Friday, July 31, 2009

TGIF: Miracleman and More

Here are the things that excited me over the past week...
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1. Funny People - A new Judd Apatow movie opens up in theaters today!! I love both of the director's previous films, The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up, the latter of which is up in my top favorite comedies ever, so obviously, I'm really looking forward to his latest movie starring Adam Sandler and Seth Rogen.
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2. Alice In Wonderland theatrical trailer - Tim Burton's highly-anticipated adaptation of the classic Lewis Carroll story is visually stunning and every bit as imaginative as his other films...if the new trailer has anything to say about it. I'm still a little skeptical about it, to be honest, even though Anne Hathaway looks awesome as the White Queen. See the trailer here.
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3. Miracleman rights go to Marvel Comics - The character Miracleman (aka Marvelman) who has been caught in legal limbo for years now (despite fans chomping at the bit to see the character's body of work collected featuring heavyweights such as Neil Gaiman and Alan Moore), has come home to Marvel Comics, who made the exciting, surprise announcement at San Diego's Comic-con this past weekend.
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4. Angel vs. Frankenstein by Byrne - You read that right. John Byrne is going to be writing another Angel (Joss Whedon's Angel) comic following his surprisingly good Angel: Blood and Trenches mini-series from IDW Publishing. This time around, Byrne will tackle Angelus, as he goes up against the legendary Frankenstein's Monster.
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5. (500) Days of Summer - I wish I could say that this was every bit as good as I expected it to be, but overall, this is just a pretty good summer movie. What makes the indy movie worthy of mention is the fantastic Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who relives 500 days of his relationship with a girl named Summer...not sequentially, in fact this movie uses every trick in the arthouse film book, but it manages to wind up with a movie with a lot of heart...and a great performance. This will most likely be the best movie starring Joseph this summer...unless G.I. Joe is absolutely nothing like the trailers indicate.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

In Stores 7/29

Here are the highlights of books coming to comic shops tomorrow!
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Pick of the Week
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The Complete Peanuts (Volume 12): 1973-1974 HC - The latest volume of Fantagraphics' comic strip reprints of the entirety of Charles Schulz' masterpiece arrives with an adorable cover featuring Woodstock. Also available this week in stores is the two-in-one Complete Peanuts Box Set: 1971-1974 slipcase.
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Other Noteworthy Releases
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Air Gear (Volume 13)
Al Williamson's Flash Gordon: Lifelong Vision of the Heroic SC/HC
Birds of Prey: Platinum Flats TP
Bizenghast (Volume 6) - Final Volume!
Children of the Sea (Volume 1)
Cirque du Freak (Volume 2) GN
Citizen Rex #1 (of 6)
Civil War: Heroes For Hire TP
Civil War: Punisher War Journal TP
The Complete Chester Gould's Dick Tracy (Volume 8) HC
Evil & Malice Save the World TP
Free Realms #1
Hayao Miyazaki: Starting Point 1979-1996 SC
Invincible Iron Man (Volume 2): World's Most Wanted HC
Jersey Gods (Volume 1): I'd Live & I'd Die For You TP
Kid Colt #1
Mice Templar: Destiny #1
Mome (Volume 15): Summer 2009 GN
The Muppet Show: Treasure of Peg Leg Wilson #1 (of 4)
Parasyte (Volume 8) - Final Volume!
Phantom Dream (Volume 3)
Rose SC/HC
Scourge of Gods (Volume 1) HC
Skin Deep GN
Stuff of Legend #1 (of 2)
Superman & Batman vs. Vampires & Werewolves TP
Surrogates (Volume 2): Flesh & Bone TP
TMNT Collected Book (Volume 1) TP
Werewolf by Night: In the Blood TP

Monday, July 27, 2009

Manga Monday: Black Bird

Black Bird (Volume 1)
Kanoko Sakurakoji
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Misao is a high school girl with issues. She's always been seen by her peers as strange because she's constantly zoning out and tripping over herself. But there's a reason for these episodes: ever since she was young, Misao has been attuned to a world around her that most humans don't see, that of the supernatural world. Most demons seem to be just mischievous little things that do their best to embarrass Misao or cause her to injure herself in minor ways, but there are demons who take more of an interest in Misao and it gets quite dangerous for her. This all occurs because Misao is the bride of prophecy, and if she marries a demon, that demon's clan will prosper. However, a greedy demon may eat her to keep that power and strength for himself. Misao's dilemma is that she met a boy when she was young, Kyo, who protected her and vowed to come back for her. And as she's attacked by a demon for her blood, he returns to save her (and lick her wounds to heal them) before asking for her hand in marriage. But Misao doesn't want to be married because of what she it, and refuses him as demons become more aware of what she is, and she must depend on Kyo's protection more than ever.
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I really like the premise of the book, and the characters are all pretty admirable in their own ways. Even a handsome antagonist that comes in about halfway through the volume becomes a cool character with a neat dynamic with the others, making for quite an interesting story on both an action level and a romantic level. There's also quite a bit of comedy speckled throughout the book that works very well, particularly surrounding Kyo's servant or the ghosts surrounding Misao. The art is typical shojo-fare, but executed well. I like the airy spirits that Sakurakoji incorporates into the book and some of the demon designs. There are also a lot of black feathers floating along the pages, as Kyo's true form is of a humanoid black bird (thus the title). I think it's kind of tough for a writer to toe that line of keeping her heroine's love nearby, but at arm's length so everything isn't too perfect, but so far in Black Bird, the creator manages to do just that, although I don't know how much longer we can keep seeing Misao deny what she truly wants. But overall, this is a nice, fresh take on supernatural romance.

Friday, July 24, 2009

TGIF: Bone and More

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Here are five things that I was excited about this week.
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1. More Bone - At San Diego Comic-con, Jeff Smith announced that he will be illustrating and co-writing (with Tom Sniegoski) four new Bone books! First up, we'll see Bone: Tall Tales coming out in Summer of 2010, followed by a new trilogy of books entitled Bone: Quest For the Spark, which will be published between Fall 2010 and Summer 2011. It's a bit of a wait, but it's sure to be worth it!
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2. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - I just saw this movie and it was the best of the film series so far. Watching Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix beforehand really reinvigorated my interest in Harry Potter (it's been two years since the final book already), and set me up to enjoy the new movie, a nice balance of character interaction and action. The filmmakers have really learned how to adapt the books to film by this point, cutting whatever is necessary to make it a good film. I love Ballatrix Lestrange as portrayed by Helena Bonham Carter - she was the perfect fit for the role.
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3. Paul Cornell's Black Widow - Paul Cornell (writer of the excellent Captain Britain and MI-13) is taking on the Russian spy Black Widow in a new mini-series that will be illustrated by Rom Raney. The four issue series will be called Deadly Origin. This almost certainly comes about from Marvel's need to capitalize on the character's role in next Summer's Iron Man II, but if that's what it takes to see more Black Widow comics, I'm fine with it (I loved Greg Rucka's Black Widow comics through the Marvel Knights imprint). At least they set up a nice creative team for the book. It kind of softens the blow of Captain Britain and MI-13's cancellation (although the series really ended in its prime). And Scarlet looks awesome as a redhead.
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4. Whiteout theatrical trailer - The new trailer for the film based on Greg Rucka's mystery comic of the same name has arrived. The film takes place in Antarctica and stars Kate Beckinsale (Underworld). See the trailer here.
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5. Marvel's Necrosha - Another announcement from Comic-con was a new crossover involving one of my all-time favorite villains from the Marvel Universe: Selene the Black Queen. The crossover event, Necrosha, will chronicle her rise to power and will bleed through several X-titles (beginning with a one-shot) including X-Force, New Mutants, and X-Men: Legacy.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

In Stores 7/22

Here are the highlights of books coming to comic stores tomorrow!
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Pick of the Week
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Mouse Guard: Winter 1152 HC - Finally, the second volume of David Petersen's Mouse Guard is collected. I love this series, and the second book is even better than the original mini-series, with some amazingly beautiful winter scenes.
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Other Noteworthy Releases
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Adventures of the Mask Omnibus TP
Amazing Spider-Man #600
Awakening (Volume 1) HC
Beanworld (Volume 2): A Gift Comes HC
Cable Classic (Volume 2) TP
Captain America: Reborn #1 (of 5)
Captain Britain and MI-13 #15 - Final issue!
Case Closed (Volume 30)
Creepy Archives (Volume 4) HC
Delphine #4
Elephantmen: Damaged Goods TP
Emily the Strange III #1 (of 4)
Flight (Volume 6) TP
George McManus' Bringing Up Father HC
Halo: Hell Jumper #1 (of 5)
Immortal Weapons #1 (of 5)
Incredible Hulk #600
Lenore (volume II) #1
Myspace/Dark Horse Presents (Volume 3) TP
New Avengers (Volume 10): Power HC
Nexus Archives (Volume 9) HC
Oishinbo (Volume 4): Fish, Sushi & Sashimi GN
Pluto (Volume 4)
Project Superpowers: Chapter Two #1
Real (Volume 5)
Showcase Presents: Batman (Volume 4) TP
Sparrow (Volume 13): Camilla Derrico
Spawn Origins (Volume 2) TP
Superman Chronicles (Volume 7) TP
TMNT 25th Anniversary by Kevin Eastman
TMNT: Future Tense (Volume 1) TP
Usagi Yojimbo (Volume 23) TP
We Kill Monsters #1 (of 6)
Wildcats: World's End (Book 1) TP
You Have Killed Me HC
You Shall Die By Your Own Creation TP

Monday, July 20, 2009

Manga Monday: Kitchen Princess

Kitchen Princess (Volumes 1-10)
Natsumi Ando & Miyuki Kobayashi
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This series is really addicting, which is why I kind of kept going passed the first volume until I had read the entire 10-volume series (the final volume of which was just recently released). The story begins as Najika Kazami leaves her home for orphans, Lavender House in Hokkaido, to join Seika Academy's special class, where she quickly proves her abilities in the kitchen. Not only is she the product of two top chefs from Japan, but she's inherited their gifts as well. With one taste, a smell even, she's able to replicate any recipe and discern its ingredients and exactly how to prepare them. She's also a very kind girl, who wishes to make people smile with her food, and caters each dish to the consumer. But the reason behind her kindness grew out of a scene from her childhood, following her parents' accident that left her alone. She nearly drowned, but was saved by a boy, who gave her his flan to eat so she wouldn't be sad, citing that "eating food makes you smile." Najika has captured that moment and holds it close as she maneuvers through life. One of the reasons that she decided to go to Seika Academy in the first place was to find this "flan prince" (the spoon that the mystery boy left behind in the flan came from that school). And so we have this young girl joining a class of other gifted students, some who are jealous, and some who are amazed by her kindness and gift. Throughout the series, the characters around Najika grow, getting past personal prejudices, falling in and out of love, and ultimately, supporting Najika in her dreams. I found myself quite at home in this world that Ando and Kobayashi paint, where food brings people together and helps individuals see through their own shortcomings with the help of the good-natured acts of a strangely happy girl, who has little to be happy about. I found myself rooting for Najika (and some secondary characters) throughout this book, and was constantly amazed by Najika's abilities and the plot developments, utterly enchanted by the storytelling prowess of the creators. The story does take some startling twists as it moves along, but masterfully, everything comes together in the end, even some seemingly unrelated incidents that you wouldn't expect to. Overall, I was just really charmed by this nice romantic tale, and highly recommend it.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Nobody HC

Jeff Lemire
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Jeff Lemire (Tales From Essex County) brings us a new tale of H.G. Wells' The Invisible Man in his latest graphic novel, which was recently released in a hardcover edition from DC's Vertigo line. The book takes place in the small American town of Large Mouth, where everybody knows everybody and gossip runs rampant at the smallest scrap of scandal. So, of course, when Mr. Griffen arrives in town, wrapped completely in bandages, it throws the entire town into a tizzy, speculating on his story, whether it be some horrifying accident or to keep his identity under wraps so authorities won't locate him. After long, Griffen begins to blend into the background noise of the town and befriends a local girl, Vickie, who's taken an interest in him, until it becomes harder and harder for him to keep his secret from the locals and things slowly spiral out of control.
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I really enjoy Jeff Lemire's art on this book, cartoony and detailed, and a nice fit to paint a picture of this small town with a strange outsider. Especially beautiful are Lemire's dream sequences and the quiet scenes of Griffen walking through the woods. Lemire plays around with the idea of invisibility, both physically and socially, coming up with some really interesting insights, and uses the character of The Invisible Man to paint some pretty amazing scenes within his panels. Overall, this was a really enjoyable, if not brisk, read. One thing that I really didn't care for however, was the note it went out on. Throughout the story, Griffen develops this nice relationship with Vickie that culminates into a pretty brutal climax with the locals. After things go down, Vickie just kind of steps back, like the relationship meant nothing to her. It was just "that wacky year when Griffen came to town," as opposed to being horrified by the acts of the townspeople and how Griffen was taken from her life. She was so passive about it all that it was downright bothersome to me, especially after all of the fighting she'd done for his sake over the course of the book. At the end of the day, though, I really did just enjoy reading this novel and pouring over some nice artwork.

Friday, July 17, 2009

TGIF: Coraline and More

Here are five things that I was excited about this week!
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1. Ryan Reynolds as Green Lantern - The fanboys were going to get upset no matter who was chosen for the role of Hal Jordan, but let's face it: Hal Jordan's the typical boy next door type, so really anyone could have filled his shoes. Except maybe Justin Timberlake. Not sure why he was a top contender... I was kind of crossing my fingers for Bradley Cooper, but Ryan Reynolds, despite being tied to Deadpool, is a fine choice. A good leading man to make the film a success. He's certainly got the body to fill out the suit...
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2. New Craig Yoe imprint at IDW - IDW Publishing announced that Craig Yoe (Modern Arf) will have his own imprint of books beginning this Fall. The first book due out is The Art of Ditko, featuring full-color original art by Steve Ditko with essays galore. Next from Yoe we will see The Complete Milt Gross Life Story and Comics, featuring a complete biography of Gross, as well as every comic put out by the artist.
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3. Watchmen on DVD - I really enjoyed this movie, so it's DVD release is certainly cause for excitement, even if it didn't meet box office expectations. The only problem with this release is that the Director's Cut won't be out until December, and as I'm not going to have two Watchmen DVDs in my house, I'll have to wait to own a movie I enjoy...but I am certainly looking forward to another viewing
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4. Entire Criterion Collection 50% at Barnes & Noble - Criterion puts out beautifully-packaged DVDs for films that really deserve the treatment, many of which would probably never make it to DVD normally. You can get Akira Kirosawa, Cinema Paradiso, and familiar films like The Ice Storm and The Royal Tenenbaums through Criterion. They are usually pretty expensive since they're such deluxe presentations of mostly obscure (but important) films, but this sale makes them more affordable than most DVDs. Buy them half price in stores and on-line for the next week and a half (and members save an extra 10% on top of the sale).
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5. Coraline on DVD - I haven't even seen the movie, but I'm really looking forward to renting Coraline, as it's from the director of The Nightmare Before Christmas (Henry Selick) and more importantly, it's adapted from the magical story by Neil Gaiman (of Sandman fame), who wrote the excellent, recent Newberry Award-winning novel The Graveyard Book.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

In Stores 7/15

Here are the highlights of books hitting comic shops tomorrow!
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Pick of the Week
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Blackest Night #1 (of 8) - DC's big new crossover event launches this week, featuring the "Black Lanterns" from the various rainbow-colored lantern that have been popping up in Geoff Johns' Green Lantern books over the past few years. The premise sounds like a lot of fun.
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Other Noteworthy Releases
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Angel: After the Fall (Volume 4) HC
Annihilation Classic TP
Artesia Besieged #3 (of 6) - Returning from a hiatus.
Astro City: The Dark Age (Book One) TP
Batman: Whatever Happened To the Caped Crusader HC
Blackest Night: Tales of the Corps #1 (of 3)
Captain Britain by Moore and Davis Omnibus HC
Creepy Comics #1
Dan Dare Omnibus (Volume 1) TP
The Dreamer (Volume 1): Consequence of Nathan Hale
Essential Marvel Two-In-One (Volume 3) TP
Fallen Angel: Reborn #1
Guardians of the Galaxy: The Power of Starhawk HC
IDW: The First Decade HC
Incredible Hercules: Smash Titans HC
Madame Xanadu (Volume 1): Disenchanted TP
Mutts Treasury: Stop & Smell the Roses SC
Preacher (Book 1) HC
PVP Awesomeology Deluxe HC
RASL #5
Robotica: For a Few Rubles More Double-Sized #1 & #2
Spider-Man: Torment HC
Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes TP
Super Friends: Calling All Super Friends TP
Swallowing the Earth GN - New Tezuka reprint!
Thunderbolts: Burning Down the House HC
War Machine (Volume 1): Iron Heart HC

Sunday, July 12, 2009

North 40 #1 (of 6)

Aaron Williams & Fiona Staples
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North 40 is a new DC/Wildstorm mini-series that launched this week, featuring a small Southern town off of the highway that is under siege by demonic forces. And can I just ask...what is with cthulhu in comics? Cthulhu comics seem to outnumber vampire comics two to one - it just seems odd. I mean, Lovecraft is great, but I don't get the fascination. There's Cthulhu Tales, The Fall of Cthulhu, Mnemovore (maybe not technically cthulhu, but might as well be), Arkham Woods... Anyways, I guess I can't fault this comic based on that, especially since using cthulhu in this story (and in the others, which is probably why he's used so much) allows the creative team to just do a lot of crazy things with the characters in Conover County: possession, weird psychic nonsense, transformations, vampirism...all that weird demon stuff goes down from a few whispered syllables out of a book with cthulhu on the cover. And if any of those other cthulhu comics taught me anything (besides the fact that artists love drawing tentacles) it's that cthulhu wants to manifest on Earth really, really badly, and he'll cause quite the bedlam to make that happen. One thing I don't like about a lot of these magic-based stories is that no limitations are really set in the universe, so anything could happen at this point. A character could magically find a weapon hidden in some obscure place they stumble upon (like a, er, scythe), or someone will start leaking an antidote randomly or something to save the day. It's just too easy to fix things when there are no boundaries established - it kind of cheats the story and doesn't build any tension or suspense leading up to the climax. That's how I felt reading the first issue of this series, like random things were just happening that the creators can assign any meaning to later on and it'll make things right. And unfortunately, the characters introduced are all pretty stereotypical Southern figures, so hopefully something interesting and different will be done with them to make this story a smidge original, since cthulhu...not helping the cause there. This book does have one really good thing going for it...the art. It's pretty beautiful. Whether it's just scenes from the town diner painted in soft pastels, or tentacles writhing over dark figures bathed in shadows, Fiona Staples does a pretty stunning job. Dainty shapes, hulking boxy characters, elaborate curves and hooks...it makes no difference, as they all look great under her hand. Even if I don't continue reading this book, I'll definitely be keeping an eye on the projects she has coming up in the near future.

Friday, July 10, 2009

TGIF: Archie and More

Here's what I was most excited about over this past week!
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1. Archie collections from IDW - IDW Publishing, who has done some pretty impressive comic strip archival projects through their Library of American Comics line (Dick Tracy, Terry and the Pirates, Little Orphan Annie), is going to be putting out collections of classic Archie strips! This is a reprint project that's definitely been missing from the shelves. We will see the original Archie strips by creator John Goldwater, and artist Bob Montana, as well as "Best Of" volumes featuring runs by great artists such as Dan DeCarlo and Stan Goldberg!
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2. The Collector theatrical trailer - The trailer for this upcoming thriller looks pretty fantastic. A man breaks into a rich family's home to steal money from their vault only to discover that the family is being harassed and tortured by a maniac.
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3. The Things We Did Last Summer by A Fine Frenzy - A Fine Frenzy blew me away with their debut CD a few years ago One Cell In the Sea, particularly with their song You Picked Me. Their new single was just released through I-Tunes, a cover of the Frank Sinatra song, with a new album due out on August 11th.
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4. Giallo theatrical trailer - Dario Argento has a new movie coming out soon (sometime this year)! The trailer looks like nothing new for Argento fans (it may even look a little tame compared to some of the weird goings-on of The Three Mothers trilogy), but you can always expect an interesting time, at the very least, when it comes to the Italian director. This murder mystery stars Adrien Brody.
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5. Jeff Smith named guest of honor at C2E2 - The Bone and RASL creator is going to be the very first guest of honor at the 1st annual Chicago Comics & Entertainment Expo, a new comic book convention that will debut in April of 2010 in downtown Chicago (rivaling the standard Wizard World: Chicago convention). This bodes well for the convention, and I can hardly wait (as I'm only an hour's drive north of Chicago)!

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Wednesday Comics #1

Various
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DC's new weekly comic book is an anthology in the form of a newspaper that folds out into 14" x 20" broadsheets. There are fifteen one-page stories within the anthology, each by a different top-notch creative team that are focusing their stories on a different character (or characters) from the DC Universe. My initial impression when going through this was that I was reading previews of stories, they were mostly set-up and I wasn't very familiar with some of the characters like Metal Men. And having watched a few movie trailers prior to this undertaking, I guess that was how I kind of felt about the stories - like they were more or less advertising, selling, the stories that were to come, especially since I'd had no prior knowledge as to what these individual stories were going to be about. It's interesting to see how certain creators approached this endeavor, many with continuing arcs that hardly slowed down for the page's end like Adam and Joe Kuberts' Sgt. Rock, while others left the page on a cliffhanger of sorts (which seemed to be the favored format overall), and yet others made the story (while "to be continued") more episodic, with a good full story within that page, which I really appreciated in Kurt Busiek and Joe Quinones' Green Lantern. But no matter how the creators chose to tell their story, one thing was clear right away and that was that each team really utilized the page to the best of their abilities to show off their talents. In an anthology like this, I liked some of the comics more than others, of course. Here were my impressions of each of the stories...
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Batman by Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso - This was the comic that led off the anthology with a pretty standard scene of Batman meeting Gordan on the roof of the police station, but with some pretty haunting final images introducing a mystery villain, motives unknown.
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Kamandi by Dave Gibbons and Ryan Sook - This was my favorite of the bunch. I love Ryan Sook's art and this Prince Valiant-type showcase is perfect for his abilities. I love comics where I can just stop and admire the art like this, and while there are a lot of stories in this anthology that caused me to do just that, this was the shining example, as readers are introduced to Kamandi's destroyed future Earth.
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Superman by John Arcudi and Lee Bermejo - The Alex Rosses and Greg Lands of superhero comics are turn-offs for me, but Lee Bermejo's art, while very realistic, shows real depth and emotion in the characters' faces here. So while at a glance, I wasn't expecting to like this page, when I actually read it, I was taken in by the art. It's really beautiful.
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Deadman by Dave Bullock and Vinton Heuck - Deadman's powers lend themselves to this type of noir supernatural mystery perfectly, and the cartoony art by Bullock suited the comic well. I felt like I got a good chunk of story for one page, with a brief overview of Deadman's history mingled with the current story thread.
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Green Lantern by Kurt Busiek and Joe Quinones - Like I said before, I feel like this was a pretty self-contained, full story which was nice to see among the offerings here. The creators took a neat approach too, putting the limelight on Hal Jordan's civilian friends for nearly the entire page.
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Metamorpho by Neil Gaiman and Mike Allred - This was one of my favorites of the bunch, a little goofiness mixed in with some action. Metamorpho's a really likable character and Allred's art is just superb on a title like this.
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Teen Titans by Eddie Berganza and Sean Galloway - I have to say that of all the offerings here, I liked this the least. The art itself was pretty, but it seemed really messy to me with the panels all depicting another group of Titans (various incarnations of the team) in mid-jump or super-posed. I was completely disinterested.
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Strange Adventures by Paul Pope - This Adam Strange story is a beautiful showcase for Pope's art, complete with an alien planet and Mandril-like attackers. Adam Strange is a little weird (character-wise), but offers a wealth of opportunities for artists, as is realized by Pope here.
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Supergirl by Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner - This is a really cute story that rivaled Kamandi for my favorite. It's funny and well, has Streaky and Krypto, for crying out loud! Amanda Conner's art may not be as striking as other artists in this anthology, but it had its moments here.
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Metal Men by Dan Didio, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez and Kevin Nowlan - This is a story that seems like it would sit well next to some old Jimmy Olsen comics. It's a little retro, silly and over-the-top, but I just loved it. This page is a shining example of the potential Wednesday Comics can live up to with great story and thoughtfully-laid-out panels coupled with gorgeous art that shows in a single page why these characters and this premise is so wonderful.
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Wonder Woman by Ben Caldwell - This is another offering that I just wasn't feeling. Once again, stunning art, but story-wise...I'm not a fan of the whole dream-thing that was going on. It was disorienting and bored me.
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Sgt. Rock by Adam Kubert and Joe Kubert - This was a bit brutal, the entire page full of panels of Rock being beat up incessantly by his captors. This really felt like the first page of a full comic more than anything else.
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The Flash by Karl Kerschl and Brenden Fletcher - This was structured differently than the others, but it worked nicely. First we get half a page of The Flash amid some action with monkeys, then we get half a page of Flash's wife Iris West (with a title that suggests she has her own book). I wonder if this is how the remainder of the story will be structured, split in half - it could make for an interesting overall offering.
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The Demon and Catwoman by Walter Simonson and Brian Stelfreeze - I really liked this one too. Very lovely art and a fun story with a lot of promise, pitting two characters against each other like this. I can't wait to see The Demon manifest itself.
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Hawkman by Kyle Baker - Once again, this felt like the first page of a longer story, which I would have expected more of in this anthology. Great art, and I liked seeing this page through the eyes of the birds at Hawkman's side.
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Wednesday Comics launched to great success artistically. I think this is a great idea and a wonderful way to showcase some obviously very talented people working in mainstream comics. I hope to see more of this kind of ingenuity and play with the format in the future. This deserves to be every bit the success that DC set it up to be.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

In Stores 7/8

Here are the highlights of books coming to comic shops tomorrow!
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Pick of the Week
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Asterios Polyp GN - I just picked this up yesterday from my bookstore and I'm excited to start digging in. A new graphic novel from David Mazzucchelli that's been getting a lot of buzz and acclaim. This will probably be a big contender for book of the year.
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Other Noteworthy Releases
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100 Bullets (Volume 13): Wilt TP
BPRD 1947 #1 (of 5)
Captive Hearts (Volume 5)
Dark X-Men: The Beginning #1 (of 3)
Fairy Tail (Volume 7)
Fruits Basket (Volume 23) - Final volume!
High School Debut (Volume 10)
Honey Hunt (Volume 2)
Kitchen Princess (Volume 10)
Leave It To PET! (Volume 2)
Marvel 70th Anniversary TP
Nana (Volume 17)
Naruto (Volume 45)
Negima (Volume 23)
New Warriors Classic (Volume 1) TP
Nobody HC
North 40 #1 (of 6)
Pixu (Volume 1): Mark of Evil TP
Prince Valiant (Volume 1): 1937 - 1938 HC
Runaways: Teenage Wasteland HC
Showcase Presents: Batlash TP
Superman: Whatever Happened To the Man of Tomorrow HC
Uncanny X-Men: First Class #1 (of 8)
War of Kings: Warriors #1 (of 2)
We Were There (Volume 5)
Wednesday Comics #1 (of 12)

Monday, July 06, 2009

Manga Monday: Rosario + Vampire

Rosario + Vampire (Volume 1)
Akihisa Ikeda
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Rosario + Vampire starts out with the same sort of premise as Animal Academy: student with low grades gets into a single school, not realizing that it is a school for supernatural students, where they are the only human. But Rosario + Vampire was serialized in Japan prior to Animal Academy, so obviously Rosario + Vampire is the more original of the two. The protagonist of this supernatural comedy/drama is Tsukune Aono, who only stays at this scary school full of werewolves and shapeshifters and killer mermaids for the sake of the beautiful Moka Akashiya, who's the envy of the entire school. Lucky for Tsukune, she has her eyes set on him...well, on his neck perhaps, but on him. One taste of Tsukune's blood and Akashiya is hooked, but it turns out she really does like the guy, even when she realizes that he is only a puny human. This also makes Tsukune quite the target, given the jealousy that courses through the veins of the male monsters of the school, and their desire to attain Akashiya. Rosario + Vampire is a fun manga with lively characters and a perfect mixture of comedy with action and classroom drama. I like Ikeda's art, which is, appropriately enough, a nice mix of cartoony and realistic, with some pretty creepy monster images. The thing I like most about this book is the dynamic between Akashiya and Tsukune. It's just a lot of fun to "hang out with" these two characters.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Previews: September '09

Here are the highlights of books shipping to comic shops this September!
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Abstract Studios
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Strangers In Paradise Omnibus Limited Edition - This was a no-brainer. The entirety of Terry Moore's Strangers In Paradise, collected in three hardcovers within a slipcase. Should be nice!
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Archaia Studios Press
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The Grave Doug Freshly HC - Love that play on words... Josh Hechinger and mpMann's comedy/western skips the floppies and goes right to a hardcover release
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Okko (Volume 2): The Cycle of Earth HC - The second book in Hub's Okko series is collected this month - I loved the first one, so I've been looking forward to this.
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Boom! Studios
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Mr Stuffins TP - How cute! This is a comic about a Teddy Bear who happens to be a super spy!
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Walt Disney's Comics and Stories #699 - Along with Mickey Mouse and Friends #296, this will be among the first releases of Disney comics published through Boom! since Gemstone gave up their rights.
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Conundrum Press
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Hipless Boy GN - Sully tells the story of a boy who moves to a hipster neighborhood who is anything but hip...originally published in the McGill Daily.
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Dark Horse Comics
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The Amazon HC - Back in print after many years is Steven T. Seagle and Tim Sale's project that takes place in The Amazon Jungle.
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Beast of Burdens #1 (of 4) - A group of canines (and a kitty) must save their hometown from destruction as it is overcome by a supernatural threat.
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Crossing the Empty Quarter and Other Stories HC - This is a collection of European creator Carol Swain's short comics - over thirty in all - that have appeared since her debut in various anthologies since the 80's.
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Usagi Yojimbo: Yokai HC - Stan Sakai's first Usagi Yojimbo comic that will be presented in full color! A 64-page original hardcover celebrating 25 years of the rabbit.
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DC Comics
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Black Hawk: Blood and Iron TP - Howard Chaykin's mini-series from 1988 returns in a new collection featuring the pilot Black Hawk versus a band of former Nazis.
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Blood and Water TP - It's been years since this came out, but apparently DC/Vertigo want in on the Twilight/vampire craze and are pushing this story back into the limelight. Judd Winick and Tomm Cooker's odd vampire tale is collected in a softcover edition.
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High Moon (Volume 1) TP - Another Zuda on-line comic is collected, as werewolves invade the Wild West in the book by David Gallaher and Steve Ellis.
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Red Tornado #1 (of 6) - The JLA character spins off (get it?) into his own series this month with an emphasis on shedding some light on his origin.
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Superman: The Adventures of Flamebird and Nightwing TP - It was inevitable. Superman and Jimmy Olsen's silly adventures as caped crimefighters in the bottled city of Kandor are collected.
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Superman: Secret Origin #1 (of 6) - Geoff Johns and Gary Frank try their hand at retelling the classic origin of DC's poster boy.
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Sweet Tooth #1 - A new ongoing Vertigo series by Jess Lemire (Essex County) features a boy born with antlers. The debut issue os only $1.
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Del Rey Manga
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Moyasimon (Volume 1) - This new manga is about a student with the unique ability to communicate with bacteria and micro-organisms, which appear to him as cute creatures. Sounds amazing.
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Drawn & Quarterly
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Aya: The Secrets Come Out HC - The third collection of the critically-acclaimed Aya comics!
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Red Snow HC - This is a collection of Gekiga short stories by Japanese artist and legend Susumu Karsumata. Beautiful package.
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Dynamite Entertainment
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The Lone Ranger Comic Strips Collection HC - More than 500 strips by Cary Bates and Russ Heath are collected in this deluxe package, which features the dailies and full-color Sundays that were originally published in the 80's.
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Fantagraphics Books
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All and Sundry: Uncollected Work: 2004-2009 - A hardcover collection of Paul Hornschemeier's recent short works.
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The Comics Journal #300 - To celebrate this milestone in comics criticism, The Comics Journal is stuffing this issue with great offerings this month, including interviews between new generation creators and established legends, like Kevin Huizenga & Art Spiegelman, Dash Shaw & David Mazzucchelli, and Frank Quitely & Dave Gibbons! And much more!
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Squirrel Machine HC - The twisted graphic novel by Hans Rickheit follows two brothers who create musical instruments out of animal carcasses in the 19th century.
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Strange Suspense: The Steve Ditko Archives (Volume 1) HC - This Blake Bell edited book collects all works from the first two years of Ditko's career, pre-Code and eye-popping.
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The Three Paradoxes HC - More Paul Hornschemeier! This is a strange 80-page autobiography from the artist.
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West Coast Blues HC - Along with You Are There HC, Fantagraphics is publishing some works by Europe's top-notch creator Jacques Turner this month, the first co-created by Jean-Patrick Manchette, the second with Jean-Claude Forest (Barbarella).
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:01 First Second Books
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Ball Peen Hammer GN - In a plague-ridden future, one man seeks the safety of his basement and gets caught up in some gruesome goings-on.
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Refresh, Refresh GN - Three teenagers grow up in a dead-end town while their fathers are in Iraq - great-looking art.
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Tiny Tyrant: The Lucky Winner GN - A new all-ages book by Lewis Trondheim and Fabrice Parme.
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Hermes Press
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The Phantom: The Complete Dailies (Volume 1) HC - Collecting the first three years of The Phantom's run in the funny pages.
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IDW Publishing
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Rip Kirby (Volume 1) - Collecting the complete comic strip following the detective of the same name is Alex Raymond's beloved Rip Kirby from the late 1940's.
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Star Trek: Romulans: Schism #1 - More John Byrne Star Trek comics!
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Image Comics
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Beast GN - This is a beautiful original graphic novel by the artist of Conan: Trophy, Marian Churchland, and tells the story of a young sculptor.
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Fallout Toyworks #1 (of 5) - Inspired by Fallout Boy lyrics, this mini-series follows a young robot creator who banks everything on the new robot Tiffany.
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Tiffany's Epiphany HC - Popular name this month...this all ages story is about a skunk named Tiffany who is bullying the other forest creatures and the lessons she learns.
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Underground #1 (of 4) - Jeff Parker (Agents of Atlas) teams up with Steve Lieber (Whiteout) to tell the story of a park ranger and the danger she gets into trying to protect the caves she loves. Just in time for the Whiteout film.
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Marvel Comics
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Criminal: The Sinners #1 - The next chapter in Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips' Icon series debuts in the same month as a deluxe edition hardcover of the first series comes out.
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Dark Reign: The List - The next chapter of Norman Osborne's Dark Reign is a list he comes up with of the next stage of his terror overseeing the Marvel Universe...and who must die.
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Dark X-Men: The Confession - It was going to happen sooner or later...Emma Frost reveals her secret dealings with Norman's cabal.
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Essential Sub-Mariner (Volume 1) TP - Finally!!! This was one hero noticably missing from Marvel's Essential line and now the Prince of Atlantis' adventures are going to be collected in nice fat black-and-white books.
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Marvel Super Hero Squad #1 (of 4) - Apparently, this is going to be a new Marvel superhero cartoon in the future that is appearing in comic form first.
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Nomad: Girl Without a World #1 (of 4) - Former Bucky (or something) Rikki Barnes kicks some butt...yadda yadda yadda. Sean McKeever's good at these kinds of stories featuring scrappy characters.
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Pet Avengers Classic TP - Ha ha! A collection of the original stories featuring the animals of the recent Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers mini-series.
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Spider-Man: The Clone Saga #1 (of 6) - Somebody must have mentioned that they wanted to see this at one of those awkward Q&A panels that Marvel hosts...
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Spider-Woman #1 - It seems like years since the initial announcement of this series, but finally Spider-Woman gets her own book with Brian Michael Bendis writing and Alex Maleev illustrating.
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Strange Tales #1 (of 3) - The debut issue of Marvel's much-anticipated anthology features indie creators on their token characters. Should be fun.
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The Torch #1 (of 8) - The original Torch returns in an all-new story by Alex Ross, Mike Carey and Patrick Berkenkotter.
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Ultimate Comics: Armor Wars #1 (of 4) - Warren Ellis writes this mini-series featuring Tony Stark's out-of-control armor.
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X-Men vs. Fantastic Four HC - The X-Men and Fantastic Four fight over the fate of Kitty Pryde in the classic crossover story featuring Dr. Doom.
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Oni Press
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Lola: A Ghost Story HC - Lola sees ghosts and must now deal with them after her grandmother passes away in this new original story by J. Torres and Elbert Orr.
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Top Shelf Productions
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Alec: The Years Have Pants (A Life-Size Omnibus) - Eddie Campbell's autobiographical comics are all collected together for the first time!
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Viz Media
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What a Wonderful World! (Volume1) & (Volume 2) - I was a big fan of Inio Asano's Solanin graphic novel, but I heard that what she did later in her career was exponentially better. This is one such work!
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W.W. Norton
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The Book of Genesis: Illustrated by Robert Crumb HC - Comics legend R. Crumb takes on the first book of the Bible in his most recent ambitious work that's bound to be an interesting experience.
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Yen Press
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Yotuba&! (Volume 6) - The delayed and much-anticipated sixth volume of the comedic Yotsuba&! will finally see release this September!
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Misc.
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The Art of Osamu Tezuka, God of Manga HC - The first authorized biography of master cartoonist and creator of such works as Astro Boy and Black Jack features a career overview and plenty of art to ogle over.
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Manga Kamishibai: The Art of Japanese Paper Theater HC - Before comics, Japan had Paper Theater, which paved the way for manga. See some of these rare stories collected!
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Star Wars: Trash Compactor Bookends - Why did no one think of this before?!
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Wag! - Patrick McDonnell's (Mutts) tribute to his tail-wagging dog is this 40-page full-color book.

Friday, July 03, 2009

TGIF: Daria and more

Here are five things that I was excited about this week!
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1. Dreamstar by Gilbert Hernandez - A short superhero story by Gilbert Hernandez (co-creator of Love & Rockets) appears in the 24th issue of Dark Horse's on-line comic anthology...and it's awesome! Read it here. There's also a short Buffy the Vampire Slayer story by series creator Joss Whedon, with art by cover artist for Season Eight, Jo Chen, in the issue here.
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2. Daria on DVD - Finally, Daria the MTV spin-off of Beavis and Butthead, featuring their sarcastic classmate, will be available on DVD next year. I loved this show... Here's the article.
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3. Moby's "Shot In the Back of the Head" music video - This music video by Moby from his latest (and very well-received) CD Wait For Me, is pretty fantastic and eerie, which is very suiting for the song. Even better is that David Lynch of Twin Peaks fame directed it! Watch it here.
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4. Red Revelations by Jace Everett - The latest CD by crooner Jace Everett is full of some pretty intense, dark music. It really suits his voice and it makes for an overall very cool album. Included on this CD (at least through the I-Tunes version) is the song that people are associating with him presently, Bad Things, which is the theme song for HBO's True Blood. If you're a fan of that song, you'll really dig the whole CD.
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5. Academy Awards' Best Picture Nominees - The Academy Awards announced that the Best Picture category going forward will include ten nominees instead of five, so they will be able to highlight more smaller films that wouldn't normally receive a lot of attention. I have mixed feelings about this. It kind of dilutes any bragging rights for a film that's nominated, as there are nine others each year, and I don't know if people will want to see all ten before the show airs, but it's nice that other films will get some love that are probably worthy of notice.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Gotham City Sirens #1

Paul Dini & Guillem March
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Following the launch of his other new Batman title a few weeks back (Batman: Gotham Nights), Paul Dini (writer/producer on Batman: The Animated Series) returns to his girls in the new book Gotham City Sirens, which pairs up buds Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn with the recently-traumatized Catwoman. I didn't follow the whole Batman: Battle For the Cowl crossover that led to the new reinvigorated Bat-universe that seems to be exploding, but apparently Selina went through some trials, which is why she finds herself being crushed by D-level villain Boneblaster, who's new to the whole supervillain gig. But together with Pamela and Harley, the guy doesn't stand a chance. This book also guest stars The Riddler and Zatanna.
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I like the idea of a book dedicated to the supervillainesses of Batman, especially since I loved Harley and Ivy's dynamic in Batman: The Animated Series and the webcomic that paired them was such a fan-favorite. Poison Ivy is easily my favorite Batman villain, so it doesn't hurt that she's on the roster, and Catwoman is a good foil for the two psychotic women. This book is a little on the goofy side, but it works, especially under the drawing hand of Guillem March, who knows how to make the women beautiful, deadly and cartoony all at the same time. The tone of this book is established really well in this debut issue and it certainly has a place in the DC Universe.