Monday, February 26, 2007

New Releases 2/27 - 3/2

DVD Releases (Tues, 2/27)
Conversations With God
Filmation's Ghostbusters: The Animated Series (Volume One)
A Good Year
The Return
Stranger Than Fiction
Tenacious D in: The Pick of Destiny

Previous Week:
IMDb Top DVD Rental: The Departed
Billboard Top DVD Sales: Cinderella III: A Twist In Time
My Barnes & Noble #1: The Secret

Music Releases (Tues, 2/27)
Hanson - Walk
John Denver - The Essential John Denver
Matt Wertz - Everything In Between
Otis Taylor - Definition of a Circle

Previous Week:
Billboard Top 200 #1: Norah Jones - Not Too Late

Comic Releases (Wed, 2/28)
Comics Journal #281
Essential Peter Parker: Spectacular Spider-Man (Volume 3)
Exiles (Volume 14): New Exiles
Firestorm the Nuclear Man: Reborn TP
Jack of Fables (Volume 1): The Nearly Great Escape
Love Roma (Volume 5)
New Avengers (Volume 5): Civil War Premiere HC
Showcase Presents: Green Lantern (Volume 2)
Spider-Woman: Origin TP

Theatrical Releases (Fri, 3/2)
Black Snake Moan
Wild Hogs

Previous Week #1: Ghost Rider

Monday, February 19, 2007

New Releases 2/20 - 2/23

Sorry - Manga Monday will be postponed again since I'm only halfway through Until the Full Moon. It's much harder to keep up with this while holding down a full-time job than I'd imagined. Anyway, here are this week's entertainment release highlights...

DVD Releases (Tues, 2/20)
Family Ties: Season One
Flushed Away
Man of the Year
The Prestige
Shut Up & Sing

Previous Week:
IMDb Top DVD Rental: Flags of Our Fathers
Billboard Top DVD Sales: Open Season
My Barnes & Noble #1: The Secret

Music Releases (Tues, 2/20)
The Ataris - Welcome the Night
Erasure - One the Road To Nashville
Kidz Bop 11

Previous Week:
Billboard Top 200 #1: Fall Out Boy - Infinity On High
My Barnes & Noble #1: Norah Jones - Not Too Late

Comic Releases (Wed, 2/21)
Annihilation (Book 1) HC
Birds of Prey: Perfect Pitch TP
Catwoman: The Replacements TP
Checkmate (Volume 1): A King's Game
Drifting Classroom (Volume 4)
Justice (Volume 2) HC
Kamandi Archives (Volume 2) HC
Legion of Monsters: Werewolf by Night #1
Naoki Urasawa's Monster (Volume 7)
She-Hulk (Volume 4): Laws of Attraction
X-Factor Visionaries: Peter David (Volume 2)

Previous Month:
Diamond #1 Comic: Civil War #6 (of 7)
Diamond #1 Graphic Novel: Astonishing X-Men (Volume 3): Torn
Diamond #1 Manga: Death Note (Volume 9)

Theatrical Releases (Fri, 2/23)
The Abandoned
The Astronaut Farmer
The Number 23
Reno 911!: Miami

Previous Week #1: Ghost Rider

Friday, February 16, 2007

Music Review: Alright, Still

Lily Allen

Coming out of nowhere with a fresh sound and a killer British accent is Lily Allen, whose debut CD came out a few weeks back with impressive results. It's hard to describe what kind of music Lily Allen does - maybe that's why when I uploaded the CD onto I-Tunes for my I-Pod, it contained the first tracks I'd seen labeled as "Undefinable" for its classification. But if I had to describe it, I would say that it seems to be a blend of R&B, rock and techno. I feel like it's what Gwen Stefani's been trying to reach with her solo efforts, but hasn't quite found. Lily Allen is a true pioneer with her sound. Some of the sounds may be a bit obnoxious and in-your-face upon first hearing the tracks (particularly with Knock 'Em Out), but I'll be damned if they don't worm their way into your skull until they become some of the funnest, contagious sounds you'll ever experience. The first single off of Alright, Still is Smile, which is probably the most accessible song on the CD, but there's a lot more where that came from. It'll be interesting to see where this bright young talent goes with her music next. And...does she accentuate that British accent as she sings? Because it certainly makes the songs more appealing to me, but usually accents drop when artists sing.... Either way, I love the accent and the little slang words she throws in.
Key Tracks: Smile, Friday Night, Take What You Take, Friend of Mine, Alfie.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

New Releases 2/13 - 2/16

Here are this week's entertainment release highlights...

DVD Releases (Tues, 2/13)
Beauty & the Beast: Season 1
The Departed
Golden Girls: Season 7
Half Nelson
Marie Antoinette
School For Scoundrels
The U.S. vs. John Lennon

Previous Week:
IMDb Top DVD Rental: The Marine
Billboard Top DVD Sales: Saw III
My Barnes & Noble #1: The Secret

Music Releases (Tues, 2/13)
Bridge To Terabithia O.S.T.
Music & Lyric O.S.T.
Van Morrison - Van Morrison At the Movies
Lucinda Williams - West

Previous Week:
Billboard Top 200 #1: Norah Jones - Not Too Late
My Barnes & Noble #1: Norah Jones - Not Too Late

Comic Releases (Wed, 2/14)
Excalibur Classic (Volume 3): Crosstime Caper Book One
Franklin Richards Lab Brat Digest TP
Krazy & Ignatz 1939-1940: Brick Stuffed With Moombins
Little Lulu (Volume 14): Queen Lulu
Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E. (Volume 1): This Is What They Want TP
Showcase Presents Aquaman (Volume 1)
Spider-Man: Death of the Stacys Premiere HC

Theatrical Releases (Fri, 2/16)
Bridge To Terabithia
Ghost Rider
Music & Lyrics (On Wed, 2/14)
Tyler Perry's Daddy's Little Girls

Previous Week #1: Norbit

Monday, February 12, 2007

Manga Monday 25: Tanpenshu

Tanpenshu (Volume 1)
Hiroki Endo

Tanpenshu is the first of two books from the very talented Hiroki Endo, who's best known for his sci-fi epic Eden: It's An Endless World! This a collection of short stories that occur in the real world, and as such, Endo proves his mastery over the medium with the diversity of his storytelling skills in this fantastic first volume. I was blown away by the depth and characterization that Endo was able to establish in such short numbers while maintaining that level of quality art that any fan of Eden has become familiar with. The first story contained within examines a blooming friendship between a disfigured girl and a yazuka outcast, and though it was my least favorite of the stories, it served as a great introduction to the volume. The other two stories, Because You're Definitely a Cute Girl (about a very disturbed high schooler) and For Those of Us Who Don't Believe In God (about the relationships of a theater troupe) were pretty much perfect and (particularly with the latter story) demonstrated a maturity and weight that is all too rare in a lot of manga out there. This is a must-buy. A+

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Athena Voltaire: The Collected Webcomics

Paul Daly & Steve Bryant

Before Athena Voltaire: Flight of the Falcon, Athena Voltaire starred in her own comic strip on-line that appeared more or less weekly at Garnering plenty of critical acclaim and nominated for an Eisner Award, the strip eventually caught the attention of publishers excited to print new material from the creators (Speakeasy, followed by Ape Entertainment) and the rest is history. Athena Voltaire emulates a 1930's adventure strip, and stars an aviatrix who has a knack for finding trouble. The two stories included in this collection, The Terror in Tibet and The Wrath From the Tomb, are the earliest adventures of the title character, introducing readers to Athena's world and vast cast of supporting characters. As her earliest adventures, the art from Steve Bryant isn't up to the standards of the gorgeous work that appears in Flight of the Falcon, but there are glimmers of greatness here and there amid artwork that's overall much better than most found in mainstream comics nowadays. As a weekly strip, this reprint project had some problems, first and foremost was how Ape chose to publish this collection in print form, like a standard trade paperback instead of in a way more fitting for a strip format like recently seen with The Complete Peanuts or The Complete Chester Gould's Dick Tracy collections. To read the material, one must hold the book sideways and awkwardly flip the story up and over like a calendar. Though you get used to handling the book in this fashion, it's not the preferred method. Surprisingly, the stories didn't read like most comic strips. There was a little repetition between strips to keep them self-contained, but nothing too distracting - they read pretty fluidly as complete stories. The later story featuring Dracula's daughter contained the better art, as you could see Bryant developing his craft as the collection progressed, but that's to be expected. Both of the stories possessed supernatural elements that didn't quite showcase Athena's talents to the degree that Flight of the Falcon did, but were very good stories nonetheless. Riveting, action-packed and just plain fun. The witty dialogue that made Flight of the Falcon such a treat is present in the early work as well, but perhaps isn't as sharp as readers are used to. This is definitely something fans of the series and character should own, but perhaps a better introduction to Daly and Bryant's world would be Athena Voltaire: Flight of the Falcon. Still, this deserves recognition as a great comic, and it couldn't have worked much better as an adventure strip. B+

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

New Releases 2/06 - 2/09

Here are this week's entertainment release highlights...

DVD Releases (Tues, 2/06)
Baywatch: Season 3
Charmed: Season 7
Cinderella III: A Twist In Time
Flags of Our Fathers
The Grudge 2
Hellboy: Sword of Storms
Mad About You: Season 3
Running With Scissors
The Science of Sleep

Previous Week:
IMDb Top DVD Rental: Saw III
Billboard Top DVD Sales: Gridiron Gang

Music Releases (Tues, 2/06)
Barenaked Ladies - Barenaked Ladies Are Men
Bloc Party - A Weekend In the City
Belinda Carlisle - Voila
Fallout Boy - Infinity On High
Patty Griffin - Children Running Through
Rickie Lee Jones - The Sermon On Exposition Boulevard
Sondre Lerche - Phantom Punch
Jordan Pruitt - No Ordinary Girl
Ashley Tinsdale - Headstrong

Previous Week:
Billboard Top 200 #1: Pretty Ricky - Late Night Special

Comic Releases (Wed, 2/07)
Absolute Boyfriend (Volume 3)
Batman: Year One Deluxe SC
Claymore (Volume 6)
Dark Tower: Gunslinger Born #1 (of 7)
DMZ (Volume 2): Body of a Journalist
Eden: It's An Endless World! (Volume 6)
Essential Ms. Marvel (Volume 1)
Essential Painkiller Jane TP
Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories (Volume 2)
Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service (Volume 2)
Mail (Volume 2)
Nana (Volume 5)
Shazam: The Monster Society of Evil #1 (of 4)
Swan (Volume 9)
Tail of the Moon (Volume 3)

Theatrical Releases (Fri, 2/09)
Hannibal Rising

Previous Week #1: The Messengers

Monday, February 05, 2007

Manga Monday 24: Mushishi

Mushishi (Volume 1)
Yuki Urushibara

Mushishi is a book that seems to have a few people excited in the manga realm. This series comes from a new young cartoonist and has garnered quite a bit of acclaim, at the same time that it's branching out into other multimedia areas like anime. The first volume of this manga has just been released by Del Ray to American audiences in a pretty little package. The story follows a mysterious young man, a mushishi named Ginko, who travels to expand his knowledge and help people with problems that involve magical creatures called mushi. He's kind of like a shaman of sorts. Now, I went into this book without having any prior knowledge of the premise and was a little out-of-sorts, as I didn't realize where the focus of the story would lie, let alone what the heck was going on. As a series of short stories, Mushishi opens with a young man (Shinra) who has the ability to draw anything he wishes into being with his left hand, no matter how fantastic. I imagined that this would be the thrust of the series until one of the many men who've come to seek him out (Ginko) begins to teach the gifted boy about mushi and the ability he has. Then the story shifts over to Ginko himself before he disappears from Shinra's life when he's finished helping the boy out. I had assumed that the cast was being set up with this first chapter, but Ginko travels into people's lives helping to spread the knowledge of mushi and study them, so the cast is ever-changing, at least with this first volume, Ginko himself being the only constant. Now that I know that this is basically a series of short stories, it has fallen into a rhythm of sorts that seems like it could get old fast, but the stories are truly captivating, and given the strength of the opening volume, the creator has a vast resource of creativity that will, at the very least, keep this premise afloat for awhile to come, if not build upon it for something truly spectacular. Now the mushi themselves are creatures that have existed since the beginning of time, not quite plant, not quite animal, but almost spirits of sorts that can harm people with their mere existence. It's interesting and spellbinding to listen to Ginko weave the legends surrounding these creatures, and the beautiful art that Urushibara illustrates his story with makes this an exciting new series, perhaps deserving of the praise and attention it's garnered. I can't wait for the next volume. A

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Mouse Guard

David Petersen

Archaia Studios Press' first mini-series of David Petersen's Mouse Guard concluded a few weeks ago, with a hardcover collection entitled Mouse Guard: Fall 1152 scheduled for release in a few months' time, with the sequel mini-series Mouse Guard: Winter 1152 not far behind. The title has garnered quite a bit of praise, if not a faithful following, and deservedly so. This is a really good mini-series. And it features cute little mice with cute little swords! But truly, David Petersen does a stellar job of transferring his world to the page with vivid colors, beautiful drawings and great character designs. I've said this before, but Petersen also demonstrates a mastery of cartooning via the expressions of his characters, whose eyes are pretty much the sole vehicle at conveying emotion. The characters aren't exactly flushed out in this straight-forward story, but you can't help but getting attached nonetheless as the story progresses. In this series, the Mouse Guard protect the secrets of Lockhaven with their lives as others plot to tear it down, ending a reign of peace throughout the kingdom. While the mice fight amongst each other, natural predators also wait in the wings for their chance to strike. Everything culminates in this beautiful battle in the final chapter of the series, where it's all paid off with a creative touch. You can tell Petersen has put a lot of thought into this world he's created, and poured a lot of love through his pen to present to us this story of survival and chivalry. This is a real treat to experience. A

Friday, February 02, 2007

In Passing...Fables to X-Factor

And I'm now caught up on last week's floppies...

Fables #57
Bill Willingham & Michael Allred
The latest Fables sees Bigby and Snow going on a visit to see Bigby's father, The North Wind, with their troop of wolf cubs. Nothing particularly interesting occurs, but this issue does contain guest pencils from the hand of Mike Allred, who does a stellar job of it. B
X-Factor #15
Peter David & Pablo Raimondi
While Jamie Madrox is captured/brainwashed by Hydra, Siryn and Monet have a little incident in Paris, that latter story of which was more exciting. Jamie's quest to reclaim his dupes is an interesting one, but I hope something occurs in this book to bring it back to the glory of its early issues. The storylines lately have been a tad dull. C+
Eternals #6 (of 7)
Neil Gaiman & John Romita Jr.
The Eternals come together to try and stop the sleeping Celestial from...well, awakening. This is a pretty odd series, but it's fun in a way with some really nice Romita Jr. art. Certainly not one of Gaiman's best works, but I find him to generally be hit and miss with most of his stuff (in particular a certain Vertigo title) overpraised. C-
Crossing Midnight #3
Mike Carey & Jim Fern
Now this is a creepy, interesting series with some real imaginative storytelling. This title reminds me quite a bit of Carey's Lucifer which recently concluded, with plenty of magic and mysticism involved. And I don't know who Jim Fern is, but his pencils blow me away every time. Disturbing with an intriguing premise. A-