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Showing posts from January, 2008

Amulet (Book One): The Stonekeeper

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Kazu Kibuishi

The first book in the new all-ages title Amulet was just released to comic shops this week, from Kazu Kibuishi, whose work readers may have seen in the popular Flight anthologies. And if there's anything you can say about this book, it's that the art is pretty awesome. It reminds me a tad bit of Jeff Smith's Bone, which is probably what Scholastic wants people to think of, since that young readers' fantasy series does phenomenonally well in bookstores. But this is no Bone. It has a very different feel to it. Less Disney meets Lord of the Rings and more Harry Potter meets Narnia. The story follows two siblings, Emily and Navin, as they move into a new house, and are quickly drawn into a new world through their basement. In this new world, they meet elves, magical toys and monsters, as they do their best to save their kidnapped mother and use their great-grandfather's mysterious amulet to make their way through the treacherous landscape. It's kind of…

In Stores 1/30

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Here we go, presenting the comics with the most potential, shipping to comic shops this Wednesday...

Patrick's Pick:

Casanova (Volume 1): Luxuria TP - The first collection of the acclaimed series, now in paperback.

Dave's Pick:

Amulet (Volume 1): The Stonekeeper - Available in both softcover and hardcover formats is this cute all-ages fantasy title from Kazu Kibuishi. I actually saw this in bookstores a few weeks ago and picked it up then. It has some really nice art and I'm looking quite forward to reading it.

Manga Monday: Ral Ω Grad

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Ral Ω Grad (Volume 1)Tsuneo Takano & Takeshi Obata . Ral Ω Grad is the highly anticipated new project from the artist behind Death Note and Hikaru No Go, two exceptional manga. His follow-up is based on the video game Blue Dragon, and is written by Tsuneo Takano. The book follows young Ral who was confined into a cage of sorts as a baby, as his shadow was taken over by, well, a Shadow, a complex creature that uses living creatures to manifest itself in several different ways. Ral's Shadow is a feared great dragon, and he is the only hope of a kingdom being crushed beneath the armies of Shadows. Miss Mio visited Ral daily in his confinement, conversing with him and teaching him, about Shadows in particular, and remains in that role as Ral travels to purify the land. The way that Shadows manifest are a little complex. There are three forms known, of which Ral and the shadow dragon Grad are an exception (and Grad is a rare, but not the only, Shadow not allied with the goals of the …

Alpha Flight Classic (Volume 1)

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John Byrne

The new “classic” collection featuring Canada’s famous superhero team features eight issues of John Byrne goodness. While Alpha Flight had appeared in other Marvel comics (particularly Uncanny X-Men) before launching their own monthly series, there are back-up stories throughout the issues included that tell the origins of the team, delving into particulars of several team members’ origins. Among the characters on the team through these first eight issues are Vindicator (who quickly changes his name to Guardian), Sasquatch, Snowbird, Puck, Northstar, Aurora, Shaman and Marrina. This is the first time that Puck really takes center stage with the team, as Heather Hudson calls on some members from the secondary Canadian teams, Beta Flight and Gamma Flight, randomly selecting him and Marrina to aid the rest of Alpha Flight on a mission. Each of the issues actually seem to let a member of the team shine once the book gets going, my favorite being the classic “Snowblind” story, wh…

Chickenhare (Volume 2): Fire In the Hole

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Chris Grine
I really enjoyed the first Chickenhare graphic novel, so it didn’t surprise me that I liked the second one as well. Featuring the loveable half-breed animals from the first book, Chickenhare and his pals continue their voyage from pretty much the exact moment that the last book left off, and solve the lingering mysteries surrounding two of their companions, Banjo and Meg. Scabby, who was just introduced at the end of the first novel, becomes a vital character and a welcome addition to the cast of misfits as the story gets much richer this time around, while retaining many of the elements that made it work in the first place. It’s a lot of fun, pretty hilarious, and really cutesy. There’s plenty of action packed into the fantasy story, with witty banter exchanged between the loveable characters along the way. As Chickenhare bravely faces the scourges of hell and dark magic to save his friend Abe’s soul, plenty of interesting twists emerge in the plot and some deliciously evi…

In Stores 1/23

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Once again, Patrick and I single out the comics with the most potential, shipping to comic stores this week...

Patrick’s Pick:

Astonishing X-Men #24 - Buy this even though Jog hates it. You won’t hear me say that very often, but I think he’s wrong about this series. This is Joss Whedon’s and John Cassaday’s final issue of the regular series, but their run will reportedly conclude in an upcoming Giant-Size Astonishing X-Men special.

Dave’s Pick:

The Complete Terry and the Pirates (Volume 2): 1937 - 1938 - The first volume of these mammoth reprint collections from IDW was #2 on my favorite comics of 2007, so it’s probably not a big surprise that I’m looking forward to more of the classic action/adventure strip from Milton Caniff.

574 Words About 365 Days

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The Golden Age of DC Comics: 365 Days
Les Daniels, Chip Kidd, Geoff Spear
This book may be considered a part of two separate series of books, both the “365 Days” series of identically formatted books published by Harry N. Abrams (volumes devoted to the Beatles and photographs of the universe are included in this series), as well as the unofficial series of pop art books designed by Chip Kidd with photography by Geoff Spear (Batman: Animated and Peanuts: The Art of Charles M. Schulz, among others). It was my fondness for that second grouping of books that led me to this volume, a little under a year ago.
Yes, I’ve been waiting all year to write this review, because the way I read the book, one double page spread each day, corresponding to the calendar date ( I bought the book around March of last year, I think, so I had a bit of catching up to do in the beginning), means that I’ve only just finished the darn thing a few weeks ago. It had been a delightful constant in my life through most…

Manga Monday: My Heavenly Hockey Club

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My Heavenly Hockey Club (Volume 1)
Ai Morinaga
My Heavenly Hockey Club is a shojo manga series that follows Hana Suzuki, who loves two things in life: sleeping and eating (we have a lot in common). She is asked one day to join the school’s Grand Hockey Club (which is actually a boys’ team of which she is the only undercover female member), a club that she soon discovers is more about spending time at resorts and spas during away games than actually playing hockey (a sport she and the other players know little about). Suzuki’s life is really disrupted by the morning practice sessions and the handsome captain of the club, Izumi Oda, who enchants all of the women he sees except for Suzuki, who sees him as mostly a nuisance. But as she has the unnatural gift of blocking things from going into the net when she’s fast asleep, and can be bribed to do pretty much anything for food, she makes for a perfect addition to the team. This book really surprised me. It’s really a lot of fun with plenty …

The Long Count #1 (of 12)

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Jason L. Blair, Leanne Buckley & Joshua Crawley

The Long Count is a new twelve issue mini-series that takes place in the year 2012 AD. It's a science fiction title, but it's like none I've ever read before. It's really gritty and urban, very dark. But it's also fun with some smart writing, particularly the first few pages introducing readers to the world that's laid out, a world that's unlike our own, as the Mayans and Aztecs succeeded in besting the Europeans, keeping "Colombiana" free of any more influence, and reinforcing a strong faith in tradition and legends amongst its people, a faith that blinds its residents to the encroaching end of the Mayan calendar, the end of the long count. Sports icon Carmen Sandoval is alone in listening to her mentor, the great dragon Quetzalcoatl, and his warnings. And so she faces street demons and gangs to reach her friend and discover what she can do to help her people.

I really like the design for Carmen, …

The Engineer #1 (of 4)

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Brian Churilla & Jeremy Shepherd

The new mini-series from Archaia Studios Press, The Engineer, is a rare superhero comic from the publisher, one that would fit snugly alongside Image Comics' lineup. The story follows a man who has been given the task to track down the parts of a cosmic device, the Konstrukt, that will stop a creature from devouring the universe. Three strange phantoms guide the Engineer as he travels to disorienting worlds after a little piano playing sends him on his way to another new land.

The Mike Mignola look of the art is appropriate for the strange title, one that pits the protagonist against all manner of creatures and beasts. There's a fun antagonistic relationship between The Engineer and the three phantoms, and the plot moves along at a fast clip full of action. This issue was basically set-up for the circumstances the Engineer finds himself in, and it's a decent beginning to a series with a lot of potential. But it hasn't demonstrate…

In Stores 1/16

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Patrick and I are back from a mini-vacation, so we should be posting a little more regularly now. And I'm happy to say that I picked up a few items I'd missed at the local comic stores recently, so watch out for those. But first things first: our picks of the most promising books shipping to comic shops this Wednesday.

Patrick's pick:

Mome Vol. 10 - In addition to work by the regular Mome cartoonists, the first issue of the new year features a cover by Al Columbia, the conclusion of Jim Woodring’s “The Lute String,” an interview with contributor Tom Kaczynski, and comics by Dash Shaw and Jeremy Eaton.

Dave's pick:

Bone (Color Edition) Volume 7: Ghost Circles - A little light in terms of exciting releases this week, so I went with a classic, in the process of being colored for a younger audience that seems pretty ravenous for the series, if sales in bookstores are any indication. Ghost Circles is probably my least favorite volume of Jeff Smith's Bone saga, but it's …

Most Anticipated Comics of 2008

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2007 was a great year in comics. And while 2008 has just started, plenty of announcements have made it clear that it's going to be another fantastic year for the medium. Here are some of our most anticipated titles scheduled to be released in 2008...
Patrick’s Picks:
Astonishing X-Men: Second Stage - I’ve really been enjoying Joss Whedon’s and John Cassaday’s run on Astonishing X-Men, and will be sorry to see them go. I have confidence, though, that this relaunch of the title, by Warren Ellis and Simone Bianchi, is also going to be a well-crafted, entertaining superhero comic, likely as different in tone from Whedon’s work as Whedon’s was from the Grant Morrison material that preceded it.
Bat-Manga: The Secret History of Batman in Japan - Edited by Chip Kidd with photography by Geoff Spear, this book collects Kiro Kuawata’s Batman manga from the pages of Shonen King, as well as documenting the short-lived Batman craze in the late 60’s in Japan. I adore the Kidd/Spears art books (Bat…

Picks of the Week: 1/9

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Here we go, picking the most promising titles shipping to comic shops this Wednesday (back to normal, finally)!

Patrick’s Pick:
JLA Classified #50 - It seems like an incredibly light week for interesting new releases, but I’ve been on a bit of a John Byrne kick lately, so I’m going with this comic, the first of the artist’s five part collaboration with writer Roger Stern, as my pick this week. The cover (pictured) is by Joshua Middleton.
Dave’s Pick:
Black Hole Collected SC - Charles Burns’ masterpiece finally gets the softcover treatment - if you haven’t picked this up for whatever reason, this is the excuse you’ve been waiting for!

Previews: March '08 Comics

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Patrick and I take a look at Previews catalogue and highlight the most exciting books shipping to comic shops in March!

Marvel:

Dave:Wolverine: First Class #1 - Bringing things back to the good old days when Wolverine and Kitty Pryde were tight, this series pairs the two up in all-new early adventures. We may not need another Wolverine book, but an ongoing Kitty Pryde book…it’s about time!

Dark Horse:

Patrick:Serenity: Better Days #1 - This first of a three issue mini-series, written by Joss Whedon and Brett Matthews with art by Will Conrad (the same creative team responsible for the Serenity: Those Left Behind graphic novel), takes place before the film. Covers by Adam Hughes.

DC:

Patrick:Jack Kirby’s O.M.A.C.: One Man Army Corps HC - DC follows up their Jack Kirby’s Fourth World Omnibus project with this book, collecting the first eight issues of Kirby’s O.M.A.C.

JLA Presents: Aztek - The Ultimate Man TP - I’ve not really seen much discussion of this superhero series, created and co-writte…

Picks of the Week: 1/4

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Here we go again, picking out the comics with most potential, shipping to comic stores on Friday this week...

Dave's Pick:

Okko: The Cycle of Water HC - French artist Hub's graphic novel from Archaia Studios Press finally ships to comic shops in a hardcover edition, collecting the entire four-issue mini-series that follows the ronin Okko and his band of demon hunters. The sequel is on its way to floppies shortly (five collections total is the plan), and a preview of the original series is available at Archaia's website.

Patrick's Pick:

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Eight #10 - Joss Whedon is back.

Dave’s Top Twenty Comics of 2007

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As with every year, there were some titles that I would have liked to read before the year’s end, but at some point, you just have to cut yourself off. The big titles I’d hoped to read but didn’t: Alice In Sunderland, Sundays with Walt & Skeezix, I Shall Destroy All the Civilized Planets: The Comics of Fletcher Hanks, and Krazy & Ignatz: The Cat Who Walked In Beauty. That being said, the following are my twenty favorite books published in 2007...

20. Cold Heat Special #1 (Frank Santoro & Jon Vermilyea) - This newsprint special of Frank Santoro’s Cold Heat features Jon Vermilyea’s pencils in a simple, yet beautiful comic that pits Castle of the regular Cold Heat series against demon-ghosts in the woods. Santoro does the plots and layouts, with Vermilyea also providing the story for an interesting interpretation of the world that Santoro has created in the Cold Heat issues that have been released (though no more single issues will be available, a collection will appear in the…

Patrick's Favorite Comics of 2007

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Notes:
1. This is not a list of the best comics of 2007. There were simply too many 2007 publications I’ve not gotten around to reading yet for me to make such a claim for the list that follows.
2. This is not a list of the best comics I read in 2007. Some of the best comics I read this year were not published in 2007, and so do not appear on the list that follows.
3. I’m pretty generous in regards to considering new printings of old work for inclusion on the list. Basically, if it felt to me as though the representation of the work was such that it sufficiently enhanced or altered the experience of reading the material, or put the work in front of an audience who would not otherwise have had access to it, I was happy to consider it for inclusion.
4. This is a ranked list. The book in the number one spot is the best 2007 published comic I read this year.
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10. Mushishi Vol. 1-2 (Yuki Urushibara) - My favorite manga of 2007 is an extraordinarily well-crafted work of genre fiction, co…