and read every single young adult thriller that came out each year and had silly categories like "Best 'Trapped' Book" and "Best Werewolf Novel." Needless to say, the audience for the Feary Awards began and ende…

5 CDs you should know about

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There are plenty of CDs that come in under people's radar that really deserve more attention. I wanted to highlight five CDs that I felt were extremely neglected from the past five years, favorites of mine...

Slow Down Kid ~ Val Emmich (2004) This CD blew me away. I bought it on a whim when I was listening to some music at Border's one day. I really just listened to the CD because I thought the guy was cute, but my god Val Emmich is talented. His music is bursting with the raw emotion that so much music is lacking. His lyrics can be painful and touching, but are mostly very angry and lost. This kid can sing and write and rock. Key tracks: Medical Display, Bury Me, Separate Things, Shock, Unstable.

Who's Got Trouble? ~ Shivaree (2005) I first became aware of Shivaree because of her song Goodnight Moon on the Kill Bill Volume 2 soundtrack. I gave a listen to her most recent CD after that and was extremely impressed. The more I listened to this CD, the more I fell in l…

In passing...Deadgirl to Runaways

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There were quite a few good titles that came out this week aside from All Star Superman. It's becoming rare that I have a week with seven comics to read. Not to complain or anything. It is a good thing. But it does make me wonder if I need to be a little more patient with my purchasing. Most of these titles are within the first few issues of their runs and if I waited a few months, I'd be able to just enjoy the collected editions, which I find to be the ideal way to read most comics since the stories usually lend themselves to that format better (and how often would I dig through a clumsy longbox to reread something as opposed to pulling it off of a bookshelf where it can properly be displayed?) But then there are comics like Manhunter, who has only recently had a first trade come out (and who knows if more will follow?). If I waited for all of my books to be collected, I could miss out on them altogether. And then there are the titles I don't want to wait on, like Astonis…

All Star Superman #2

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I've never been a big Superman fan. He's always seemed dull to me, a little too perfect and untouchable and ultimately, conservative in comparison to Marvel's heroes. Which begs the question: why was this comic so damn awesome? The obvious answer to this question would be the creative team, Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely, both masters of the medium and frequent collaborators on some of the most innovative runs of superheros to date. And of course, that's a big part of this issue's success. But the thing is, I wasn't completely blown away by issue #1 of this series either. It was cool and all, but it still left me a little cold in the face of the main character. So...what changed? Well, two words: Lois Lane. I think the success of this issue relies on this supporting character because when told through her eyes, Superman really is cool. When we're following Superman, the mystery, the allure, of the character isn't present. It needs that distance, that …

Excalibur

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Excalibur Classic (volume 1) recently collected issues 1-5 of the original international X-Men team, along with a prelude issue entitled "The Sword is Drawn," no doubt riding the wake of the recently-launched New Excalibur series, which cites a reunion of former members and a classic take on the team that readers have been supposedly salivating for. Truly an underlooked series, I was a little worried that the book wouldn't hold up from my thirteen-year-old eyes to the present. Excalibur was, after all, my first love of comics and something very dear to me, as I grew up with Kitty, Brian, Rachel, Kurt and Meggan. Maybe that's why it really did read like a classic story to me, because it was so revered at the time. But, God, I had so much fun reading it all again that I have to believe there's something there that doesn't have to do with my own prejudices of growing up with it. Re-reading these issues really brought a new appreciation to something I've been…

In Passing...Fables to Lost Souls

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Happy Friday the 13th everyone! Flipping through the channels, I was happy to see Jason on cable. It made me happy. Anyways, the reviews...

DMZ #3 - This issue concludes the first storyarc of Brian Wood and Riccardo Burchielli's DMZ. Opening with missile strikes in the downtown area, the issue hardly stops to catch its breath as Matty is confronted by the military as well as Zee, forcing him to make a decision about his position and what he plans to do. A satisfactory ending of the first story of what promises to be a great, gritty comic. 8.4/10

Fables #45 - Yusuf's fate is carried out in light of his treachery in this issue of the "Arabian Nights (and Days)" arc, and we get to see what has become of Boy Blue at the animal farm, and where this arc leaves Sinbad and the Arabian fables. This is very much the wrap-up issue of the story, but it was interesting and fun nonetheless. 8.5/10

The Book of Lost Souls #4 - Oooh. A two-parter. Since its debut issue, this Icon series…

Catwoman: When In Rome

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Catwoman: When In Rome is the latest mini-series featuring our favorite cat burglar. And it really does showcase why Selina Kyle is such a cool character. She's witty (her Italian starts with Armani and ends with Gucci), she's a lonely screwed-up superhero/villain, and she's deliberate about some rather tongue-in-cheek choices she makes (mainly, her dominatrix outfit). But beyond that, this book doesn't showcase Gotham's finest. I can't be the only one reading Batman comics who's sick of seeing ten villains from Batman's rogue's gallery shoved into one book just to...well, shove them into one book. Hush was enough. More than enough. Unfortunately, Jeph Loeb had some idea that that's what the fans wanted with this book instead of a good well-rounded story. Fortunately for our heroine in question, the artist Tim Sale saves the series with his beautiful rendition of Rome. I rather like his background drawings of hotel rooms and oriental ru…

The Exterminators

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The new Vertigo/DC mini-series The Exterminators made its debut in comic stores this past week. Written by Simon Oliver and illustrated by Tony Moore, this gritty tale of, well, exterminators, is an ugly book. But not in a bad way. It's illustrated well by Tony Moore of The Walking Dead fame. I just mean its full of rather vile images. Lots of disgusting bugs obviously fill the pages, making me squirm in particular (God, I hate bugs), along with plenty of blood and gore and squished bug guts. The characters of the book are just as reprehensible as the job they perform, swearing and treating women like sex objects. The protagonist has recently come out of prison and illustrates some violent tendencies he has while other characters eat bugs and other such disgusting things. The book's pretty much about this group of eccentric characters of Bug-Bee-Gone who are going to have a real struggle on their hands as some evolving cockroaches in a poor area of Hollywood are about to thre…

Used Book Store Treasures

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While Milwaukee's comic book store market may royally suck, at least the area bookstores carry a good variety of alternative material and manga that are lacking where they should be found. Today, me and Patrick went to Downtown Books in downtown Milwaukee just by chance and low and behold, they have a wealth of comic material on the third floor of the used bookstore. Most of it is floppies, but there was a graphic novel section with some real finds. I picked up a few books I've been meaning to pick up for awhile with some absurdly low price tags (and in mint condition!). I got Strangehaven: Arcadia and Age of Bronze: A Thousand Ships. The first volume of the Age of Bronze series was probably going to be the next trade I picked up anyway, so it was a total bonus that I got it for $6.99 when it sold retail at $20. Strangehaven's first volume? A mere $7.99. But those weren't the only finds. Patrick picked up a trade published by Marvel back in 1989 collecting old monster…

What a news day...

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Quite a few announcements were made today in the world of comics. I always hate the weekends when nothing is being posted, but Monday...ah, I love Mondays. There's Lying In the Gutters, Richard Johnston's rumor column over at Comic Book Resources, as well as Diamond's updated shipping schedule for this week and the next. It's just a nice way to begin the week. But this Monday, on top of those things, we get some fairly big announcements (see more at Newsarama).

Chimera Studios is leaving Speakeasy for a U.K. publisher. Sad news. I really like Speakeasy. Not that this is a particularly nasty loss. Of Bitter Souls was one of my 5 worst books of 2005 and Smoke & Mirrorwas "eh."

Also leaving Speakeasy is a book I was really looking forward to - Strangeways, about werewolves in the Old West. Matt Maxwell reported that he was pulling it out of the company, which sucks so close to the release date, especially since there's no publisher lined up for the book. A…

Acme Novelty Library #16

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Rusty Brown was one of my favorite strips from the Acme Novelty Library hardcover that came out last year, so I was very pleased with Acme Novelty Library #16, since the main story revolves around Rusty Brown's childhood. Rusty Brown was such a screwed-up adult that it's really neat to get a glimpse of him in his youth, especially at this point in his life since it's a highlight for him - meeting Chalky White, his best friend, for the first time. In fact, a strip that runs along the bottom of the Rusty Brown strip is a strip featuring Chalky, as well as his sister whom I think was my favorite character of the entire book. It was really cool to have this strip run beneath Rusty's because the events took place at the same time and characters from the Rusty strip would weave into the Chalky strip at times, from another perspective. Rusty's father is also prevalent through the Rusty Brown strip and not surprisingly, is a very screwed-up man himself, and is very remi…

Sable & Fortune

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Ah, another obscure favorite character of mine makes her leap to her own mini-series in the wake of a seeming Silver Sable renaissance, as she's featured in Ultimate Spider-man as well as the video game, and has a collection of her best battles with Spidey coming out very shortly. I remember seeing Silver Sable in some old Marvel trading cards, probably Marvel Masterpiece's first series, and she was instantly sealed in my heart as a favorite, with her knowing grin and silver outfit that matched her silver pistol. I have a few issue of her short-lived Silver Sable and the Wild Pack series from the early nineties, but since then, it seemed like she'd disappeared from the Marvel Universe. I sometimes joked with Patrick that I would love to bring back the character as a Marvel Knight, but it seems that that honor was given to more capable hands, by Brian Michael Bendis in an ultimatized version of the character. Brendan Cahill and John Burns take her reappearance to another l…

In Passing...Frankenstein to the Last Man

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Kind of a slow week for comics this time around. I picked up a couple of first issues, which I'll review later (Sable & Fortune and The Exterminators), but right now, I'll do a couple mini-reviews of new comics, as well a comic that I tracked down while in Minneapolis.

Seven Soldiers: Frankenstein #2 (of 4) - One thing you have to say about this mini-series is that the perfect artist was assigned to the job. I couldn't imagie anyone doing this dark, moody title better than Doug Mahnke, from the first page of Frankenstein atop a buggish horse to the bloody conclusion. Once again citing ties to other Seven Soldiers books, this one almost feels like an echo of what's happened before in Klarion the Witch Boy (which is even noted in the comic itself). But we should be used to patterns emerging between these titles by now, shouldn't we? 7.8/10

Y - the Last Man #41 - Another issue dedicated to one of the secondary characters of the series, this Y - the Last Man de…

Robotika

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The first issue of Archaia Studios Press' new four-issue mini-series Robotika hit the shelves a few weeks ago and I have just been able to track it down via a trip home to Minneapolis (at Big Brain). I have been fond of this publisher for years, ever since I dicovered Mark Smylie's beautiful masterpiece Artesia. But Archaia Studios is expanding to publish titles such as my much-anticipated Mouse Guard: Belly of the Beast and the just-released OGN The Lone and Level Sands (which I have yet to see in the flesh). But at least I got my Archaia fix with this single issue. I have to say, the production qualities of the floppies are wonderful. It's really a thick comic with great glossy colorful pages and back-up pages explaining the universe. And the issue, written and drawn by Alex Sheikman (art by Joel Chua) is incredible, starting with the gorgeous Sook cover. The story, admittedly, is an odd sort of tale about a future world where there have been many manifestations …

Films of 2006

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Over at Ain't It Cool News, they've listed 80 films to watch out for in 2006, and I wanted to highlight a few that sound cool.

Black Snake Moan - a film with a nymohomaniac Christina Ricci, Samuel L. Jackson and...Justin Timberlake. And he's supposed to be blowing people away with his performance. (I'll be happy if he takes his shirt off a few times...)

Marie Antoinette - Sophia Coppola's new film has a lot to live up to in the wake of Lost in Translation, but I have faith.

Superman Returns - duh.

X3 - I'm a little nervous about Brett Ratner filling in and adding so many new faces to the franchise since Bryan Singer's departure, but God, I loved X2 and I have to believe this will be cool...and Kitty's in it, man! And look at that actress playing Psylocke. Awesome!

Grind House - Quentin Tarantino is a god. And hey, I love horror movies.

V For Vendetta - I just read the graphic novel, and Ain't It Cool News has just been hyping up the film, so I gotta give …

In Passing...New Avengers to the Boy Wonder

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It took awhile, but I'm finally caught up on my comic reading for next week's barrage. Despite the absence of the second volume of Lady Snowblood from my local store's shelves, I got everything I wanted.

New Avengers #14 - Frank Cho's first issue, complete with a wink to his Liberty Meadows comic, the name plastered blatantly across the front of a big-breasted woman's tight t-shirt. I kind of liked the art. There were a few pages that were really just pretty. With this issue, we finally discover what's been going on with Jessica Drew. The big secret is revealed. 8.4/10

X-Factor #2 - The debut issue of this series was nearly perfect. So, it's no wonder that the second issue had to disappoint at least a little. The art in this issue seemed a little rushed, a little less clear than in the previous issue, and the whole issue felt a little clumsier, a little less organized and controlled. But, on the bright side, it was still great. We get to see Monet finally,…

Testament

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Testament is a new series that debuted last week by Vertigo/DC. The debut issue was really interesting - one of the best debut issues of an on-going series I think I've read in awhile. The first few pages take place in Biblical times (featuring Abraham), then the story fast-forwards to a future reality, with a parellel first page. From there, the story diverts quite a bit from its ancient roots, but the theme remains between the two stories, quite eerie and always kind of hovering on the periphery: a father's sacrifice of his son. Meanwhile, the book lays the groundwork for a really interesting world, complete with plenty of government conspiracies having been realized. A group of rebels hope to change the government with high-tech wizardry as well as with experimental "ritual" drugs and the prophecies induced by them. Beyond the story, I was also really drawn to the art. I'm not really familiar with Liam Sharp, but his pages were just awesome. Highly rec…