Tuesday, June 30, 2009

In Stores 7/1

Here are the highlights of books hitting comic shops tomorrow!
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Pick of the Week
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Savage Dragon #150 - Erik Larsen's Savage Dragon reaches a new milestone this week, and in celebration, the 150th issue will be a whopping 100 pages in length! This follows a rejuvenated relaunch of the book a few issues back and the sell-out of issue #149 (a second printing will be in stores the same day as #150, and showcases the new Dart). Savage Dragon #150 features one of Dragon's fiercest foes from the past - Overlord, along with a few backstories that feature Thor and Vanguard, and a new G-Man story by Chris Giarrusso, as well as a reprint of Savage Dragon's origin and Charles Biro's origin for the Golden Age Daredevil. All this for $5.99. I've admired Erik Larsen's work for years now - his comic is in the top tier of current superhero books. This is sure to be a great jumping-on point for new readers, and an exciting issue for long-time fans!
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Other Noteworthy Releases
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Boys (Volume 4): We Gotta Go Now TP
Buck Rogers In the 25th Century Dailies (Volume 2) HC
Captain America: Reborn #1 (of 5)
Deadpool: Merc With a Mouth #1
Emma (Volume 9)
Far Arden HC
The Goon (Volume 8): Those That Is Damned TP
Greek Street #1
Green Lantern: Rage of the Red Lanterns HC
Justice League: Cry For Justice #1 (of 7)
Marvel Divas #1 (of 4)
POP Wonderland (Volume 1): Thumbelina HC
Runaways: Rock Zombies HC
Scourge of the Gods: Fall #1 (of 3)
Spawn: Endgame (Volume 1) TP
Syncopated: An Anthology of Nonfiction Picto-Essays GN
Witchfinder: In the Service of Angels #1 (of 5)

Monday, June 29, 2009

Manga Monday: Wolverine

Wolverine: Prodigal Son (Volume 1)
Antony Johnston & Wilson Tortosa
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It was only a matter of time before Wolverine made the leap to OEL manga, and here it is under the care of Antony Johnston (Wasteland) and Wilson Tortosa (Battle of the Planets), who retell Wolverine's story and origin for their manga universe. In this version of his backstory, Wolverine was left at the door of "Quiet Earth," a school that teaches young students how to defend themselves, and shares earthy wisdom. A wolverine was standing over Logan in the doorway, thus his "codename" was attached to him. When Wolverine first joined the school, he bested the original champion of the school, who immediately left in disgrace, but of course, his story isn't over as he brings the real threat to Logan at their front door much later in the story. Wolverine, like in his superhero appearances, is not a people person: he's a broody loner who goes off into berserker rages when things don't go well for him. But he makes a few friends and his teacher sees the potential in him, which is how Logan became the first student to pass the "Wind, Wood and Water" test. All of this is fine, but it really lacks imagination. It seems like both of the creators on this book had an idea of what manga should look like and applied them to this work. Johnston's ideas are so basic and par-for-the-course when it comes to action manga that it's utterly tame and boring when held up to other works with schools that train students to fight - this is a complete embarrassment when held up against something like Naruto. And Tortosa's art doesn't fare much better. While the sketches in back show a lot of potential for the character designs, when executed it just looks hastily executed, with seeming little intuition for what looks aesthetically pleasing. And the action scenes are a mess, the artist resorting to action lines constantly to the point that it's difficult to see past them to the actual action being depicted. I think there is a lot of potential in Wolverine the character to translate to manga in a good way, but this just isn't it. And any characters beyond Logan in this title are complete throw-away characters with no personality or character traits of their own whatsoever. One thing I can give this book is that the artist and writer seem well suited for each other...

Friday, June 26, 2009

TGIF: The Box and More

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Another week come and gone. Here are the things I found exciting since last Friday...
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1. God Help the Girl - A new group established by Stuart Murdoch, lead singer/songwriter of Belle & Sebastian, this indie band has mostly female singers and tells the story of a Scottish girl's life growing up in the highlands and her eventual breakdown, although Stuart Murdoch does some vocals himself on this new CD of beautiful songs. I fell in love with the title song "God Help the Girl" immediately.
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2. Astro Boy on DVD - The original Astro Boy cartoon is very difficult to find, and impossible to track down at a reasonable price. But with a new feature film looming, The Right Stuff and Nozomi Entertainment are going to release mini-sets of Tezuka's cartoon from the 1960's (along with Kimba the White Lion mini-sets) at an affordable $49.99 price for 550 minutes of awesomeness.
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3. Michael Jackson's Thriller - This past week saw the passing of two American icons as Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett died. Fawcett's death seems overshadowed by Jackson's passing, as the influential King of Pop's music has seen a boom of sales and his music videos are being streamed on MTV and documentaries are neverending on various news channels. I did rediscover the video for Michael Jackson's Thriller, which was really frightening to me as a child, many of the images sticking with me for years. It's a true masterpiece. I recommend reading Sean Collins' essay on it.
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4. "Campire Songs" by The Tall Pines - This new rock/country CD by The Tall Pines has a throwback sound that's catchy and wonderful, with smooth vocals by Connie Lynn Petruk set to the great lyrics of Christmas Davis. Their first CD was one of NPR's best CDs of 2007 - they've only gotten better.
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5. The Box theatrical trailer - The new film by Richard Kelly has a great premise, as a couple will be granted one wish if they push the button within a box given to them by a stranger. The catch - that button will end someone's life, although that person will be a complete stranger to them. Richard Kelly's Donnie Darko is a great movie, although it's a bit overrated in some circles, but I've heard some pretty awful things about his follow-up Southland Tales. The Box has some great moral quandaries in it though, and could go to some really neat places. The film stars Cameron Diaz and James Marsden. Watch the trailer here.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Batman: Streets of Gotham #1

Paul Dini & Dustin Nguyen
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Batman: Streets of Gotham debuted last week as a new monthly series written by Paul Dini (producer/writer on the influential Batman: The Animated Series) and drawn by Dustin Nguyen. The book finds Gotham City in a dark period for its residents, as Batman has died. While there is a new Batman, there are rumblings in the dark belly of Gotham's underworld and, as is illustrated by the first story in this book, even C-level villains like Firefly are getting bold. I like how this book, like Gotham Central before it, focuses on Gotham's street-fighters, like Gordan and the police force, as well as the lawyers and the new D.A., who has her own back-up feature in this book, as it's no other than Kate Spencer aka Manhunter, who is a vigilante very reminiscent of Batman, and so fits with the book very well. The Manhunter feature is a good-sized nine page story, which is nice to see, since I was sad to see Manhunter canceled (again), and even better is seeing Marc Andreyko fit Kate into the filth of Gotham. And can I just say that I love Damian as the new Robin? He's spectacular and Paul Dini gets what Grant Morrison intended for the character, as Dini shows with Damian's little scene with Harley Quinn here (Quinn is coincidentally Paul Dini's own creation, you know). So, this new book is off to a good start and it's nice to see things from this perspective during the exciting restructuring of the Batman universe.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

In Stores 6/24

Here are the highlights of books hitting comic shops tomorrow!
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Pick of the Week
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Queer Visitors From the Land of Oz HC - Sunday Press Books (the publisher behind Little Nemo: So Many Splendid Sundays) is known for its quality strip reprints, and here's another one, collecting Oz creator L. Frank Baum, and Walt McDougall's, comic strip that appeared in newspapers between August 1904 and February 1905, which this volume is named after, as well as W.W. Denslow's (the illustator on the original The Wonderful Wizard of Oz book) strip Scarecrow and Tin-Man, among other various Oz strips. As always with Sunday Press Books, they will appear in their original format and will be fully colored.
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Other Noteworthy Releases
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All-Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder (Volume 1) TP
Black Jack (Volume 5)
Dark Avengers/Uncanny X-Men: Utopia #1
Dark Reign: Accept Change TP
Dark Reign: Lethal Legion #1 (of 3)
Dark Reign: Sinister Spider-Man #1 (0f 4)
Dark Reign: Zodiac #1 (of 3)
Dark Wolverine #75
Essential Doctor Strange (Volume 4) TP
Fallen Son: The Death of Captain America HC
G.I. Joe (Volume 1) TP
Gantz (Volume 5)
Golden Age Starman Archives (Volume 2) HC
Gotham City Sirens #1
Green Lantern: Tales of the Sinestro Corps TP
Indiana Jones (Volume 1): Tomb of Gods TP
Immortal Iron Fist by Fraction, Brubaker & Aja Omnibus HC
Jim Butcher's Dresden Files: Storm Front (Volume 1) HC
JLA Deluxe Edition (Volume 2) HC
Low Moon HC
Marvel Masterworks: Fantastic Four (Volume 2) TP
Mushishi (Volume 7)
My Heavenly Hockey Club (Volume 8)
NYX: Wannabe HC
Papillon (Volume 3)
Patsy Walker: Hellcat TP
Pebbles (Book 1): Pebbles Conquers Camp HC
Pebbles (Book 2): Daddy's Girl HC
Predator #1 (of 4)
Remake (Volume 1)
Superman: Tales From the Phantom Zone TP
Timestorm 2009/2099: X-Men
Turok: Son of Stone Archives (Volume 2) HC
Ultimates by Mark Millar & Bryan Hitch Omnibus HC
Venom: Dark Origin TP
William Shatner Presents Tek War #1
Witchblade (Volume 6) TP

Monday, June 22, 2009

Manga Monday: Leave It To PET!

Leave It To PET! (Volume 1)
Kenji Sonishi
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Leave It To PET is a kids' manga put out by Viz that follows the adventures of Noboru Yamada and his PET. PET stands for Polyethylene Terephthalate, which is a type of plastic. That's because PET is a plastic bottle. But not just any plastic bottle. Noboru recycled this plastic bottle, so PET came back to grant Noboru a favor every day as a way of saying thanks (and is somehow now robotic as well, with many different attachments/uses). Unfortunately, things hardly ever go right when PET is involved. This is a gag manga, very silly and loads of fun, reminding me quite a bit of another all-ages manga that I love: Yotsuba&. But Leave It To PET! is just weird and as creative as a comic can get. Some of the mischief PET gets into includes giving out a password for Noboru to use to call for his help that's almost impossible to get down right, so PET hides behind a tree as bullies bother Noboru and a friend, who are trying to repeat the correct password, while PET just shakes its head and thinks to itself "they're so close." Another example of one of the short episodes within this volume is of PET being called to rescue a cat from a tree. He gets dizzy from being refueled by fizzy soda, but eventually he asks Noboru to shake him up really fast, so he'll be able to help, whereupon PET's head flies off and onto the tree beside the cat, prompting PET needing a rescue of his own. I can't stress enough how fun this book is - I was smiling the entire time I was reading it, often chuckling to myself along the way. Sonishi's drawing is a little clunky, but it grew on me as it went along, and between the funny ideas he comes up with and the adorably jealous, mischievous character he created in PET, he more than makes up for any shortcomings. Great pacing and timing illustrate Sonishi's strength in executing comedy, and the tips for recycling and little games at the back of the volume are a bonus that adds a little extra charm to the overall package. This is a great book to slip into the hands of a child.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers #1

Chris Eliopoulos, Ig Guara & Colleen Coover
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I missed out on this comic the first time around, but the second printing came out this week to meet the high demand (because who wouldn't want a comic like this?) for the debut issue of this four-issue mini-series featuring the pets of various Marvel superheroes. Included on the team are Lockjaw (The Inhumans' canine), Lockheed (Kitty Pryde's purple pet dragon), Throg (a frog whose origin is explained within this first issue, who has the powers of Thor), Redwing (Falcon's sidekick), Hairball (Speedball's cat who shares his powers), and Ms. Lion (who really doesn't have any powers, as he (yes, he) is the dog of Aunt May). There's a really nice dynamic between the pet avengers, who Eliopoulos took some creative liberties with to assign personality traits (Redwing's a snob, Ms. Lion is stupid and annoying and Hairball can't stand him (At least that's how he acts anyway)), and the book is drawn very nicely by Guara, with Coover handling the Throg origin story. The basic premise of the book has the pet avengers gathered by Lockjaw to track down the six Infinity Gems that together made Thanos' Infinity Gauntlet a god-like weapon. One gem was found by Lockjaw on the moon, and after Reed Richards explains to the Inhumans that they are scattered and must be secured (and they act as homing beacons to one another, so it should be easy to find the others), Lockjaw acquires heightened telepathy from The Mind Gem, which he uses to communicate to the other animals. Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers is a fun book, a little silly in the end, but obviously it's aimed for a younger audience than those that also read, like, the Punisher MAX series. It's just a nice family-friendly title. DC should take note and collect their Super Pets comics.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

TGIF: Late Posting

Yes, it's Saturday, but that doesn't mean I didn't find anything of interest this week! I had a stressful week of moving into a new apartment in Oak Creek, WI, complete with a library/study (which I've fantasized about for awhile now), but I'm finally back and relatively settled in. Here's what caught my attention since last Friday...
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1. Waltz With Bashir on DVD - Ari Folman's Oscar-nominated animated film, and winner of the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Film, comes home to DVD. It's been pretty much universally praised with 97% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. This is Folman's first foray into animation (he's a documentary filmmaker), but felt that this best captured what he needed to say, and obviously, he was successful.
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2. Back & Fourth by Pete Yorn - Pete Yorn is one of my favorite singers and on his fourth CD, he's wowing the critics with his crooning and rocking. The album comes to stores on Tuesday, but is already available through I-Tunes right now.
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3. Friday the 13th 2 - There are reports that the sequel to last year's successful horror movie remake is in the works, being written currently and should have a release date next year. And with something we haven't seen in a Friday the 13th movie before - Jason in the snow.
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4. Tom & Jerry: The Chuck Jones Collection - This new DVD set includes 34 best-of animated shorts from between 1963 and 1967, remastered in a nice 2-disc set. It comes out on Tuesday.
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5. Zombieland theatrical trailer - The trailer for Zombieland, a horror-comedy starring Woody Harrelson and Jesse Eisenberg, has hit the net and looks like a lot of fun. See it here at Apple's site.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Manga...Sunday?

I'm moving to my new home in Oak Creek, WI tomorrow, and I won't have internet access for the day, so here's Manga Monday a day early!
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A Drifting Life
Yoshihiro Tatsumi
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Yoshihiro Tatsumi's autobiographic work A Drifting Life is quite the undertaking, clocking in at over 830 pages. Often when I'd been reading the book for hours, I would be amazed to see how little progress I'd made along the thick spine. But if you're looking for what's bound to be one of the best manga to be published in America this year, then you won't be disappointed.
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For whatever reason, Tatsumi chose to tell this story in third person under the name of Hiroshi Katsumi, and as such, we see manga develop during his early life. This autobiography is more about his involvement with the industry than anything too personal, although I really think that Tatsumi was so immersed in this world that this is what his life was like, even if we don't get to see too much within his brilliant mind. There's plenty of life at home with his sickly brother growing up, and a few brief love interests that dart into his life. But the bulk of the story is his own rise within manga, from submitting to contests, getting his first books published, to being a part of some revolutionary ventures in manga, including the creation of gekiga. It's really fascinating seeing the rise of manga through his eyes, as he was part of the wars between several publishers, and quite an instrumental force in shaping how manga looks today. For anyone who's interested in manga's history or the influences of other artforms on the medium, this is a must-read. I was a little surprised that the book ended so abruptly, however. There's no indication in this novel of how gekiga grows after the Gekiga Workshop disbands, or how the artform turns into the type of thing we see in this actual manga we are reading. Also, I was waiting for Tatsumi to publish some of his highly regarded stories like The Push-Man, and see the manga anthologies move from short stories to chapters of stories that carry through the magazines from one issue to another. But despite what my expectations were, this is a really riveting look at Tatsumi's early life in his struggle to become a manga artist and follow in the footsteps of his hero Osamu Tezuka. Tatsumi had quite the vision, if only we could have seen more of that realized within this, his life story. But overall, an absolute delight to read, and quite inspiring. Tatsumi is really a man of artistic integrity who wants to see the medium grow. He loves manga and you can see it on every page of this enormous project.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

X-Men Forever #1

Chris Claremont & Tom Grummett
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A blast from the past. Chris Claremont picks up the X-Men where he left off with them when he moved on to other projects in the 90's. The team consists of Cyclops, Jean Grey, Wolveine, Shadowcat, Nightcrawler, Gambit, Rogue, Storm, Beast and Professor Xavier at this point in the book (with Sabertooth soon to join if the cover is any indication). The characters are in their bright mismatched costumes of the period when the cartoon was at its prime, and indeed, the book felt a little bit like the 90's cartoon show - a little dumbed-down and simplified, keeping to iconic elements like the love triangle between Jean, Logan and Scott. It also feels like I just picked up a random X-Men comic off of the rack, mid-story. Claremont really did just jump onboard immediately after the Asteroid M stuff went down before he left the title: Magneto is dead, Fabian Cortez escaped, and Nick Fury is looking over the X-Men's shoulder as humans are afraid of the power Magneto demonstrated. In this issue, the X-Men try to track down Fabian Cortez and bring him to justice. Once you get passed that backstory, it's pretty straight-forward and is a nice way to just reintroduce the characters and their various powers, each of whom get a little moment to shine and show off in battle. Overall, this book isn't as bad as the horrid stuff we've seen from Claremont recently. In fact, it's probably the best he's had to offer in recent memory. But with the "First Class" books out there, this just seems like another one of the same types of books we're seeing oozing out from Marvel recently, appeasing long-time fans. Not a bad thing, but not any more deserving of attention than any of the other X-books.

Friday, June 12, 2009

TGIF: Mario and More

TGIF is a new weekly feature on Comics-and-More! Every Friday, you can expect to see five things from the entertainment industry that I'm excited about right now.
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1. New Super Mario Bros. Wii - Recently announced at the E3 conference, a new Super Mario Brothers game will be released later this year on Nintendo's Wii console (supposedly in the Fall). The game will have classic 2-D sidescroll play (like the original three Super Mario Brothers games), but will contain new powers and can play up to four players at a time (Mario, Luigi, Blue Toad and Yellow Toad). A classic, reinvigorated. Something like this was all I needed as an excuse to pick up the system (even though I'll probably end up getting a Playstation 3 as well for the next Final Fantasy). You can watch the trailer for the game here.
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2. Friday the 13th on DVD - The 2009 remake of the horror franchise could have been better, but it was still better than any other Friday the 13th movie that came before it. Jason once again hacks up teens in and around Camp Crystal Lake (with plenty of extras) this Tuesday.
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3. The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane - Katherine Howe's debut novel is the latest pick in Barnes & Noble's Recommend program. The book, of which I'm currently reading, is kind of like The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. It's about the Salem Witch Trials, and bounces back and forth between the present day and the 17th Century (via interludes) as a young Harvard History student works on her dissertation. It's in the world of academia and is really well-written and intelligent, surrounding the fun idea of what if the accused were actually witches? Great atmosphere, rich with mystery and discovery, and written by the descendant of real accused witches.
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4. Shutter Island Theatrical Trailer - Martin Scorsese's latest film looks like it will be quite the thriller, set in a rural insane asylum with dreamlike imagery and full of conspiracy. Shutter Island stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Ben Kingsley and Michelle Williams. Watch the trailer on Apple's site here.
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5. Relator by Pete Yorn and Scarlett Johansson - Scarlett Johansonn's last CD of Tom Waits remakes may have gotten bashed, but her voice alongside crooner Pete Yorn makes for quite a new sound. The two will collaborate on the album Break Up, out on September 8th. this is the first single.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Comics-and-More turns 4 today!!!

I can't believe I've been doing this for four years... But in celebration, here are some covers of #4 comic issues...

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Batman and Robin #1

Grant Morrison & Frank Quitely
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This is awesome. The new Batman and the new Boy Wonder have a great dynamic and right from the get-go, this book is a rollicking superhero ride. I don't think Frank Quitely's art has ever looked better, and even a lame small-town crook like Toad seems really cool under Grant Morrison's hand. I didn't really follow any of the Battle For the Cowl stuff, to be quite honest. I read Morrison's R.I.P. and decided that that was the last word on the subject and the rest was just a way to build an event around the death of Batman. So I was a little surprised when this project was announced, but I love what Morrison's done for the next chapter of The Dark Knight. Batman, for anyone who hasn't read it or doesn't care to, is now Dick Grayson, formerly Nightwing and Robin, while Bruce Wayne and Talia's son Damian has taken on the mantle of Robin, in hopes of filling his father's shoes in the future. While Damian is a bright boy with a lot of potential, he's a bit of a snotty kid and a little too gung-ho, but he has quite the interesting relationship with Grayson (and Alfred for that matter). This is a great debut issue that breathes new life into the franchise with fresh blood, and I'm confident that this book is going to easily (and quickly) become one of the best superhero books being published.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

In Stores 6/10

Here are the highlights of books shipping to comic shops on Wednesday!
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Pick of the Week
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Excalibur Visionaries: Alan Davis (Volume 1) TP - I'm really excited about this. I was waiting and hoping for more Excalibur Classic volumes, even though it got into some of the dreadful filler material - but this is even better. They're jumping over more crappy stuff and picking up where it got realy good again, with Alan Davis' innovative run. This collection includes the first comic book I ever read!
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Other Noteworthy Releases
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Anna Mercury 2 #1 (of 5)
Beta Ray Bill: Godhunter #1 (of 3)
Bleach (Volume 27)
Buck Rogers #1
Captain Britain and MI-13 (Volume 2): Hell Comes To Birmingham TP
Color of Water GN
The Complete Dracula #1 (of 5)
Conan (Volume 7): Cimmeria HC
Essential Thor (Volume 4) TP
Final Crisis HC
Miss America Comics #1 70th Anniversary Special
Showcase Presents: Green Lantern (Volume 4) TP
Sub-Maniner: Depths HC
Uncanny X-Men: First Class Giant-Size Special #1
X-Men Forever #1
X-Men Noir HC
Tail of the Moon Prequel TP
Toy Story: Mysterious Stranger #1 (of 4)

Monday, June 08, 2009

Manga Monday: Oishinbo

Oishinbo: Ramen & Gyoza
Tetsu Kariya & Akira Hanasaki
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Oishinbo is a long-running cooking manga with over one hundred volumes under its belt. Viz is publishing the book in English in an "a la carte" series, featuring "best of" chapters of the book that relate to each other in each volume. The volume I picked up centers around Ramen and Gyoza, and follows a young culinary journalist (the big-mouthed, lazy genius Yamaoka Shiro) and his friends at the paper he works for, Tozai News. He's trying to come up with an "ultimate menu" of various foods, at the same time as a competing newspaper (Teito Times) is, and along the way he partakes in various cooking adventures, constantly running into veteran competing culinary journalist (his own father, Kaibara Yuzan) who does his best to show him up. Yamaoka welcomes a challenge though, and through some creative ideas and a truly gifted knack for the culinary arts, slowly impresses his competition (even if his father doesn't show it outright). I was kind of expecting this manga to have the layout of a cooking show on The Food Network, just kind of showing how some dishes are made amid idle chit-chat, but it turns out that we really are following these characters' lives, meeting their families, seeing relationships bloom, their interactions at the office, etc. It's very informative about the ingredients that make up the dishes and how they are executed for a well-rounded and delicious final product, often illustrating several different options for certain foods. It's ultimately very satisfying to see the competition between the two rival culinary journalists, and the characters are just fun to hang out with. I didn't get as much specific information about each dish as I thought I would going in, but Kariya kind of glosses over the important basic info so readers get a general idea about each dish and what makes it special and (when done right) scrumptious. There is one full-color recipe at the beginning of the manga too, for a nice added bonus. Overall, this is a fun way to read about food and get a little culture. I commend Viz for releasing this the way they did. I think the "a la carte" route is really the smart way to put these out in the states, especially as there's enough material to choose from to link subjects together. And with how many volumes are out there, it would have been an extremely unrealistic venture to publish them as they were originally released. This works as a nice sampling, and I just might try a bowl of Ramen to see what the hub-bub is all about.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Captain Britain and MI-13 Annual #1

Paul Cornell, Mike Collins & Adrian Alphona
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Since the very first comic book I ever picked up was an issue of Excalibur, Meggan has been a dear (if not obscure) character in my heart. I was a huge fan of the series and she was my favorite part of preceding Captain Britain comics. So I was, of course, excited to see that an annual of Captain Britain and MI-13 would focus on the character who'd made a brief cameo in a former issue as a supposed figment of Captain Britain's imagination (but to be fair, he was being teased by a demon who offered him and his teammates illusions of what they desired most, and what would Brian want more than his dead beloved wife?).
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The entirety of this comic is written by Captain Britain and MI-13 writer Paul Cornell, the main story of which is illustrated by Mike Collins, with Adrian Alphona (of Runaways) doing a little backup story. I love Alphona's art on his "British Magic" story, very cartoony with some really fun bantering between the characters as they play a game of cricket. As the game progresses, Captain Britain recalls some of his favorite moments with Meggan, what he loves about her, and gets distracted from his game. It's a cute story, but it was the art that really grabbed me.
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The main story, "The Harrowing of Hell," follows Meggan as she, basically, conquers Hell, becoming a leader to demon forces as she reminisces about her life, from her first brushes with her powers, to the mutant prison she was confined to, to her life with Brian. While I wasn't as taken with Collins art as I was with Alphona's, he does a competent job illustrating Hell and its inhabitants. What I really liked about this story was Cornell's interpretation of Meggan. He really gets her. Her patheticness, her codependency: he understands that and builds on it, forcing her into a role we've never seen her in before, as a strong leader. It's a great contrast. She has such powerful abilities and it's nice to see her wield them with confidence and take her life into her own hands for once. And obviously we'll be seeing more of Meggan in the final issue of Captain Britain and MI-13. It's too bad that the book is ending so suddenly, as it's really gotten increasingly better as it's gone along. But perhaps Cornell will be able to navigate himself back to these characters in a different form in the future.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Previews: August '09

Here are the highlights from Previews Catalogue for books shipping to comic shops in August!!
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Abrams Comicarts
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The Toon Treasury of Classic Children's Comics HC - Art Spiegelman and Francoise Mouly edit this collection of self-contained classic comic books for kids, with works by artists such as Carl Barks, Walt Kelly and Basil Wolverton.
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Amaze Ink/Slave Labor Graphics
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Gargoyles: Bad Guys TP - The latest Gargoyles collection from series creator Greg Weisman focuses on the villains from the Gargoyles universe.
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Ubu Bubu (Volume 1): The Filth TP - A cute demon-possessed cat animated by Jamie Smart's fun, cartoony art.
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Archaia Studios Press
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Days Missing #1 (of 5) - Phil Hester (of Firebreather) brings us a tale, along with artist Frazer Irving, about several days from human history that have been covered up by a powerful being that has shaped our world.
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The Killer (Volume 2) HC - The excellent, critically-acclaimed comic by Matz and Luc Jacamon returns in the second volume of the series following the gritty life of an assassin.
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Primordia HC - The collected fantasy mini-series about two brothers raised by Woodfolk on very different paths.
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BuenaVentura Press
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BP Comics Revival Previews Exclusive 3-Pak - Alternative comic books may be on their last legs, but BuenaVentura Press is offering a new way to appeal to audiences, offering three comics together, excusively through comic book stores. They include Ted May's Injury #3, Eric Haven's The Aviatrix and Lisa Hanawalt's I Want You.
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Candlewick Press
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The Storm In the Barn GN - A kid-friendly story about a boy in Kansas in the 30's, where he deals with everyday problems, as well as some potentially supernatural ones.
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Cartoon Books
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Rose GN - A new printing of Jeff Smith and Charles Vess' Bone prequel, Rose, made to fit in with the new Scholastic color-editions of the Bone series.
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DC Comics
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Adventure Comics #1 - A new ongoing series featuring one of DC's longest running titles, this time written by Geoff Johns. Featuring Superboy, this book will also have a co-feature story with the Legion of Super-Heroes.
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Batgirl #1 - A new heroine is taking on the mantle of Batgirl, but who is this new masked vigilante?
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Batman: Widening Gyre #1 (of 6) - A new Batman mini-series written by fan-favorite Kevin Smith.
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Blackest Night: Batman #1 (of 3) - DC's new big crossover event, from out of Geoff John's Blackest Night, begins to creep into the other books of the DC universe, beginning with Batman, Superman and the Teen Titans (the latter two in their own three issue mini-series).
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Doom Patrol #1 - DC refuses to let this title die, resurrecting Doom Patrol once more in an ongoing series, this time under the care of Keith Giffen, and with a co-feature starring the Metal Men.
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Peter & Max: A Fables Novel HC - The first prose book spinning out of the Fables universe, written by series creator Bill Willingham.
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The Red Circle - This is a new brand of superhero comics by J. Michael Straczynski, featuring the reimagining of some of DC's Golden and Silver Age characters. One of each of four one-shots will ship throughout the month, starring The Hangman, The Web, Inferno and The Shield.
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Red Herring #1 (0f 6) - A new Wildstorm title by David Tischman and Philip Bond about government conspiracies and near death experiences, among other things.
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Fantagraphics Books
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Captain Easy, Soldier of Fortune: The Complete Sunday Newspaper Strips (Volume 1) HC - A full-color reprint of Roy Crane's action strip beings here.
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The Complete Peanuts 1973-1974 HC - The latest Peanuts collection, featuring Woodstock on the cover arrives this month along with the annual slipcase that collects both of this year's offerings.
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Like a Dog HC - A new graphic novel by Zak Sally - prepare for insight and laughs.
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Love & Rockets: New Stories #2 - The latest annual offering of Love & Rockets stories in a graphic novel length book, by the talented Hernandez Brothers.
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Usagi Yojimbo: The Special Edition - A deluxe slipcase edition of Usagi Yojimbo is being offered in celebration of the hare's 25th anniversary. That's over a thousand pages (the first seven volumes-worth of stories) and plenty of extras.
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:01 First Second Books
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Cat Burgler Black GN - This is exciting and completely unexpected - a new graphic novel by Peculia creator Richard Sala, following a former cat burglar who discovers some secrets at the new school she's attending.
***Pick of the Month!***
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Stuffed! GN - A dark comedy by the creator of Daria (where are those DVDs?) and a writer from The Colbert Report.
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Flesk Publications
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Al Williamson's Flash Gordon: A Lifelong Vision of the Heroic - Offered in both hardcover and softcover editions, this collects all major works by the artist that feature Flash Gordon.
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Graphix
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Amulet (Volume 2): The Stonekeeper's Curse - The continuation of Kazu Kibuishi's (Flight) all-ages fantasy tale.
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IDW Publishing
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Angel: Only Human #1 (of 4) - A new mini-series that follows the Illyria and Gunn on a road trip seeking redemption.
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Monster Diaries HC - From IDW's picturebook line, here's a fun story following the mundane lives of monsters, with great art by Poly Bernatene.
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Sparrow: Al Columbia HC - Reknowned artist Al Columbia brings his unique vision to Sparrow in a new hardcover.
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Image Comics
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G-Man: Cape Crisis #1 (of 5) - Chris Giarrusso's all-ages superhero kid is back in a new mini.
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King City #1 - I don't know why Tokyopop "presents" this title from Image, but this new comic by Brandon Graham looks strange, fun and manga-riffic.
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Marvel Comics
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Daredevil #500 - Daredevil reaches quite the milestone this month. This is an oversized issue with over one hundred pages (a new story and some reprinted stories).
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Iron Man & the Armor Wars #1 (of 4) - All of Tony Stark's armor is stolen...and then come back to battle him. Who comes out on top?
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Marvel Bromance TP - lol
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Marvel Masterworks: Deathlok (Volume 1) HC - Really?
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The Marvel Project #1 (of 8) - Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting reexamine the beginnings of the Marvel Universe, tying the heroes together in a defining, epic origin story.
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Punisher Noir #1 (of 4) & Luke Cage Noir #1 (of 4) - More noir tales. Luke Cage should be fun. Punisher...looks a little scary.
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Ultimate Comics: Avengers #1 and Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man #1 - Following Ultimatum, Marvel's "Ultimate" universe relaunches with new number ones, and some pretty clumsy titles. Is this just a way to capitalize on the upcoming Avengers movie by renaming the Ultimates? Who knows? It just seems rather unnecessary. Wasn't the whole point of the Ultimate line to appeal to new comic readers? And now they have to figure out what the differences are between Ultimate Spider-Man and Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man, and where to begin...seems silly to me...
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X-Men: Mutant Massacre HC - The Morlock massacre, its mysteries and repercussions - collected in this 300+ page hardcover.
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Pantheon Books
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A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge GN - Josh Neufeld paints a picture of the great city following the catastrophic events of Hurricane Katrina.
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Papercutz
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Geronimo Stilton GNs - The popular childrens series launches as full-fledged graphic novels.
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Sunday Press Books
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The Upside Down World of Gustave Verbeek HC - The complete run of these weird comics that can be read right-side up and then upside-down for different stories, last sampled in Dan Nadel's Art Out of Time anthology.
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Top Shelf Productions
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The Complete Essex County - Jeff Lemire's entire trilogy collected under one volume.
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Johnny Boo (Book 3): Happy Apples HC - James Kochalka's kid-friendly character continues to get into silly adventures.
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Tokyopop
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Domo (Volume 1) - This single-volume manga features the cartoon mascot of Japanese television.
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Udon Entertainment
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Swans In Space (Volume 1) - This full color manga looks amazing!
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Viz Media
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Dinosaur King (Volume 1) - This new manga features Max Taylor, who goes back to the time of dinosaurs and uncovers a nefarious plot by an evil doctor to kidnap and control dinosaurs with microchips to rule over the world. Manga has the best premises.
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Misc.
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Manga Impact SC - This book navigates through the world of manga, citing its biggest creators and characters in an informative journey.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

In Stores 6/3

Here are the highlights of books hitting comic shops tomorrow!
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Pick of the Week
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Batman and Robin #1 - I was extremely close to giving my pick of the week to the Captain Britian and MI-13 Annual (featuring Meggan!!!), but then I saw this...and it was a no-brainer. The team behind All-Star Superman and parts of New X-Men, and the writer behind the recent acclaimed Batman run, Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely, reunite on a new series featuring The Dark Knight and his sidekick.
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Other Noteworthy Releases
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Batgirl: Redemption TP
Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight: Tales of the Vampires One-Shot
Captain America (Volume 1): Fighting Chance TP
Captain Britain and MI-13 Annual #1
Chew #1
Cirque du Freak (Volume 1) GN
Daredevil Omnibus by Brubaker & Lark (Volume 1) HC
Deadpool (Volume 1): Secret Invasion TP
Echo (Volume 2): Atomic Dreams TP
Eyeshield 21 (Volume 26)
George Sprott HC
Green Lantern Corps: Sins of the Star Sapphire TP
Halo: Uprising HC
Honey & Clover (Volume 6)
House of Mystery (Volume 2): Love Stories For Dead People TP
Legend of Isis #1
The Legend of Zelda (Volume 5)
Magic Touch (Volume 2)
Marvel Masterworks: Avengers (Volume 9) HC
Mixed Vegetables (Volume 4)
Monkey High (Volume 6)
Moomin: The Complete Tove Jansson Comic Strip (Volume 4) HC
The Muppet Show #3 (of 4)
One Piece (Volume 21)
Punisher MAX (Volume 5) HC
Punisher MAX: Naked Kill #1
Ral Ω Grad (Volume 4)
Rosario Vampire (Volume 7)
The Sentry: Age of The Sentry TP
She-Hulk (Volume 9): Lady Liberators TP
Slam Dunk (Volume 4)
Superman/Batman: Finest Worlds HC
Timestorm 2009/2099 Spider-Man
Uncanny X-Men: Lovelorn TP
Uptight #3
Werewolves On the Moon vs. Vampires #1 (of 3)
Wolverine: Revolver #1

Monday, June 01, 2009

Manga Monday: Metropolis

Osamu Tezuka
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For Manga Monday this week, I decided to go old school and picked up a classic science fiction manga from Osamu Tezuka (on clearance at my local comic store) from 1949. As it is an earlier work, it has a different feel to it than the manga we've seen translated by Vertical recently, like MW and Apollo's Song. It's more whimsical, with plenty of slapstick and cartoony villians bouncing around, meanwhile full of astute commentary of the times. Things are much more blunt in this early work by the manga master, but the innocence of his characters brings to mind early animation and comic strips with their simplicity and naivety (and not just because there are giant Mickey Mouse-ish rats in the story actually called Mikimaus Waltdisneus). Events chug along at an extremely quick pace, leaving characters little time to breathe or develop, the opposite of which is customary for modern comics and manga, but it suits the futuristic, silly world that Tezuka has set up in this metropolis, corrupt with gangsters and machine slaves. It may just be that I'm biased or conditioned to read comics a certain way now, but I'm not a huge fan of this early work. I prefer Tezuka's later work exponentially, although I am still curious to read more of Tezuka's pioneering manga like Princess Warrior, despite myself.
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I had the same feeling when I was reading Metropolis that I had from reading Tezuka's Astro Boy. It was just a different sort of pace, of storytelling, that people enjoyed back then. But Naoki Urasawa was able to "update" an Astro Boy story for his series Pluto, to staggering results, which makes me think that these early works are just as enjoyable as Tezuka's later works, just within their respective time, or if you're able to read them a certain way. Same thing with superhero comics. I'm not a huge fan of older superhero comics like initial issues of Superman, but modern renditions of the Man of Steel certainly hold my interest. It was just more old-fashioned and written differently back then. Things are darker and more complex nowadays in stories, and I've come to enjoy reading that type of a story. But Marvel's "Ultimate" universe, for instance, proves that retelling say, Spider-Man's origin story can be cool when updated. Urasawa had that same idea for his version of Astro Boy and it was really cool and well-received. I wish I'd liked Metropolis more than I did, but in the context of its time, I'm sure it was utterly riveting.