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Showing posts from April, 2006

Jenna

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The cute little red-head Jenna, the character from Narwain Publishing who's involved in crossovers with the likes of Ninja High School, finally has a collected edition of her first three issue mini-series simply entitled Jenna. I never actually saw an issue of a Narwain title in stores, but rather enjoyed the cute covers in Previews and on comics news sites, so I had to buy the trade on faith alone through an on-line store. The manga-inspired title, written by Philip Osbourne, with plenty of artists working on the book, was so not worth seeking out. I could have given this a quick flip-through at my local store to see that it wasn't worth checking out. But I was stuck with a copy and read it. And the artwork wasn't just poorly drawn, but the panels were sparse, jarring the reader from one scene of the story to another like reading a summary of a story rather than the actual events. Basically, the story follows the teenaged Jenna, whose father turns out to be involved in a …

New Avengers Annual #1

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This was pretty disappointing. Not that I was looking forward to a long celebration full of talking heads or anything, but it seemed like the wedding of Jessica Jones and Luke Cage was more of an afterthought in this issue. It was mostly about a big fight that takes place just after Jessica accepts Luke's proposal. A fight that should have been a lot cooler. Back at the beginning of Bendis' New Avengers run, Yelena Bolova, better known as the blonde "next generation" Black Widow, battled the newly-formed team and was disfigured before she was hastened off by some mystery men. It was as if she were going to be groomed as a big villain for the team in the future, something I was kind of holding my breath for since I'm a fan of the Widow. And then she's just kind of thrown into this issue, turned into a big monster, the new Adaptoid, before she's thrown into the gutter and checked off of a sheet of dangling plot threads. Lame. It was a decent fight, but the …

In Passing...Frankenstein to Pirates

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This was a great week for mainstream superheroes. I picked up twice as many books as usual.

Seven Soldiers: Frankenstein #4 (of 4) - The final Seven Soldiers mini-series came to a conclusion, leaving only Seven Soldiers #1 to end the ambitious maxi-series by Grant Morrison. What a great character Frankenstein is here, and the Bride is just one of the best designs of a character, hands down. It's been a fun series, with great art by Doug Mahnke. I hope we see more of this version of Frankenstein in the future. It's definitely a title I wouldn't mind picking up on a monthly basis, especially if the artist stays on. I believe Morrison said he did have plans on using some of the Seven Soldiers in the future... 7.7/10

Runaways #15 - Another great issue as the "Parental Guidance" story continues. I loved the opening moment between Victor and Chase, and it's fun to watch the bad guys play the team against each other. Adrian Alphona's pencils continue to amaze. 8/1…

Astonishing X-Men #14

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This is really the best of the superhero comics coming out right now. We are treated to an opening that shows a scene of Scott and Jean from that famous moment where Jean holds back Scott's powers during The Dark Phoenix Saga, when they make love. It doesn't upset continuity, but rather respects it and adds a little something significant to it, as we are shown Jean and Scott after the fact. It's a beautiful moment, and leads in perfectly to the current story where Emma has taken on Jean's appearance in a sexual sort of game with Scott. But Joss Whedon incorprates other things from continuity as well, including examples of Cyclops' leadership of the X-Men, his battle with Storm for said role, and it all serves to highlight something that's been in front of us all along. He doesn't indulge in nastalgia and revisit Days of Future Past twenty times until it's no longer cool. He can bring something from that time to punctuate his current story. Whedon can ju…

Previews: July 2006

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Highlights of comics from Previews catalogue shipping in July...

Buenoventura Press:
Comic Art Magazine #8 - It's been a long wait, but here it is: a new issue of Comic Art, double-sized! It's now an annual magazine, which is too bad, but it should be worth the wait each time. This issue comes with a booklet "40 Cartoon Booklets of Interest," illustrated by Seth.

Kramer's Ergot (volume 6) HC - The new volume of the groundbreaking anthology provides us with art by Ron Rege, John Porcellino, and many other forward-thinkers of the medium bent on pushing the boundaries of comics into new territory.

Dabel Brothers Productions:
Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter #1 - Personally, I think Hamilton's overrated. Her Anita Blake is dubbed an "R-rated Buffy," but it's really a lot less sophisticated and ooh, she can cuss if she wants. I'm sure a lot of people are excited about this, but I've tried her and it's nothing I'm inter…

Octopus Girl

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The beautiful packaging of Toru Yamazaki'a Octopus Girl should be enough in itself to make you want to pick it up. A beautiful cover, a great back cover and spine design, and lots of extras including four-panel Octopus Girl strips, an author's mini photo album, and bonus stories. On top of that, the stories included in volume one are wonderful. Octopus Girl is an instant classic in the world of manga. It's silly, grotesque, twisted and lots of fun, with beautiful cutesy and disgusting art by Yamazaki. Octopus Girl follows a girl, Takako, as she suddenly transforms into an octopus from her neck down. She adjusts to her new life as a monster, learning to survive, making some odd friends, and well, killing people (she is a monster after all). This is dark humor at its best, with some amazing stories. It can be overtly wacky like in the chapter "Sakae gets pregnant" or it can really be everything you want in a horror story like in my favorite "Enter the…

Eden Volume 2

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The second volume of Eden: It's an Endless World! continues the adventures of young Elijah in a world ravaged by plague. This volume has very few moments where the narrative pauses to take a tender look at the characters and their feelings. It's pretty much non-stop action from page one to the end, with a few flashbacks thrown in for good measure (unlike the first volume which was full of background information, complete with a good slow look at the world post-plague). This manga is really worthy of more attention than it's gotten. The pages, illustrated by Hiroki Endo, are beautiful, with the usual incorporation of machines in the post-apocalyptic genre Eden falls into, balancing the splendor of the mountainous terrain the characters find themselves in during this chapter. Some new characters, that of Gloria and Kachua, are introduced here as well, adding a new dynamic to the cast as Elijah watches the relationships of the mercenaries around him progress at the same time …

In Stores 4/26

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Books shipping to comic shops this week that you may want to give a second glance...

Astonishing X-Men (volume 1) Hardcover - Just in time for Astonishing X-Men #14, a hardcover of the first year of Joss Whedon and John Cassaday's amazing run of the "flagship" X-Men title is being collected into a hardcover.


Wings GN - Shinsuke Tanaka's new graphic novel follows a man as he discovers an abandoned dog by the roadside - a dog with wings - and brings it home, where it becomes a loving part of his family. Completely textless, Wings will be available at a mere $15. What's to lose?

New Avengers Annual #1 - The wedding of the decade...well, until Storm and Black Panther's vows are read in another few months... Yes, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage tie the knot (completely free of any supervillain mischief, of course...).

Savage Dragon #125 - The Dragon is back in full force. Erik Larson's lovechild will be a whopping 64 pages, free of ads and full of pulse-pounding a…

Spider-Woman: Origin

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As superhero mini-series go, this was pretty damn good. Not a throw-away story or an adventure featuring a popular team character that really didn't need to be told. This series, by Brian Michael Bendis, Brian Reed and the Luna Brothers, was just as engaging as many of my favorite superhero titles currently: New Avengers, Nextwave, Manhunter... The weakest issue, unfortunately, was the initial one and many people may have abandoned ship at that point, but it really does get better as the story progresses. It's a fun superhero comic featuring plenty of betrayal and mystery, focusing on Jessica Drew's ties with Hydra, SHIELD and her own family. I think my favorite part of the series was her confrontation with the Taskmaster, the man who trained her at Hydra to be the fighter she is today. It occurred early on in the story, yet it seemed like such a pivotal moment, and it was executed with such tenderness for the character, that it was really just a perfect moment in my eyes…

In Passing...Deadgirl to Manhunter

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Nextwave #4 - Warren Ellis and Stuart Immonen wrap up their second story arc of the hilarious series and show no sign of pittering out. I get more laughs out of some issues than others, but overall, it's just a great, fun book that I look forward to every time it comes out. In this issue, aside from the big battle with the cop/alien/robot guy, we are treated to the origin of The Captain, which is encased between the words "How stupid are you?" and "I'm not stupid," so you can imagine how pathetic it was. But next issue is a new storyarc, so jump onboard if you've been missing out on the fun. 9.1/10

New Avengers #18 - A couple of the big gun superheroes try to take on the powerful being from the previous issues of the series...guess how that works out. This is a really entertaining story, even though I saw where it was going before the big reveal at the end. Like the first issue of the arc, there's a small scene that concentrates on characters w…

Athena Voltaire's back, Baby!

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In case you hadn't heard from Newsarama, a series that I really enjoyed the first issue of, but was cut short by the demise of Speakeasy Comics, has been picked up by Ape Comics! The mini-series Athena Voltaire: Flight of the Phoenix, from the creative team behind the Eisner-nominated Athena Voltaire webcomic, will see the light of day in its entirity. This Fall, a 48-page comic collecting the first two issues of the comic will be released (Speakeasy only released one issue, so this will give both new readers and readers who checked out the first issue something they want) before the last two issues are released regularly. And a little fun fact I hadn't realized: the first issue of Flight of the Phoenix, which sold out right away, was Speakeasy's best-selling comic when backorders were taken into account. Kind of surprising given the buzz I heard from series like Atomika, Rocketo, and Elk's Run. But anyway, check out a preview of the mini-series if you want to s…

Marvel Solicits: July '06

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There's no getting away from Civil War. If you read any of the big books, it's going to be a crossover event. And if you read Runaways, but know nothing about Young Avengers, too bad because they're thrown together into their own Civil War book. Yeesh. Well, here are highlights of Marvel books shipping in July...


Beyond #1 (of 6) - And if you can't get enough crossovers in light of the month of crossovers, you get this book. Nine varied heroes thrown together because it's always fun to do that. Here you get Spider-man, Medusa, Wasp, Venom, The Hood, Gravity, Henry Pym, Firebird and Kraven. Watch them interact/kill each other.

Halo Graphic Novel HC - Don't ask me. I certainly didn't ask for this.

Excalibur Classic(volume 2) - Yay! I was just saying how much I loved the first volume of this. More great Excalibur issues from Alan Davis and Chris Clairmont (back when he could still write something decent). This volume collects issues 6-11 and the Mojo Mayhem story…

In Stores 4/19

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Books shipping to comic shops this week that you may want to give a second glance...

Mouse Guard (second printing) #1 - The first issue of the all-ages comic from Archaia Studios Press sold out very quickly. I was really anticipating this title before it came out. When it came and went without a copy in my possession, I freaked out a bit. But the internet is a beautiful thing and I was able to track down a copy. I was not disappointed. It isn't too late for anyone else out there who may have been wanting to take a look at the beautiful book that's getting a lot of praise. The second printing will be out before the second issue hits the stands, giving you another chance to jump on the bandwagon.

Jenna TP - Narwain Publishing's little horror book is finally collected. I haven't heard too much about it, but have been meaning to check it out. Unfortunately, I never saw a copy of this at my local comic shop either (yeah, Milwaukee doesn't have much variety in their stores…

DC Solicits: July '06

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Highlights of DC books shipping in July...

All-Star Batman and Robin, the Boy Wonder #5 - What an awesome ass-ah cover. Oh, Frank Miller, why are you so awesome?

Batman #655 - Written by Grant Morrison!! One of the few DCU characters I actually know something about is about to become awesome...like the All-Star version. It's about time - Batman should be one of the top books and it should be good.

Jack of Fables #1 - From the pages of Fables, Jack gets his own book. An outcast from Fabletown, this follows his adventures in the Mundy world. I personally hated the Jack story last year and will give this a single issue to blow me away.

American Virgin #5 - A new story arc begins, but what really made me point this one out was the cover (pictured to the left). I loved the Frank Quitely covers, but man, I love Josh Middleton's covers better...

Doom Patrol: Musclebound TP - Collects 42-50 of Grant Morrison's Doom Patrol.

Promethea Book 5 TP - The last issues of Alan Moore's Prome…

Death Note

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Death Note (volume 1) by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata follows a model student, Light Yagami, as he finds a death note, a notebook that a death god puts a person's name into to kill them. Since Light found this book, the power of it lies with him. He now has the power of a god. He tests his power and vows to make the world an ideal place, void of murderers, rapists and the most vile of criminals. Unfortunately, in order to place a person's name into the notebook, he must know their name and be able to picture their face. This complicates things a little as, of course, things come up that prevent him from gaining said information. Now, most of this book is a cat-and-mouse game between Light and the police, as they are investigating who is behind the death of the criminals. But beyond all of this, people in the streets question whether he should be stopped. He is making the world a safer place, after all. People are becoming better people, for fear of sudden death. Th…

In Passing...Ms. Marvel to Fables

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Ms. Marvel #2 - Who knew Ms. Marvel was this popular? The debut issue of the series came in at #17 on Diamond's sales chart for the month of March, selling more than Ultimate X-Men, Ultimate Spider-man, Batman, Superman, Fantastic Four... Those are some damn high profile titles. It can't be the creative team - Brian Reed and Roberto De La Torre? Very strange. But speaking of De La Torre, the art of the second issue was really bad in light of the poor fight sequences. You really can't follow what's going on and that's really kind of vital when half of the issue depends on the battle between the protagonist and the Brood. Not that the art's much better when fights aren't occurring... On the bright side, I love that Frank Cho cover, and the storytelling's decent (nothing spectacular, but entertaining). 7/10

Ultimate Spider-man #93 - I'm not really too keen on the "Deadpool" storyline. It's kind of fun, but it's a little too silly and s…

Hippolyte

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I like dark images in comics sometimes, gothic sensibilities. It's just really beautiful to me, a breathtakingly horrific image. That's why I like creators like Richard Sala so much. So, of course, I was excited when I came across a bullet review of Dracula, Book 1 in The Comics Journal #275 by European artist Hippolyte (or Frank Meynet), with his dark, moody atmosphere just perfect for a retelling of Bram Stoker's story. The images in the magazine prompted me to check the artist out, but unfortunately, I couldn't find much on Hippolyte aside from a Hippolyte site that TCJ pointed out (which is not in English, but if you explore long enough, you can come across some very beautiful artwork). It's even hard to find this Dracula book at B&N, but thankfully, The Comics Journal provided an ISBN, so I was able to locate it. Read more about Hippolyte's Dracula in the latest Journal, or do your own exploring, but really, you should be aware of this artist and his …

The Comics Journal #275: Best of '05

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The most recent issue of The Comics Journal(#275) contains the year-end round-up of best comics from this past year. Abandoning a formal list for the magazine, The Comics Journal asked several people - critics, artists, etc. - to contribute their own lists. So, we get a nice mix from different perspectives that I think really works. I hope The Comics Journal makes this a tradition, as I really, really enjoyed it and picked up on quite a few titles I'd like to check out that I wouldn't have been exposed to with a more refined list. The stand-outs that were mentioned several times were Epileptic (David B., who is also the feature interview), Tales Designed To Thrizzle #1 (Michael Kupperman), Wimbledon Green (Seth), Acme Novelty Library (Chris Ware), Black Hole (Charles Burns), The Rabbi's Cat (Joann Sfar), Or Else #2 (Kevin Huizenga), Ice Haven (Dan Clowes), and most of all, Walt & Skeezix1921-1922 (Frank King), who was at the top of several people's lists who a…

Face to a name

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I finally got some pictures developed, so here's me:













And this is my boyfriend Patrick:

Shojo Beat: May '06

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The latest issue of Shojo Beat hit newstands already and it's a good one!

Absolute Boyfriend - It's all about following up on events from the previous issue this time around in the books of Shojo Beat that I follow (Absolute Boyfriend and Nana). Last iss, Riiko and Soshi were getting all snuggly in the kitchen of the Vietnamese restaurant they work at. This issue follows up on what this means for them, and where exactly this leaves Night... There are some really surprising events that take place, the least of which is Night developing a backbone.

Nana - The story left on a real cliffhanger last month, as Shoji told Nana that he had something to tell her after work (and, of course, he has been cheating on her). So, Nana Osaki waits with Nana Komatsu until Shoji's shift at work is over... I really look forward to this serial every month. It's hard not to get attached to Ai Yazawa's characters and beautiful art, let alone get lost in the pained expressions of the…

Strangetown

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Chynna Clugston and Ian Shaughnessy collaborated to bring about a stunning new title from Oni Press: Strangetown. Beyond the beautiful cover, the story follows a girl Vanora as she voyages overseas and eventually winds up on the shores of Oregon, and finally, on her own in the docking town of Grangeton, nicknamed Strangetown, for its quirky residents. Vanora harbors some secrets and seems to fit right in with the other tenants of a tea house where the old resident of the room Vanora takes over recently died. Not only is the artwork great, but the characters are just awesome. The dynamics between the tenants and their strange conversations are just amazing. I think the cover and the beginning of the story give away exactly what Vanora's secret is, (I'm going to mention it now, so don't read on if you want to come to your own conclusions: she carries around a "coat" at the beginning as she wanders naked, and mythology indicates that some creatures can take …

Monster V.2

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The second volume of Naoki Urasawa's Monster brings the pace of the series up a notch. We got a glimpse of why Urasawa was dubbed "Japan's Master of Suspense" at the end of the last volume. This one is much more action-packed and suspenseful all throughout, picking up years after the events of the last installment of the series. We are, in fact, introduced to a whole new set of characters at the beginning of this story, as we follow Nina Fortner, model student (except for a slight case of tardiness), exemplary daughter and aikido expert (though she's fairly new to the classes). Soon enough, things start falling in to place and familiar faces from the last book surface in the story and we are treated to glimpses into what Doctor Tenma has been up to in the intervening years, following his "monster." I am very pleased with the character of Nina and am absolutely ecstatic with the progress of the series. This is one manga I can't wait to pick up …

Luba: The Book of Ofelia

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It's been a long time since I've read a Love & Rockets collection by Gilbert Hernandez. It's easy to forget the appeal of the books when not reading them, and it's rather hard to articulate the experience and make it sound appealing, but they really are fantastic books. Luba: The Book of Ofelia is the latest book set in the Love & Rockets universe, collecting stories from the series Luba, Luba's Comics and Stories and Measles. It follows a cast of characters from a small Latin American village called Palomar, as they live out there soap opera lives in America. Gilbert Hernandez is one of the best storytellers in comics. He weaves these tales of Luba's extended family and their affairs and tribulations and brings them to a sort of epic proportion, although the stories themselves are very small and intimate. He just writes them so grand and expertly. And, of course, his artwork is fabulaous. I prefer Gilbert to his brother Jaime's art (who ha…

Moon Knight

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Wow. We're in a golden age of comics. I didn't realize they made them this bad anymore. Moon Knight #1 by Charlie Huston and David Finch propels yet another Marvel D-List hero into the forefront in his own book. The only difference between this book and books like Next Wave, Ms. Marvel and She-Hulk is that this one blows. And I'm not just talking about the atrocious art (anyone who's read my blog regularly will know that I can't stand David Finch), but everything about the thing. The inner dialogue of the protagonist is extremely annoying. At the beginning of the issue, he goes through what all of the other Marvel heroes do: Fantastic Four fight monsters, X-Men battle Magneto, Avengers prevent alien invasions, Spider-man gets the B-List villains, Daredevil has Hell's Kitchen. Finally he gets to himself and deadpan, thinks "Someone had to do the fun stuff." Come on! This book takes itself way too seriously (the guy rides in a cresent-shaped …

Eisner Nominees

Okay, time to talk about the Eisners...

Best Short Story:
"Blood Son," by Richard Matheson, adapted by Chris Ryall and Ashley Wood, in Doomed #1 (IDW)
"Monster Slayers," by Khang Le, in Flight, vol. 2 (Image)
"Nameless," by Eric Powell, in The Goon #14 (Dark Horse)
"Operation" (story #5), by Zak Sally, in The Recidivist #3 (La Mano)
"Teenage Sidekick," by Paul Pope, in Solo #3 (DC)

Yeah...I haven't read any of these. I almost picked up Doomed by IDW, but it was a little more expensive than I'd expected, so I passed. I do want to check out The Goon one of these days and of course, I've heard great things about Solo.

Best Single Issue (or One-Shot):
The Bakers, by Kyle Baker (Kyle Baker Publishing)
Ex Machina #11: "Fortune Favors" by Brian K. Vaughan, Tony Harris, and Tom Feister (WildStorm/DC)
The Innocents, by Gipi (Fantagraphics/Coconino Press)
Promethea #32: "Wrap Party" by Alan Moore and J. H. Williams III (ABC…

In the Meantime

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It was a pretty small week for comics. The only floppies I got were Strangetown and Moon Knight (reviews forthcoming). I really wanted to pick up the first trade of Octopus Girl, but Patrick gets a discount where he works, so I'll suffer to wait a couple of weeks until it's out in bookstores. I have other trades to read in the meantime, like Luba.

The Eisner Award nominations are up over at Comic Book Resources. Probably the most exciting category is "Best Archival Collection/Project-Comic Strips," which has five great nominees, all of whom would be a shoe-in in years past. I would be happy to see any one of them win: Walt & Skeezix, Complete Peanuts, Complete Calvin & Hobbes, Krazy & Ignatz and Little Nemo In Slumberland. Least likely to receive the honor are ones that have been around for a few years: Peanuts and Krazy & Ignatz, and God does that say a lot about the current state of comic strip reprints.

Moving away from the topic of comics, I really …

Book of Shadows

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The first issue (of two) from Image Comics' Book of Shadows follows a young woman, Annie Lovelock, as she buries herself in witchcraft following her lover's death. Left to her misery, she calls upon forces she knows nothing about and accidentally draws attention from a god, The Morrigan, who marks her with several gifts, including the ability to speak with animals. Marked as she is, she is noticed by gods from both sides of a war, of which neither side has much regard for human life, and wishes even more that her lover were at her side amid the chaos. Now, I really didn't know much about this two-parter before I picked this issue up, but I guess the book is a prologue to the writer, Mark Chadburn's The Age of Misrule sci/fi novel trilogy. That withstanding, it does work on its own as a story. I'm just not sure it's one to my liking. It borrows a lot of elements from similar stories (gods of old coming to reclaim Earth as their own, a girl outrunning her …

The Portent

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The Portent, written and illustrated by Peter Bergting, made its debut this past month courtesy of Image Comics. The first issue follows a young man as he ventures into a valley inhabited by mostly the dead. A group of seers have forseen his coming, including a young woman named Lin. Lin has seen a portent, a sign of great calamity, and expects this man to be a champion of sorts to battle the forces that threaten them. It's all very vague at this point. But Lin, upon speaking with this stranger whom the gods have supposedly sent, is subjected to ridicule by the stranger and is rather frustrated with this "hero," as he shows no interest in fighting in their behalf and seems to have no redeeming qualitites. Bergting sets up a story that could really go either way at this point, but I must admit that I do enjoy the gloomy, dark atmosphere of the world we are introduced to, as well as the art, which was obviously influenced heavily by Mike Mignola. I wouldn't recommend g…

New Alice In Wonderland

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Rod Espinosa's New Alice In Wonderland#1 is a very close adaptation to the classic children's book by Lewis Carroll. Espinosa makes little use of creative license, keeping it very sparce in terms of altering plot. So, if you've read the original, Alice falls asleep as she's being read a story and notices a white rabbit in a hurry to be somewhere. Alice, of course, follows and goes down the rabbit hole, where she ends up falling a long time (in comic form, this fall could have been a little shorter - it went on for pages) until she meets ground and confronts a small door she must shrink (by way of ingesting liquid) to gain access to. And so the story proceeds. It's nice to see such a colorful rendition of the tale, with some very nice backgrounds at times, but Rod Espinosa's art is a little clumsy in some parts, and quite stiff in others. I felt the same way about his Neotopia "color manga." New Alice In Wonderland is also a little "off&quo…

Blue Beetle

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On a whim, I picked up DC's new Blue Beetle #1. I love the design for the costume of the character, as well as the art I glimpsed while flipping through it, courtesy of Cully Hamner. Beyond that, I knew nothing about the character, let alone the mythology behind the powers the new character had inherited. I was a little wary of the advertised "From the pages of Infinite Crisis" splashed over the front cover (given that I know pretty much nothing about the DC universe), but I took a chance and picked it up nonetheless. After all, I did check out Manhunter with no prior knowledge and I'm a big fan of the DC book now. I did have some problems with Blue Beetle, however. I could certainly follow what was going on, but I was left a little confused, as the hero did speak of events from...yeah, Infinite Crisis. From what I get, there was some big superhero tussle that the Blue Beetle was involved in, but something went wrong (maybe?) and now the superheroes hate him …