Sunday, May 31, 2009

Movies-and-More: June 2009

Here's the run-down of June release dates for films, books, DVDs and music, as well as my box office predictions.
In Theaters June 5th
The Hangover
Land of the Lost
My Life In Ruins
Predictions: 1. Land of the Lost ($49 million), 2. Up ($35 m), 3. Night At the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian ($10 m), 4. Drag Me To Hell ($9 m), 5. Terminator: Salvation ($8.5 m)
In Theaters June 12th
Imagine That
The Taking of Pelham 123
Predictions: 1. Land of the Lost ($24 m), 2. Imagine That ($21 m), 3. Up ($19 m), 4. The Taking of Pelham 123 ($16 m), 5. Night At the Museum: Battle of the Smithsoniam ($6 m)
In Theaters June 19th
The Proposal
Year One
Predictions: 1. Year One ($29 m), 2. The Proposal ($26 m), 3. Land of the Lost ($11 m), 4. Up ($10 m), 5. Imagine That ($9 m)
In Theaters June 26th
My Sister's Keeper
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
Predictions: 1. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen ($91 m), 2. Year One ($14 m), 3. The Proposal ($13 m), 4. My Sister's Keeper ($7.5 m), 5. Up ($7 m)
Your Other Entertainment Needs:
June 2nd
On DVD: Defiance, Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, He's Just Not That Into You, The Married Woman, Prison Break: Season Four, Revolutionary Road, Weeds: Season Four
On CD: 311, Elvis Costello, Crosby Stills & Nash, Eels, Franz Ferdinand, Dave Matthews, Paolo Nutini, Iggy Pop, Taking Back Sunday, Neil Young
In Bookstores:
John Connolly's The Lovers
Clive Cussler's Medusa
Mary Janice Davidson's Undead and Unwelcome
Guillermo del Toro's The Strain (Book One)
Laurel K. Hamilton's Skin Trade
Alice Hoffman's The Story Sisters
Michelle Paver's Oath Breaker
Danielle Steel's Matters of the Heart
Martha Stewart's Cupcakes
John Updike's My Father's Tears and Other Stories
Jude Watson's The 39 Clues #4: Beyond the Grave
June 9th
On DVD: The Cleaner: Season One, Get Smart: Season Three, Gran Torino, The International, Perry Mason: Season Four: Volume One, The Shield: Season Seven
On CD: Anti-Flag, Black Eyed Peas, Nancy Griffith, Iron Maiden, George Jones, Tina Marie, Placebo, Sonic Youth
In Bookstores:
Jeffery Deaver's Roadside Crosses
Shannon Hale's Actor and the Housewife
Erin Hunter's Code of the Clans
Dean Koontz's Deception
Eric Van Lustbader's The Bourne Deception
Julie Metz's Perfection
Mo Willems' Elephants Cannot Dance!
June 16th
On DVD: Burn Notice: Season Two, Everwood: Season Two, Family Guy: Volume Seven, Friday the 13th, Saving Grace: Season Two, The Seventh Seal (Criterion Collection), Tom and Jerry's Greatest Chases: Volume Two, Tyler Perry's Medea Goes To Jail,
On CD: Michael Buble, Josh Groban, Don Henley, Incubus, Jonas Brothers, Steve Martin, Jill Scott, Hank Williams Jr.
In Bookstores:
Monica Ali's In the Kitchen
Lauren Conrad's L.A. Candy
Catherine Coulter's Knock Out
Sarah Dessen's Along For the Ride
Lisa Gardner's The Neighbor
Jane Green's Dune Road
Carlos Ruiz Zafon's The Angel's Game
June 23rd
On DVD: The Code, Confessions of a Shopoholic, Inkheart, James Castle: Portrait of an Artist, Last Year At Marienbad (Criterion Collection), My Dinner With Andre (Criterion Collection), Pink Panther 2, Reba: Season Six, Tom and Jerry: Chuck Jones Collcetion, Waltz With Bashir
On CD: Bjork, Shawn Colvin, Escala, Hair NBCR, The Lemonheads, Lil Wayne, The Mars Volta, Regina Spektor, Pete Yorn
In Bookstores:
Buzz Aldren's Magnificent Desolation
Mary Kay Andrews' The Fixer Upper
Glenn Beck's Common Sense
C.J. Box's Below Zero
Janet Evanovich's Finger Lickin' Fifteen
Jane O'Connor's Fancy Nancy Party Planners: Tea Parties
James Rollins' The Doomsday Key
Angie Sage's The Magykal Papers
June 30th
On DVD: Entourage: Season Five, Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience, Stargate Atlantis: Season Five, Two Lovers
On CD: Moby, Now! 31, Brad Paisley, Santana, Rob Thomas, Tanya Tucker, Wilco
In Bookstores:
Joyce Meyer's Any Minute
James Patterson's Swimsuit
Brad Thor's The Apostle

Friday, May 29, 2009

Dark Reign: The Hood #1 (of 5)

Jeff Parker & Kyle Hotz
As part of Norman Osborn's inner circle, Parker Robbins aka The Hood, gets his own mini-series, illustrating how Osborn's favor during his "Dark Reign" is helping the criminal underworld to thrive. But while The Hood's crime syndicate may be getting profitable tips from higher-ups, The Hood is on somebody's radar who's getting very familiar with his habits, and there is more than a little dissension in the ranks, despite The Hood's fine speeches about how they can work together, despite what the police may say in their criminal profile data banks. We also see a little of the human side of Robbins, of his small family away from the street-level violence that is his world. And as a contrast, we see the side of him that is very not human, the demon Dormammu that he harbors, taunting him through supernatural means. The Hood is a complex character, but honestly, the stuff that we see in the main Avengers titles depicts him in a much better light. Despite Hotz's best efforts to illustrate a gritty noir comic that would go hand-in-hand with such a character as this, this series starts with a yawn. Readers are familiar with the traits of The Hood playing out in this comic, and it's done better elsewhere, with The Hood coming off as human (the original Hood mini), demonic and scary (the last few issues of New Avengers), and just plain bad-ass (the rest of New Avengers) in spectacular, memorable scenes. There's nothing memorable about this comic, though. It's vanilla through and through.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

In Stores 5/28

Comics will be arriving in comic shops on Thursday this week due to the long holiday weekend. Here are the highlights...
Pick of the Week
Cursed Pirate Girl #1 (of 3) - Jeremy Bastian's mini-series finally sees the light of day this week, not from Archaia Studios Press as originally planned, but Olympian Publishing. The story, which has gotten great acclaim from creators like Mike Mignola, follows a cursed pirate girl in search of her father, a pirate king, meeting creatures and nasty foes along the way.
Other Noteworthy Releases
20th Century Boys (Volume 2)
Aliens #1 (of 4)
Bayou (Volume 1) TP
Berserk (Volume 29)
Chicken With Plums SC
Conan (Volume 7): Cimmeria TP
Dark Reign: The Hood #1 (of 5)
Dead @ 17 Ultimate Edition TP
Dead of Night: Devil-Slayer TP
DC Library: Roots of the Swamp Thing HC
Elephantmen (Volume 2): Fatal Diseases HC
Essential X-Men (Volume 9) TP
Final Crisis Aftermath: Ink #1 (of 6)
Gravel (Volume 1): Bloody Liars HC
Guardians of the Galaxy (Volume 2): War of Kings HC
Incognegro SC
Incredible Hercules (Volume 2): Love and War TP
The Last Days of Animal Man #1 (of 6)
Marvel Masterworks: Amazing Spider-Man (Volume 2) TP
Mouse Guard: Winter 1152 #6 (of 6)
MPD Psycho (Volume 9)
Ms. Marvel #39
Rapture #1
Robin: Teen Wonder TP
Spider-Man Noir HC
Star Trek Omnibus (Volume 1) TP
Static Shock: Rebirth of the Cool TP
Tarzan: The Jesse Marsh Years (Volume 2) HC
Trinity (Volume 1) TP
Wonder Woman: Love and Murder TP
X-Force (Volume 2): Old Ghosts HC
X-Men: Inferno HC
X-Men: Magento - Testament HC
X-Men: Worlds Apart HC

Monday, May 25, 2009

Manga Monday: Ikigami

Ikigami: The Ultimate Limit (Volume 1)
Motoro Mase
An ikigami is a notice someone gets when they’ve been selected…to die within 24 hours! That’s right. Japan has “been forced” to make everyone participate in a game of Russian Roulette to “increase the quality of life” through the National Welfare Act. A little extreme, but okay. Every citizen is injected with a syringe when they’re young, and between the ages of 18 and 24, a capsule that one in one thousand people are injected with will cause them to die. A very complex process occurs to keep the identity of the people who are to die a secret, but enough notice is given to the individuals going to die that they can spend their last full day as they please. The thinking behind this elaborate plot is to get people to live every day like their last, because no one knows if they are going to be one of the selected to die for their country at a young age. The bright side: the deceased family gets a bereavement package. I’m sure that makes it all better. On top of all of this, anyone who speaks out against the act will be immediately injected with a death capsule before they can sow their anti-government ideas. Man. Putting aside the huge disbelief that anyone would go along with this National Welfare Act, this series has the potential to be a violent, over-the-top manga along the lines of Death Note. And the first story of a citizen receiving his ikigami and what he does afterward IS quite violent. But the second story is not so much, although it is still pretty overly dramatic. Anyways, the series is tied together by a young man who is passed 24-years-old (so safe from an ikigami himself), whose job is to deliver the ikigami to the people who will die. He is a character with a conflict of conscience who wants to do what he can for his country, but questions whether what they are doing is morally right. So he tries not to think about it much.
The first story of the volume features Yosuke, who was sickly as a child, and brutally abused by classmates in school. When he receives his ikigami, he takes his last twenty-four hours as a sign to get revenge on those that have wronged him. The second story is of Torio, a musician who abandons his partner to cash in to pop stardom, but feels empty with the type of career he is pursuing. While utterly horrified of his approaching death, he’s equally horrified as he looks back at his life to see what he’s become. So for him, the ikigami is a wake-up call, and snuffs out the life of a young man with a lot of promise. Yosuke is more like a broken boy being put out of his misery, although he is trying to rebuild a life for himself, something that the ikigami is unwilling to allow. The whole concept of the ikigami is just ridiculous, so I can’t really make much out of the moral implications it imposes, but the idea of knowing that you have a certain amount of time to live and what exactly that means, what you would do with it, is another thing - it’s an extremely rich premise. But who is Motoro Mase trying to fool with his protagonist? Of course the main character is going to be harboring doubt of his profession. If he didn’t, the audience could hardly sympathize with him. At the end of the day, the premise is just too silly and over-the-top for me to continue with the book, although I’m certain many will really enjoy some of the questions it raises in face of our own mortality.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

In Stores 5/20

Here are the highlights of books slated to hit comic shops tomorrow!
Pick of the Week
Dawn: The Worlds of Final Fantasy HC - Dark Horse presents an art book featuring the sketches, paintings and design work of the visionary man behind the first six games in the ever-popular Final Fantasy game franchise: Yoshitaka Amano.
Other Noteworthy Releases
Batman: Mad Love and Other
.....Stories HC
Ben Templesmith's Dracula GN
Black Panther: Who Is Black
.....Panther TP
Buffy the Vampire Slayer Omnibus (Volume 7) TP
Captain America #50
Case Closed (Volume 29)
Clover Omnibus (Volume 1)
Complete Dracula #1 (of 5)
Final Crisis Aftermath: Dance #1 (of 6)
Goon (Volume 7): Place of Heartache & Grief TP
Invincible (Volume 10): Who's the Boss TP
Killapalooza #1 (of 6)
Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service (Volume 9)
Moon Knight (Volume 4): Death of Marc Spector TP
NYX: No Way Home HC
Oishinbo (Volume 3): Ramen & Gyoza
The Photographer: Into War Torn Afghanistan GN
Planet Skaar Prologue (One-Shot)
Pluto (Volume 3)
Punisher War Journal (Volume 5): Secret Invasion TP
Real (Volume 4)
Star Trek: Aliens Spotlight - Romulans
Superman: Ending Battle TP
Thor by J. Michael Straczynski (Volume 2) HC
Tiny Titans (Volume 2): Adventures In Awesomeness TP
Ultimate Galactus Trilogy TP
X-Men Forever: Alpha
Young X-Men (Volume 2): Book of Revelations TP

Monday, May 18, 2009

Manga Monday: Animal Academy

Animal Academy: Hakobune Hakusho (Volume 1)
Moyamu Fujino
I haven't really read any ultra-cute girl manga, so I thought I'd peruse the shelf at work and pick one up - this just happened to be the one that I chose - Moyamu Fujino's Animal Academy. It follows a high school girl Neko (whose name means cat) as she makes her debut at a high school hours from her own home, the mysterious Morimori. She doesn't have many options for school (she's not the brightest), so she's really excited to get into this school, and isn't deterred when she's refused admittance upon appearing on school grounds (which is hidden confusingly in a forest). It turns out that this high school is special, as it teaches magical animals how to act human. So long as Neko can keep the secret that she's human, the teachers allow her to stay. The classes are a piece of cake (since she's already human), but it proves harder to keep up pretenses than she expected, especially as she's rooming with a possessive cat (who thinks Neko's a cat because of her name and her general oddness) who tends to slap people when she's unhappy with them. Overall, this is a fun, cute manga. It's a lot of fluff, not much substance beyond the surface elements, and no real interesting character traits, but if you take it for it is, it's a good time. I see the appeal it may hold for readers (especially younger readers) and it has magical animals, for pete's sake.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Dollhouse renewed!

I'm very excited about this piece of news that Joss Whedon's "Dollhouse" was renewed for a second season - the show has gotten progressively better as the first season went along and easily became my favorite show of the season about halfway through. For those who haven't seen it, check it out on DVD on July 28th! (Link via Whedonesque)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen III #1

Century: 1910
Alan Moore & Kevin O'Neill
The team of Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill reunite for a fourth installment (if including The Black Dossier) of the league of literary figures gathered to fight evil in the name of the crown. This time around, Mina and Quartermain are accompanied by the gender-shifting Orlando (introduced to us in The Black Dossier), as well as former thief Anthony Raffles and ghost-finder Tom Carnacki in the latest incarnation of the League at the beginning of the 20th century. This is the first of three issues in the third League of Extraordinary Gentlemen series that will be published by Top Shelf Productions and jump forward in time with new League members. But this does feel very much like its own book, with quite a climax surrounding the death of former League member Captain Nemo and the rise of his successor. But it all begins with a mysterious dream that Carnacki has about a cult that will bring about an apocalyptic event. This thread will be continued in the future issues of this series, but do tie in to events that go down within this issue, particularly with a confrontation Orlando has with the cult. Meanwhile, a murderer arrives in town to cause some havoc as well. This is a very satisfying new chapter of The League of Extraordinary Gentlmen that feels like a full-length graphic novel unto its own, full of the literary references that readers have come to expect that many of us won't get without further research. But even without the references, this is an action-packed, fun read that is probably a very different sort of experience that you would get by having gotten the references. Kevin O'Neill's art has never looked better - it was definitely worth the wait and delays for his portrayal of mutilated corpses and the dark streets of London. This is a dense comic that warrants rereads if any do this year.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Previews: July '09

Here are the highlights of books shipping to comic shops in July!
Amaze Ink/Slave Labor Graphics
Gargoyles (Volume 2): Clan Building - I wish this were better, but for die hard Gargoyles fans, this series shouldn't be missed. Includes three unpublished issues.
Archaia Studios Press
The Engineer HC - I read the first issue of this series and it was a pretty neat superhero/sci-fi comic. The entire three issue series is collected here for just $10.
Mouse Guard (Volume 2): Winter 1152 HC - The much-anticipated sequel to David Petersen's Eisner Award-winning series gets collected. As much as I loved the first book, I thought the second book was even better - this is one spectacular all-ages title.
Boom! Studios
The Muppet Show: The Treasure of Peg-Leg Wilson #1 (0f 4) - Another Muppet Show mini-series from Roger Langridge. The first mini is getting quite a bit of buzz and is a lot of fun.
Buenaventura Press
The Complete Jack Survives HC - Jerry Moriarty's book was solicited a while back, but looks like it's finally going to be seeing the light of day in July.
Dark Horse
BPRD: 1947 #1 (of 5) - A new BPRD mini-series that follows up on the mini BPRD: 1946.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight (Volume 5): Predators and Prey - The latest collection in Joss Whedon's Season Eight of Buffy comes out in July, featuring the one-shot issues by various creators.
Citizen Rex #1 (of 6) - This is exciting and wholly unexpected - a new mini-series by Love & Rockets creators Mario and Gilbert Hernandez. And sci-fi at that.
Noir - This anthology is crime noir tales by creators known for their abilities in the field, such as Brian Azzarello, Ed Brubaker, David Lapham, M.K. Perker, Sean Phillips, Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba. Also coming out this month, a new horror anthology in Creepy #1.
Pictures That Tick - This is a collection of Dave McKean's (Cages) short comic stories.
Umbrella Academy (Volume 2): Dallas HC - The second chapter in Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba's fan-favorite series gets collected.
Witchfinder: In the Service of Angels #1 (of 5) - Another Hellboy spin-off in the form of occult investigator Edward Grey, written by Mignola, drawn by Ben Stenbeck.
DC Comics
Blackest Night #1 (of 8) - Geoff Johns' much-loved Green Lantern comics culminate in a new highly-anticipated mini-series, the first issue of which comes out this month.
DC Comics Classics Library: Batman - A Death In the Family HC - Continuing DC's reprints of classic superhero runs, this famous story from Batman gets collected.
Fables Deluxe Edition (Volume 1) HC - With a TV show debuting in Fall, DC is releasing Fables in nice thick hardcover editions. Also available this month - Fables (Volume 12): The Dark Ages TP.
Greek Street #1 - Peter Milligan's new Wildstorm series begins with an issue available for just $1.
Justice League: Cry For Justice #1 (of 6) - A new JLA mini from James Robinson and Mauro Cascioli
North 40 #1 (of 6) - Wildstorm is debuting a new mini-series in May. Good vs. Evil. Monsters. Could be fun.
Wednesday Comics #1-4 - DC's big new weekly series comes out every Wednesday with new comics, and features an array of single issue comics from top creators like Paul Pope, Walter Simonson, Dave Gibbons, Kyle Baker, Neil Gaiman and others on DC characters like Kamandi, Hawkman, Superman and Wonder Woman.
Drawn & Quarterly
The John Stanley Library: Nancy (Volume 1) HC - One of the final big series that needed to be collected during this classic comic strip reprint renaissance - the iconic Nancy!
Fantagraphics Books
The Best American Comics Criticism of the 21st Century - Quite a bold title, but I suppose if any company's going to do it, it's Fantagraphics. Edited by Ben Schwartz.
Popeye (Volume 4): Plunder Island - EC Segar's classic strip reprints are chugging along.
Tales Designed To Thrizzle (Volume 1) HC - Michael Kupperman's hilarious comics get collected for the first time in a much-deserving hardcover.
Hermes Press
Walt Kelly: The Life and Art of the Creator of Pogo HC - A full color art book exploring the beloved creator.
IDW Publishing
Fallen Angel: Reborn #1 - A relaunch of Peter David and J.K. Woodward's series featuring Illyria from Angel, which is kind of weird/kind of cool.
The Hunter - An original crime fiction graphic novel by Darwyn Cooke.
Image Comics
Bomb Queen Omnibust (Volume 1) HC - The first three Bomb Queen mini-series are collected together in one mega hardcover.
Liberty Meadows Sunday Strips (Volume 1) HC - Frank Cho's pretty Sunday strips get collected.
Mice Templar: Destiny #1 - A new chapter in the Mice Templar saga begins.
Savage Dragon #150 - The green finhead hits quite the milestone this month as he faces one of his biggest foes from the past.
Marvel Comics
Agents of Atlas: Dark Reign HC - The first colletion of Jeff Parker's new ongoing series.
Amazing Spider-Man #600 - The Web-Head reaches a milestone issue this month, as does Hulk with Incredible Hulk #600.
Dark X-Men: The Beginning #1 & 2 (of 3) - A new team of X-Men springs out from Osborn's new world order, consisting of Emma Frost, Namor, Mimic, Cloak & Dagger, Daken, Weapon X and Dark Beast.
Deadpool: Merc With a Mouth #1 - New mini featuring the funny assassin, riding high on the success of the Wolverine movie.
Immortal Weapons #1 (of 5) - A new mini-series springing from Brubaker, Fraction and Aja's Immortal Iron Fist.
Marvel Divas #1 (of 4) - Firestar, Hellcat, Black Cat and Photon have fabulous adventures ala Sex & the City.
Marvel Masterworks: The Inhumans (Volume 1) HC - Some Jack Kirby goodness in this latest Masterworks featuring his creations.
Mephisto vs. HC - Mephisto in some of his greatest battles with the X-Men, Avengers, and the Fantastic Four.
New Warriors Classic (Volume 1) TP - Collecting the 90's comics featuring the New Warriors in all its glory...also available this month, the softcover of Annihilation Classic.
Reborn #1 (of 5) - Creators Ed Brubaker and Bryan Hitch bring us a new top-secret mini-series. The resurrection of Cap perhaps?
Spider-Man Newspaper Strips HC - Stan Lee and John Romita's complete run of newspaper strips.
Uncanny X-Men: First Class #1 (of 8) - A new adventure featuring the old-school Uncanny X-Men team of Storm, Cyclops, Banshee, Phoenix, Colossus, Wolverine and Nightcrawler.
War of Kings: Warriors #1 (0f 2) - A new mini from the crossover featuring the Imperial Guard's Gladiator.
X-Men: Wolverine/Gambit HC - The bromance of Logan and Remy.
Mirage Studios
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Collected Book (Volume 1) SC - Finally, with TMNT's 25th anniversary, the original comics by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird get collected!
***Pick of the Month!***
Raw Junior LLC
Jeff Smith's Little Mouse Gets Reasy HC - A new picture book by Bone's creator!
Th3rd World Studios
The Stuff of Legend #1 - The premise to this series is kind of Toy Stories-ish, but it's illustrated absolutely beautifully. A great new all-ages title.
Titan Publishing
The Epic Chronicles of Hagar the Horrible: 1973-1974 HC - Why not? Dik Browne's comic strip gets collected.
Twomorrows Publishing
Marvel Comics In the 1960s SC - Pierre Comtois discusses how Marvel turned into one of the most innovative publishers in the industry.
Viz Media
Ooku: The Inner Chambers (Volume 1) - A new book in Viz's Signature Line, this is a new book by Fumi Yoshinaga of Antique Bakery (but looks very different from anything he's done before).

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

In Stores 5/13

Here are the highlights of books shipping to comic shops on Wednesday!
Pick of the Week
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Adventures (Volume 1): Heroes In a Half-Shell TP - Kicking off The Ninja Turtles' 25th anniversary, Archie will be collecting the much-loved Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Adventures series, beginning with the mini-series that adapted the first five episodes of the original TMNT cartoon series, with presumably more to come. Following this inital mini-series, the comic went in its own direction and some fan-favorite characters made their appearance in these fantastic comics, like Ray Fillet and the Mighty Mutanimals. On a side note, I've noticed 25th anniversary TMNT action figures that reissue the original run of toys that I grew up on, packaged with the original box art (minus those Turtle Points, and they tweaked some of the characters available on the back to allow for characters added later to be a part of the program). They also come with some of those original episodes of the cartoon too.
Other Noteworthy Releases
Angel: Not Fade Away #1
Astro Boy Movie Prequel: Underground #1
Batman: Scarecrow and Two-Face: Year One TP
Cloak & Dagger: Child of Darkness HC
Codeflesh Definitive Edition HC
Complete Chester Gould's Dick Tracy (Volume 7) HC
Complete Harold Gray's Little Orphan Annie (Volume 3) HC
Dark Reign: Young Avengers #1 (of 5)
Dark Tower: The Fall of Gilead #1 (of 6)
Final Crisis Aftermath: Escape #1 (of 6)
From the Ashes #1 (of 6)
GeNext United #1 (of 5)
Hellblazer: Roots of Coincidence TP
Howling Commandos #1
Hulk: World War Hulk HC
I Kill Giants TP
Legion of Super-Heroes: Enemy Manifest HC
Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers #1 (of 4)
Marvel Illustrated: Iliad TP
New Exiles (Volume 4): Away We Go TP
Secret Wars II Omnibus HC
Showcase Presents: Martian Manhunter (Volume 2) TP
Spider-Man: Family Ties HC
Spider-Man J (Volume 2): Japanese Daze TP
Superman: New Krypton (Volume 1) HC
Thor: Tales of Asgard by Lee & Kirby #1 (of 6)
Ultimates 3: Who Killed the Scarlet Witch? TP
Unwritten #1
X-Factor: Secret Invasion TP
X-Men: Manifest Destiny HC
X-Men 2099 (Volume 1) TP

Saturday, May 09, 2009

New Mutants #1

Zeb Wells & Diogenes Neves
I've been reading some of Marvel's reprints of the original New Mutants book (New Mutants Classic 1 & 2) over the past few years now, so I could hardly resist taking a look at the latest attempt to revive the team in the modern world the X-Men live in. The new book is written by Zeb Wells and drawn pretty decently by Diogenes Neves, and so far consists of Magik reappearing from Limbo and her other various adventures (in which she pissed off some of the new younger members of the X-Men, whom she faces immediately upon her arrival in San Francisco) and working with Sunspot, Cannonball and Magma to locate two other members of the original New Mutants team who are out on assignment, and according to Magik (who heard it from a future version of Magma), are about to die. The other two mutants are Dani Moonstar (who is currently without powers) and Karma, and they are dealing with some sort of mutant child with mental powers and, well, there's a surprise at the end of the issue. Missing from the original cast of New Mutants is Wolfsbane, who is being abused in the horrid X-Force book. But I like this small team of characters and I think they have a nice dynamic going, everyone a little uncomfortable around Illyana, and Magma being the cold one (ironically). This is a fun debut issue with plenty of guest stars and an intriguing premise that leads the reunited friends into a backwater town in Colorado. I'm not sure exactly where this book is going yet (especially with that final page), and I don't know how this team will set themselves apart from the dozen other X-books currently being published, but I'm down for giving this book a chance.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Jellaby (Volume 2)

Monster In the City
Kean Soo
This is the sequel to Kean Soo's Jellaby graphic novel from last year. The character appeared in the Flight Explorer anthology as well, and the big purple guy's fast become one of my favorite all-ages comic characters. That being said, I was a bit disappointed in the second volume. The same things that I loved about the first book were present in this one: great cartooning, characters with real-life issues that aren't afraid to show a little emotion, nice dialogue and I still love that purple toned coloring throughout the entire graphic novel. I also like those little scenes that Soo pauses on, pacing it just perfectly where he can frame a particularly beautiful image, like when Portia is on the swing ride at the carnival at the end of chapter seven. Very nicely done. One thing that I found lacking this time around, however, is that charm and innocence that came from Portia's initial discovery of Jellaby and her "secret" that she had come to share with classmate Jason. In this latest installment, I guess it's a given to anyone they encounter that Jellaby's in a lifelike costume? I can buy it, for the story's sake, as they travel through the city to the carnival, but that whole "secret" element is just kind of thrown out the window for the narrative of this book, and it's a shame. Overall, this volume is a lot less fun and whimsical than the initial volume. While the first book pretty much consisted of little vignettes with a loose narrative that allowed the characters to maneuver through different sorts of stories and do cute things, this new book has a mission. The three companions are traveling to the carnival to try to uncover where Jellaby came from, and it doesn't have too many really nice cute moments. There's no emphasis on the secret, hardly any memorable dialogue between the characters, and by the end of the book, what they go through isn't really worth the adventure. It's just sort of...boring, I hate to say. Hopefully there will be more Jellaby coming up the pipeline soon, and hopefully with his reappearance, Soo will return the character to his playful roots.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

In Stores 5/6

Here are the highlights of books arriving in comic shops tomorrow!
Pick of the Week
League of Extraordinary Gentlemen III - Century: 1910 - Easily the most exciting release of the week (and one of my most anticipated comics of the year), Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill return with a new chapter of the League!
Other Noteworthy Releases
Air Gear (Volume 12)
Alias Ultimate Collection (Book
.....One) TP
Astro City: The Dark Ages Book
.....Three #1 (of 4)
Atomic Robo: Shadow From
.....Beyond Time #1 (of 5)
Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight #25
Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight (Volume 4): Time of Your Life
Cameron and His Dinosaurs GN
Captive Hearts (Volume 4)
Cerebus Archive #1
Classic G.I. Joe (Volume 3) TP
Creepy Archives (Volume 3) HC
Dragonball VizBig Edition (Volume 4)
Essential Spider-Man (Volume 9) TP
Fairy Tail (Volume 6)
Final Crisis Aftermath: Run #1 (of 6)
Fing Fang Four Return #1
Flash Presents Mercury Falling TP
Freakangels (Volume 2) HC
High School Debut (Volume 9)
Hikaru No Go (Volume 15)
Human Torch Comics #1 70th Anniversary Special
Justice League of America: The Second Coming HC
Marvel Masterworks: Incredible Hulk (Volume 5) HC
Nana (Volume 16)
New Mutants #1
Otomen (Volume 2)
Parasyte (Volume 7)
Prince of Heroes: Chapter Two #1
Power Girl #1
Sand Chronicles (Volume 5)
Seaguy: The Slaves of Mickey Eye #2 (of 3)
Spawn Origins (Volume 1) TP
Spider-Man: Death & Dating HC
Superman: Escape From Bizarro World TP
Trojan War #1 (of 5)
X-Men/Fantastic Four HC
The Walking Dead Compendium (Volume 1) TP
We Were There (Volume 4)
Y-the Last Man Deluxe Edition (Volume 2) HC

Monday, May 04, 2009

Manga Monday: Hot Gimmick

Hot Gimmick VizBig Edition (Volume 1)
Miki Aihara
I'm really digging these fat collections of manga. There haven't been too many occasions where I've wanted to pick one up (the only other one I've purchased was Kiyohiko Azuma's Azumanga Daioh Omnibus), but my recent brush with Miki Aihara compelled me to grab this one. There's something about a thick book of comics that excites me, whether it's a Marvel Essential full of material that's probably not really worth collecting or some amazingly long-running media tie-in from Dark Horse like the Aliens Omnibus, having so many comics in one book is quite appealing whatever the material, perhaps just because you can sit down and read a huge chunk of a series at once (and there has to be something to a series that's gone on for so long, right?). Anyways, the first volume of Hot Gimmick VizBig Edition collects the first three volumes of Miki Aihara's very popular shojo manga. Like with Tokyo Boys and Girls and Honey Hunt, the main character in Hot Gimmick, Hatsumi, is a passive female protagonist whom people take advantage of and push around. But it's kind of to the Nth degree with this book (especially by the third book). If I had just read the first volume of this series, I probably wouldn't have continued, to be quite honest, but when Hatsumi's knight in shining armor, childhood protector Azusa, turns out to have some ulterior motives, things get really interesting and it's really hard not to feel for Hatsumi, despite her many deficiencies. Aihara's art in Hot Gimmick is much better than it was in Tokyo Boys and Girls, but it's still not quite as sharp as her latest Honey Hunt. The same things goes storywise, but the plot, slow-building as it is, gets really intriguing, and some of the relationships between the characters are really just plain neat, and I have to wonder how some of these relationships are going to progress in future volumes. It's interesting to see Aihara grow as a creator over these books, and I'm glad I could experience her most popular series in a big book like this. Like I said before, I probably wouldn't have gone passed volume one if I'd been buying the book in individual installments, but this VizBig Edition kind of sealed the deal for me, giving the series a little room to breathe and grow, and I will be buying subsequent volumes.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

The Eternal Smile

Gene Luen Yang & Derek Kirk Kim
The Eternal Smile is a new graphic novel from First Second Books that collects three short stories by American Born Chinese's Gene Luen Yang and Same Difference and Other Stories' Derek Kirk Kim, both of whom won quite a bit of recognition for their previous works.
The first story collected in this book is "Duncan's Kingdom." This story follows the knight Duncan as he tries to win the hand of the princess of his kingdom by bringing back the head of the frog king who killed his king. Things aren't what they seem in this story (as is the case with all of the stories in this collection), as Duncan finds something out-of-place hidden in the frog king's palace. I was surprised to see that this story had been published previously by Image Comics in 1999. I rather like this story quite a bit - it was easily my favorite of this collection - but have no recollection of hearing about this book in the past. Ah well. I love the different art of all three stories, but Kim's pencils on this were my favorite, and I felt the story was easily the strongest here.
Next up is "Gran'pa Greenbax and the Eternal Smile," the story this collection is named after. Gran'pa Greenfax is a Scrooge McDuck-type character, and you can see plenty of Walt Disney and Pogo influences throughout this story as he tries to make a bigger profit than ever. I wasn't very pleased with the turn this book took when The Eternal Smile was revealed for what it is, but it did win me over by the end. Another "good" story with nice cartoony characters.
Last, but not...actually, it is the least. Easily the weakest of the three tales is "Urgent Request." In this colorless tale (until the end, that is), office drone Janet finds hope from her pathetic life in the form of a request for a loan of money from a Nigerian Prince. I actually did like the art of all three books, but the storytelling in this one wasn't as strong as the previous two. Utterly unbelievable to the point of frustrating, with characters that are far from admirable, this tale unfortunately closes the collection of decent stories. Overall, The Eternal Smile is a nice work from two great creators, and I'd be much more enthused about the book overall if it hadn't been for that final story, but it's a pretty big mar to the overall package, and the other stories weren't quite strong enough to make up for my having to read it. In the end, I think this will be a book that people will enjoy reading in the moment, but by year's end will be all but forgotten as more substantial works come out. Kind of a disappointing team-up of two top-notch creators.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Movies-and-More: May 2009

Here's the run-down of May release dates for films, books, DVDs and music, as well as my box office predictions.
In Theaters May 1st
Battle For Terra
Ghosts of Girlfriends Past
X-Men Origins: Wolverine
Predictions: 1. X-Men Origins: Wolverine ($108 million), 2. Ghosts of Girlfriends Past ($20 m), 3. Obsessed ($14 m), 4. 17 Again ($7 m), 5. The Soloist ($6 m)
In Theaters May 8th
Next Day Air
Star Trek
Predictions: 1. Star Trek ($121 m), 2. X-Men Origins: Wolverine ($50 m), 3. Ghosts of Girlfriends Past ($13 m), 4. Next Day Air ($8 m), 5. Obsessed ($6 m)
In Theaters May 15th
Angels & Demons
Predictions: 1. Angels & Demons ($85 m), 2. Star Trek ($69 m), 3. X-Men Origins: Wolverine ($24 m), 4. Ghosts of Girlfriends Past ($8 m), 5. Next Day Air ($5.5 m)
In Theaters May 22nd
The Brothers Bloom
Dance Flick
Night At the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian
Terminator: Salvation (Thurs May 21st)
Predictions: 1. Terminator: Salvation ($92 m), 2. Angels & Demons ($45 m), 3. Night At the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian ($40 m), 4. Star Trek ($37 m), 5. X-Men Origins: Wolverine ($12 m)
In Theaters May 29th
Drag Me To Hell
Predictions: 1. Up ($59 m), 2. Terminator: Salvation ($45 m), 3. Angels & Demons ($24 m), 4. Star Trek ($21 m), 5. Night At the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian ($18 m)
Your Other Entertainment Needs:
May 5th
On DVD: Boston Legal: Season Five, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Last Chance Harvey, Lipstick Jungle: Season Two, That Girl: Season Five, Wendy and Lucy
On CD: Ciara, Cracker, Fischerspooner, Ben Harper & Relentless 7, Jewel, Anna Netrebko, Paul Potts, Sigor Ros, The Smithereens, Rick Springfield, Star Trek O.S.T., Cat Stevens, Elliot Yamin, Yusuf
In Bookstores:
Gillian Flynn's Dark Places
Charlaine Harris' Dead and Gone
Erin Hunters' Smoke Mountain (Seekers #3)
Jen Lancaster's Pretty In Plaid
Chuck Palahniuk's Pygmy
Robert B. Parker's Brimstone
Rick Riordan's The Last Olympian
J.R.R. Tolkien's The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun
May 12th
On DVD: Disney Animation Collection (Volume 4-6), Passengers, Star Trek Original Motion Picture Collection (Blu-Ray), Taken, Two and a Half Men: Season Five, Underworld: Rise of the Licans
On CD: Better Than Ezra, Cam'ron, The Crystal Method, Steve Earle, Green Day, Meat Puppets, Alecia Nugent
In Bookstores:
Jessica Day George's Dragon Spear
John Hart's The Last Child
D.J. MacHale's The Soldiers of Hala (Pendragon #10)
Douglas Preston's Cemetary Dance
John Sandord's Wicked Prey
Carol Lynch Williams' The Chosen One
May 19th
On DVD: 24: Season Seven, Friday Night Lights: Season Three, My Bloody Valentine 3D, Paul Blart: Mall Cop, T2: Judgment Day (Ultimate Edition), True Blood: Season One, Valkyrie
On CD: Tori Amos, Kenny Chesney, Eric Clapton & Steve Winwood, Dane Cook, Eminem, Fat Joe, Patty Griffin, Iron & Wine, Lisa Lisa, Marilyn Manson, Lionel Richie, Busta Rhymes, Ruban Studdard, True Blood O.S.T.
In Bookstores:
Lee Childs' Gone Tomorrow
Larry King's My Remarkable Journey
Ellen Schreiber's The Coffin Club
Tom Rob Smith's The Secret Speech
May 26th
On DVD: The Closer: Season Four, Designing Women: Season One, Land of the Lost: The Complete Series Collector's Edition, Law & Order: SVU: Season Nine, The Mod Squad: Season Two: Volume Two, New In Town,
On CD: Mandy Moore
In Bookstores:
Eric Carle's 123
Michael Connelly's The Scarecrow
Wayne W. Dyer's Excuses Begone!
Kim Harrison's Once Dead, Twice Shy
Michael Scott's The Sorceress
Lisa See's Shanghai Girls