Sunday, April 30, 2006

Jenna

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 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 herself is later revealed to be the anti-christ. It's all very silly. The main character's cute design was the only thing I enjoyed about the book, but even in her there were inconsistencies in her personality. It was all very generic and poorly executed. For such a high profile title from the company (especially from the first wave of books), I was expecting something of high quality. Instead, I got one of the worst comics I've read in recent memory.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

New Avengers Annual #1

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 art by Olivier Coipel doesn't exactly lend itself to the action sequences so much. It's all kind of hard to follow and muddled. So, lame end for a potentially really cool villain for the series. And it gets lamer. The wedding, which was roughly four pages of the entire "wedding special" was as cheesy as it could get. I'm not even joking when I tell you that Stan Lee was the minister. Not even kidding. I kind of doubt Stan even knows who Jessica Jones is, but there he is, with his big stupid grin and sunglasses, joining them in holy matrimony. What a train wreck.

Friday, April 28, 2006

In Passing...Frankenstein to Pirates

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. 8/10

X-Factor #6 - This issue focuses on Layla Miller as the rest of X-Factor deals with what happened to Siryn in previous issues. This is a pretty tame issue, probably the weakest of the series so far, but it's still a damn good book. 6.7/10

Polly & the Pirates #5 (of 6) - Polly Pringle confronts the self-proclaimed Pirate Prince as two groups of pirates fight for the Pirate Queen's treasure map. Ted Naifeh's characters resonate in this mini-series and he depicts action expertly. It's all fast-paced action this issue as the cast gets one step closer to claiming the treasure. 8.3/10

Blue Beetle #2 - In flashbacks, Jaime tries to protect his family and friends from forces that they can not see as he tries to understand what has happened to him and what it has to do with the beetle rock he found. Meanwhile, Jaime makes his way home across the desert, hoping his parents haven't noticed his absence. Jaime's a cute, cool character and it'll be interesting to see the consequences to what occurs at the end of the issue. 8/10

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Astonishing X-Men #14

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 just make characters cool again, respecting them from back in the John Byrne/Chris Clairmont days as well as from Grant Morrison's run, and really leave us something to truly marvel. And, of course, it doesn't hurt that John Cassaday is drawing the thing...

Previews: July 2006

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 interested in. This first run of comics illustrates Hamilton's first book in the Anita Blake chronicles, Guilty Pleasures.

Dark Horse:
The Escapist #1 - I don't know much about The Escapist, but this new title is written by Brian K. Vaughan and has a great Frank Miller cover (and it's only a buck for the first issue).

Little Lulu Color Special TP - The best of the comedic Little Lulu is now being offered in color in this 200+ page paperback.

Scary Book (volume 3) - I've heard some disappointing things about the first volume of Kazuo Umezo's horror book, but this volume sounds cool and if the cover's any indication, it looks like this one could have some genuine scares.

DC Comics:
I highlighted DC's solicitations separately.

Fantagraphics Books:
Castle Waiting (volume II) #1 - The fantasy series returns! The first issue will be oversized because it collects the last two issue of the series that began this new storyline. And hey, this is a great time to jump on board, what with the Castle Waiting collected edition coming out beforehand.

Comics Journal #277 - It's The Comics Journal's 30th Annivesary issue, so of course, it's an oversized issue, complete with a good long look at the medium and where it's headed.

Niger #1 - The newest addition to the Ignatz line, Leila Marzocchi's Niger is an ecological tale told all in woodcuts.

IDW Publishing:
Road To Hell #1 - A new horror mini-series whose title, I think, says it all. From Martin Schenk, Todd Lincoln and Diogenese Neves. Dubbed IDW's "Next horror classic." We'll see.

30 Days of Night: Three Tales TP - Collects the recent trilogy 30 Days of Night: Dead Space, as well as the 2005 30 Days of Night Annual and "Picking Up the Pieces" a story by Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith from Tales of Terror.

Image Comics:
Godland (volume 2): Another Sunny Delight - The second trade of the popular Joe Casey series is collected!

Marvel Comics:
Also highlighted separately...

Oni Press:
Wasteland #1 - A double-sized debut issue that takes place 100 years after an apocalyptic event called "The Big Wet."

Polly & the Pirates (volume 1) TP - From Ted Naifeh, the man behind Courtney Crumrin, we get a tale of Polly Pringle, who may or may not be the Pirate Queen's daughter in this crazy pirate adventure. This collects the awesome six issue mini-series.

Virgin Comics:
This is a new publisher. I don't have anything to say about the titles offered, but go ahead and check out their site and see if they have anything to offer that may be of interest.

Viz:
Drifting Classroom (volume 1) TP - A new title offered as part of Viz's "Signature Graphic Novel" line, this manga follows the events surrounding an elementary school classroom that disappeared in the wake of an earthquake.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Octopus Girl

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 Rival!" Either way, this book has something for everyone. Give it a few chapters to grow on you and you'll be thanking me.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Eden Volume 2

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 as they battle for their lives and quite possibly, the fate of the world.

Monday, April 24, 2006

In Stores 4/26

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 ass-whooping.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Spider-Woman: Origin

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. Not that the big showdown in the final issue was anything to scoff at - it was definitely a nice, satisfying finale. And Bendis has a way of writing Madame Hydra so cool. She always has such a presence in his stories. But anyways - the art. I love the Luna Brothers. My favorite superhero comic ever is Ultra: Seven Days, but Jonathon Luna's art is really best when they play to their strengths and under their own terms. Things in Spider-Woman: Origin would seem a little rushed or off or something once in awhile - just not as cleanly illustrated as usual. It was still some damn great artwork - don't get me wrong - but when comparing with a series like Girls, this is their least stunning. The story more than makes up for any shortcomings there, however, and I love Jonathon's style enough to not get too distracted by little things. All-in-all, great origin story. I will definitely be checking out Bendis' on-going Spider-Woman title set to debut next year and I can't wait to see what the Luna Brothers take on next.

Friday, April 21, 2006

In Passing...Deadgirl to Manhunter

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 watching the battle from a SHIELD helicarrier, trying to figure out what's going on. When it's removed from the actual face-to-face fighting like that, it gives the events a sense of grandeur, of mystery, when it's pulled back to that scale. I don't know if it serves to ground it a little, but these scenes make the goings-on seem a lot more cooler than they otherwise would be. 8.1/10

Manhunter #21 - This issue centers around Kate Spencer, attorney, with no tights in sight. It's a courtroom drama that has Kate defending Doc Psycho for some event he caused during an Infinite Crisis superhero/supervillain brawl. It's nice to see Kate in this role again - it's been awhile and she's good at what she does. 7.7/10

X-Statix Presents: Deadgirl #4 (of 5) - As the cover suggests, the reunion of Mr. Sensitive and U-Go Girl happens in this issue. Yeah, it seems the entire X-Statix team ended up in Hell. It's not exactly the reunion you'd expect and, of course, lots of other stuff happens as the hodge-podge team of superheros descend into the lower realms of Hell. And I have to say, I really enjoy the relationship between Deadgirl and Dr. Strange. 8.1/10

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Athena Voltaire's back, Baby!

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 see if it's something you want to pick up and read my review of the first issue.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Marvel Solicits: July '06

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 with the X-babies.

Black Panther by Jack Kirby (volume 2) TP - More comics from the King. I know Patrick loved the first Black Panther trade.

Black Panther #18 - And it's the wedding we've been waiting for! Or...no, I didn't ask for this either. And it's a fricking Civil War crossover too? Oi. Just tell me Kitty is a bridesmaid and not a flowergirl.

X-Factor: The Longest Night Premiere HC - Collected into a nice affordable hardcover are issues 1-6 of the new X-Factor series that I personally enjoy a helluvalot.

Ghost Rider #1 - Again?

Check out the rest of Marvel's July solicits at Newsarama.

In Stores 4/19

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).

Monster (volume 2) - The second installment of Naoki Urasawa's Monster comes to comic shops Wednesday, for those of you who haven't already snatched up a copy from your local Barnes & Noble. Read my review here.

New Mutants Classic (volume 1) - I really like this "Classic" series that Marvel's come out with. Nice full color paperback reprint presentations. Excalibur Classic (volume 1) was awesome and I've always wanted to read some New Mutants stories, and both of these series were probably a long way from getting an "Essential" volume.

Monday, April 17, 2006

DC Solicits: July '06

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 Promethea are collected in softcover.

Absolute Dark Knight HC - Frank Miller's acclaimed The Dark Knight Returns and The Dark Knight Strikes Again are collected together in a new hardcover with a beautiful new Miller cover, and plenty of extra goodies to make it worth the $100 pricetag (maybe).

See the full July solicitations by DC Comics at Newsarama.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Death Note

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. This is just the first volume of the series, but it's already raised many interesting philosophical questions, with I'm sure, more to come as the situation progresses. This really is a great premise for some great suspense tales and to explore the dark side of human nature. And it's a premise thus far executed wonderfully.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

In Passing...Ms. Marvel to Fables

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 strange. In this particular issue, I wasn't very happy with the heavy dialogue and Augustus Beezer's play-by-play that ran through mostly every page. It was kind of irritating. But, cool surprise at the end of the issue and it seems like it's leading to a nice payoff. 5/10

American Virgin #2 - I really like Becky Cloonan's pencils on this series. Not that the Frank Quitely covers hurt either, but I really wasn't expecting to enjoy the art of the book much. It's a nice surprise. And I'm growing pretty fond of the main character, Adam Chamberlain. 7.6/10

Fables #48 - Part one of the new "Wolves" storyline has Mowgli (from The Jungle Book) tracking Bigby across the globe, while back on the Animal Farm, Snow and Red watch the wolf cubs grow quickly before their eyes. It's cool to see Bigby through the eyes of other wolves in this story, as a god, a real force of nature. It was really kind of beautiful and mythic. And the action of the issue really put the fight scenes in Ms. Marvel to shame. 8.3/10

The Portent #2 - What began as a series that could go either way, has really shaped up to be a good story. Full of unique ideas and imaginative storytelling, Peter Bergting tells a compelling tale of a world without much hope and the evil that is slowly infecting it. A chosen few heroes stand in the face of what has proven to be a very powerful force. The Mike Mignola-influenced art stands strong in the face of all of the crazy monsters introduced so far, as well as the dark atmosphere that oozes from the pages. 9.1/10

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Hippolyte

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 "scratch card" approach that's suited so well for this type of storytelling.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The Comics Journal #275: Best of '05

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 & Skeezix 1921-1922 (Frank King), who was at the top of several people's lists who actually numbered them. I was personally happy to see Nana in the mix a few times.

But anyways, I'm going to mention five books that caught my eye while going through the lists that I want to check out based on the comments:
1. Death Note by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata (from Paul Gravett's list)
2. 676 Apparitions of Killoffer by Killoffer (also from Paul Gravett's list, and listed by a few other contributors also)
3. Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou or "Yokohama Shopping Trip" (available in scanlation format only in America) by Hitoshi Ashinano (from Dirk Deppey's list)
4. Pyongyang: A Journey to North Korea by Guy Delisle (from Chris Mautner's list, though several people mentioned it)
5. Pure Trance by Junko Mizuno (from Dirk Deppey)

Brother (Yuzuha Ougi) from Paul Gravett's list also sounded interesting. Anyone else pick up on other things?

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Face to a name

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













And this is my boyfriend Patrick:

Shojo Beat: May '06

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 lead characters.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Strangetown

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 off their pelts and walk among humans), but it is just a guess from the writer's hints. And it's really the characterizations that make the story. You can check out a preview of Strangetown at Oni Press' site, but you won't get to the good stuff until a little further in to the issue. Cute, funny and just smartly written, you'll have to trust me that you don't want to miss out on Strangetown #1. It's a real treasure.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Monster V.2

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 each time it comes out.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Luba: The Book of Ofelia

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 has his own cast of charcters under the Love & Rockets banner), although Jaime, I believe, is more praised in that regard. In The Book of Ofelia, Luba's aunt plans on writing a book about Luba's exploits, thus the title, while Luba's sisters and daughters and granddaughters fight amongst themselves over lovers and ratings on Pipo's TV show. My favorite character of the book is Fritz, a psychologist with a lisp (but not when speaking French), with the sexy soccer superstar Sergio coming in a close second. But really, all of the characters are great. And fully-realized. I love Luba. She's a very kind woman who is lovingly devoted to a man who is burned from head-to-toe and can not speak, who was once very handsome and in love with her. Yet she shuns one of her children for her homosexual lifestyle. She's complex. She's abusive and loving. Ferocious and sultry. She's just very real. She seems to transcend her status as a mere character in Gilbert's work. And she's not the only one. Doralis, Petra, Hector...all characters whom I feel I know... over the course of the stories collected here, we see the sprawling cast grow in their own ways and go to places dark and light, with some stunning conclusions and revelations to their stories that are sometimes only hinted at. It's wonderful. It's complex. If you haven't checked Love & Rockets out, you are really missing out on the creme a la creme.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Moon Knight

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 ship for Pete's sake!), tries to distinguish itself from other Marvel books by making them sound cooler, and God, the ending is just the kicker. Completely overdone and melodramatic. I almost wet myself it was so bad (Seriously. And I mean completely serious: the guy lunges out of his wheelchair to get to his last pill to stop the pain!) Where the hell did they dig up this hack writer? But anyways, I have to look on the bright side: Thank you Marvel, for taking David Finch off of New Avengers and assigning him to this piece of crap that I won't be subjecting myself to every month. Make mine Marvel!

Thursday, April 06, 2006

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)
Solo #5, by Darwyn Cooke (DC)

Promethea #32 was really a great issue and tried to accomplish something beyond just being a great story. that being said, I don't think it should win for that alone...

Best Serialized Story:
Desolation Jones #1-5: "Made in England," by Warren Ellis and J. H. Williams III (WildStorm/DC)
Fables #36-38, 40-41: "Return to the Homelands," by Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham, and Steve Leialoha (Vertigo/DC)
Ex Machina #12-14: "Fact v. Fiction," by Brian K. Vaughan, Tony Harris, and Tom Feister (WildStorm/DC)
Y: The Last Man #37-39: "Paper Dolls," by Brian K. Vaughan, Pia Guerra, Goran Sudzuka, and Jose Marzan Jr. (Vertigo/DC)

I haven't read either Desolation Jones or Ex Machina (even though I really do admire all artists involved), but between the other two, I would definitely go with Fables. I loved the "Homelands" arc: one of the best of the series, and in face of Y: the Last Man, which I recently dropped (with the latest arc), it's just a better series.

Best Continuing Series:
Age of Bronze, by Eric Shanower (Image)
Astonishing X-Men, by Joss Whedon and John Cassaday (Marvel)
Ex Machina, by Brian K. Vaughan, Tony Harris, and Tom Feister (WildStorm/DC)
Fell, by Warren Ellis and Ben Templesmith (Image)
Rocketo, by Frank Espinosa (Speakeasy)
True Story, Swear to God, by Tom Beland (Clib's Boy Comics)

While Fell is a great series, it's not one I'm especially excited about reading when it comes out. Don't get me wrong: it's always great when I read it. It just doesn't get me thrilled for the nest issue to come out. I may just feel that way because the stories are so self-contained, but I also think I do prefer other comics generally. I recently read the first volume of Age of Bronze, and it is a masterpiece, but I haven't read anything recent. I would personally go with Astonishing X-Men, just from what I've read. It's just smartly written and illustrated.

Best Limited Series:
Nat Turner, by Kyle Baker (Kyle Baker Publishing)
Ocean, by Warren Ellis, Chris Sprouse, and Karl Story (WildStorm/DC)
Seven Soldiers, by Grant Morrison and various artists (DC)
Smoke, by Alex de Campi and Igor Kordey (IDW)

Not a big fan of Ocean. Seven Soldiers has been pretty solid, but I can't say it's more deserving than the other nominees.

Best New Series:
All Star Superman, by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely (DC)
Desolation Jones, by Warren Ellis and J. H. Williams III (WildStorm/DC)
Fell, by Warren Ellis and Ben Templesmith (Image)
Rocketo, by Frank Espinosa (Speakeasy)
Young Avengers, by Alan Heinberg, Jim Cheung, and John Dell (Marvel)

All Star Superman only had a single issue come out last year (the weakest of the three that have come out), and I have yet to check out Young Avengers...

Best Publication for a Younger Audience:
Amelia Rules! by Jimmy Gownley (Renaissance Press)
The Clouds Above, by Jordan Crane (Fantagraphics)
Franklin Richards, Son of a Genius, by Chris Eliopoulous and Mark Sumerak (Marvel)
Owly: Flying Lessons, by Andy Runton (Top Shelf)
Spiral-Bound, by Aaron Renier (Top Shelf)

I'm really not sure about this one. Owly didn't exactly blow me away. I've been thinking about reading the Franklin Richards book.

Best Anthology:
The Dark Horse Book of the Dead, edited by Scott Allie (Dark Horse Books)
Flight, vol. 2, edited by Kazu Kibuishi (Image)
Mome. edited by Gary Groth and Eric Reynolds (Fantagraphics)
Solo, edited by Mark Chiarello (DC)
24 Hour Comics Day Highlights 2005, edited by Nat Gertler (About Comics)

Okay, this is making me feel like I haven't read enough comics...

Best Digital Comic:
Copper, by Kazu www.boltcity.com/copper
Jellaby, by Kean Soo, www.secretfriendsociety.com/archive.php?cat=2
ojingogo, by matt forsythe www.comingupforair.net/comics/ojingogo.html
PVP, by Scott Kurtz, www.pvponline.com/

Best Reality-Based Work:
Embroideries, by Marjane Satrapi (Pantheon)
Epileptic, by David B. (Pantheon)
Nat Turner, by Kyle Baker (Kyle Baker Publishing)
Pyongyang, by Guy Delisle (Drawn & Quarterly)
True Story, Swear to God (Clib's Boy Comics), True Story, Swear to God: This One Goes to Eleven (AiT/Planet Lar), by Tom Beland

Best Graphic Album-New:
Acme Novelty Library #16, by Chris Ware (ACME Novelty)
The Rabbi's Cat, by Joann Sfar (Pantheon)
Top Ten: The Forty-Niners, by Alan Moore and Gene Ha (ABC)
Tricked, by Alex Robinson (Top Shelf)
Wilmbledon Green, by Seth (Drawn & Quarterly)

I loved both Acme Novelty Library #16 and Top Ten: The Forty-Niners. God, this is a hard one. I would probably go with Top Ten. Just barely.

Best Graphic Album-Reprint:
Acme Novelty Library Annual Report to Shareholders, by Chris Ware (Pantheon)
Black Hole, by Charles Burns (Pantheon)
Feast of the Seven Fishes, by Robert Tinnell, Ed Piskor, and Alex Saviuk (Allegheny Image Factory)
Ice Haven, by Dan Clowes (Pantheon)
War's End, by Joe Sacco (Drawn & Quarterly)

How can you choose between Black Hole and Acme Novelty? But I'm going to, and going by my top ten of last year, it would be Black Hole.

Best Archival Collection/Project-Comic Strips:
The Complete Calvin & Hobbes, by Bill Watterson (Andrews McMeel)
The Complete Peanuts, 1955-1956, 1957-1958, by Charles Schulz (Fantagraphics)
Krazy and Ignatz: The Komplete Kat Komics. by George Herriman (Fantagraphics)
Little Nemo in Slumberland: So Many Splendid Sundays, by Winsor McCay (Sunday Press Books)
Walt and Skeezix, by Frank King (Drawn & Quarterly)

Like I said last post, it probably won't be between Krazy Kat and Peanuts, just because they've been around for awhile. Beyond that, you got me.

Best Archival Collection/Project-Comic Books:
Absolute Watchmen, by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons (DC)
Buddha, vols. 5-8, by Osamu Tezuka (Vertical)
The Contract with God Trilogy, by Will Eisner (Norton)
DC Comics Rarities Archives, vol. 1 (DC)
Fantastic Four Omnibus, by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby (Marvel)

Best U.S. Edition of Foreign Material:
Cromartie High School, by Eiji Nonaka (ADV)
Dungeon: The Early Years, vol. 1, by Joann Sfar, Lewis Trondheim, and Christophe Blaine (NBM)
Ordinary Victories, by Manu Larcenet (NBM)
The Rabbi's Cat, by Joann Sfar (Pantheon)
Six Hundred Seventy-Six Apparitions of Killoffer, by Killoffer (Typocrat)

Well, I do like Dungeon...

Best Writer:
Warren Ellis, Fell (Image); Down (Top Cow/Image); Desolation Jones, Ocean, Planetary (WildStorm/DC)
Alan Heinberg, Young Avengers (Marvel)
Alan Moore, Promethea, Top Ten: The Forty-Niners (ABC)
Grant Morrison, Seven Soldiers, All Star Superman (DC)
Brian K. Vaughan, Ex Machina (WildStorm/DC); Y: The Last Man (Vertigo/DC); Runaways (Marvel)

I would say Alan Moore. He's probably the best writer in comics period.

Best Writer/Artist:
Geof Darrow, Shaolin Cowboy (Burlyman)
Guy Delisle, Pyongyang (Drawn & Quarterly)
Eric Shanower, Age of Bronze (Image)
Adrian Tomine, Optic Nerve #10 (Drawn & Quarterly)
Chris Ware, Acme Novelty Library #16 (ACME Novelty)

Best Writer/Artist-Humor:
Kyle Baker, Plastic Man (DC); The Bakers (Kyle Baker Publishing)
Paige Braddock, Jane's World (Girl Twirl)
Bryan Lee O'Malley, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (Oni)
Eric Powell, The Goon (Dark Horse)
Seth, Wimbledon Green (Drawn & Quarterly)

Yah! Scott Pilgrim!

Best Penciller/Inker:
John Cassaday, Astonishing X-Men (Marvel); Planetary (WildStorm/DC)
Gene Ha, Top Ten: TheForty-Niners (ABC)
J. G. Jones, Wanted (Top Cow/Image)
Frank Quitely, All Star Superman (DC)
J. H. Williams III, Promethea, Desolation Jones (WildStorm/DC)

I think I'll rule out Frank Quitely for his one issue of Superman, and John Cassaday for his latter rushed-looking issues of X-Men...I like all of the artists really. I think I prefer Gene Ha in the end, for his work on Top Ten.

Best Painter/Multimedia Artist (interior art):
Paul Guinan, Heartbreakers Meet Boilerplate (IDW)
Ladronn, Hip Flask: Mystery City (Active Images)
Ben Templesmith, Fell (Image)
Kent Williams, The Fountain (Vertigo/DC)

Best Cover Artist:
Frank Espinosa, Rocketo (Speakeasy)
Tony Harris, Ex Machina (Wildstorm/DC)
James Jean, Fables (Vertigo/DC); Runaways (Marvel)
Jock, The Losers (Vertigo/DC)
Eric Powell, The Goon; Universal Monsters: Cavalcade of Horror (Dark Horse)

What can I say? I'm a James Jean fan.

Best Coloring:
Jeromy Cox, Teen Titans (DC); Otherworld (Vertigo/DC)
Steven Griffen, Hawaiian Dick: The Last Resort (Image)
Steve Hamaker, Bone: The Great Cow Race (Scholastic Graphix)
Jose Villarrubia, Desolation Jones (WildStorm/DC)
Chris Ware, Acme Novelty Library #16 (ACME Novelty)

Best Lettering:
Chris Eliopolis, Ultimate Iron Man, Astonishing X-Men, Ultimates 2, House of M, Franklin Richards (Marvel); Fell (Image)
Todd Klein, Wonder Woman, Justice, Seven Soldiers #0 (DC); Desolation Jones (WildStorm/DC); Promethea, Top Ten: The Forty-Niners, Tomorrow Stories Special (ABC); Fables (Vertigo); 1602: New World (Marvel)
Richard Starkings, Conan, Revelations (Dark Horse); Godland (Image); Gunpowder Girl and the Outlaw Squaw, Hip Flask: Mystery City (Active Images)
Chris Ware, Acme Novelty Library #16 (ACME Novelty)

Talent Deserving of Wider Recognition:
Dawn Brown (Ravenous, Little Red Hot)
Aaron Renier (Spiral-Bound)
Zak Sally (Recidivist)
Ursula Vernon (Digger)

I liked Dawn Brown's Little Red Hot: Bound mini-series a few years back.

Best Comics-Related Periodical:
Comic Art, edited by M. Todd Hignite (Comic Art)
Comic Book Artist, edited by Jon Cooke (Top Shelf)
The Comics Journal, edited by Gary Groth and Dirk Deppey (Fantagraphics)
Draw!, edited by Michael Manley (TwoMorrows)
Following Cerebus, edited by Craig Miller and John Thorne (Aardvark-Vanaheim/Win-Mill Productions)

Best Comics-Related Book:
The Comics Journal Library: Classic Comic Illustrators, edited by Tom Spurgeon (Fantagraphics)
Eisner/Miller, interviews conducted by Charles Brownstein (Dark Horse Books)
Foul Play: The Art and Artists of the Notorious 1950s EC Comics, by Grant Geissman (Harper Design)
Masters of American Comics, edited by John Carlin, Paul Karasik, and Brian Walker (Hammer Museum/MOCA Los Angeles/Yale University Press)
RGK: Art of Roy G. Krenkel, edited by J. David Spurlock and Barry Klugerman (Vanguard)

Best Publication Design:
Acme Novelty Library Annual Report to Shareholders, designed by Chris Ware (Pantheon)
Little Nemo in Slumberland, designed by Philippe Ghuilemetti (Sunday Press Books)
Promethea #32, designed by J. H. Williams III and Todd Klein (ABC)
Walt and Skeezix, designed by Chris Ware (Drawn & Quarterly)
Wimbledon Green, designed by Seth (Drawn & Quarterly)

I think Wimbledon Green is the least spectacular of the nomineess' designs. The others are all stiff competition, but I would probably go for one of Ware's designs, probably Acme Novelty Library, because he's just such a master in this category.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

In the Meantime

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 enjoyed So Notorious (No-Tori-Ous) on VH1 recently. It's Tori Spelling's new comedy/reality show. I thought it looked crappy when I saw previews, but I really enjoy it. Though, admittedly, I do have some weird taste when it domes to comedy. For the most part, I find an occasional joke on Buffy funnier than something like a half-hour of Friends, but I do enjoy, for example, the stand-up of Kathy Griffin, Drawn Together and dark comedies like Jawbreaker that aren't really laugh-out-loud. And now So Notorious does it for me too.

Accidentally coming across some really hot pictures of Jason Behr, of Roswell fame, he has been reestablished as my big crush for now. Take a look...










































































I mean, can you really blame me here? Okay, one more...

















Until next time...

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Book of Shadows

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 magical destiny, a dragon thrown in for good measure, yadda yadda. Even the title of the series leaves a vague generic stamp over it). The art by Bo Hampton is okay. It's stylish, though I think it does rely a lot upon the coloring (of which I do find to be pretty great). In the end, however, it focuses too much on a fantasy angle too uninspired for me to appreciate.

Monday, April 03, 2006

The Portent

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 going out of my way to search for the first issue of the series, but if the story sounds interesting, I certainly wouldn't try to sway you from picking it up. If you want to see some of the art before committing, go to Image's website, where you'll find a five-page preview.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

New Alice In Wonderland

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" at other points, as it seems to be a mix of traditional pencils with computer-generated art. It's cute and all, but I would forego the Espinosa version and stick with the original. If you want the art to go along with it, pick up an edition with the original illustrations included.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Blue Beetle

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 and are fighting him. I'm assuming the Blue Beetle was always a good guy and when the mantle passed onto this boy, Jaime wasn't able to control it or was confused or something. A little back story wouldn't have hurt here. Other than that, I really enjoyed the comic. The art, like I said before, is beautiful. I favored the civilian scenes to the big galactic superhero scenes, but Hamner certainly did a competent job on the fights as well. I really like the main character Jaime. He's pretty cute...you know, for a comic book character. Heh. And I liked how he interacted with his friends and family. It was all very well done. I just hope that some of my questions are cleared up as the story progresses. For all I know, maybe I'm not supposed to know anything about this big battle and the explanations are forthcoming. As it is, I have no idea. But in the end, small qualms aside, I definitely did enjoy it enough to pick up the next issue.