Sunday, November 29, 2009

Previews HYPE: February '10

Diligently wading through the phone book that is Previews Catalogue so you don't have to...here are ten choice books shipping to comic shops in February that I think may get overlooked or that I'm just plain excited about...

1. Hernandez Brothers collections - There are several new collections featuring Hernandez Brothers comics, for whichever of the three formats you are collecting Love & Rockets in.  In the original softcover format, Gilbert Hernandez is releasing High Soft Lisp, featuring my favorite Love & Rockets character Fritz.  New in the thick omnibus hardcover collections, we get Gilbert Hernandez' continued look at his most popular character from Palomar in Luba.  And finally, in the new-reader-friendly line of softcovers, Jamie Hernandez is coming out with a collection featuring Penny Century.

2. The John Stanley Library: Melvin Monster (Volume 2) HC - I really enjoyed the first collection featuring John Stanley's silly monster Melvin Monster and his adventures.  This continues collecting the fun series.

3. The Comics: An Illustrated History of Comic Strip Art - This softcover collection updates the 1974 edition of the book that chronicles the beginnings and important contributions to comic strips over the years.

4. Night Owls (Volume 1) TP - The first collection of the Zuda on-line comic featuring a group of odd paranormal investigators.

5. Wonder Woman Chronicles (Volume 1) TP - DC continues to collect its most popular heroes' adventures in chronological order, and sets their sights on their leading heroine.

6. Fantastic Four by Jonathan Hickman (Volume 1) HC - The latest run on Fantastic Four has been getting a lot of buzz, featuring new writer Jonathan Hickman.  If you haven't been reading the floppies, you may want to jump on board with this first collection.

7. The Search For Smilin' Ed! - The latest graphic novel offering by Alias the Cat creator Kim Deitch!

8. Dan DeCarlo's Jetta HC - Part of IDW's exciting Yoe Books! imprint, this is a collection of DeCarlo's pre-Jetsons space-aged high school soap opera.  Think Archie in space.

9. Area 10 HC - New in DC's Vertigo Crime imprint is a graphic novel by Christos N. Gage and Chris Samnee, featuring a police search for a head-hunting serial killer and a man whose brain injury grants him the key to help solve the case.

10. CLAMP In America SC - This is a history of superstar creative group CLAMP, including a detailed look at the manga they've created over the past twenty years.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Stitches

David Small


This memoir graphic novel has been getting a lot of notice lately from outside of the comics community, most notably nominated for a National Book Award in the Young People's Literature category.  It was also listed as one of Publisher's Weekly's best books of the year.  Perhaps it's because Small is well known in other aspects of literature that this caught more mainstream attention, particularly with the National Book Award nomination, since he is a Caldecott-winning author of children's picture books, and was nominated in the Young People's Literature category when this book was not marketed as such.  Whatever the reason, having read this book, I'm amazed that this has been so praised, pretty much held up over other graphic novels published this year and proclaimed as the best by some well-respected book lovers outside of the comics community.  This is a good book, don't get me wrong, but it's certainly not the best thing published this year in the medium.  The same thing happened a few years ago with American Born Chinese, when a year full of exciting graphic novel releases had come out, a good book was praised, while excellent ones were overlooked by the mainstream.

Stitches follows parts of David Small's life growing up.  They are pretty specific times from his youth, introducing readers to his eccentric, cold (but really interesting) family, including his abusive grandmother who would later be institutionalized.  But despite these characters, there's not much meat to this graphic novel until much later when David is hospitalized and a growth is removed from his neck.  The surgery actually demands that one of his vocal chords be taken out as well, leaving him without much of a voice, but communication hasn't been the strong point with the family, ironically.  There are pretty big revelations toward the end of the novel, but concerning the supporting cast only.  The main character of this book, David himself, is alarmingly underdeveloped.  He remains a scowling, brooding wallflower throughout the entire story, giving little for the reader to identify with.  There are things that come up later in David's life, like his Bohemian friends that he associates with, that just seem oddly out of place simply because we don't know David very well, and nothing earlier in his life that Small painted for us indicates what kind of a person he is or where his interests and beliefs lie.  While events throughout remain shocking, without a sense of the character who is suffering from these afflictions, I felt mildy detached throughout.  I definitely enjoyed reading this graphic memoir, especially when the story focused on his complicated mother, but best of the year, it is not.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

In Stores 11/25

Here are the highlights of books shipping to comic shops on Wednesday!

Pick of the Week

Image United #1 (of 6) - Finally Image Comics joins the other two big companies in experimenting with company-wide crossover events.  Image United brings together the biggest superheroes from the shared universe for some sort of earth-shattering event, including Savage Dragon, Spawn, Witchblade, Invincible and Shadowhawk, in a collaborative comic that has prolific Image creators (six of the seven being founders) working together with creations near and dear to their hearts.  The big names involved include Erik Larsen, Marc Silvestri, Todd McFarlane, Jim Valentino, Rob Liefeld, Whilce Portacio and new Image partner Robert Kirkman.

Other Noteworthy Releases

Berserk (Volume 32)
Blackest Night #5 (of 8)
The Boys (Volume 5): Herogasm TP
Captain America: Death of Omnibus HC
Chew (Volume 1) TP
Chronicles of Kull (Volume 1): King Comes Riding TP
Chronicles of Solomon Kane (Volume 1) TP
Dark Reign: Elektra TP
Deadpool Classic (Volume 3) TP
A Distant Neighborhood (Volume 2)
Ganges #3
Incognito TP
Lizard Prince (Volume 1)
Marvel Masterworks: Deathlok (Volume 1) HC
Marvel Masterworks: Uncanny X-Men (Volume 1) TP
Moyasimon: Tales of Agriculture (Volume 1)
Powers #1
Powers Definitive Collection (Volume 3) HC
Saga of the Swamp Thing (Book 2) HC
Sgt Rock: The Lost Battalion HC
Shade the Changing Man (Volume 2): Edge of Vision TP
Star Comics All-Star Collection (Volume 1) TP
Thor Giant-Size Finale #1
Winter Men TP

Monday, November 23, 2009

Manga Monday: Moyasimon

Moyasimon: Tales of Agriculture (Volume 1)
Masayuki Ishikawa

After a delay from the publisher due to legal reasons, I finally got my hands on one of my most anticipated manga of the year, Moyasimon: Tales of Agriculture.  The series follows Tadayasu, a new student at an agricultural university, who has the unique ability to see bacteria, germs and various microbes with his own eyes, without the aid of microscopes or any other technology usually used for this sort of thing.  And these germs and whatnot appear to him in really cutesy forms, saying cute little things.  And they do funny things, and seem to be having a generally really good time, which never failed to bring a smile to my face.  Tadayasu has learned to identify the forms that these creatures take on, making him a very useful resource at his school, especially to Professor Keizo Itsuki and his assistant, the skeptical Haruka Hasegawa.  But they're not the only ones interested in Tadayasu's unique talents, as a pair of sophomores want to use his abilities for money-making schemes.  Overall, this book is actually really educational.  The students learn plenty about the process of  fermentation, how bacteria works in our bodies, and in general how germs and micro-organisms live and thrive, sometimes through the rants of the odd professor, but also through the specialties of various students involved in the story.  There are also little blurbs on the sides of pages going into more details on some of the bacteria.  And amid all of this, the story remains pretty captivating, for a wholly unique read.  Ishikawa is also a really damn good cartoonist.  He has come up with some great character designs, and some imaginative looks for the microbes and how they infiltrate Tadayasu's environments.  While the bacteria are very simple and cartoony, Ishikawa's depiction of the students amid university life constrasts them nicely with detail and realistic-looking, expressive people and scenes.  Moyasimon is a pretty offbeat story, but it's really a lot of fun.  I think the creator had a great concept when he came up with this series, and established his vision for the book on the page exceptionally well.

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Week In Awesome! Star Trek and More

Here are five things that excited me over the past week!


1. Star Trek on DVD - The latest Star Trek movie, rebooting the franchise after breathing new life into the characters and its universe, came to DVD and Blu-Ray this week.  J.J. Abrams' science fiction film was largely successful and critically-acclaimed, with great casting and wonderful action effects.

2. The Twilight Saga: New Moon in theaters - It's getting pretty abysmal reviews, but the latest movie in the highly successful supernatural films adapted from the teen novels hit theaters at midnight last night, featuring the stars we've seen plastered all over magazines without a moment's breath for the past year (well, perhaps a pause when Michael Jackson died).  Featuring a buffed-up Taylor Lautner and the villianous Volturi, this was my least favorite book, but you can't deny the eye candy.

3. Mr. Marvel canceled - Not that I'm excited about this, because I really, really enjoyed this Marvel superhero series, but Ms. Marvel will be ending with issue #50, according to the issue's solicitations through Previews Catalogue, with a "double-sized final issue."  Hopefully it will be reborn in another form somewhere down the line, without the constant interuptions of company-wide crossovers, but it will be hard to replace Brian Reed as writer.  Oh, and Oprah's show is ending too or something.

4. "Keeping Secrets" by Skye - Boasting a powerful voice and some pretty haunting, interesting sounds, "Keeping Secrets" looks to be a real breakthrough album for Skye.  Check out "Exhale" on I-Tunes.

5. Neon Genesis Evangelion Movie 1.01: You Are (Not) Alone - The first of four movies that "rebuild" the anime television series came to DVD this week after a successful run in Japan.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

In Stores 11/18

Here are the highlights of books available in comic shops tomorrow!

Pick of the Week

Christmas Graphic Novels - HarperCollins is putting out adaptations of classic Christmas prose stories, adapted by some very exciting and talented creators, as graphic novels.  There will be three in all, two of which are available this week.  My most anticipated of the bunch is Lilli Carre's adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen's The Fir TreeThe Lagoon was one of my favorite graphic novels of last year, and with her beautiful pencils, I'm sure this will look just amazing.  Also available this week is Joel Priddy's adaptation of O. Henry's Gift of the Magi.  Still forthcoming from HaperCollins is another one that I'll probably have to own, Alex Robinson adapting L. Frank Baum's A Kidnapped Santa Claus.

Other Noteworthy Releases

Alien Legion Omnibus (Volume 1) TP
Batman: Battle For the Cowl HC
Black Jack (Volume 8)
Black Knight #1
Black Lightning: Year One TP
Case Closed (Volume 32)
Casper the Friendly Ghost 60th Anniversary HC
Daredevil Noir HC
Dark Reign: The List - Amazing Spider-Man
Dr. Horrible One-Shot
Driven By Lemons HC
Gentlemen's Alliance: Arina Tanemura Illustrations
Geronimo Stilton (Volume 3): Coliseum Con GN
Green Lantern Corps: Emerald Eclipse HC
Hercules: Full Circle HC
Kookaburra K #1
The Nam (Volume 1) TP
Oishinbo (Volume 6): Joy of Rice
Pluto (Volume 6)
Powers Encyclopedia (Volume 1)
Realm of Kings One-Shot
Realm of Kings: Inhumans #1 (of 5)
Runaways: Homeschooling HC
Showcase Presents: DC Comics Presents (Volume 1) TP
The Spirit (Volume 4) TP
Tarzan: The Jesse Marsh Years (Volume 4) HC
TMNT #1 Full Color One-Shot
Victorian Undead #1 (of 6)
Walt Disney's Christmas Classics (Volume 1) HC
War of Kings HC

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Squirrel Machine

Hans Rickheit
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This is a quirky, beautiful, sometimes frightening graphic novel. The Squirrel Machine is definitely not for everyone, but I really had a great experience reading it. The book is about two shunned brothers living in a small town and the grotesque art that they create that the townsfolk don't understand. The book has a really eerie vibe all throughout, with some disturbing images that could have easily stumbled right out of a David Lynch film, culminating in some pretty shocking scenes. But the story is oddly sort of touching, despite the overt oddness of the brothers. There are some panels of the book that I'm still not sure what to make of, or how I feel about them, like one of my favorites of one of the brothers dressed in nothing but a boar's head covering his own, and some sort of a musical device with a crank covering his privates, with a proper young woman reaching out to touch it. It feels wrong, but is still very striking, and the whole book raises a range of emotions in me that often contradict one another. But one thing can very easily be said about this graphic novel, and that is that Rickheit's art is phenomenal. From the arrangement of panels, to the elaborate designs of the brothers' creations and the secret rooms of the mansion they live in, to the execution of the characters as they move through environments full of atmosphere and often, a certain amount of tension. Overall, The Squirrel Machine is a haunting story that won't soon leave readers, with many images left burned in this reader's mind.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

West Coast Blues

Jacques Tardi
Adapted from the novel by Jean-Patrick Manchette
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West Coast Blues is a graphic novel adapted by French cartoonist Jacques Tardi from the crime novel by Jean-Patrick Manchette. Fantagraphics is beginning to translate and publish these graphic novels by acclaimed artist Tardi, another of which was just recently released, You Are There. I'm really enjoying a lot of the European comics that are being translated as of late, like Archaia's The Killer (which is gritty crime fiction like this one) and the Soleil books through Marvel like Sky Doll, not to mention other talented European artists like Posy Simmonds and Joann Sfar. Jacques Tardi is one of the greats and I'm happy that Fantagraphics has undertaken the project of bringing his works to American audiences. West Coast Blues is a crime story, but it's quite different than what most people associate with the genre, especially when it comes to the gritty noir of comics. This is full of surprises both in terms of Manchette's plot, but also just the general pace of the story, pretty much subverting any ideas one may have in their head of where a story such as this is going to go. The novel starts out simple enough: George Gerfaut saves a man who's injured in his car on the side of the road, rushing him to the hospital just before his family takes a vacation at a beach house. Once at the beach house, Gerfaut is stalked by a pair of hitmen who wish to assassinate him for his actions. After this, readers are in for a wild ride in a plot that meanders quite a bit, but is utterly compelling through and through as Gerfaut, an ass of a protagonist, takes his life by the reigns and does whatever the hell he feels like. Meanwhile, action takes place not in alleyways of busy city streets by moonlight, but mid-day at the beach, at gas stations, and in isolated cabins in the countryside. Tardi's cartooning is fabulous. He brings the wide range of characters to life with ease, and depicts fast-pace action clearly while drawing out the suspense and the slow moments of life appropriately. I'm not a huge fan of the crime genre, but with books like this out there, I can definitely see why people are drawn to these types of stories, and as long as I read books executed as consistently as this one, I see no reason not to seek them out myself.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Realm of Kings: Imperial Guard #1 (of 5)

Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning & Kevin Walker
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I've always enjoyed whenever the Imperial Guard would appear in superhero comics, which was usually in the random cosmic adventure the Uncanny X-Men would go on when I was growing up. Lately, they've been involved in quite a few conflicts involving the Shi'ar, like War of Kings, but they haven't lost their lustre for me. There are enough characters, of varying powers and alien races, with a cyborg or two thrown in for good measure, that any story could really focus on any one of them, or a choice few. Of course with Gladiator taking on the role of majestor of the Shi'ar empire, the heavyhitting leader of the Imperial Guard has other duties, duties which his advisors insist do not involve getting his hands dirty with fighting, and so he must sit back and watch his former comrades battle his foes for him, which is frustrating for a warrior. Featured in this mini-series are several of my favorite Imperial Guard members, particularly Manta and Warstar, who are both visually cool with great character designs. Under the guiding hands of Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, who have done some phenomenal work in the outskirts of the Marvel Universe lately with such galactic titles as Annihilation and Guardians of the Galaxy, the Imperial Guard has never looked better. I don't think I've ever really read a comic from the Guard's perspective, but it's nice to see the team work together, and of course, the little squabbles and disagreements they have make things that much more interesting. Throw in a pair of Starjammers by the end of this issue and I'm hooked the remainder of the series.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Week In Awesome! Up and More

Here are five things that got me excited over the past week.
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1. Fantastic Mr. Fox in theaters - While it's only going to be in select theaters this weekend (and none around me) I'm still excited to see this Wes Anderson-directed claymation film, and it's getting some pretty amazing reviews already. Trailer here.
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2. Precious in theaters - Speaking of movies getting amazing reviews, Precious: Based On the Novel Push by Sapphire is getting a lot of Oscar buzz, and has a pretty amazing trailer. Watch it here. Oprah loves it.
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3. Up on DVD - Pixar's latest animation masterpiece comes to DVD. 'Nuff said.
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4. Under the Dome by Stephen King - The latest novel by horror writer Stephen King is supposedly a "return to form" for the writer. Clocking in at 1088 pages, it had better be.
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5. Project Runway finale - Part 1 of the season finale of Project Runway aired this week, featuring three female designers this time around. This may have been a pretty lacklustre season, but I'm still looking forward to Season Seven, when they go back to New York. Heidi's still got it. And Tim. And Nina. And Michael.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

S.W.O.R.D. #1

Kieron Gillen, Steve Sanders & Jamie McKelvie
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S.W.O.R.D. is a fun comic with a great premise. Spun out of Joss Whedon and John Cassaday's excellent run on Astonishing X-Men, Agent Brand is running the Sentient World Observation and Response Department, the government's answer to threats from outer space, a compliment to their S.H.I.E.L.D. division. In this book, Agent Brand is actually co-commander as, under Norman Osborn's Dark Reign, he has assigned the villainous Henry Gyrich to keep an eye on Brand, something he does in the form of stabbing her in the back by presenting to a committee his own idea to keep alien threats from Earth: namely getting rid of all aliens on the planet, good or otherwise, to eradicate any potential threat. Meanwhile Brand has a busy day juggling galactic threats while X-Men Beast and Lockheed, and the alien Sydren, aide her in her tasks, which are entertaining, funny and action-packed. Gillen sets up a great dynamic here between the characters and I was wholly impressed by the end result. The situations he comes up with are riveting, and the premise and station he's set up are top-notch. The art by Sanders is decent. I feel like it's a little inconsistent at times, and Beast looks a little odd, but overall he does a competent job with some really down-right pretty scenes, and he can draw the hell out of Death's Head, a bounty hunter after Agent Brand's troublesome brother. I like the tip of the hat to Kitty in this issue, as Lockheed is an integral part of the team, and Kitty was very involved with the Astonishing X-Men climax that took place off-world that was a serious threat to Earth. In fact, the short story after the main Sanders-drawn story was all about Lockheed and what S.W.O.R.D. has done to attempt a retrieval of Ms. Pryde. The bonus story was drawn by Jamie McKelvie (Suburban Glamour) and sported some pretty fantastic art that made me sort of wish he were the regular artist, but I can certainly get by on Sanders' output. So far, this is a thrilling adventure comic and I'm definitely onboard after this strong debut issue for what seems will be a pretty amazing book.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

In Stores 11/11

Here are the highlights of books available at comic shops tomorrow!
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Pick of the Week
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Sky Doll: Doll Factory #1 (of 2) - Marvel's publication of Soleil's Sky Doll sci-fi/fantasy series continues into material never before translated for American audiences, although it is mostly supplementary material. The first mini-series was fantastic, so I'm looking forward to more top-notch art here, with a new short story.
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Other Noteworthy Releases
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Absolute Justice HC
Amazing Spider-Man by J. Michael
....Straczynski Ultimate Collection
....(Book 2) TP
Casper & the Spectrals #1
Dark X-Men #1 (of 5)
Green Lantern: Agent Orange HC
Hercules: Full Circle HC
Hot Potatoe HC
Hulk: Green Hulk/Red Hulk HC
Ikigami: The Ultimate Limit (Volume 3)
Inu Yasha VizBig Edition (Volume 1)
Locke & Key: Crown of Shadows #1
Luna Park HC
Peanuts 60th Anniversary Book HC
Perfect Example TP
Pim & Francie in Golden Bear Days HC
Project Superpowers: Black Fever (Volume 1) TP
Punisher MAX #1
Realm of Kings: Imperial Guard #1 (of 5)
The Stand: American Nightmares HC
Strange #1 (of 4)
Strange Suspense: Steve Ditko Archives (Volume 1) HC
Superman: Red Son Deluxe HC
S.W.O.R.D. #1
Tank Girl: Skidmarks #1 (of 4)
Tracker #1 (of 5)
Wall-E #0
X-Men: Wolverine/Gambit HC

Monday, November 09, 2009

Manga Monday: Beast Master

Beast Master (Volume 1)
Kyousuke Motomi
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Get past that whole S & M vibe going on on the cover of this book and you get a pretty sweet story, actually. Beast Master follows high school girl Yuiko Kubozuka, who loves animals. In a smother-them-to-death sort of way that gives Elmyra from Tiny Toons a run for her money. Which is why animals don't give her the time of day. But then a mysterious wild-eyed boy joins Yuiko's class in school, and she quickly befriends him, despite his similarities to a wild animal. Leo Aoi grew up in countries among natives and on uninhabited islands, so he's had to really learn to survive off of the land and doesn't really understand modern civilization very well, which is why everyone he meets is frightened of him, particularly his new class. But Yuiko isn't afraid, so he quickly takes a liking to her in one of the sweetest romances I've seen in a shojo manga in a long time. They learn a lot from each other. Yuiko believed that befriending Leo was like having an animal around that she could control - after all, she's like a sedative when he goes crazy at the sight of blood, the only thing that's able to get through to him. And she has to teach him a lot about how things work in the world, why people treat him the way they do, etc. But Yuiko see things from a different perspective eventually when she's in the shoes of the student and Yuiko teaches her how to bond with nature. One of my favorite things about this book is just how Leo reacts to things. I laughed out loud several times while reading this book, from things he says to the expressions on his face when discovering something like "fizz fizz," his name for soda. It's just a fun book and I'm looking forward to more.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Stumptown #1

Greg Rucka & Matthew Southworth
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This is a fantastic comic. It really surprised me, but it shouldn't have come as such of a shock since Rucka has really proven time and again that he can put forth some quality material. He's very gifted at writing complex female protagonists, and this was certainly no exception. Dex is a private investigator who likes gambling, women and being a complete smart-ass. And all of those things get her into trouble. But she's good at what she does, which is why she's given the task of find the missing grandchild of a casino owner who may or may not have run off with her boyfriend. It's neat watching Dex put two and two together as she examines Charlotte's things - as readers, we seem to do the work right along with her. But things are a lot more complicated than they seem here, as several people are actually looking for the whereabouts of Charlotte, people who either want Dex's help as well, or want her to stop sticking her nose where it doesn't belong. The entire book has a great amount of tension and mystery shrouded over it, and Southworth paces panels like a pro, really drawing out the suspense. Southworth is actually pretty instrumental to the success of this book. His style puts the perfect noir edge to the title, making things a little grittier, but clearly illustrated for some very fluid storytelling. Stumptown, or Portland, Oregon, just oozes atmosphere under the skill of the creative team, opening with perhaps the strongest locale of all, and with quite a teaser. If this first issue is any indication, I think we may be looking at a career-best for Rucka, and with titles such as Whiteout and Queen & Country under his belt, that's really saying something.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Cinderella: From Fabletown with Love #1 (of 6)

Chris Roberson & Shawn McManus
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Seemingly ditsy fashion aficionado by day, secret spy for Fabletown by night - that's the idea behind Cinderella in Fables, the Vertigo book that this six-issue mini-series spins out from. Cindy has been one of my favorite Fables characters because of this dynamic, and this new series doesn't disappoint, as we see Cinderella perform some James Bond-ish moves as she works to track down some magical Fable weapons that are being smuggled into the "mundy" world, that could expose the immortal Fables to the humans. This is really a fun book to read because Cinderella is such a cheeky character. Throw in the undercover action and it's easily better than that other Fables spin-off (Jack of Fables). Chris Roberson comes up with a nice story for Cinderella to show off her talents, one that incorporates many favorite Fables characters, and big enough to really show readers what Cindy is made of. McManus does a fine job of illustrating the adventure, executing some nice fight scenes and drawing in a style similar to what we're familiar with in the main Fables book. But I think the real stand-out artist here is that cover artist, Chrissie Zullo. Zullo is new to the comics scene, but definitely worth keeping an eye on because that cover is just beautiful. Anyways, nice first issue, great premise - I whole-heartedly recommend this to readers of Fables proper, and the book gives enough information to fluidly welcome new readers into the fold as well.

Friday, November 06, 2009

The Week In Awesome! V and More

Here are five things that excited me over the past week!
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1. Suckin' It For the Holidays by Kathy Griffin - Her latest television special on Bravo, Balls of Steel, may not have been up to her usual standards, but her new "Christmas" CD, recorded live in New Jersey, is a lot of fun. Within, she trashes the Housewives, tells dick jokes, talks about her mom...pretty much what you'd expect from the lovely Ms. Griffin.
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2. 1,001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up - Like the title implies, Julia Eccleshare gives synopses of 1,001 children's books, from board books to teen novels, that are the cream of the crop. Lots of fun with plenty of history of the medium.
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3. V - The television series remake of V debuted to stellar ratings with a pretty decent episode, with plenty of familiar faces from past science fiction shows.
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4. Battlestar Galactica: The Plan - The final offering from the Battlestar Galactica television show is this direct-to-video movie of the series told through the eyes of the Cylons.
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5. The Fourth Kind in theaters - Another sci-fi offering... This is an abduction movie with a really creepy trailer that debuts in theaters today. If you haven't seen it yet, watch the trailer here.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Black Widow: Deadly Origin #1 (of 4)

Paul Cornell & Tom Raney
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The acclaimed writer behind fan-favorite series Captain Britain and MI-13 sets his eyes on the Russian spy Black Widow to tell her origin in time for the new Iron Man film coming out next summer. The opening scene is pretty neat, that of Black Widow aboard a space shuttle with the man who stole it, and revealing herself as having replaced his partner. The two then have a little shit-talk where they try to up the other one about what they're going to do to each other, leading into a scuffle that ends with the two of them parachuting over a casino. Very fun. Then the book regresses in time to show Natasha as she's slowly drawn in to The Red Room, beginning with having been raised by a soldier she treated as her father, then training under the tutelage of a man who wishes to train her as a weapon. When Natasha is chosen for the "icepick protocol," which threatens to destroy everyone close in her life, she vows revenge. The art by Raney is competent all the way through, but nothing to really brag about, although when John Paul Leon takes up art chores in the flashback scenes between pages 13 and 19, things get much prettier, making me wish that he'd taken up penciling the entire series. But then we're back to Raney by the end, which is fine because he is a fine artist - I just preferred the more interesting-looking art by Leon. Cornell does a fine job of building an origin for the character so far, but it's mostly set-up at this point. The real test will be the subsequent issue. He's already proven that he can bring out the bad-ass in Black Widow with that opening scene, so I'm ready to see Natasha cut loose and become the woman she is today.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Age of Reptiles: The Journey #1 (of 4)

Ricardo Delgado
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The Journey is the third mini-series from Ricardo Delgado's Age of Reptiles series, following Tribal Warfare and The Hunt. Unlike those previous two mini-series however, this book isn't focused almost exclusively on carnivorous dinosaurs (although they certainly make an appearance, and create quite a shake-up when they do) and contains far less gore. Like those previous incarnations, The Journey is a silent comic. Delgado could certainly have gone the route of having the dinosaurs talk, or make noises at the very least, but he keeps things quite realistic, even if the dinosaurs do do cute things on occasion. Despite being silent, Delgado manages to assign personalities to the giant lizards, especially the tyrannosaurus rex who eventually comes into the mix before leaving reluctantly without any prize to show his/her young. The Journey is about a great migration that the dinosaurs are making. All different types of herbivores (and a few smaller carnivores) are trekking across the beautiful land, including triceratops and ankylosaurus, with great herds of their kind mingling with that of others and, for the most part, getting along. But we're reminded time and again that nature is cruel and that the weak are consumed, and that the strongest survive. This book is just a nice beautiful read. Delgado has some nice touches thrown in, like of how the dinosaur herds all sleep together, the brontosaurus sleeping standing up in a circle around their young, their heads and tails laying on one another like they were intricately laced. It's very lovely, and when the tyrannosaurus does make an attempt at one of the young triceratops, it's not the typical confrontation that we've seen between the two bitter enemies, but the rex simply realizes that he/she is not in a position to win. This book is thoughtful, fluid and quite pretty, and certainly worth the cover price.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

In Stores 11/4

Here are the highlights of books available in comic stores tomorrow!
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Pick of the Week
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The Marvelous Land of Oz #1 (of 8) - I really enjoyed Eric Shanower and Skottie Young's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz adaptation of L. Frank Baum's classic children's book, so I'm really excited that the two are continuing on with the second book in the Oz series (and my personal favorite) with some crazy new characters who are going to be fun to see come to life in comic form.
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Other Noteworthy Releases
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Age of Reptiles: Journey #1 (of 4)
Beast Master (Volume 1)
Best of The Wizard of Id HC
Black Bird (Volume 2)
Black Widow: Deadly Origin #1 (of 4)
A Christmas Carol HC
Cinderella: From Fabletown with Love #1 (of 6)
Claymore (Volume 15)
Criminal Deluxe Edition HC
Deathlok #1 (of 7)
Exiles: Point of No Return TP
High School Debut (Volume 12)
Hikaru No Go (Volume 17)
Honey Hunt (Volume 3)
Like a Dog HC
Lobo: Highway To Hell #1 (of 2)
Marvel Zombies: Evil Evolution
Nana (Volume 19)
Otomen (Volume 4)
Psylocke #1 (of 4)
Secret History (Book 6)
Stumptown #1
Tales From the Crypt (Volume 8): Stinky Dead Kid GN
Titanium Rain Double-Sized #3/4
Tsubasa (Volume 24)
Usagi Yojimbo: Yokai HC
Vampire Knight (Volume 8)
We Were There (Volume 7)
Wonder Woman: Rise of the Olympian HC/TP
X-Men Origins: Iceman

Monday, November 02, 2009

Monga Monday: Sugarholic

Sugarholic (Volume 1)
Gong GooGoo
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Sugarholic is a manhwa starring Jae-Gyu Sin, a lazy tomboyish character who used to bully kids when she was younger, and hasn't lost that tendency, as she's still loud and pretty violent to those around her. When her ancestral home is destroyed in a landslide, she is sent by her grandmother from the country to the big city to live with her reluctant brother in a fancy apartment, in a fish-out-of-water sort of tale, as she really isn't suited to the city life, at least not initially. I think her grandmother realized this, and used the excuse of the landslide to send this undisciplined girl out into the real world, since she is the kind of woman to teach a girl a lesson the hard way, like with the value of money, as is demonstrated by the bare minimum she sends Jae-Gyu into the city with, which ends up getting the irresponsible girl into trouble. I think the word obnoxious suits Jae-Gyu best, and I can't figure out why her childhood "friend" whom she tormented, now a famous musician, would be infatuated by her, let alone another gorgeous stranger (on the run from his overbearing father, who wants him out of the country to avoid being with a girl he doesn't approve of) she bumps into a few times. Jae-Gyu is very rough around the edges. She may look pretty with a little make-up on and when she runs a brush through her hair (an event that takes place practically by force), but I find this situation of men falling for her like this pretty ridiculous, and can't imagine any readers feeling like they have anything in common with such a trouble-making, abrasive protagonist. The secondary characters are much more likable. Gong GooGoo seems like a talented artist, using beautiful soft lines to illustrate the scenes, and any forthcoming works by the creator may be worth checking out, but Sugarholic is far from the addicting read that the title implies.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Previews HYPE: January '10

Diligently wading through the phone book that is Previews Catalogue so you don't have to...here are ten choice books shipping to comic shops in January that I think may get overlooked or that I'm just plain excited about...
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1. Joe the Barbarian #1 - This new Vertigo series by Grant Morrison and Sean Murphy follows a diabetic kid who may or may not be in an insulin-deprived hallucination when he's transported to a land populated by his toys.
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2. Little Adventures In Oz (Book 1) TP - One of my favorite comic book fantasies is being rereleased by IDW in smaller sizes, perhaps to appeal to readers of all-ages books like Bone. These self-contained stories by Eric Shanower are going to be available for $9.99 each, a nice appealing price, so hopefully they will be successful in reaching a new audience.
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3. Donald Duck Classics (Volume 1): Quack Up HC - Boom! Studios is beginning to turn out these classic collections of Disney comics, featuring favorite characters from the entertainment giant. This Donald Duck collection is 112 pages of pure Carl Barks stories.
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4. King Aroo (Volume 1) HC - IDW is really digging out some quality comic strip projects for their Library of American Comics line. This collection contains all dailies and Sundays from the King Aroo strip published between 1950 and 1952. Also available from IDW this month (through the new Yoe Studio! imprint) is the classic Krazy Kat story by George Herriman, Krazy & Ignatz in Tiger Tea HC, featuring Krazy Kat under the influence of a psychedelic substance.
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5. Copper GN - Kazu Kibuishi's popular on-line comic finally sees print in a complete collection. Bits and pieces of the boy and dog adventures have been in Flight anthologies, but here's the definitive edition.
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6. The Newsboy Legion by Joe Simon & Jack Kirby (Volume 1) HC - Continuing their mission to publish classic Jack Kirby comics, DC is releasing this new book featuring comics from Star Spangled Comics.
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7. Excalibur Visionaries: Alan Davis (Volume 2) TP - This makes me happy. One of my favorite comics growing up, and one of my favorite runs on the title, is continuing to be collected featuring some of the very first comics I ever read that still hold up today. Behold the Sat-yr-9 betrayal come to a head!
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8. Blackest Night resurrected comics - During this month only, DC is resurrecting a few of its fan-favorite canceled comics for a single issue, including Suicide Squad, Catwoman, The Atom & Hawkman, The Phantom Stranger, The Power of Shazam, Starman, The Question, and Weird Western Tales, many with the original creative teams. Also available this month, Marvel is capitalizing on Geoff Johns' rise to prominence by publishing some of his old works for their company in the form of Avengers: World Trust HC.
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9. Siege #1 - As Dark Reign comes to its concluding chapter, Marvel's mightiest heroes lay siege to Norman Osborn and his various resources, a rebellion that crosses over into many of Marvel's high profile titles, but the brunt of which will be felt in this four-issue mini-series by Brian Michael Bendis and Olivier Coipel.
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10. Tumor HC - From the creators behind the excellent Elk's Run GN, comes a new noir story featuring a man with a mission, whose tumor is also quickly killing him. This was #1 on the Amazon Kindle graphic novel bestsellers list for over two months, and finally sees print thanks to Archaia Studios Press.