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Showing posts from October, 2007

Picks of the Week: 10/31

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When you hit the comic stores today, here are your best bets for where to invest your money...

Patrick's Pick:

MAGGOTS -From the book jacket: “MAGGOTS is a facsimile of a book Brian Chippendale completed - but never printed- in 1996 and ‘97 while living in Fort Thunder, Providence, RI. Frantically drawn over the pages of a Japanese book catalog, Chippendale’s first masterpiece has lain dormant for a decade. Now the author of Ninja and drummer for Lightning Bolt takes readers back to where it all began…”

Christ, there’s a lot of great books out this week. I hope you’re able to buy a lot of them, but if you can only get one I’d have to go with this bizarre fever dream of a graphic novel from comics’ bleeding edge, one of the central texts for those interested in the “Fort Thunder” aesthetic, and a long time coming to the direct market. Not to be missed.

Dave's Pick:

Tezuka's MW - It's always a good week when a manga from the master comes out. I don't know anything about O…

The Walking Dead (Volume 7):

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The Calm Before
Robert Kirkman & Charlie Adlard
Just in time for Halloween, I devoured the latest volume of the popular zombie series from Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard in one sitting. I don’t know if I could read the title in single issues because, like the subtitle of this volume suggests, nothing really happened. It’s the calm before a disastrous storm that we get a glimpse of in the last few pages of this book. Leading up to the action-to-come was a whole lot of gathering supplies and weapons to prepare for the inevitable battle. Sure, a few minor incidents take place. The characters manage to feud a bit, and get hurt - and there’s even a casualty, but it’s pretty much a lot of brooding and talking and waiting. But it works. I really don’t mind spending time with the characters. Volume Four (Heart’s Desire) of the series was equally as quiet on the action front, but somehow Kirkman managed to keep things a little more interesting this time around, perhaps with the recent add…

Manga Monday 50: Gyo

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Gyo (Volume 1)Junji Ito
Like the title that the creator is probably most known for, Uzumaki, Junji Ito's horror title Gyo finds a second life in Viz's Signature Series. The second printing of Gyo brings that startling title (with a great cover) to new readers, myself included, who was all but ignorant of the creator's work beyond the Uzumaki collection that I read years ago. But after reading the first volume of this science fiction/horror title, my interest in Ito has been reinvigorated by what I deem a superior title, perhaps even persuading me to revisit that other work that I dismissed as overrated. I am that impressed with Gyo. . Gyo follows a young Japanese couple, Tadashi and Kaori, vacationing in Okinawa where, one night, they are besieged by a horrible rotting stench, and are subsequently terrorized by a small creature that turns out to be a fish walking on spider-like legs. And it's not an isolated incident. This book begins with a scary, creeping dread and q…

Previews: January '08 Comics

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Here are our picks (from Previews catalogue) for books coming to comic shops in January of next year...

Marvel
Dave:Young Avengers Presents #1 (of 6) - After a short hiatus, the Young Avengers return, minus Allan Heinberg. While series writer takes a break, the Young Avengers return in a mini-series with a different creative team per issue, the first of which focuses on Patriot, written by Ed Brubaker, with art by Paco Medina. Series penciller Jim Cheung does the cover.
New Exiles #1 -Yes, I was just complaining about Chris Claremont in my review for the first issue of X-Men: Die By the Sword, a series that leads into this relaunch of the Exiles, but I've got to point this out. Claremont's series always sound good. The Exiles now safeguard the Omniverse as Sage joins the team that boasts a new leader and new members...and is that Kitty on the team?
New Warriors (Volume 1): The Next Right Thing TPB - I think that this looks like a fun series. I've been meaning to check it out..…

The Sword #1

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The Luna Brothers

***Contains Spoilers!***
I don't know what it is about The Luna Brothers that makes me such a fan, but whatever it is, they've carried it into their new series from Image Comics, The Sword. The Luna Brothers always seem to have great characters and great dialogue wrapped up in fantastic little stories. Maybe I just enjoy the types of stories they tell, usually focusing on strong female protagonists, like in their latest effort The Sword.

The debut issue of The Sword follows Dara Brighton, a college student with a knack for art that has been confined to a wheelchair for the last few years (the circumstances around which have yet to be related). For the first half of this issue, we get to see Dara struggle with her handicap and go to class with her friend, in a typical day of her life, at the same time as her father picks up her mother at the airport. Unfortunately for the whole family, the day doesn't end so typically. A stranger follows Dara's paren…

Halloween Spotlight: Vampire Comics

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Last year leading up to Halloween, I did my best to create a resource for people looking for comics featuring their favorite creatures of the night. It was a much bigger project than I anticipated and I only got around to comics featuring werewolves and witches. But I wanted to carry on that project this year and make it a sort of annual tradition for this site. Now here we are taking a look at vampire comics. I thought that it would be appropriate with the 30 Days of Night film coming out this past weekend. Now this list isn't a complete listing of every single vampire comic ever created. It's a resource to point you in the direction of some higher profile titles, most of which I haven't read and can't vouch for, but some that I have and will recommend heartily, or steer you away from. Proceed at your own risk. . 30 Days of Night
The extremely popular indy comic created by Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith put IDW Publishing on the map. It takes place in Barrow, Alaska,…

In Stores 10/24

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Here are our picks for what books will most likely be worth the price of admission, coming this Wednesday to a comic shop near you...

Dave's Pick:

Crossgen collections from Checker Books - It's kind of a slow week for comics, but these stood out for me. I was a huge Crossgen fan, so I'm happy to see the final issues of various series collected courtesy of Checker Book Publishing Group, who do quite a few reprint projects of varying quality. While some series ended quite abruptly, it's still nice to have the option of completing the collections of trade paperbacks. This week's Crossgen offerings include: Scion (Volume 6): Royal Wedding, Sigil (Volume 5): Death March, and Way of the Rat (Volume 3): Haunted Zhumar. I enjoyed all three series, particularly Scion, and other collections have already arrived from Checker or will arrive shortly, such as Sojourn and Negation.

Patrick's Pick:

Serenity HC Those Left Behind
This is a new, hardcover collection of the three i…

Manga Monday 49

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Alien Nine: EmulatorsHitoshi Tomizawa
This single-volume sequel to the Alien Nine manga trilogy (which started out great, but ended a little shaky), entitled Alien Nine: Emulators, sees the three female protagonists from the original trilogy beginning Junior High School, protecting a new school from the threat of alien life forms. In the Alien Nine universe, ordinary school girls are burdened with alien symbiotes that they use to battle aliens that are dangerous to the student population. Events from the previous books leave the girls in a very different place at the beginning of this volume from when they originally appeared, and that place is much darker. While it's still a silly premise overall, the things that happen in this sequel, and toward the end of the original trilogy, are kind of disturbing and quite bleak. Good things do not happen to these girls, whose bodies are mutilated, whose personalities slowly sink beneath those of symbiotes, and who become wholly alien themsel…

Suburban Glamour #1 (of 4)

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Jamie McKelvie

Suburban Glamour is a four issue mini-series that launched this past week from Image Comics, and one that caught my eye through a recent preview at Comic Book Resources. I really like the art on the book and all that that entails: character designs, panel arrangements...it's all executed pretty much perfectly. This is the sort of art that I stop to stare at and admire, and I really couldn't get over the designs of some of the characters, and the fashion that went hand-in-hand with them. This book follows a group of not-so-popular kids who live in Suburbia and wish nothing more than to leave it behind. I think that the portrait that McKelvie paints of this sort of scenario works really well, and it has some really sharp and witty dialogue to propel the scenes along, something that was pretty vital to the story since this book is pretty much all talking. It was a little weird when some of the more supernatural elements came in at the end of the issue (particularly …

X-Men: Die By the Sword #1

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Chris Claremont & Juan Santacruz

I should know by now, but like a masochist, I keep coming back...to works by Chris Claremont. He hasn't written anything good for over a decade, but when he was on, he was on, and I just keep giving in to faith that he will produce something wonderful again one day...only to be disappointed over and over again. X-Men: Die By the Sword was no exception.

There was a time when Excalibur was my favorite comic book. It was even being written by Chris Claremont, with art by the unconquerable Alan Davis. I was quite upset when the series was canceled long after the original creators had fled the book for other endeavors. When news of a relaunch had surfaced, I checked out New Excalibur, with Chris Claremont at the helm, despite the fact that I'd tried out other Claremont works since that could pretty much be classified as atrocious. And after one issue of the relaunch of a title that I grew up on, I threw it aside in disgust and vowed never to r…

Green Arrow and Black Canary #1

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Judd Winick & Cliff Chiang
It's pretty uncommon that I pick up a new DC Universe title these days, but in a rare mood, I picked up two this past week: the debut issues of Simon Dark and the new Green Arrow and Black Canary. And after reading the latter title, I recalled why it was such an unusual occurrence: DC is not very new-reader-friendly. If you're not already immersed in the universe, it's hard to pierce that inclusive bubble they've created for long-time fans, where so much of what you read presently depends on what you've already read. Case in point: Before reading this issue, I had no idea that Black Canary had killed Green Arrow on their wedding night. I had no clue that there was a second Green Arrow. And the emotional climax of the issue was completely lost on me because it was based on years of readership. Now, a book like Simon Dark doesn't have the same problem as a book with established characters, because that character's mythos h…

Picks of the Week: 10/17

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Here are our picks for what books will most likely be worth the price of admission, coming this Wednesday to a comic shop near you...

Patrick's Pick:
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Long Way Home TPB - This trade paperback collects the first five issues of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight comic book series. The first four issues, written by Joss Whedon with art by Georges Jeanty, comprise the “Long Way Home” story arc and lay the foundation for the entire season eight project, while the fifth issue is a standalone story, also written by Whedon and drawn by guest artist Paul Lee. That fifth issue is my favorite, but it’s all good, all well worth your time. Covers to the individual issues are included.
Dave's Pick: The Sword #1 - I'm not sure what this book is about, but the series creators The Luna Brothers, have written some of the best genre comics of the past few years including Girls and one of my favorite superhero comics ever, Ultra: Seven Days. This book is defin…

Manga Monday 48

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This week, a slew of mini manga reviews...

Emma (Volume 5)
Kaoru Mori

Kaoru Mori's quiet Emma series gets much better as the volumes go by. If you can get past the second installment, you'll find yourself pretty much knee-deep in great material. The book that follows a young maid in Victorian England who's in love with someone in a higher class, boasts a wealth of supporting characters and some fantastic art, particularly the detailed, authentic backgrounds that the characters maneuver through. This is fast-becoming one of my favorite manga. A

The Drifting Classroom (Volume 8)
Kazuo Umezu

And on the other side of the spectrum, there's a series that can be called anything but quiet. Umezu's The Drifting Classroom is an in-your-face book of screams, shocks and disasters. Wave after wave of natural disasters meet the children who try to survive on a barren world. There's never a break for the poor blood-soaked, starving brats. And Jog recently pointed out that another K…

Simon Dark #1

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Steve Niles & Scott Hampton

From DC Comics comes a new hero who prowls the streets of Gotham City, trying to outdo Batman in the scare-the-shit-out-of-villains department. Steve Niles, the creator of 30 Days of Night, appropriately writes an offbeat story for a hero who seems to be an urban legend of sort, protecting the innocent with a touch of the grotesque. Scott Hampton's dark panels and atmosphere compliment this book very nicely, and I have to say there's a sequence early on showing Simon Dark decapitate a man that is done especially well, and I think captured the tone of the book upfront. And Simon Dark is an interesting character, the first homeless superhero that I know of, for instance, who asks for food after saving someone's life. Kind of weird, but just look at the guy: He has Leatherface's mask, Freddy Krueger's sweater (along with girls jumproping while singing a creepy little rhyme about Simon, like right out of A Nightmare on Elm Street), an…

Laika

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Nick Abadzis

This recent graphic novel offering from First Second Books is the fictionalized account of the first creature from Earth to voyage into space: an adorable dog named Laika. In 1957, the U.S.S.R. launched Sputnik II into the Earth’s orbit, the second artificial satellite launched by the Soviets in two months, though this one contained the passenger in question, who ultimately captured the imagination of the world. While some of the tale is told from the perspective of Laika herself, and a short chapter is devoted to the chief designer of the satellites, the bulk of the story is seen through the eyes of Laika’s dog handler Yelena after the homeless pooch is taken in by the space program, where Yelena becomes increasingly attached to the animal despite the impending separation. This is a really neat story that seamlessly blends fact with fiction amid great art and an even greater story. It’s a pretty bleak story overall, with animal abuse and a lot of lonely people, but the ch…

Picks of the Week: 10/10

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Here are our selections for the most exciting books coming to comic shops this week...

Patrick's Pick

Sundays With Walt and Skeezix Volume 1 HC (Sunday Press Books) - I'll just repeat what I said when I saw the solicitations in Previews catalogue: Here it is, folks. If I were inclined to select a book of the month, this would have to be the one. Hell, I’d say this is probably going to be a very strong contender for book of the year. This 16 X 21 inch (read: BIG) hardcover collects a selection of the gorgeous, groundbreaking Gasoline Alley Sunday pages by Frank King. I love, love, love the fact that the book looks as though it’s been designed to fit perfectly with the complete Gasoline Alley dailies archival project Drawn and Quarterly is putting out. Like that extraordinary series of books, this volume is designed by Chris Ware and features an introduction by Jeet Heer. Peter Maresca, the man who brought us the acclaimed Little Nemo book last year, serves as editor. Really, ther…

Manga Monday 47: Here Is Greenwood

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Here Is Greenwood (Volume 1)
Yukie Nasu

Kazuya Hasukawa has problems. He was raised by his older brother following his parents' deaths, the woman he loves just married said brother and moved in with him, forcing Kazuya to move into the Greenwood guys' dorms, where he's surrounded by some crazy characters who seem bent on tormenting him. This manga series first debuted over twenty years ago and has really stood the test of time, as it seems pretty contemporary. It's a simple story of a boy who feels very lonely and is thrust into a situation with people who help him get out of his shell and overcome some of his more pressing fears. There have certainly been more interesting characters in recent shojo manga that I've read, and I couldn't help but think of some of those superior titles that have similar situations in them like Hana-Kimi and Honey & Clover. There's nothing really wrong with Here Is Greenwood except for the fact that it's a little bla…

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Eight #7

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Brian K. Vaughan, Georges Jeanty, Andy Owens, Dave Stewart

The second issue of Brian K. Vaughan’s contribution to the Buffy “season eight” project takes a couple of broad steps towards fulfilling the promise of Vaughan’s first issue. Chapter two of this Faith-centered arc opens with a flashback to Buffy’s and Faith’s epic battle in the season three television episode “Graduation Day, Part 1,” wherein Buffy, for all intents and purposes, “killed” Faith (she got better). It was a pivotal scene in an outstanding episode, and sets up this issue of the comic book nicely. In the same way that Faith, on the television show, was a foil for Buffy, essentially her evil twin, Lady Genevieve, the slayer that Faith has been dispatched to assassinate, is, of course, a reflection of Faith herself. This is the kind of blunt metaphorical language the show somehow made work more often than not., indeed to often brilliant effect, and there’s no reason to assume that won’t be the case here, particularly g…

Omega the Unknown #1 (of 10)

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Jonathan Lethem, Karl Rusnak, Farel Dalrymple & Paul Hornschemeier

I know nothing about the character Omega the Unknown, but the art on this book caught my eye, so I thought I’d give it a try (plus Paul Horschemeier of the wonderful Mother, Come Home is involved). Co-written by Jonathan Lethem, author of the novel Fortress of Solitude (which actually boasts references to Omega the Unknown), this is a high profile book that doesn’t really have the feel of your typical superhero book, but certainly does have elements of such, like robots and energy beams and whatnot. But, well, really I don’t know much of what was going on while I was reading this book, but it was cool and fun. Farel Dalrymple’s art gives it an alternative comics feel, which is appropriate given how the story doesn’t really read like a mainstream comic. It has a weird dream-like quality among the…well, dreams. But there’s plenty of action and mystery among the weirdness that make for a really intriguing debut issue. …

Picks of the Week: 10/3

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Here are our picks for your best bets on where to spend your money this Wednesday when books arrive at the local comic shop...

Patrick’s Pick

Comic Art Magazine #9 -This is the latest issue of the best magazine about comics currently being published. Probably the best ever, actually. Although, I guess it can be considered more an annual series of books than a magazine these days. I was fortunate enough to have purchased a copy at this year’s Toronto Comic Art Festival, and I assure you it’s packed with terrific articles and the gorgeous production values the magazine has become famous for. Among my personal favorite features this issue are an excellent overview of the life and career of the alternative cartoonist Kaz, an appreciation of Jesse Marsh by Ron Goulart accompanied by an interview with Gilbert Hernandez conducted by Adrian Tomine discussing Marsh’s work, and a special accompanying booklet, Cartooning: Philosophy and Practice, by Ivan Brunetti, which essentially presents the co…