Sunday, November 30, 2008

Movies-and-More: December 2008

Here's the run-down of December release dates for films, music, DVDs and books, as well as my box office predictions.

In Theaters Friday December 5th
Cadillac Records
Extreme Movie
Nobel Son
Punisher: War Zone
Truecrimes (Los Cronocrimenes)

Predictions: 1. Four Christmases ($17 million), 2. Bolt ($15 m), 3. Punisher: War Zone ($14 m), 4. Twilight ($12 m), 5. Australia ($8 m)

In Theaters Friday December 12th
The Day the Earth Stood Still
Dark Streets
Nothing Like the Holidays
The Reader (On Wednesday)
What Doesn't Kill You
Where God Left His Shoes

Predictions: 1. The Day the Earth Stood Still ($15 m), 2. Four Christmases ($12 m), 3. Nothing Like the Holidays ($10.5 m), 4. Bolt ($9 m), 5. Punisher: War Zone ($7.5 m)

In Theaters Friday December 19th
Gran Torino
Seven Pounds
The Tale of Despereaux
The Wrestler (On Wednesday)
Yes Man

Predictions: 1. The Tale of Despereaux ($34 m), 2. Yes Man ($26 m), 3. Seven Pounds ($18 m), 4. The Day the Earth Stood Still ($9 m), 5. Four Christmases ($7.5 m)

In Theaters Thursday December 25th
Bedtime Stories
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Hurricane Season
Last Chance Harvey
Marley and Me
Revolutionary Road (On Friday Dec. 26th)
The Secret of the Grain (On Wednesday Dec. 24th)
The Spirit
Valkyrie (On Friday Dec. 26th)

Predictions: 1. The Spirit ($41 m), 2. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button ($24 m), 3. Marley and Me ($23 m), 4. The Tale of Despereaux ($21 m), 5. Bedtime Stories ($17 m)

In Theaters Wednesday December 31st

Predictions: 1. The Spirit ($24 m), 2. Defiance ($21 m), 3. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button ($16 m), 4. The Tale of Despereaux ($14 m), 5. Marley and Me ($12.5 m)

Your Other Entertainment Needs:

December 2nd
On DVD: The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, The Longshots, Saturday Night Live: Season Four, Step Brothers, Wanted, The X-Files: I Want To Believe

On CD: Akon, Cadillac Records O.S.T., Kylie Minogue, Panic At the Disco, Britney Spears

In Bookstores:
Steve Berry's Charlemagne Pursuit
Patricia Cornwell's Scarpetta
J.A. Jance's Cruel Intent
Gordan Korman's The 39 Clues #2: One False Note
J.K. Rowling's The Tales of Beetle the Bard (On Thursday December 4th)

December 9th
On DVD: The Dark Knight, Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who!, Happy Days: Season Four, Lost: Season Four, The Wire: Complete Series, Zentropa (Criterion Collection)

On CD: Joshua Bell & James Newton Howard, Brandy, Collective Soul, Common, Maroon 5, Musiq, Twilight Original Score

In Bookstores:
Rhonda Byrne's The Secrer Daily Teachings
Iris Johansen's Treasure
Michael Phelps' No Limits: The Will To Succeed

December 16th
On DVD: Aqua Teen Hunger Force: Season Six, The Cheetah Girls: One World, Generation Kill, House Bunny (On Dec. 19th), The Little Mermaid Trilogy, Mamma Mia!, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, Traitor (On Dec. 19th)

On CD: 50 Cent, All-American Rejects, Keyshia Cole, Fall Out Boy, Jamie Foxx, Anthony Hamilton, Martina McBride

In Bookstores:
Natsuki Takaya's Phantom Dream (Volume 1)

December 23rd
On DVD: Burn After Reading, Death Race, Hamlet 2, Savage Grace, The Women

On CD: Brutha

In Bookstores:
George S. McGovern's Abraham Lincoln: The 16th President, 1861-1865
Time Magazine's President Obama: The Path to the White House

December 30th
On DVD: The Duchess (On Dec. 27th), Eagle Eye (On Dec. 27th), Ghost Town (On Dec. 27th), Kyle XY: Season Two, Nip/Tuck: Season Five, Serenity (Blu-Ray), Surfer Dude, Towelhead

On CD: Alice In Videoland, Dee Daniels, Maino

In Bookstores:
Julie Garwood's Fire and Ice
Bob Greene's Best Life Diet
W.E.B. Griffins' Black Ops
Jayne Ann Krentz's Running Hot
Paul McKenna's I Can Make You Thin

Saturday, November 29, 2008

25 Best Christmas Songs

I love the holidays, and with that comes my love for Christmas music, so this was a hard list to create. There's so many great classic Christmas songs, and so many new versions that have come about to perfect originals, as well as many great new classics...which is why I've come up with TWO lists for the best songs of the holidays. The first is the 25 best modern Christmas songs, and the second is the 25 best holiday classics. To draw a nice neat line between the two lists, I've decided that the list of modern renditions will have been in the past twenty-five years exclusively, while the classic list will encompass anything before that time. Without further adieu, here is the best music that the holidays have to offer...

25 Best Modern Christmas Songs
1. Breath of Heaven (Mary's Song) - Amy Grant - A beautiful, heart-breaking song seen through the eyes of Jesus's mum.
2. All I Want For Christmas Is You - Mariah Carey - Catchy as hell, sung wonderfully - this is truly a modern classic that won't go away any time soon.
3. Santa's Got a Brand New Bag - SHeDAISY - SHeDAISY has the best modern Christmas CD I've heard - this is the jazzy cream of the crop
4. Grown Up Christmas List - Amy Grant
5. O Holy Night - Josh Groban
6. Sleigh Ride - Lorrie Morgan
7. Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) - Mariah Carey
8. Hark the Angels/Carol of the Bells - SHeDAISY
9. Two-Step 'Round the Christmas Tree - Suzy Boggus - A fun country diddy.
10. All I Want For Christmas Is You - Vince Vance and the Valiants - It has the same title as Mariah's song, but this is something wholly different, and it's pretty damn awesome.
11. Tinseltown - SHeDAISY - I love SHeDAISY's CD because it mixes great new songs like this one, with spins on old classics that make them sound really fresh.
12. My Favorite Things - Lorrie Morgan
13. Emmanuel, God With Us - Amy Grant
14. Hark the Herald Angels Sing/Gloria (In Excelsis Deo) - Mariah Carey
15. Deck the Halls - SHeDAISY
16. Blue Christmas - Sheryl Crow - A beautiful, depressing, subtle performance.
17. Santa Claus In Coming To Town - Bruce Springsteen
18. The Chanukah Song - Adam Sandler - Funny.
19. Green Christmas - Barenaked Ladies - Also funny.
20. Santa Baby - Mindy McCready - Finally, someone does "Santa Baby" sexy and gets it right.
21. Ave Maria - Jewel
22. Last Christmas - Jimmy Eat World
23. Christmas/Sarajevo 12/24 - Trans-Siberian Orchestra
24. I'll Be Home For Christmas - Amy Grant
25. Where Are You Christmas - Faith Hill

25 Best Christmas classics

1. Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree - Brenda Lee - Brenda Lee's whole CD "Jingle Bell Rock" is amazing. It was hard to pick a favorite.

2. White Christmas - Bing Crosby

3. The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas To You) - Nat King Cole

4. Linus & Lucy - Vince Guaraldi Trio - I never knew the name of this song until I found this. This is the piano piece from the Charlie Brown Christmas special that's impossible to get out of your head.

5. You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch - Thurl Ravenscroft

6. I Want a Hippopotamus For Christmas - Gayla Peevey - Fun lyrics - it's hard not to smile when hearing this song.

7. It Must Have Been the Mistletoe (Our First Christmas) - Barbara Mendrell

8. Christmas Will Be Just Another Lonely Day - Brenda Lee

9. The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don't Be Late) - The Chipmunks - I was pretty much obsessed with The Chipmunk's Christmas CD growing up.

10. A Holly Jolly Christmas - Burl Ives

11. What Are You Doing New Year's Eve? - Ella Fitzgerald

12. (TIE) Blue Christmas - Brenda Lee - Brenda and Elvis have very different approaches to this song, but each do wonderful renditions in their own way.

12. (TIE) Blue Christmas - Elvis Presley

13. Happy Xmas (War Is Over) - John Lennon & Various

14. Winter Wonderland - Louis Armstrong

15. Up On the House-Top - The Chipmunks

16. Christmas Time Is Here - Dianne Reeves
17. A Marshmallow World - Brenda Lee
18. It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year - Andy Williams

19. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas - Frank Sinatra

20. Jingle Bell Rock - Brenda Lee

21. Here Comes Santa Claus (Right Down Santa Claus Lane) - Elvis Presley

22. Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer - Gene Autry

23. The Angel and the Little Blue Bell - Brenda Lee - This was probably my favorite Christmas song when I was a wee lad. It's a little cheesy now, but it still resides in a special place for me.

24. Santa Baby - Eartha Kitt & Henri Rene

25. Christmas Eve In My Hometown - Kate Smith

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Previews: February '09 Comics

Here are the highlights from Previews Catalogue of comics shipping to comic stores in February!

Ape Entertainment

The Black Coat & Athena Voltaire One-Shot - Two comic characters from different eras find a connection through pirates' treasure in this book featuring two complete stories. Only $2!

Bluewater Productions

Female Force: Sarah Palin - Because nobody will care by the time this comes out.

Bodega Distribution

Daybreak (Volume 3) GN - The third and final volume of Brian Ralph's zombie comic!

Dark Horse

Dawn: The Worlds of Final Fantasy - Yoshitaka Amano's artwork that inspired the designs of the initial Final Fantasy games.

Turok: Son of Stone Archives (Volume 1) HC - The classic man-meets-dinosaurs comic gets collected in a nice format.

DC Comics

100 Bullets #100 - The final issue.

Batman Confidential #26 - Hard to believe that King Tut has never made a comic book appearance, but here's his debut.

Birds of Prey #127 - The final issue.

Emma (Volume 8) - Kaoru Mori's excellent Victorian manga continues with a volume focusing on supporting characters from her universe.

Fantagraphics Books

The Comic Journal #296 - It's the issue featuring the best books of the year! Yay!

Humbug HC - Harvey Kurtzman's classic comic in a deserving deluxe format.

IDW Publishing

Angel #18 - Not only are two issues of Angel coming out this month, but novelist Kelly Armstrong takes over the helm after the "After the Fall" arc concludes with the previous issue. Also available this month, Spike: After the Fall HC.

Danger Unlimited TP - Another John Byrne collection! This one collects Babe and its sequel to round out the entire Danger Unlimited comics on one book. Also available this month, a hardcover version of John Byrne's Next Men collection.

Image Comics

Amber Atoms #1 - This looks like a cute little sci-fi comic, written and illustrated by Kelly Yates.

Savage Dragon #145 - Savage Dragon returns to working for the Chicago Police Department. A lot of fans will be pleased.

Marvel Comics

Agents of Atlas #1 - The fan-favorite mini-series of last year gets an ongoing from creator Jeff Parker!

Astonishing Tales #1 - A new monthly anthology series begins this month featuring various characters from the Marvel universe, written and illustrated by various teams.

Avengers: Knights of Wundagore TP - The origin of Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver! And other stuff. Collects Avengers #181-187.

Black Panther #1 - Apparently, there's going to be a new Black Panther, a female this time around.

Captain Britian and MI-13 (Volume 1): Secret Invasion - Get caught up with the new superhero book that people are actually talking about!

Cloak & Dagger: Child of Darkness, Child of Light Premiere HC - The initial issues of Cloak and Dagger's comic.

Guardians of the Galaxy: Earth Shall Overcome Premiere HC - The future of Earth sees four heroes from the future trying to wrestle the planet back from lizard invaders in the books collected in this hardcover, featuring characters who would go on to be part of the original Guardians of the Galaxy.

Marvel Masterworks: The Fantastic Four (Volume 1) TP - Marvel's giving another go at printing their full-color hardcover series in paperback, beginning with Stan Lee and Jack Kirby's great work.

Models, Inc. #1 (of 4) - Hey! I loved this TV show....oh, wait. Not that Models, Inc. This mini-series focuses on the models of the Marvel U - Mary Jane, Millie the Model, Patsy Walker, etc. with Ultra-ish covers.

Secret Warriors #1 - Spinning out of Secret Invasion, this book follows Nick Fury and his new team of commandos.

Ultimate Fantastic Four #60/Ultimate X-Men #100 - Two Ultimate books come to a conclusion with Ultimatum's climax.

X-Men: Inferno HC - I guess this is for people who are going to go on to read X-Infernus in collected forms, since this book comes out halfway through its sequel event's run...


Manhwa 100: The New Era For Korean Comics TP - This is a compilation of 100 samplings of the best manhwa out there, representing the Korean comic industry. You'll find introductions and other key information throughout this book.

Oni Press

Scott Pilgrim (Volume 5): Scott Pilgrim vs. the Universe - Aw, yeah! Bryan Lee O'Malley's notorious hipster is back!

Titan Publishing

The Best of Simon & Kirby HC - A collection of stories from Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, representing every genre they worked on, authorized by Simon and the Kirby Estate, and handpicked by Joe Simon!


Kitty Pryde Fine Art Bust - I'm a sucker for everything Kitty Pryde, and here's a nice bust featuring the girl in question with Ogun's mask and a sword. It will soon be mine. =)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

In Stores 11/26

Here are the standout books shipping to comic shops tomorrow!
Pick of the Week
American Elf: The Collected Sketchbook Diaries of James Kochalka (Book 3) - James Kochalka just passed ten years of keeping a sketchbook diary, and here's the third collected volume of his insightful, funny, strange daily strips.
Other Noteworthy Releases
Black Jack (Volume 2)
Body Bags One-Shot
Bruce the Little Blue Spruce HC - An all-ages title, part of IDW's new
.....Shadowline imprint!
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Eight #19
Captain America: The Death of Captain America (Volume 3)
.....Premiere HC
The Comics Journal #294
Fight Or Run #1 - New Kevin Huizenga!
Harvey Pekar Conversations SC
Mouse Guard: Winter 1152 #4 (of 6) - Finally!
New Avengers (Volume 8): Secret Invasion Book 1 Premiere HC
Showcase Presents Sgt. Rock (Volume 2) TP
Sloth TP - Now in softcover!
Umbrella Academy: Dallas #1
X-Men First Class: Band of Brothers TP

Monday, November 24, 2008

Manga Monday: Slam Dunk

Slam Dunk (Volume 1)
Takehiko Inoue
I'm not a fan of basketball. Or sports in general for that matter. But it turns out, the main character of this manga, Hanamichi Sakuragi, isn't either. In fact, he knows pretty much nothing about basketball. But he's tall, athletic, fast...and a pretty girl noticed him and thinks he should join the high school team. Hanamichi has never been a lady's man (he's been rejected fifty times), but he vows to win over Haruko Akagi, who happens to have a crush on a star basketball player, and whose brother is the coach of the high school team. In order to win a spot on the team, Hanamichi goes head-to-head with Haruko's brother and subsequently has to win him over, along with the rest of the team. But his battle doesn't end there, as he needs to get down the basics of the game (such as, you know, dribbling) before he can play with the other guys. Luckily, he has a lot of potential and is seen as worth the effort to teach.
I had a good time reading the first volume of Slam Dunk. I wasn't expecting to enjoy it much, to be honest, but with its acclaim, I figured that I had to at least give it a try. And I'm glad I did. While the book centers around basketball, a majority of what's going on focuses on the characters, and that's the kind of story I like. Hanamichi is a little goofy, kind of a spaz, but his past is shrouded in mystery with his ties to gangs and violence. The characters around him are mostly basic "types," but there are a few people kind of coming into their own already, only one volume into the series. In the end, it's all very light-hearted and dramatic, but loads of fun. I love the art, the fast pacing, and yes, even the portrayal of basketball that I've seen so far.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Dreamer #1

Lora Innes
The award-winning webcomic The Dreamer saw print this past week, through IDW Publishing. The book, by Lora Innes, follows high school girl Beatrice Whaley, a popular drama nerd whose crush has finally noticed her in a big way. But following a recent dream where she's transported to 1776 during the American Revolution, she can't seem to get a man from the past out of her head. His name is Warren and he's part of Knowlton's Rangers, a group of teachers, farmers, etc. turned soldiers, and he courageously saves Beatrice's life from the enemy and sweeps her off her feet. I can definitely see the appeal of the book - there's high romance, an interesting contrast between her life in high school and the dreamscapes of war, and the art is charming (although a bit stiff at times). By the conclusion of the first issue of the series, the characters are still a bit flat, but that could certainly change as the story progresses, just as the art could get a little more solid (there is some really nice art here, I just wish it were a bit more consistent). There are just a few things keeping this book from being something really great and I hope to see them ironed out over the next few issues - this is a six issue mini-series, so there's still a good chunk of story to go. And thus far, it's a fun story that bounces between slice-of-life and high adventure.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

In Stores 11/19

Here are the best-sounding books shipping to comic shops tomorrow! Kind of a light week...
Pick of the Week
Jack Kirby's The Demon Omnibus HC - From the early 1970's, this collects the entirety of the original beloved 16-issue series by Jack Kirby in a nice deserving format. That's 384 pages for just $50!
Other Noteworthy Releases
Daniel X: Alien Hunter GN
Dead Space HC
Fables (Volume 11): War and
.....Pieces TP
Fuzz and Pluck: Splitsville HC
Heroes (Volume 2): Standard
.....Edition HC
Lagoon HC
Punisher by Garth Ennis Omnibus HC
Spider-Man: Kraven's First Hunt Premiere HC
The Spirit Special #1
Star Trek: The Last Generation #1
Swallow Me Whole
The Walking Dead (Volume 4) HC
The X-Files #1 (of 6)
X-Men: Magik: Storm and Illyana Premiere HC
Young X-Men (Volume 1): Final Genesis TP
Youngblood (Volume 1) HC

Monday, November 17, 2008

Manga Monday: Astral Project

Astral Project (Volume 1)
marginal & Shuji Takeya
Astral Project in a new manga from CMX, written by the author of Old Boy (as marginal is an alias for Garon Tsuchiya). The book is about Masahiko, whose sister has just died. He doesn't get along with his family, but takes a keepsake from his sister's room - an unlabeled CD that was in her player that must have been the last thing she listened to before she passed away mysteriously. On the CD is some jazz music that sends Masahiko outside of his physical body. He finds he can fly across the skies and move objects, unseen by others in his astral form, and can repeat the experience whenever he listens to his sister's CD. But this ability also raises plenty of questions, about his sister's death, about where the CD came from, and it only gets more complicated when he realizes that he's not the only one with the ability to leave his body.
I was really impressed with this manga. It's a great story, has a cool protagonist with a real past and a dark attitude, and contains some really intriguing mysteries. The art's a little "moody," I guess is how I would describe it, and it really fits the tone of the book overall, kind of creepy with a lot of exploration yet to be done in this world that's being built of shadow-lives and creatures floating in the night sky. And there's something really kind of freaky about the jazz music from the CD and where it comes from, especially as the mystery surrounding it gets a little more in-depth. But even looking passed the mysteries of Masahiko's sister's death and his new-found abilities, there's a lot of stuff going on with Masahiko himself and the people he interacts with. This is a great debut volume.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Acme Novelty Library #19

Chris Ware
The latest installment of Chris Ware's Acme Novelty Library opens with a short science fiction tale called "The Seeing Eye Dogs of Mars," a disturbing little story about a pair of couples who are sent to Mars to establish a settlement. Not long after their arrival, things go wrong, as the first supply ship doesn't arrive. This is a pretty engrossing story, but quite strange, with the protagonist doing some pretty awful things. Within the context of this volume, this science fiction story is actually a short work written by Rusty Brown's odd father, W.K. Brown, for which he received some acclaim. The rest of this installment of Acme Novelty Library then shifts focus to follow not Rusty Brown, but secondary character W.K. Brown himself, mostly delving into his past just before getting friendly with his wife. W.K. Brown is odd and awkward, as we've seen throughout the initial chapters of this series, and this just goes one step further to illustrate how pathetic and lonely he is. It is interesting stuff, don't get me wrong, but following the intense "The Seeing Eye Dogs of Mars," this was actually pretty tame stuff, and a little boring and straight-forward in comparison. I like the awkward scene that the book ends on - a great note for a pathetic character, that I kind of hope we don't revisit too extensively in the future, at least not to this degree. This is my least favorite of the Acmes I've read to date, but it's still far and away better than most graphic novels released in any given year. As usual, the art is crisp and clever, designed masterfully, and brimming with more emotion than you'd expect upon a glance. I love the intricacies of many of the panels, although we don't get as much of that in this volume as volumes past. It's just unfortunate that the book began in such a strong, solid place that the rest of the book was rather dull in comparison.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Previews: January '09 Comics

I've been sick, so it took awhile for me to get around to doing a long post like this one, but finally, here are the noteworthy books shipping to comic shops in January, from items found in Previews Catalogue...

Dark Horse

B.P.R.D.: The Black Goddess #1 (of 5) - A new B.P.R.D. tale!

Clover Omnibus Edition - The manga has been out of print for a long time, so here's an omnibus edition of the classic story by supergroup CLAMP!

DC Comics

The Compleat Death Deluxe Edition HC - Both Death mini-series by Neil Gaiman, as well as short stories from various places featuring the fan-favorite character. Only $34.99.

Final Crisis #7 - The final issue of Grant Morrison's epic crossover!

The Losers by Jack Kirby HC - Jack Kirby's World War II stories are collected for the first time!

Drawn & Quarterly

Kaspar GN - Quebec artist Diane Obomsawin's first translated work to English follows the life of Kaspar Hauser, a man surrounded by mysteryduring his stay in Nuremberg in the early 19th century.

Fantagraphics Books

Boody: The Bizarre Comics of Boody Rogers - In the same vain as the recent Fletcher Hanks book, here's a book focusing on the lowbrow Boody Rogers.

Luba HC - This is the follow-up hardcover to the gigantic Palomar HC that was released a few years ago. A huge graphic novel containing the post-Palomar stuff from Gilbert Hernendez.

Supermen! The First Wave of Comic-Book Heroes (1939-1941) - A collection of 22 offbeat early superhero stories by creators such as Will Eisner, Jack Kirby, Jack Cole, and Fletcher Hanks.

IDW Publishing

Locke & Key: Head Games #1 - A sequel to the horror comic by novelist Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez.

Star Trek: Countdown #1 - The comics prequel of the new J.J. Abrams-helmed Star Trek film leads up to the film this summer.

Image Comics

American Jesus (Volume 1): Chosen TP - Mark Millar and Peter Gross's tale of a boy who realizes he's the returned Jesus Christ!
Marvel Comics

Captain Britain and MI-13 #9 - The return of one of my favorite Marvel characters, original Excalibur founding member, Meggan!

Captain Britain by Alan Moore & Alan Davis Omnibus HC - These are some of the most underrated superhero comics out there. I LOVE Alan Moore and Alan Davis's Captain Britain, and I also LOVE Alan Davis and Jamie Delano's Captain Britain. This contains both of those plus other goodies.
***Pick of the Month***

Daredevil: Born Again Premiere HC - Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli's much-lauded Daredevil tale gets some love.

Dark Avengers #1 - A new series launching under the banner of Marvel's newest crossover event Dark Reign, this is another Avengers title (on top of Mighty Avengers, New Avengers, and Avengers: The Initiative, not replacing any title).

Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter: The First Death TP - The first Anita Blake comic that isn't a direct adaptation from the prose novels, this collects the two issues of The First Death that look into Anita's past, as well as the Guilty Pleasures Handbook.

Punisher #1 - A relaunch of Punisher in wake of Secret Invasion, coming out of Dark Reign.

Ruins #1 - Warren Ellis paints a picture of the ruins of the Marvel Universe.

Secret Invasion: War of Kings - Leading into another Marvel Universe crossover, this is the final issue of the "prelude" titles to War of Kings.

Secret Invasion TP - A collection of all eight issue of the main mini-series.

The X-Men Omnibus (Volume 1) HC - Collecting the first 31 pages of The X-Men!

X-Men: Original Sin Premiere HC - This was kind of a mini X-Men crossover that delved into when Wolverine originally joined the X-Men.

X-Men: Proteus Premiere HC - I'm not sure this really deserves a prestige format, but this is considered a classic X-Men arc, I guess...

Orange - Tokyopop launches its new line of full-color comics with this title and Pixie.

Viz Media

20th Century Boys (Volume 1) - With the final volume of Naoki Urasawa's Monster looming in the near-future, Viz is releasing not one, but two new manga translations by the master of suspense!

Otomen (Volume 1) - From the creator of Blank Slate comes a series about a boy who loves girly things, and does his best to hide that fact.

Pluto (Volume 1) - This is the other new series by Naoki Urasawa being released, a reimagining of Osama Tezuka's Astro Boy.


Be a Nose! The Art of Spiegelman Sketchbook - uh...a freaking Art Spiegelman sketchbook!

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw HC - The insanely popular children's comic from Jeff Kinney!

Teenagers From the Future SC - A collection of essays focusing on The Legion of Super-Heroes from scholars and fans. Foreward by Matt Fraction.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Heidi Klum is awesome!

In Stores 11/12

Here are the most exciting books shipping to comic shops this week!
Pick of the Week
Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight (Volume 3): Wolves At the Gate TP - The latest collection of Joss Whedon's season eight of Buffy gets collected this week, this one written by Drew Goddard of Cloverfield fame, featuring the return of Dracula into the main slayer's life, and many other shocks and surprises. A very good read.
Other Noteworthy Releases
Batman: Cacophony #1 (of 3) -
.....Kevin Smith's return to comics..., they did get the finished scripts
.....before publishing this issue, right?
Black Terror #1
Civil War HC
The Cleaners #1 (of 4)
The Dreamer #1
Fables Covers by James Jean HC
Fruits Basket (Volume 21)
Hulk (Volume 1): Red Hulk Premiere HC
Jim Butcher's Dresden Files: Storm Front #1 (of 4)
JLA/Avengers TP
New X-Men by Grant Morrison Ultimate Collection (Volume 3) -
.....Final volume
Powr Mastrs (Volume 2) GN
Push #1 (of 6)
Salt Water Taffy (Volume 2): Climb Up Mt. Barnabus GN
Savage Dragon #140
Ted McKeever Library (Volume 1) HC

Monday, November 10, 2008

Manga Monday: We Were There!

We Were There (Volume 1)
Yuki Obata
When Nanami Takahashi begins to go to a new school, all she wants is to make some new friends. Things don't go exactly as planned at first, but before long Nanami finds herself among friends and falling for an aloof boy, despite herself. Motoharu Yano also happens to be the most popular boy in school and seems determined to frustrate Nanami to no end. As the book proceeds, we see more of a tender side to Yano, however, and learn that things are much more complicated than they appear on the outside. That being said, it's kind of hard not to fall for Yano a little bit. This book actually won the 50th Shogakukan Manga Award, and it's no wonder with the beautiful art and the slow build of emotions and tension. I wasn't so sure I'd like this book from the initial chapters sampled in Shojo Beat a few months back, but I decided to give it a chance and I'm glad I did in the end. This is a fun romantic story and I'm genuinely looking forward to seeing this budding romance unfold in the forthcoming installments.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Strangeways: Murder Moon

Matt Maxwell & Luis Guaragna
With the sequel to the first Strangeways graphic novel, Strangeways: Murder Moon, beginning to be serialized at Newsarama (this time with vampires called Strangeways: The Thirsty), I thought it would be appropriate to read and review that initial book in the series featuring werewolves in the Old West. The book follows Seth Collins (as does the new series), a former officer in the Army who travels to the town Silver Branch, seeking his sister who's written him for help. Unfortunately, once in the area, his wagon is attacked and all of the other passengers are murdered by a monster, save himself and a friend. It turns out that the town is being terrorized by a werewolf, and the citizens are eager to kill first, ask questions later with the new faces arriving in town.
So, fun premise. I'm not very excited about Westerns in general, but I was pleasantly surprised to find the story pretty engrossing. Unfortunately, there are quite a few cliches in the book, including a cocky "bad" sheriff lording over the town and an origin for the wolves tied to the local Native Americans (a backstory after the main story goes in depth into the origin story - it's pretty unnecessary). Aside from Seth Collins, the characters are all pretty much cardboard cut-outs, and as a result, I felt little in the way of anxiety for anyone's safety, although there were a few tense moments with Mr. Collins himself. The ending was a complete let-down. But there were some really fun action scenes involving the wolf and the mystery surrounding it, and I certainly wasn't bored by the plot. I just hope that there's something new in the follow-up to this book. It's one thing to come up with a cool premise like werewolves in the Old West, but treating the werewolves as werewolves, and the Old West like the Old West is just like reading a werewolf book or a Western. The two ideas should play off each other more than they did here and become something new that wasn't there before, instead of just regurgitating ideas that we've seen before.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

In Stores 11/5

Here are the books shipping to comic shops this week with the most potential for awesomeness!
Pick of the Week
Watchmen stuff! - In anticipation of the film (you may have heard of it), DC is releasing a hardcover edition of Watchmen this week, as well as Watchmen: The Absolute Edition. Also coming out by Titan Books (this has been in bookstores for a few weeks already, so you may have already seen and/or purchased it) is Watching the Watchmen, Dave Gibbons's account of the creation of this masterpiece, with plenty of goodies, designed by Chip Kidd and Mike Essl.
Other Noteworthy Releases
Absolute Sandman (Volume 4) HC
Alan's War GN
Aliens Omnibus (Volume 5) TP
Angel Omnibus TP
Claymore (Volume 13)
Counter X (Volume 3): X-Man TP
Daredevil by Frank Miller & Klaus Janson (Volume 1) TP
Diana Prince: Wonder Woman (Volume 3) TP
Disney's DuckTales: Gold Odyssey TP
Drain (Volume 1) TP
Essential Hulk (Volume 5) TP
Final Crisis: Resist #1
Fishtown HC
Freakangels (Volume 1) TP
Guardian of Metropolis Special #1
High School Debut (Volume 6)
Impaler (Volume 1) TP
The Last Defenders TP
Liquid City GN
Michael Turner Tribute GN
Mister X Archives HC
Nana (Volume 13)
Naruto (Volume 32)
Parasyte (Volume 5)
Rex Mundi (Volume 5): Valley At the End of the World TP
S*A (Volume 7)
Sandman: The Dream Hunters #1 (of 4)
Sgt. Rock: The Lost Battalion #1 (of 6)
Showcase Presents: Wonder Woman (Volume 2) TP
Skip Beat (Volume 15)
Star Trek: Year Four: Enterprise Experiment TP
Sugar Princess: Skating To Win (Volume 2)
Superman/Supergirl: Maelstrom #1 (of 5)
Superman vs. Brainiac TP
Teen Titans: Year One TP
Terra #1 (of 4)
Ultimatum #1 (of 5)
We Were There (Volume 1)
Weapon X: First Class #1 (of 3)
Wolverine/Power Pack #1 (of 4)
X-Men/Spider-Man #1 (of 4)

Monday, November 03, 2008

Manga Monday: Bat-Manga!

Bat-Manga! The Secret History of Batman in Japan SC
Chip Kidd, Geoff Spear & Saul Ferris
I've been anticipating this book's release for awhile now. I went to the Bat-Manga! panel at Comic-Con and heard Chip Kidd talk about putting this book together and it sounded just fascinating. And the final product is really quite beautiful. The book is mostly a collection of comics by Jiro Kuwata, which are some really fun comics. They were made after the campy Batman television show had debuted in America and are kind of in the same vain - a bit cheesy and over-the-top, but they are very good and exciting as well. Batman and Robin fight villains we've heard of such as Clayface, but also some weird guys like Lord Death Man, who has the uncanny ability to keep rising from his grave. And this version of Batman isn't shy about using guns either. It's just too bad that some of these rare strips aren't completed in this volume, as the editors were unable to track a surviving copy down. So we get the second part of a story without the opening, or the concluding chapter is missing. It's kind of a bummer, but I guess I should be thankful that I get to experience any of these cool comics at all. The art is pretty damn good, a little Tezuka-ish, but it really works for the tone of the book. Aside form the comics included in this book, we get a lot of photographs of merchandise, like the Bat Tank and Batman Watering Can. Crazy stuff that would never have appeared state-side, but thankfully were dreamed up by the Japanese during this brief period. My only complaint aside from the missing comics is that I would have liked a little more perspective on the comics and merchandise and on Batman's perception in Japan overall. There's a brief introduction by Chip Kidd and a two-page interview with Jiro Kuwata, but that's pretty much all we get. I know a little bit more merely because I sat in on the panel at Comic-Con, but I think that people who purchased a book like this would really be interested to know more about this subject. But those gripes aside, this is a great book to have on the bookshelf at home, one I'm sure to take down and flip through over and over again.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Movies-and-More: November 2008

Here's the run-down of November release dates for films, music, DVDs and books, as well as my box office predictions.

In Theaters November 7th
The Boy In the Striped Pajamas
Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa
Otto, Or Up With the Dead People
Pray the Devil Back To Hell
Repo: The Genetic Opera
Role Models
Soul Men
The World Unseen

Predictions: 1. Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa ($55 million), 2. High School Musical 3: Senior Year ($8.5 m), 3. Role Models ($8 m), 4. Zack and Miri Make a Porno ($6.5 m), 5. Changeling ($5.5 m)

In Theaters November 14th
A Christmas Tale
The Dukes
Faded Memories
House of Sleeping Beauties
How About You
Quantum of Solace
Slumdog Millionaire (On Wednesday)

Predictions: 1. Quantum of Solace ($52 m), 2. Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa ($24 m), 3. High School Musical 3: Senior Year ($5.5 m), 4. Zack and Miri Make a Porno ($4 m), 5. Role Models ($3.5 m)

In Theaters November 21st
I Can't Think Straight
Lake City

Predictions: 1. Twilight ($108 m), 2. Bolt ($59 m), 3. Quantum of Solace ($27 m), 4. Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa ($9 m), 5. High School Musical 3: Senior Year ($3.5 m)

In Theaters November 26th
Four Christmases
The Secrets
Transporter 3

Predictions: 1. Twilight ($55 m), 2. Bolt ($24 m), 3. Australia ($21 m), 4. Transporter 3 ($18 m), 5. Four Christmases ($16.5 m)

Your Other Entertainment Needs:

November 4th
On DVD: Batman: The Complete Animated Series, Fraggle Rock: Complete Series Collection, Futurama: Bender's Game, Get Smart, Goal 2: Living the Dream, Kung Fu Panda, Popeye the Sailor Man (Volume 3): 1941-1943, Project Runway: Season Four, Reaper: Season One, Spin City: Season One, Shrek the Halls, Star Wars Prequel Trilogy, Transsiberian, When Did You Last See Your Father

On CD: Andrea Bocelli, Sarah Brightman, Harry Conick Jr., Chris Cornell, Dido, Hilary Duff, Jeff Dunham, The Game, Hinder, Brad Paisley, Switchfoot, Travis, Twilight O.S.T.

In Bookstores:
David Baldacci's Divine Justice
Jeff Foxworthy's Complete Redneck Dictionary
Laurell K. Hamilton's Swallowing Darkness
Rachael Ray's Big Orange Book
J.D. Robb's Salvation In Death
Eckhart Tolle's Oneness With All Life
Rick Warren's The Purpose of Christmas

November 11th
On DVD: Beer For My Horses, Firefly: The Complete Series (Blueray), Hellboy II: The Golden Army, The Perfect Holiday, Scrubs: Season Seven, The Sopranos: Complete Series, Star Wars: The Clone Wars

On CD: Brandy, Tracy Chapman, Deborah Cox, Enya, Now! (Volume 28), Luciano Pavaratti, The Rockettes, Seal, Taylor Swift

In Bookstores:
Blenn Beck's The Christmas Sweater
Robert Bolano's 2666
Jeffrey Deaver's Bodies Left Behind
Stephen King's Just After Sunset: Stories
Toni Morrison's A Mercy
Michael F. Riozon's You: Being Beautiful
Paul Simon's Lyrics: 1964-2008
Alexander McCall Smith's The World According To Bertie
Ted Turner's Call Me Ted

November 18th
On DVD: Bones: Season Three, Doctor Who: Season Four, Encounters At the End of the World, Gonzo, Hannah Montana: Season One, Hawaii Five-O: Season Five, The Last Emperor (Criterion Collection), The Odd Couple: The Final Season, Priceless, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2, Star Trek: The Original Series: Season Three Remastered, Tropic Thunder, WALL-E

On CD: Belle & Sebastian, Beyonce, Chris Botti, David Cook, Billy Ray Cyrus, Sammy Hagar, Il Divo, Nickelback, Phish, Blake Shelton, Rod Stewart

In Bookstores:
Mary Higgins Clark's Dashing Through the Snow
Eric Jerome Dickey's Dying For Revenge
Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers
Mike Huckabee's Do the Right Thing
Denis Leary's Why We Suck
James Patterson's Cross Country
L.J. Smith's Night World (Volume 2)

November 25th
On DVD: Beverly Hills 90210: Season Six, A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All, Fred Claus, Hancock, Meet Dave, Space Chimp, Superman: Doomsday, Vicky Cristina Barcelona

On CD: Trace Adkins, Akon, Coldplay, Missy Elliot, Guns N Roses, Tom Jones, The Killers, Linkin Park, Ludacris, Barry Manilow, Ricky Martin, Mos Def, Kanye West

In Bookstores:
Clive Cussler's Arctic Drift
Neil Gaiman's Odd and the Frost Giants
Dean Koontz's Your Heart Belongs To Me
Belva Plain's Crossroads