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Showing posts from December, 2006

In Passing...Astonishing X-Men to Nextwave

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Astonishing X-Men #19
Joss Whedon & John Cassaday

Whedon and Cassaday begin their final storyarc, picking things up immediately from where the events left off in the previous issue, with the X-Men whisked away by S.W.O.R.D. toward the Breakworld. It's a lot of set-up and dialogue this time around, but the dialogue is so witty and smart, and the character's struggles are so interesting, that it's really hard to mind the lack of action with the storytelling at such a high level of quality. Plus, I think these are some of the best pages we've seen from Cassaday thus far, particularly in the opening sequence. A


Jack of Fables #6
Bill Willingham, Matthew Sturges & Steve Leialoha

A new story begins in Jack of Fables in wake of the big jail break, which has Jack relaying a story to a captive audience, about when he had borrowed the Ice Queen's powers to become Jack Frost. It's kind of a silly story so far, and not particularly interesting, but it's nice to get …

Top Ten Comics of 2006

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Here we go. Following up on the bottom part of the countdown from yesterday, here are the ten best books of 2006. With a year full of fantastic books, this was a hard list to write up, but I'm completely satisfied with the end result. I love every book on this list and encourage everyone to seek these titles out.
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10.Lost Girls
Alan Moore & Melinda Gebbie .
"Gebbie's art in this book is beautiful. She tries her hand at different techniques that keep the story fresh and interesting, while Moore weaves a tale that seems pretty epic by its conclusion, complete with some genuinely erotic scenes."
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Full Reviewhere. .
9. Nana
Ai Yazawa .
"It's always those little moments in Nana that get me, where the characters pause in shock or try to brush something off as insignificant or just stare longingly up at a window, walk into a room worried... Ai Yazawa is just amazing. I can't say it enough. Her characters are so fully-realized that I hurt when they hurt. I watch in co…

New Releases 12/26 - 12/28

This week's entertainment release highlights....

DVD Releases (Tuesday, 12/26)
The Black Dahlia
The Descent
Jackass Number Two
The Last Kiss

Previous Week:
IMDb Top DVD Rental: The Devil Wears Prada
Billboard Top DVD Sales: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

Music Releases (Tuesday, 12/26)
Enigma - LSD: Love, Sensuality and Devotion - The Remix Collection
Matisyahu - No Place To Be
Switchfoot - Oh! Gravity

Previous Week:
Billboard Top 200 #1: Young Jeezy - The Inspiration

Comic Releases (Wednesday, 12/27, Some locations: 12/28)
30 Days of Night: Spreading the Disease #1
Captain America and the Falcon: Nomad TP
Dragon Head (Volume 5) TP
Flight (Volume 3) GN
Moon Knight (Volume One): Bottom HC
Okko: Cycle of Water #1 (of 4)
Savage Dragon Archives (Volume One) TP

Theatrical Releases (Monday, 12/25)
Black Christmas
Dreamgirls

Previous Week #1: Night At the Museum

Top 25 Comics of 2006, Part One

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What a great year in comics. I can't say that enough. It was a really exceptional year for the medium. Any other year, any book in my top ten could have pegged down the number one spot. The books up through the very last on my list could have been on any other top ten list. In fact, there were plenty of books unable to make the cut this year that I really hated to see go unsung. But in the end, twenty-five is a lot of books and the line just has to be drawn at some point. And since the list is a long one, I'll be counting down my favorite comics of 2006 in two parts, the first part going up to number eleven, with the top ten being published tomorrow. I highly recommend every single comic on this list. Enjoy!

25. Niger #1 Leila Marzocchi . "This is one of the most gorgeous books I've ever read, constantly forcing me to admire each page as a work of art in itself. Just flip through the book if you don't believe me, even as early as the first page as the red hues bleed i…

Manga Monday 20

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Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, everyone! This Manga Monday I'm going to be reviewing one manga: TheKurosagi Corpse Delivery Service (Volume One), but please check out my review of Ode To Kirihito if you missed it a few days ago. Also, with the end of the year comes end of the year lists, and I've selected my favorite twenty-five comics of 2006, which I'll post in two parts, the first of which will appear tomorrow in the late afternoon, with plenty of manga ranked among its numbers! Check it out!!

The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service (Volume One) Eiji Otsuka & Housui Yamazaki
First off, I must commend the designer of the cover, Bunpei Yorifuji, for the unique package of this book. One of the best comic covers I've seen recently. The interior art by Housui Yamazaki is really nice as well, amid the corpses and bloody stumps and knives. This thriller follows five young Buddhists who put their unusual talents to a collective good use as they form The Kurosagi Corpse D…

Five Worst Comics of 2006

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2006 was a year brimming with fantastic books. Unfortunately some duds always have to sneak into the mix, even when trying to carefully weed out the crap. So this list is a list of the five worst comics that I actually read, not including books like Tarot, Witch of the Black Rose that I know are awful but didn't subject myself to...

1. Jenna Philip Osbourne & Various
(Narwain Publishing)
"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 cult that worships the demon Baal. She understandably freaks, as a man was recently executed for the murders that the cult committed, and a series of events then occur: her house burns down and her parents supposedly with it, she sleeps with her boyfriend which results in unexpected consequences, etc. Jenna …

Luba: Three Daughters

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Gilbert Hernandez

The final chapter in Gilbert's Luba Trilogy isn't as epic or nearly as rich as the previous installment. It's basically going back and combing over some of the history of Luba and her two long-lost sisters, Fritz and Petra, as well as the vast array of supporting characters in the series
like Venus and Hector. It certainly helps to add a little depth to the supporting characters of the tale, but it does do a bit of retreading as the story brings the three main women to a point in which they are no longer speaking to one another. These are some of the best characters in comics however, so it's still a pleasure just to be able to spend time with the rich characters, and see where they are headed in the future. I admit I even cried a bit when the lovely Doralis' fate was revealed, something that had been hinted at for awhile now, which was also a strong note to end the trilogy on. A lot of goofiness ensues in this volume, a lot of dreams containing biz…

In Passing...Fables to The Illuminati

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Fables #56
Bill Willingham & Mark Buckingham

The creators of the flagship Vertigo series take a moment to slow down with scenes of the holidays with the characters from Fabletown and the Animal Farm, as well as a chapter with Santa Claus in the North Pole. A nice, quaint little Christmas tale, but nothing spectacular. C


Ultimate Spider-Man #103
Brian Michael Bendis & Mark Bagley

The Clone Saga, Part 7 is just as crazy as the previous issues of the storyarc, with some stirring revelations and great moments with the characters involved. This chapter of Spidey's life is shaping up to be one of the best stories of the creators' entire run. A


Ms. Marvel #10
Brian Reed & Mike Weiringo
Mike Weiringo finishes his guest pencilling duties on this title as Ms. Marvel battles...Ms. Marvel. Yeah, it's one of those stories. Nothing new, nothing too exciting. This is easily the weakest arc of the series thus far, but at least it was accompanied by some great art. D+


The New Avengers #…

Ode To Kirihito

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Osama Tezuka

Ode To Kirihito is an acknowledged classic, and deserving of the title. This mammoth 822-page work is a steal at $25 (Thank you, Vertical, Inc.), and a rich, deep work to boot. It has the feel of a real epic as the characters travel to several exotic locales in their quest to escape tyranny and to expose the culprit behind the disease that leaves people in the form of Dog Men. Physicians the world over struggle to understand the epidemic and its nature, meanwhile hiding truths for personal gain. Two young doctors are at the heart of this story, one idealistic man (Dr. Osanai) and one with, well, real issues (Dr. Urabe). As Dr. Osanai ventures to a remote village with hundreds of cases of this "Monmow Disease" on record, he steps into a terrible conspiracy and leaves behind Urabe and a fiance to deal with several consequences of this trip, while having to struggle in his own horrific battle as well. Ultimately, this is a science suspense thriller with real h…

Sloth

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Gilbert Hernandez

Contains Spoilers!

The genius creator behind the Palomar stories from Love & Rockets brings us an original graphic novel from Vertigo. Immediately in the story, we are introduced to Miguel Serra, who has just willed himself out a coma he willed himself into initially. He finds that he has a sort of living legend status among the townspeople, some of whom make fun of the teenager who moves much slower in wake of the year-long nap. Walking through life a little slower enhances experiences and hinders others, as he finds the people in his life react to him in different ways, some having changed, some not. Much of the conversations and events that occur through this book center around rock and roll and urban legends, one of which involves a Goat Man who haunts the nearby lemon orchards where many bodies are supposedly disposed of each year. This mysterious Goat Man, who wills people to trade places with him may or may not have something to do with the shift in chracter…

Krazy & Ignatz 1937-1938

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Shifting Sands Dusts its Cheeks in Powdered Beauty

George Herriman
The classic comic strip gets its second color treatment thanks to Fantagraphics Books. The Sundays featuring a group of crazy characters from Coconino County is really just very endearing and charming. When I picked up my first Krazy & Ignatz volume, I didn't expect to get much out of it, particularly with the disorienting way the characters talk within, but you kind of fall into a rhythm and it's a really rewarding experience by its conclusion. You'd think there could only be so many situations that come about from a strip that basically circles around Ignatz Mouse throwing a brick at Krazy Kat, who loves him, before getting thrown into jail, but Herriman manages to keep things fresh with another fantastic volume in a beautiful presentation, courtesy of Chris Ware's design. This is a real treat and a strong contender for any best-of list, even seven volumes (and fourteen years worth of Sunday strips)…

Manga Monday 19

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Let Dai (Volume 1)
Sooyeon Won
Not exactly manga, the title Let Dai, comes from the hand of the best-selling shoujo creator from Korea, Sooyeon Wan, and is therefore dubbed "Manwha," the Korean equivalent to Japan's "Manga." People who enjoy "Shonen-ai" (or boy love manga) will find this to be an enjoyable title to take in. It's a beautifully-rendered story about an ordinary boy that's pulled into a violent world when he saves a girl from a gang of ruffians. In wake of this event, our protagonist Jaehee is subjected to beatings and threats as the gang takes an interest in him, particularly the gang leader Dai, a quirky but beautiful sadist. Jaehee is inexplicably drawn to Dai beyond all of the suffering he undergoes at his hands, and harbors a confusing but undeniable attraction to the boy he refers to as the devil himself. A-


Hikaru No Go (Volume 6) Yumi Hotta & Takeshi Obata
Another great volume of Hikaru No Go sees Hikaru's world evolve.…

New Releases 12/19-12/22

This week's entertainment release highlights...

DVD Releases (Tuesday, 12/19)
All the King's Men
Invincible
Jet Li's Fearless
Lady In the Water
Little Miss Sunshine
The Simpsons: Season 9
My Super Ex-Girlfriend
A Scanner Darkly
The Wicker Man

Previous Week:
IMDb Top DVD Rental: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
Billboard Top DVD Sales: Superman Returns

Music Releases (Tuesday, 12/19)
Happy Feet Original Score

Previous Week:
Billboard Top 200 #1: Ciara - Ciara: The Evolution

Comic Releases (Wednesday, 12/20)
Albion TP
Athena Voltaire: The Collected Web Comics TP
Daredevil: Father HC
Fables (Volume 8): Wolves
Golgo 13 (Volume 6)
Little Lulu (Volume 13): Too Much Fun
Maintenance #1
Mome (Volume 6)
Naoki Urasawa's Monster (Volume 6)
New Avengers: Illuminati #1 (of 5)
Wonderful Wizard of Oz GN

Previous Month:
Diamond #1 Graphic Novel: Y - The Last Man (Volume 8): Kimono Dragons
Diamond #1 Comic: Civil War #5 (of 7)
Diamond #1 Manga: Fullmetal Alchemist (Volume 10)

Theatrical Releases (Friday, 1…

Lost Girls

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Alan Moore & Melinda Gebbie

One of the big releases of the year, Lost Girls, from Top Shelf, is presented in three oversized hardcovers within a slipcase. Although it comes with a hefty pricetag, it's well worth the $75 for this deluxe presentation. Moore and Gebbie set off on an ambitious venture with this project, hoping to reclaim pornography as art. And while it is tastefully presented, I think John Cameron Mitchell's film Shortbus was more successful at integrating pornography into his artform by establishing fully-realized characters with real dilemmas and feelings. The three girls featured in this graphic novel are fairly flat, as their characterization comes pretty much from the same angle every time - that of their sexual history and desires. Lost Girls gives a glimpse into the lives of Wendy, Dorothy and Alice, relating the events from their sexual escapades to make them fit the stories of Peter Pan, The Wizard of Oz and Alice In Wonderland repectively, in grounded…

In Passing...The Killer to Gargoyles

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This week in floppies...

The Killer #1 (of 10)
Matz & Luc Jacamon


The Killer is a comic originally published in France from 1998 to 2003, earning praise for being a gritty noir comic. The artist, Luc Jacamon, has translated it for American audiences via Archaia Studios Press. It's an introspective look at a killer as he waits in a room across the street for a doctor he's hired to assassinate. He contemplates the people around him, past experiences and what makes him tick. It's an interesting comic with some really nice art. It remains compelling throughout, earning its place among Archaia's other high quality offerings. B+



Devi #6
Samit Basu & Aditya Chari


I think it's time to drop off of the Devi bandwagon. It's a decent superhero book with some pretty impressive art, but there's so much more out there that I would rather be reading to continue with a book I never really look forward to. In this issue, Tara and the Devi's split personality is examine…

Delphine #1

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Richard Sala

One of my favorite cartoonists joins Fantagraphics' prestigious Ignatz line with a dark tale set in a small village where a traveler is seeking his college friend Delphine, who left for the town at the beginning of the summer. Riddled with dark alleys and strange characters, the streets of this village, surrounded by a dark, mysterious forest, harbor trouble for our young traveler. Amid the noir atmosphere and sinister faces are even more disturbing figures that startle the reader from time to time. Delphine is featured here in an oversized format that does the art justice, as our protagonist is seemingly foiled in his search at every turn. This story is just beginning, but so far I prefer Peculia's adventures, probably merely for my affection of that character. This is some of the best art to come from Sala and I'm happy to see him showcased in this way, and I'm excited to see what dark twists he has in store for us as the story progresses. This is wh…

Complete Chester Gould's Dick Tracy

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(Volume One)

Chester Gould

This is a really great action/adventure strip, beginning an ambitious reprint project from IDW Publishing. With over 600 strips, this volume took a lot longer to plow through than I imagined, though I enjoyed every moment of it. All strips between 1931 and May of 1933 are incorporated into this volume, with non-continuity Sundays collected in the back in color, while the later Sundays that incorporated the ongoing plots are integrated in with the other strips in black and white so as not to distract from the story. While many elements of Dick Tracy, like his sci-fi gadgets and distinctly freakish rogues gallery, haven't reared their ugly heads (literally) by this point, some familiar elements have been introduced, like his feisty sidekick Junior.

I can really see how exciting this book would have been coming out back when gangsters were plastered all over the headlines - they're addictive little stories without having to wait on the edge of your seat fo…

New Tales of Old Palomar #1

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Gilbert Hernandez

Hernandez' new comic, as the title implies, relates new stories from the classic early years of the village Palomar from Gilbert and brother Jaime's shared comic Love & Rockets. The characters that fans have seen age over the years under Gilbert's hand, and characters that have long since faded from the pages of the comics, are seen here once again in their youth when Chelo was sheriff and characters hadn't started to leave for America. It's refreshing to live amongst these characters once more. Gilbert began this new series with a rather simple story, but managed to throw in some disturbing images like those of monstrous statues that stand sentinel outside of the town proper. With such a huge cast of characters, Gilbert has plenty of material to work with here, although not much can happen in terms of major continuity changes, it could be fun to see gaps filled and histories revealed among the familiar faces. New Tales of Old Palomar is a …

New Releases 12/12-12/15

And the highlights in new releases this week...

DVD Releases (Tuesday, 12/12)
Barnyard
The Devil Wears Prada
The Fox and the Hound 2
James Bond: The Ultimate Collection (Volume 3)
James Bond: The Ultimate Collection (Volume 4)
Material Girls
Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby
World Trade Center

Previous Week:
IMDb Top DVD Rental: Superman Returns
Billboard Top DVD Sales: Ice Age: Meltdown

CD Releases (Tuesday, 12/12)
Eragon O.S.T.
Mary J. Blige - Reflections: A Retrospective
Taylor Hicks - Taylor Hicks

Previous Week:
Billboard Top 200 #1: Incubus - Light Grenades
My Barnes & Noble #1: Sarah McLachlan - Wintersong

Comic Releases (Wednesday, 12/13)
Curses HC
Doomed Magazine #4
Drifting Classroom (Volume 3)
Emma (Volume 2)
Naruto (Volume 12)
Phoenix (Volume 9)
Portent (Volume 1)
Spirit #1
Wonder Man #1 (of 5)

Theatrical Releases (Friday, 12/15)
Charlotte's Web
Eragon
The Pursuit of Happyness

Previous Week #1: Apocalypto

American Born Chinese

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Gene Luen Yang

A book that has been appearing on the top of several best-of lists, American Born Chinese is a bit overrated as a showcase for the best the medium has to offer, especially in a year with an abundance of fantastic stuff available. I am very happy for new publisher :01 First Second in that they've had such success in their first year, in particular with this book, but at the same time, I must admit a little disappointment in light of the hype. American Born Chinese is, for the most part, split between two stories, the first of which follows Jin Wang as he grows up amid cruel schoolmates as an outsider, and the second of which examines the Monkey King from Chinese folklore. The parable of the Monkey King is a really fun, whacky story that the art is perfectly suited to tell with its cartoony look. Jin Wang's childhood was equally as fun to read, with his cute little mistakes and his first crush, but of course growing up in a school primarily made up of White students…

newuniversal #1

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Warren Ellis & Salvador Larroca

Warren Ellis attempts to salvage something from the ashes of an old Marvel franshise with the launch of this new series. I never read any of the original New Universe titles, so I'm not sure if the characters seen in this issue are updated, or whether they're brand new. But one thing I am sure of - this issue is pretty damn awesome. Not only do I love that sleek cover, but Salvador Larroca's art has improved vastly over the years and the style he's adopted for this title is a perfect fit and is really just plain gorgeous. In this debut issue, a handful of characters are followed before, during and after "The White Event," a strange phenomenon that involves a white wave coursing over the planet and awakening superpowers within certain individuals, sometimes to devastating effects. It's all very cinematic and grand, and with the shifting scenes relating the time aroung "The White Event," the tension is palpable al…

In Passing...Manhunter to Ant-Man

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Manhunter #26
Marc Andreyko & Javier Pina

Manhunter makes her triumphant return after a short hiatus, as Kate Spencer takes on a big-name client: Wonder Woman herself. A great fight sequence between the two and a nightmarish little scene with Cameron Chase's sister make this comeback a welcome one. And Javier Pina's art has never looked better (no, he isn't the one who did that awful cover). A-

Uncanny X-Men #481
Ed Brubaker & Billy Tan

Not too much action in this issue of Uncanny. A lot of strategizing among the players in the epic space opera, including a backstabber ready to go to any lengths to seize the Shi'ar throne. And Darwin gets bad-ass. But this felt like just another chapter in the story, and frankly, one I could have lived without. C-

The Irredeemable Ant-Man #3
Robert Kirkman & Phil Hester

Eric O'Grady proves why he's so irredeemable this issue, in case it wasn't made clear in the two previous installments, as he takes his abuse of positio…

My Favorite Christmas Music

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The holidays are fast approaching and if you're like me, you play CDs in your car more often than listen to the radio... Here are five great CDs to watch out for this Christmas season.

Jingle Bell Rock
Brenda Lee

This is just a classic Christmas album. Most of the renditions of the songs on this CD are the ones you'll hear on the radio in classic form: Jingle Bell Rock, Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree and Winter Wonderland. Also included are some really great treasures like Strawberry Snow, A Marshmallow World and the sappy The Angel and the Little Blue Bell. You can usually find this one pretty cheap and it's really a must-have.

Brand New Year
SHeDAISY

A surprisingly really well-crafted album (the best of any album the trio have put out before or since), this CD puts new spins on classics like Jingle Bells, Deck the Halls (featured on Mickey's Once Upon A Christmas) and a Hark! the Herald Angels Sing/Carol of the Bells mix to great effect, but introduce some really fa…

New Releases 12/5-12/8

This week's entertainment release highlights...

DVD Releases (Tuesday, 12/5)
24 (Season 5)
Boys' Briefs 4
High School Musical: Remix
How To Eat Fried Worms
Miami Vice
Pirates of the Carribean 2: Dead Man's Chest
Pulse
Roseanne (Season 6)
Saturady Night Live (Season 1)

Previous Week:
IMDb Top DVD Rental: Ice Age: Meltdown
Billboard Top DVD Sales: The Da Vinci Code

Music Releases (Tuesday, 12/5)
Brian McKnight - Ten
Charlotte's Web O.S.T.
Ciara - Ciara: The Evolution
Dreamgirls O.S.T.
Eminem - Eminem Presents the Re-Up
Gwen Stefani - The Sweet Escape

Previous Week:
Billboard Top 200 #1: Jay-Z - Kingdom Come
My Barnes & Noble #1: Sarah McLachlan - Wintersong

Comic Releases (Wednesday, 12/6)
Cold Heat #1
Delphine #1
Essential Defenders (Volume 2) TP
Friday the 13th #1
Justice Society of America #1
New Tales of Old Palomar #1
newuniversal #1
Playboy Interviews Larger Than Life
Robotika HC
Runaways (Volume 2) HC
Showcase Presents: Shazam (Volume 1) TP

Theater Releases (Friday, 12/8)
Apocalypto
Blood Diamond
T…

Manga Monday 18

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Eden: It's An Endless World! (Volume 4)
Hiroki Endo

The characters from Hiroki Endo's Eden are reeling from the shocking events of the previous installment, amid some of the best art in manga presently. For the most part, this volume takes a detour from its usual focus on Elijah, to look back at some secondary characters' lives following the outbreak of the epidemic that has ravaged the world. The unstable, intimidating Kenji takes center stage here as he grows up in his brother's shadow, where he idolizes his violent profession and authority. A really interesting, action-packed character study. A-

Hikaru No Go (Volume 5)
Yumi Hotta & Takeshi Obata

Fujiwara-no-Sai's on-line presence continues to cause a stir as Hikaru's game improves drastically over the summer. With Akira going pro, Hikaru realizes he must catch up to him instead of vise-versa, and must make a difficult decision: apply to become an insei and take his game to the next level, or compete with his …

In Passing...Cold Heat to Crickets

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Crickets #1
Sammy Harkham

I haven't really read anything by Sammy Harkham before, so this served as a great introduction. I read the back of the comic first, with a mini-story featuring the Golem character from within, and I immediately took a liking to the art and the big dopey character. The story, simple as it was, was really cool, with plenty of great moments. An overall great, though brisk, read following a group of characters who meet in the forest. A

Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E. #10
Warren Ellis & Stuart Immonen

I'm not sure that this worked as well as the creators had hoped. Five of the Nextwave characters are attacked by an ultra-lame villain who imposes personal hells on their minds. Elsa Bloodstone's scene was the standout as usual, with a Mignola-inspired environment, complete with mimiced art, while Machine Man had a funny couple of pages as well. The rest of it kind of fizzled, although they were interesting attempts at unusual storytelling. C

Cold Heat #1
Ben J…

Crossing Midnight #1

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Mike Carey & Jim Fern

Twins are born on either side of midnight in Nagasaki in this Vertigo comic full of bizarre events surrounding the boy and girl. As they grow up and apart, they adopt very distinct personalities and shed the innocence of childhood at the same time as evil forces swarm around them and they discover what make them unique from others in their daily lives. There are quite a few opposing forces in this book: belief vs. disbelief, abiding vs. rebeling, and tradition vs. contemporary life, as graphically illustrated in some of the opening pages of the story at hand, where a grandmother insists that her daughter and son-in-law pay homage to a family shrine so that the childbirth goes without incident, while the daughter argues with her medical charts and ultra-sounds that it's unnecessary. Through much of the scene one side of the old woman's face is hidden, but not distractingly so, until a full view of the woman's face is revealed as having been burned…