Friday, April 29, 2011

Previews HYPE!: July '11

Combing through the massive Previews Catalogue this month, here are the titles that I think could get overlooked, or that I'm just plain excited about, shipping to comic shops in July...

Kamandi, The Last Boy On Earth Omnibus (Volume 1) HC - The beloved series from Jack Kirby is collected in a format deserving of the material, to match DC's other Jack Kirby collections.

Tezuka's Book of Human Insects HC - More Osamu Tezuka goodness!

Walter Simonson's The Mighty Thor: Artist's Edition - What's sure to be the first of many projects from IDW featuring classic Marvel runs, this book will feature the original art, as close to Simonson's drawings as humanly possible, complete with corrections and blue pencils, showcasing the artist's incredible pencils.

Amazing Mysteries: The Bill Everett Archives (Volume 1) HC - Collects over 200 pages of stories from the master artist.  A companion to Fire and Water, this is also edited by Blake Bell.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen III: Century #2: 1969 - Finally!!

Rachel Rising #1 - A new series begins from Terry Moore, hot on the heels of Echo (which is also coming out in a complete edition this month).

Star Wars Adventures: Chewbacca and the Slayers of the Shadowlands TP - A prequel coming-of-age story following a young Chewbacca.

Big Questions TP - A collection of all of Anders Nilsen's Big Questions!

Excalibur Visionaries: Alan Davis (Volume 3) TP - Yay!  More classic awesomeness collected!!

The Hidden - Richard Sala's latest graphic novel was pushed back, but it looks like it's on the publishing schedule again!

Fables #107 - Terry Moore provides guest art for this tale, which may be the reawakening of the Snow Queen!

Any Empire HC - Nate Powell's follow-up to Swallow Me Whole.

Dollhouse: Epitaphs #1 (of 5) - Continuing the story where the recent Dollhouse one-shot left off, this furthers the adventures based on the Joss Whedon television series.

The New Teen Titans: Games HC - An original graphic novel taking place during the Marv Wolfman/George Perez run on the book, bringing the creative team back together again.

Classic Next Men (Volume 1) TP - In case the black and white omnibuses weren't enough, John Byrne's original run on Next Men will be released in full color in trade paperbacks.

Captain America #1 - Ed Brubaker and Steve McNiven break out a new Cap series just in time for the new movie.

Creepy Presents Bernie Wrightson HC - Featuring the short stories from the horror legend that were printed in Creepy and Eerie.

Twisted Savage Dragon Funnies TP - The back-up funnies in Savage Dragon from a variety of artists gets a collection, featuring new stories as well.  Look for talent such as Jim Rugg and Zack Soto.

Sergio Aragones Funnies #1 - Comedian Sergio Aragones has a new humor title debuting this month, with a blessing from Matt Groening.

X-Men: Schism #1 (of 5) - A new crossover featuring the mutants of the Marvel U starts here, and is sure to have lasting repercussions.

DC Retroactive - Legendary creators write stories that take place during the 1970's of popular DC characters,each followed by a classic tale.  Watch for titles from Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, The Flash and the Justice League.

Nuts - A collection of Gahan Wilson stories form the National Lampoon.

Daredevil #1 - A new era begins for Daredevil in this new series by Mark Waid, Paolo Manuel Rivera and Marcos Martin, that sees him reborn.

The Red Wing #1 - Jonathan Hickman goes creator-owned with this new series from Image Comics, about fighter pilots.

Like a Sniper Lining Up His Shot GN - The latest Jacques Tardi collection from Fantagraphics is another crime thriller!

The Stuff of Legend (Volume 3): A Jester's Tale #1 (of 4) - A new mini-series featuring the toys-come-to-life.

Brilliant #1 - A new Icon creator-owned series from Ultimate Spider-Man creative team Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley.

X-Men by Chris Claremont and Jim Lee Omnibus (Volume 1) HC - Lots of cool things happened to the X-Men during this time period.

Flight (Volume 8) GN - A new volume of the beloved anthology series.

Supergods: What Sun Gods Can Teach Us About Being Human HC - A prose exploration of superheroes from Grant Morrison.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Pick of the Week 4/27

Here is the book you should be paying attention to, in comic shops on Wednesday...

Love From the Shadows HC - The latest Gilbert Hernandez graphic novel from his series of Fritz B-movie adaptations.

Other Noteworthy Releases
Action Comics #900
Black Butler (Volume 5)
Bulletproof Coffin TP
Doctor Solar: Man of the Atom (Volume 1) TP
Eerie Archives (Volume 7) HC
Fantastic Four by Jonathan Hickman (Volume 4) HC
Genius Isolated: The Life and Art of Alex Toth HC
House of Five Leaves (Volume 3)
Maximum Ride (Volume 4)
Mighty Thor #1
Page by Paige GN
Red Sonja Omnibus (Volume 2)
Sensational She-Hulk by John Byrne (Volume 1) TP
Showcase Presents: Green Lantern (Volume 5) TP
Spike (Volume 1) HC
Sleepyheads GN
X-Men Omnibus (Volume 2) HC
Y the Last Man Deluxe Edition (Volume 5) HC

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Pick of the Week 4/20

Here is the book you should be paying attention to, in comic shops tomorrow!

Dan Clowes' Mister Wonderful: A Love Story TP - The collection of Daniel Clowes' story that was serialized in The New York Times.

Other Noteworthy Releases
Amity Blamity (Book 1) GN
Archie: Seven Decades of America's Favorite Teenager HC
Astro City: Shining Stars HC
Bullet To the Head TP
Dark Horse Presents #1
Darkwing Duck (Volume 2): Crisis On Infinite Darkwings TP
The Girl & the Gorilla GN
Jack Kirby's Galactic Bounty Hunters HC
The Klondike GN
Legion of Super Heroes (Volume 1): The Choice HC
Little Lulu's Pal Tubby (Volume 3): Frog Boy & Other Stories
Nexus Archives (Volume 12) HC
Replica (Volume 1)
S.H.I.E.L.D.: Architects of Forever HC
Suicide Girls #1 (of 4)
Thunderbolts Classics (Volume 1) TP
Zombies vs. Robots: Undercity #1 (of 4)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Manga Monday: Tokyopop

With Tokyopop closing its LA-based publishing division in North America (a nice article on the development here), I thought I would take the time to look back on some of my favorite titles over the years from the groundbreaking manga publisher.  They will be missed, as they put out many titles that readers love, such as Fruits Basket, Chibi Vampire and early printings of Sailor Moon.  Here are five of my favorites...

1. Paradise Kiss (Ai Yazawa) - Following an eclectic group of art students creating a fashion label, and the student who's drawn into their circle as a model, is this beautifully-illustrated shojo manga from Ai Yazawa, who would go on to enchant audiences with Nana.  After the first chapter of Nana was serialized in the very first issue of Shojo Beat in America, I ran out and purchased this series, as I was instantly enamored with Yazawa, and this earlier work from her is every bit as funny and engaging as her later work, and is easily my favorite manga from Tokyopop.

2. Dragon Head (Minetaro Mochizuki) - The dark post-apocalyptic fantasy Dragon Head seemed to come out of nowhere, but steadily built buzz before the English translations were nearly cancelled by Tokyopop (in book form, at least).  But enough fan support rallied around the book, which eventually saw the complete ten volumes released, bringing the psychological horror and crazy, brave new world to a satisfying conclusion.  Dragon Head is a unique, exciting manga read that more people should have experienced.

3. Battle Royale (Koushun Takami & Masayuki Taguchi) - Before Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games was this crazy, over-the-top fight to the death between high school students in a secluded, abandoned town.  This book dripped gore and offered up plenty of fan service in a violent, action-packed series based on the novel of the same name.  An unforgettable read.

4. Bizenghast (M. Alice LeGrow) - An OEL (Original English Language) manga, this title oozes Gothic atmosphere in a fantasy about a girl who solves riddles and works to release spirits trapped in the vaults of a mausoleum.  A great premise, rich surroundings, and just plain fun.

5. Planetes (Makoto Yukimura) - Kind of a quieter read than the others on my list, this book follows three debris collectors in Earth's orbit.  It's a science fiction book really grounded in science, and more focused on subtle characterization, but with edge-of-your-seat moments that keep you pining for more.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Herc #1

Greg Pak, Fred Van Lente & Neil Edwards

I was a big fan of the Incredible Hercules series, so I was happy to see the title return, with series writers Pak and Van Lente included.  This new incarnation of the book does see a new direction for the hero, however, but one that has a lot of potential.  Hercules is now on Earth, stripped of his godhood and title, and must fight for man as one of them.  But he does boast some pretty great weapons, and of course, he's still strong.  The opening scene perfectly sets up this new series, as Herc utilizes Greek weapons, each of their histories explained in footnotes, to stop a group of thugs.  And while he may not have the support of the gods at his back, he's still the same old Herc that we have come to know and love, with a weakness for women and a little dim.  There's also a mystery afoot in the new series that's squeezed in between the action, and some other new elements, like how when people pray to him or make sacrifices in his name, he senses it.  I think that fans of Incredible Hercules will be happy with this new series.  Even without Amadeus to keep him in check, this fun new book contains a lot of what that series had that made it stand head and shoulders above other superhero titles.  And I'm excited to see what's in store for the more human version of a god.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Pick of the Week 4/13

Sorry this is a little late this time is the book you should be paying attention to, in comic shops today!  Light week...

Thor by Walter Simonson Omnibus HC - A movie is always a good excuse to reprint great comics in deluxe formats, and this is one pretty exciting collection of Thor comics, all in one thick nearly-1200-pages book for $125.

Other Noteworthy Releases
The Complete Wendel SC
Ex Machina Deluxe Edition (Volume 5) HC
Flash Gordon Comic Book Archives (Volume 3) HC
Justice League: Generation Lost (Volume 1) HC
Salt Water Taffy (Volume 4): Caldera's Revenge GN
Wolverine: The Best There Is - Contagion #1
X-Force: Under the Gun HC

Monday, April 11, 2011

Manga Monday: Blue Exorcist

Blue Exorcist (Volume 1)
Kazue Kato

Rin has daddy issues.  His father is Satan.  In a universe where demons exist and can possess or infect mortals, twins Rin and Yukio are born into the world via a human female.  Since Yukio's body was frail, Rin inherited his father's demonic powers and now sports a tail and a wicked sword, and some great powers.  But with this power comes a desire to see his father shut down, especially after Satan kills the man who raised him as his own, Fujimoto Shiro.  In order to defeat his father, Rin must learn the way of the exorcist, and so joins the True Cross Academy Exorcist School, where his own brother Yukio instructs him and rooms with him.  Being a short-tempered sort of guy who's always getting into fights and slacking off, he needs a lot of looking after, but Rin has the potential to perhaps carry out what he's set out to do.

Overall, I was kind of bored with this book.  It's very over-the-top, violent and gory, but it's all the sort of stuff we've seen before, and there's not much to the characters to make up for that lack of freshness.  There are a few good ideas in there, and a nice set up with the exorcist school, but the main character drives me crazy and has few qualities that make me want to like him.  This is also one of those books that's very serious and dark one moment, and silly and wacky the next, and I think that the balance just doesn't work here.  It goes all out in both regards, but they don't compliment each other very well in this story - rather, they sort of undercut each other.  The horror would be more impactful without the eye-popping jaw-dropping goofiness of the next panel, and the silliness of Rin in one scene would be more endearing if he wasn't beating people up and sneering in the next.  It not only makes it hard to see where the character is coming from, and whether or not we should be taking him seriously sometimes, but it just makes the tone of the book very confused.  Plus, it's just not that interesting in the first place.  There are much better titles out there to dive into, much more deserving of a look than Blue Exorcist.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Her Dark Destiny

The first book in my Hunters of the Dark series is available now through Barnes & Noble digitally for just $0.99, following a group of monster hunters. Think City of Bones or Buffy the Vampire Slayer and you'll have a good idea of what this book is like.

Official synopsis:
Teenager Shanna Hunt has been hunting demons since her parents were murdered by them. She’s used to doing things alone, her own way, but one fateful night throws her into the company of a team of hunters, each specializing in a particular kind of monster: vampires, werewolves, witches, shape-shifters… This newly-formed team should be an unstoppable force for whatever is out there picking off individual hunters across the globe, but their first battle together against the monsters of the night could be their last.
And here's a taste of the book:

Becca hated herself as she tentatively pushed the strap of her camisole back up over her bare shoulder. Picking up her red high heels, she plodded down the dank hallway, feeling utterly exhausted and used. She ached. She ached and throbbed in places she’d told herself she would never let anyone touch again. But she always did. She always let someone touch her, for the right price.
She sighed as she reached the entry door to the apartment complex she was leaving and slid her feet into the heels. She couldn’t wait to take them off when she got back to her place. Maybe she would take a bath tonight, drink a glass of wine to help her relax, help her forget. It would feel nice to dull the pain, feel clean again. At least this one hadn’t protested when she’d insisted on using a condom. Some of them did, despite the fear of STDs. Some people just didn’t care. Some people just didn’t think. They wouldn’t catch anything. Not even from a dirty whore.

“Not here, Tom. Someone might see.”

“So let ‘em.”

Becca looked up to see a man and woman kissing against a wall. The man’s words were slurred. But he was only a man. None of her concern.

Deciding to avoid the happy couple, Becca ducked down an alley. The kind of dark alley her mother had told her to avoid. At least before kicking her out of her house because her mother’s sleazy boyfriend had come on to her. Like it had been her fault.

Becca paused mid-stride as she heard a sharp clunking noise, like a tin can being kicked. She shivered, suddenly aware of all the shadows around her. Clutching her purse to her bosom a little tighter, she unzipped the top in case quick access was necessary.

She held her breath to listen and cocked her head, staring hard at all of the dark corners, willing them to unveil their secrets. Nothing. Just her nerves. Just her life getting to her.

She really needed that bath about now, needed to melt into the steaming water, not into these cold shadows that seemed to be breathing entities, barring her way. Shadow creatures from an alternate dimension, coming to whisk her away from a life of prostitution. Becca nearly giggled. The things she came up with sometimes. Anything would be better than where she was. Even shadows coming to abduct her.

But the shadows were moving. Or at least parting. Making way for someone...or something.

Becca’s breath caught in her throat as a figure came to a stop before her. Her eyes widened as she took in the wild eyes, the unkempt hair. She must have been a beautiful woman when she made herself up, but just then, she looked mad, crazed. Something was wrong with her. And her round belly didn’t go unnoticed by Becca. She was pregnant, probably about ready to pop. What was she doing out here in...her slippers? Becca looked again. Yep. Pink fuzzy slippers. Something was definitely wrong here.

“Um....miss, are you...are you alright?” Becca stammered.

The woman stared at her, as if she didn’t understand, then her eyes fastened themselves down onto...her breasts? No...higher. Her neck.

Becca bit her lip and backed up a step, feeling a little self-conscious, a little vulnerable. Bumping into a crazy pregnant lady after she’d screwed some married forty-year-old pig wasn’t exactly her idea of a fun Friday night. Give her an old-fashioned date anytime.

“Miss?” Becca tried again.

The woman looked up into Becca’s eyes again and opened her mouth in a feral snarl, revealing two sharp canine teeth.

Swallowing hard, Becca dug into her bag, feeling a little more confident when her hand fastened itself around her wooden stake and mallet set. She pulled it out and let her purse drop to the ground, a wad of rolled-up bills spilling out alongside her keys and a box of condoms.

“Now this is my idea of fun,” Becca informed the pregnant woman with a slightly psychotic grin. “God, this feels good, doesn’t it? Just us girls?” She kicked the woman as she was about to strike and the vampire fell to the ground with a crash, seemingly tired, a little dazed. She must have just been made. Couldn’t have been more than an hour old. Super-sharp reflexes usually kicked in after a couple hours of unbearable thirst. This wouldn’t be as much fun as she’d hoped it would be.

“Oh, well,” Becca murmured as she straddled the woman and placed the stake over her heart. “It’s the thought that counts.” She was about to hit the stake with a gleeful swing of the mallet when the vampire bucked savagely, startling Becca enough to expose an arm, upon which the woman immediately fastened her fangs.

“Gugh!” Becca yanked her arm back, caught off-guard and slightly afraid. She stared in disbelief at the woman’s horrible maniacal grin where her blood - her blood - dripped down the undead chin.

“Damn trollop,” Becca snarled, redoubling her effort to pin the vampire. Once she was firmly on top again, she didn’t waste any time. She slammed the mallet down onto her properly-positioned stake with a grunt and felt the wood glide easily through the flesh, through the tissue. After a few more well-placed strikes, she finally drove it home, through the woman’s tainted heart.

Becca stood up with a smile upon her face, mission accomplished. At least this was something she could be proud of.

The woman was ash in seconds. Everything just seemed to transform, atom for atom, to dust.

Reaching out a hand, Becca touched the tip of the woman’s nose, greasy ash coming away with it. She rubbed the ash on the alley’s brick wall and gathered her belongings together, kissing the wad of money before tossing it back into her purse. “Not a bad night.” Glancing down at the blood still trickling down her arm, Becca scowled. She must be slipping, letting a newbie get the best of her, getting too arrogant for her own good. Sighing, Becca sent the body of ash a kiss goodbye and continued down the alley like she didn’t have another care in the world.

She didn’t pause as she left the alley and came out on a side street, a little jump in her step as she made her way to her apartment and its old claw-footed bathtub. She deserved extra bubbles tonight. And extra wine. Definitely extra wine.

If she’d given even the slightest pause, she would have noticed the ashen body shift behind her. She would have seen the right shoulder move and crumple in upon itself, the head rolling from its neck and shattering silently on the concrete ground, like glass, into thousands of papery shards. She would have noted the ashes scatter like leaves on a windy autumn day, tossed aside as if from a gutter, where they’d discreetly gathered. And she wouldn’t have been able to ignore the tiny hand that reached out from the ash belly, seeking its mother’s dead flesh, where there no longer was any.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Pick of the Week 4/6

Here's the book you should be paying attention to, in comic shops on Wednesday...

Fear Itself #1 (of 7) - The latest mega crossover event from Marvel launches this week with Fear Itself, involving many of the the big guns from the Marvel Universe (and highlighting those with films out this Summer).  The promising team of Matt Fraction and Stuart Immonen are producing the main seven-issue mini-series, with plenty of satellite series soon to come.

Other Noteworthy Releases
51 Delta GN
Aaron and Ahmed HC
Archie: The Best of Dan DeCarlo (Volume 2) HC
Avengers: Prime HC
BPRD: Dead Remembered #1 (of 3)
But I Can't Do Anything Else...The Art of Rob Schrab HC
Butterfly (Volume 1)
Fables (Volume 15): Rose Red TP
Herc #1
Peanuts: Happiness Is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown HC
Perry Bible Fellowship Almanack HC
Poseurs GN
Sakura Hime: The Legend of Princess Sakura (Volume 1)
Skaar: King of the Savage Land #1 (of 5)
Solomon Kane: Red Shadows #1 (of 4)
Vanguard Frazetta Classics (Volume 1): Johnny Comet SC

Monday, April 04, 2011

Manga Monday: Totally Captivated

Totally Captivated (Volumes 1-3)
Hajin Yoo

Totally Captivated is a yaoi manhwa about college student Ewon, who's forced to work for the mafia as an errand boy, including some unpleasant duties such as collecting money from clients.  He's put into this position, without pay, thanks to an ex-boyfriend he cheated on, who is now the lover of the local mafia boss, the handsome man Mookyul, who can be very cruel and bites people when he's drunk.  Despite the unsavory qualities of his new position, Ewon manages to fit in quite nicely, making fast friends with most of the mafia, who admire his cooking and cleaning abilities.  It becomes apparent before long that they would be lost without him.  Mookyul begins to notice Ewon as well, and makes constant passes at him, despite his protests.  Totally Captivated is a fun title, full of amusing characters and some pretty tense, and violent, action scenes.  But it's really the romance that works the best in any yaoi manga, and that certainly holds true here.  Ewon and Mookyul's mutual attraction, despite their reservations, is perfectly played out with a mix of flirtatiousness and cluelessness that frustrates the both of them.  It can also get pretty hot and heavy in the sex scenes, but it's pretty tame compared to a lot of titles out there, focusing mostly on suggestion and the blossoming romance.  The art is well drawn overall, but it does have its problems, particularly with a few action scenes that are nearly impossible to follow.  Panel arrangements can be a little clumsy at times as well, and hardly intuitive.  But the tense relationship of the main characters and the charming story make this an overall pretty riveting yaoi read.

Sunday, April 03, 2011


The first two mini-series to launch through Marvel's Crossgen imprint are Ruse and Sigil, the first issue of each having already arrived in comic shops over the past few weeks.  These titles resurrect two more well-known books from the company Crossgen from before they went bankrupt years ago, and their catalogue was purchased by Disney.  When Marvel was purchased by Disney as well, Marvel had access to their material, and have begun to reimagine these titles enough to satisfy long-time fans, but different enough to make them seem fresh and attractive to new readers.

Sigil #1 (of 4)
Mike Carey & Leonard Kirk

The first title to ship was Sigil, originally a science fiction title that saw a seasoned soldier partake in pulse-pounding galactic battle with his sentient spaceship.  The new Sigil wipes that slate clean, the only ties to that former title seemingly the symbol, or sigil, that the main character wears that many individuals throughout the original Crossgen universe had that imbued them with powers.  The sigil in this new universe under Marvel's care seems to be just as powerful, but Sigil actually begins in a modern world, where an ordinary girl, Samantha, is struggling to keep up her grades and fend off bullies while she's having dreams of a ship and a man in need of her powers.  The ship that she sees in these dreams is El Cazador, which also had its own popular pirate title shortly before Crossgen's demise.  So, while it doesn't seem to have any ties to the original Sigil title, this new Sigil definitely has ties to the Crossgen universe overall, although so far nothing has made it stand out from typical fantasy fare.

Ruse #1 (of 4)
Mark Waid & Mirco Pierfederici

And while Mike Carey has obviously taken a drastic departure from Sigil, it seems that Ruse is a more faithful reinterpretation of the popular Victorian mystery series, which is no surprise really, as Mark Waid was part of the original Crossgen's creative team.  Starring Simon Archard, celebrity detective, and his "assistant," the clever Emma Bishop, who makes things go smoothly for the eccentric sleuth, this title is set up perfectly, beginning with a classic murder that Simon quickly makes sense of, followed by a daring pursuit, before the mini-series' larger mystery is revealed.  The characters are just as lively and likable here as they ever were, Waid easily recapturing the spirit of the title from its glory days.  This is the title that most exemplifies the potential of Crossgen, and I hope that this is the sort of material we continue to see from the imprint.