Showing posts from March, 2008

Manga Monday: Town of Evening Calm...

Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry BlossomsFumiyo Kouno
Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms is a manga of three short stories, all interconnected, of postwar Hiroshima. Through Kouno's soft pencils, we see the impact that the atomic bomb had on this area of Japan after its initial destruction, as people still became suddenly ill from the poison over a decade later, and it touched the inhabitants' lives for generations. I enjoyed the first short story in this collection the best, Town of Evening Calm, where we see a young woman who is living with survivor's guilt, the phantoms of that day refusing to let her live like a carefree normal young woman. She sees her burden reflected in those around her as she observes "There's something not quite right about everyone in this town." The issue of the bomb is skirted around at first, but it doesn't take long for Kouno to focus blatantly on the subject, a focus that doesn't wane until the end o…

Previews: June '08 Comics

Patrick and I comb through Previews Catalogue for the most exciting comic releases this June!

Archaia Studios Press:

Dave: Awakening (Volume 1) HC - This collection includes the first half of the Awakening mini-series, a slow, creeping story of zombies infiltrating peaceful Park Falls.

Cartoon Books:

Patrick: Stupid, Stupid Rat Tails and Rose - New printings of two graphic novels set in the universe of Jeff Smith’s epic masterpiece, Bone. Stupid, Stupid Rat Tails is a comedy written by Tom Sniegoski with art by Smith, while Rose is a more traditional fantasy story written by Smith with art by Charles Vess. I love Bone, but I haven’t read either of these yet.

Dark Horse:

Patrick: Herbie Archives (Volume 1) - This book collects humor stories by Richard Hughes and cult-favorite cartoonist Ogden Whitney, and is apparently the first of Dark Horse’s efforts “collecting the finest works of 1960s comics publisher ACG.”

Disney Press:

Dave: Wonderland HC - I really enjoyed the first few issues of this …

Wolverine: First Class #1

Fred Van Lente & Andrea Di Vito. Wolverine: First Class takes things back to a classic, simple era of the X-Men, before Wolverine mentors Kitty Pryde, and after the teenager has just joined Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters. The first issue is told through Kitty's eyes as she is assigned her first mission in the field, and paired with Wolverine. The two are skeptical at first, Wolverine treating her like a child he's babysitting, and Kitty all but disregarding his attempts to keep her out of the action, but the two quickly play to their strengths and learn to work together as they are attacked by an angry mob. Di Vito's pencils are pretty decent throughout the issue, and the story, while simple and straight-forward, has some really nice little moments amid (and after) the action. There are some pretty cheesy moments in there too, like when Wolverine deflates a volleyball that the other X-Men are playing with, with his claws, of course. But if you can ignore…

Music News & Promising Upcoming Releases

There are plenty of artists of note with releases scheduled for 2008, a list of which I’ve provided at the end of this post. But first, a little music news and notes that have captured my interest…

Duffy - Duffy is latest soul singer to burst out of the UK after topping charts, following in the steps of artist Amy Winehouse. Mercy is the big single that’s becoming my new obsession.

Madonna - Madonna partnered with Justin Timberlake on the production of her new album, Hard Candy, due out in April. The first single from Hard Candy is a duet between the two, 4 Minutes.

Mindy McCready - My favorite country artist, who’s been in and out of trouble lately, has been released from jail after five months. With a new record deal, she’s focused on recording not only a new studio album but a reality TV series Mending Mindy.

Cathy Dennis - One of my favorite dance music icons from the 90’s ((Touch Me) All Night Long) and songwriter of some of the best dance hits of the past decade (Britney Spears’ Tox…

In Stores 3/26

Patrick and I highlight the most promising comics shipping to comic shops this Wednesday...
Patrick's Pick
The Education of Hopey Glass (Jaime Hernandez) - A lot of great stuff is slated to show up in comic book stores this week (even another Hernandez brother comic!), so be sure to check out the list of books below. In a week where several of the new releases could easily achieve “Pick of the Week” status, I have to listen to my heart, and my heart whispers “Jaime,” so I’ll highlight this collection of material from the second volume of Love and Rockets. I’ve read this stuff in serialized form already, but, as with Jaime’s previous collection, Ghost of Hoppers, I expect to be blown away all over again.
Dave's Pick
Wolverine: First Class #1 - The debut issue of a new comic featuring Kitty Pryde!!! This book takes place in the early years of Kitty's tenure at Xavier's school, where she is paired up to be mentored by Wolverine.
Other Noteworthy Releases
All-Star Super…

Serenity: Better Days #1 (of 3)

Joss Whedon, Brett Matthews & Will Conrad. Joss Whedon, creator of the Firefly television series and subsequent film Serenity, dreams of better days along with the crew who worked with him on the last Serenity mini-series to hit the comic stands, Those Left Behind, co-writer Brett Matthews and penciller Will Conrad. The science fiction story follows the crew of rebellious Browncoats aboard a firefly-class vessel who pillage and plunder to earn their way across the universe on new adventures, gladly getting in the way of the Alliance along the way. A few characters from the crew died during the Whedon-helmed Serenity film, and as the title promises, this book goes back in time to when those characters are still alive and kicking, and the team is all together, happy and ignorant of events to come. . I really enjoyed the first issue of this mini-series. It's off to a much better start than the semi-boring Serenity: Those Left Behind from a few years back. It's nice to be a…

The Order: The Next Right Thing

Matt Fraction, Barry Kitson & Khari Evans
Despite my affection for Joss Whedon's Astonishing X-Men, I think that The Order is the best superhero comic out there right now (at least when comparing current storyarcs). That being said, it's unfortunate that sales didn't warrant its continuation past issue twelve. But at least we are being treated to some stellar stories until it reaches its finale. The Next Right Thing collects the first five issues of the series. . The Order is the California-based superhero team in Tony Stark's Fifty-State Initiative. The team consists of actors and pop idols who have been artificially induced with superhuman abilities, abilities that would carry them through a single year of service. And true to Hollywood, the team has its share of scandals, including half of the team's being fired after a violation of contract (with another half consequently joining its roster), and a sex tape surfacing, prompting their P.R. manager to spin it i…

The Last Defenders #1 (of 6)

Joe Casey, Keith Giffen & Jim Muniz. The latest incarnation of the ever-evolving roster of the Defenderspicks and chooses past members for a team that consists of Colossus, She-Hulk, The Blazing Skull, and their team leader Nighthawk. As part of Tony Stark's fifty state initiative, this team of heroes will oversee New Jersey in wake of Civil War events. There's something very nostalgic about this book, with characters who've been around for a long period of time, two of whom I'm unsure of whether they've appeared in a comic in the last decade (I've never read a comic with Nighthawk or The Blazing Skull), and the fact that it looks like it's shaping into a good old-fashioned throw-down with supervillains of old like Krang and The Sons of the Serpent. The twist this time around is that there was a certain combination of the Defenders that has never come to be in all of its years of roster changes, a team that would be incredibly powerful with a great de…

In Stores 3/19

Patrick and I pick the comics shipping to comic shops this Wednesday with the most potential.
. Patrick's Pick .
Phoenix (Vol. 12): Early Works - Anytime a new book by manga legend Osamu Tezuka drops, there’s a good chance it’s going to be the most significant new release that week, and that certainly seems to be the case this week. This final volume of Viz’s publication of Tezuka’s unfinished masterpiece is really more of an addendum, collecting early versions of the story put out by Tezuka before it’s official beginning in the work collected in the first volume of the Phoenix series. . Dave's Pick . Strangeways: Murder Moon GN - I've been looking forward to this one for awhile, since it never saw the light of day under Speakeasy Comics. But it's here now, courtesy of writer Matthew Maxwell's Highway 62 Press, featuring the delicious combination of werewolves in the Old West. Check out the first chapter here. . Other Noteworthy Releases . Angel: After the Fall #5 Batman: The…

Manga Monday: Fever

Fever (Volume 1)
Hee Jung Park . Fever is a new manhwa series from Tokyopop, the first of several titles to come out by Hee Jung Park, one of Korea's top female creators (Hotel Africa, Too Long and Martin and John are being released in subsequent months). The book follows a cast of individuals who don't really fit in for various reasons. The high school girl that most of this first book is seen through is angry, bitter Hyung-in, whose only real friend has committed suicide, and whose upper-class family is completely embarrassed by her. She opts to leave this life behind, seeking out the sanctuary provided by a group of misfits who go to an alternative school named Fever. While the art is elegant and really beautiful to look at, the storytelling is a little clumsy: It's not very fluid, it's brisk, things aren't made very clear (I couldn't tell you what Fever was by the end of the book without having read the publisher's synopsis), with characters inexplicably d…

Echo #1

Terry Moore. I've never read a Terry Moore comic before. I bought the first volume of the Strangers In Paradise not too long ago, but haven't gotten around to cracking it open yet. But if the first issue of Moore's new series Echo is any indication, I'm going to love it, and am rather eager to dig in to the creator's popular series. . Echo begins with a woman, Annie, testing out a new beto suit, flying across the skies with skin like mercury. Then her superiors do something unexpected: to test the endurance of the suit during a field test, they shoot missiles at her. An explosion ensues, and suddenly the mercury-material from the suit rains down to the ground below in little pellets. Unfortunately, the ground is not clear of pedestrians, as was assumed. A young woman, Julie, is caught in the downpour, with pellets stuck to her skin, unsure of what's going on, freaking out, until something somehow compels the pellets into action. . I liked the structure of this…


Kean Soo

Jellaby is an all-ages graphic novel that follows a young girl, Portia, as she befriends a big purple...creature...that she dubs Jellaby (to his approval). It's a really cute book, very fun and magical. What struck me about the book right away was the interior pages - they're all purple (with the exception of a few spots here and there). And Soo plays with the different shades and hues very effectively, making them an integral part of the comic experience. In a scene that takes place within the first ten pages, kind of a play on something you see in comics all the time (that of a character moving down a corridor or something, with panel dividers that show his movement by placing him in different parts of the art as he makes his way along), Portia walks down the hall of her school in three different panels, and in each panel, she's in a different place as she walks along, the colors all a muted pale purple, with the exception of the dark purple of Portia herself and…


Jeff Smith
The highly-anticipated new work from Jeff Smith is RASL, the first issue of which was recently released. The story follows an art thief with the ability to teleport with the aide of some strange device, a feat that costs our anti-hero a great deal of pain. And unfortunately, with his latest theft and subsequent jump, he finds himself landing in the wrong place: The world is a little off from the one he’s used to…and he’s being pursued. Things are still very vague at this point. We don’t know how the device works, who is following him, or anything about the protagonist. But it is intriguing and the art is top-notch, as you’d expect from the creator of Bone. RASL contains a cigar-smoking, hard-drinking, cussing man, and is therefore not kid-friendly as his previous creator-owned work was. And I’m okay with that. I didn’t really care for Shazam: The Monster Society of Evil, so I’m just glad to see him going back to his own material, something that he’s excited about and has com…

Warren Ellis' Blackgas

Warren Ellis & Max Fiumara
Blackgas is a zombie tale written by Warren Ellis and illustrated by Max Fiumara. This collection from Avatar collects the original comic trilogy as well as the sequel trilogy. The story follows Tyler, who is bringing his girlfriend Soo back home to meet his parents on Smokey Island off of the East Coast. There’s a strange legend from the island’s history about a party coming to the island to find all of its inhabitants massacred, a story that some of the locals are all too eager to relate. After Soo is introduced to a handful of the island’s residents, she hikes with Tyler up to a cabin where they can have some nice romantic alone time. The set-up for the forthcoming carnage doesn't get much better in a story like this: a neat remote location with some really fun protagonists - the witty banter between the two makes it difficult not to immediately like them. But of course disaster strikes before long and the fault that runs along the island opens up …

Picks of the Week: 3/12

Patrick and I pick the comics shipping to comic shops this Wednesday with the most potential...

Patrick’s Pick

Serenity: Better Days #1 - The first issue of a new three issue mini-series based on the movie, written by Joss Whedon and Brett Matthews, with art by Will Conrad, the same team responsible for the previous series. Covers by Adam Hughes.

Dave’s Pick

Emma (Volume 7) - William and Emma have fought to be together for seven volumes of this manga series, despite a society that deems their match a poor one. In this volume, we see how it ends for the couple. Read my review.

Other Noteworthy Releases

Gumby (Volume 1) TP
Harvey Comics Classics TP (Volume 3): Hot Stuff
Thunderbolts #119

Manga Monday: Emma!

Emma (Volume 7)Kaoru Mori . William, the eldest son of a wealthy family who stands to inherit everything, endures plenty in his struggles to be with his love, the maid Emma, who is deemed an unfit match by Victorian London society. In the latest volume of the thrilling series, we see the story of the couple's endeavors to be together come to a conclusion, including all of the immediate ramifications that come with the difficult steps that they take. I'm impressed that not everything is left tied up in a neat little bow. There are still hardships ahead for the couple and we can only speculate at this point how they will turn out. But it's been a wonderful ride. The series was meticulously researched with beautiful detailed art and fantastic characters, including a rich supporting cast. The good news is that this isn't the last volume of the series at large. In the back of this seventh volume, it is revealed that next year Emma will return with volume eight, where the book…

Something To Talk About

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight #12
Drew Goddard, Georges Jeanty, Andy Owens, Michelle Madsen

Alright, here’s the deal: I wasn’t going to review this issue. Although I think it’s one of the strongest in the series so far, I didn’t feel a particular need to comment on it. It was, I thought, just a good, solid issue in a very entertaining series, with no particularly noteworthy developments to the storyline.

Apparently, I was wrong.

Because so many folks have commented on a certain element of this issue’s story, I thought I’d better throw in my two cents. Buffy is my favorite monthly comic book right now, so it seemed weird for me to remain silent on the issue when it’s getting so much attention from everyone else. I want to review the entire issue, though, so my comments regarding said element will be reserved for the final couple of paragraphs. I guess you can skip ahead if that’s all you’re interested in.

This issue marks the beginning of what I believe is a four-part story arc, “Wo…

Okko: The Cycle of Water


The ronin Okko leads a pack of demon hunters across a fantastic world in the first mini-series from the Okko series (the second of which has just started to be published in floppies from Archaia Studios Press in the form of Okko: The Cycle of Earth). Amid French artist Hub’s beautiful, lush artwork, he maneuvers his characters, including a masked giant and a sake-loving monk, through rich landscapes, pitting them against monster and ninja alike. Expect plenty of action and blood as the brisk action takes you to unexpected places in a story that kept me in suspense right up to the final panel. I thought that the characters were all really immediately appealing - even the villains were pretty fantastic in their own way once the mysteries shrouding them began to unfold. Creepy, beautiful and really quite haunting, Okko: The Cycle of Water is as original as they come in mainstream comics and I highly recommend seeking it out.

Me! Me!

In response to David Welsh’s post on the subject, as well as the follow up thread at Comics Should Be Good, I thought I’d take a moment and talk about where and how I buy my comics. I’ll rip off David’s Welsh’s format:

At the Comics Shop: Shopping at comics specialty stores can be something of a frustrating experience for me. I only purchase good old-fashioned comic books at such establishments, and I follow just enough of those to justify a trip to one of two local stores every week or every two weeks. Because these stores focus primarily on mainstream comics, that’s what I buy there. I don’t have a pull-list, so I usually have to look elsewhere for the few alternative/art comics that are released in that format. Often, what I’ll do is just keep a list of these sorts of comics and pick them up when visiting either Quimby’s or Chicago Comics, which I do maybe twice a year or so (I live in Milwaukee). I’ve never really liked having a pull-list, for a couple of reasons: 1. I like to brow…

Miranda Mercury!

The Many Adventures of Miranda Mercury #295
Brandon Thomas & Lee Ferguson

Another superhero book launched from Archaia Studios Press last week in the form of The Many Adventures of Miranda Mercury #295. Obviously, this isn't the 295th issue of the book, however the book gives that sort of impression, hinting at a long history with the villain at the beginning of the book, and a strong relationship between Miranda and her sidekick. Beyond that, this book is pretty straight-forward. The art is nice with great action scenes. I love the design of Miranda and her villains. And I noticed the pacing in this book too. The creators know when to slow the flow of reading down and emphasize those vital character moments that make a reader care about the character and want to come back for more, particularly toward the latter part of the issue. The book following "the galaxy's greatest adventurer" may not be revolutionary or anything, but it's a really well-executed …

Picks of the Week: 2/5

Patrick and I once again pick out the comics shipping to comic stores this Wednesday with the most potential... And since it's getting increasingly harder to pick just one comic each week, we've added a new feature at the end of the post.

Patrick's Pick . Honey & Clover (Volume 1) - I greatly enjoyed the first four chapters of this college romance by Chica Umino serialized in Shojo Beat. The first collection is available in comics shops this week. . Dave's Pick . Ms. Marvel Premiere HC (Volume 4): Monster Smash - I'm really digging Ms. Marvel. It's easily one of the better straight-forward superhero titles coming out currently. Read my review. . . Other Noteworthy Releases . Andromeda Stories (Volume 3) Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Eight #12 Daybreak (Volume 2) Echo #1 Fables: 1,001 Nights of Snowfall SC Kirby: King of Comics HC Nana (Volume 9) The Sisterhood #1

Manga Monday: Gerard & Jacques

Gerard & Jacques (Volume 1)Fumi Yoshinaga . This two-volume yaoi manga, Gerard & Jacques, came highly recommended through Jason Thompson's Manga: The Complete Guide (a very useful tool for the manga fan). The story follows a young son of an aristocrat who's sold to a brothel to pay off bad debt. The young inexperienced Jacques throws all sorts of filthy homophobic names at Gerard, his first customer, before he is taken, and consequently released from the brothel, as Gerard pays for his freedom, and offers him the challenge of a life of hard work. Jacques accepts the challenge and inadvertently ends up working for Gerard himself, where he ends up seeing his employer in a new light. This period drama contains explicit sex scenes and plenty of them. But it also has some confusing flashbacks that are so jumbled that it made me wonder if the pages were included incorrectly, and at the end of the day, despite the racy sex, I wasn't compelled to pick up the second volu…

Previews: May '08 Comics

Patrick and I take a look through the latest Previews catalogue and pick out the highlights for books shipping to comic stores in May.

Aardvark Vanaheim:
Patrick:Judenhass - Dave Sim examines the historical roots of the Holocaust in this new graphic novel.
Adhouse Books:
Patrick: Skyscrapers of the Midwest - I’ve heard nothing but great things about this comic by Joshua Cotter, but I don’t know that I ever saw an issue. Fortunately, it’s now collected in this hardcover volume.
Archaia Studios Press:
Dave: Runners: The Big Snow Job #1 (of 6) - A new mini-series from a critically-acclaimed science fiction series. If you're interested enough to get the original black and white collection, that's also offered again this month from Serve Man Press.
Dark Horse:
Patrick: The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite - Gerard Way’s and Gabriel Ba’s well-received series is collected here, surprisingly without a James Jean cover.
DC Comics:
Dave: DC Universe: Zero - It all comes down to this, the brid…