Posts

Showing posts from October, 2006

Impaler #1 (of 4)

Image
William Harms, Nick Postic & Nick Marinkovich This is a nice dark and moody book for Halloween. Most of the art is bathed in shadow with gothic images like wolves howling at the full moon and living shadows. Very effective art by Postic and Marinkovich for this type of story. Also very effective are the slithery, oily monsters glimpsed across the pages of this bloody chiller. Impaler is a vampire tale. Beginning in Wallachia in 1460, this book is mostly set in modern day New York City where a cop is retiring in wake of his wife's death at the same time that a ship has been discovered with its entire crew brutally murdered. Like Bram Stoker's Dracula , a diary relates how the crew slowly met its demise via a sickness as equipment was strangely sabatoged. While the book is set full of stock characters and warm bodies to be picked off, the atmosphere and great art, particularly when it comes to the villain designs and death scenes, more than make up for any lack of imagin

Manga Monday 15

Image
For Halloween, I've decided to take on two of the goriest manga titles out there... Octopus Girl and Hino Horror ! Octopus Girl (Volume 3) Toru Yamazaki Octopus Girl remains one of the best dark humor titles in manga. In this, its third volume, it shows little sign of slowing down. Like the previous volume of the series, this book includes some short stories from Yamazaki that aren't part of the Octopus Girl series (nearly a third of the book this time), but are in the same vain of storytelling: blood, gore, screaming, sarcasm (although Super Ladies delves more into the spy genre and is still just plain great). Aside from that hideous cover which has nothing to do with any of the content within, this is another great addition to any manga collection. A real treasure included among the short stories: The Slit-Mouthed Neighbor . Check it out! A- The Bug Boy: Hino Horror #2 Hideshi Hino There is a reason Hideshi Hino is dubbed the Master of Japanese Horror Manga. I'

Seven Soldiers #1

Image
Grant Morrison & J.H. Williams III Everything the Seven Soldiers mini-series have been respectively leading toward merge and come to a head in this oversized comic book, where the seven soldiers who will never meet all play a role in stopping the harrowing of Earth at the hands of the corrupt Sheeda. Unfortunately, I don't think this comic turned out the way Morrison wanted it to. So much is going on, the action never lets up for a moment, and the characters that we've spent so much time with don't get all of the attention they deserve in the conclusions to their tales. Two of my favorites in particular, Frankenstein and the Bulleteer, make pretty brief appearances. No, I think for this to have worked out as Morrison had envisioned, a concluding mini-series would have been the best course of action. That's my first impression, at least. Also, one of the soldiers, the Manhatten Guardian, didn't seem to contribute in the destruction of the Sheeda Queen whatsoev

In Passing...Snakewoman to Zombie

Image
Snakewoman #4 Zeb Wells & Michael Gaydos The latest issue of Snakewoman finally explains just what all of the vague concepts like "the sixty-eight" mean. Through a series of flashbacks that look like they fell out of an issue of Fell , Gaydos illustrates the history behind all of the new players in town and how they came to be. It's all pretty interesting and could lead to some good stuff. B+ Jack of Fables #4 Bill Willingham & Matthew Sturges This book is really shaping up to be something. In this issue, Jack puts his escape plan into action and we are treated to a real edge-of-your-seat thrill ride as the caged fables make a break for freedom. One of the best offerings of the week. A Zombie #2 (of 4) Mike Raicht & Kyle Hotz Raicht continues to keep readers off-balance with the twists and turns he offers in his zombie tale. The explanations and scares are all pretty by-the-numbers, but the way he's been handling the characters involved in th

John Woo's Seven Brothers #1

Image
Garth Ennis & Jeevan Kang Seven men are brought together by a mysterious woman, each of whom has a special power, whether it be teleportation or super-sight. Well, all except one guy who is a pimp and our hostess Miss Rachel Kai doesn't really understand how he fits into things herself. All she knows is that this particular group of men will band together to save the world. Overall, this is a very generic superhero story. It was decent as far as set-ups go, but there's nothing particularly unique in what's been seen thus far. An interesting introduction at the beginning of the issue told of some secret Chinese history, and some cave explorers are about to wake what appears to be the devil, but until those elements come into play, there's nothing about the story to compel me to urge anyone to track this comic down. However, I will admit that Garth Ennis' dialogue is pretty sharp and witty at times, to the point of making me laugh out loud at one moment. On the

Hellstorm: Son of Satan #1 (of 5)

Image
Alexander Irvine & Russ Braun This is how more horror comics should be. Marvel's Max imprint allows for truly gruesome, unsettling imagery and unabashed violence, which is perfect for some titles to thrive under. It's not for every title, of course, but if you're going to write a Hellstorm mini-series, you shouldn't have to hold back on the gore and brutality. It should be genuinely frightening. That being said, the first issue of this mini wasn't exactly frightening. It was gory and violent, and a bit disturbing, but it felt more like an R-rated superhero book, or a Sandman adventure (or more specifically, an adventure from Lucifer , the spin-off book from Sandman ). Not that it wasn't good, because it was a pretty good read. It just didn't drive the scares. The opening scene is a great demonstration for why this is a Max title: demons chase a man through dark alleys until they overtake him, whereupon they tear him apart, bloody limb from bloody

Halloween Spotlight: Witch Comics

Image
There are plenty more comics about witches than there are werewolves , so I've had to pick and choose a bit here. Now, there are characters like The Scarlet Witch (a mutant, not a witch) who are not mentioned in this list, for this list leans more toward comics featuring traditional witchcraft practitioners to weed out the hundreds of books that could make a case for using magic. Bear with me as I highlight a few titles you may find of interest in your quest for scares this Halloween. Spellbinders: Signs and Wonders - This is how books in that "girl witch" genre should read. The opening scene: two boys are looking through a book on magic, one reading mockingly until, with a look of horror and a mispronounced word, he falls to the floor and shatters into thousands to tiny green lizards that spill out of his clothes. From there, this series doesn't miss a beat, but just keeps on thrilling. We follow a new girl in town, Kate, as she transfers to a school in Massachuset

Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter

Image
In Guilty Pleasures #1 (of 12) Laurell K. Hamilton, Stacie M. Ritchie & Brett Booth The debut issue of this comic has already sold out, but Marvel has announced a second printing, so you still have a chance to get your hands on the comic adaptation of Laurell K. Hamilton's best-selling Anita Blake book. Guilty Pleasures was the novel that introduced millions of readers to the sassy, headstrong Anita Blake, who is an animator, and raises the dead for a living, but gets herself in deep with warring vampires and the like. She doesn't like vampires much, has some trust issues with them, and has already killed fourteen of them, thus she has been dubbed the "Executioner" by their kind. Guilty Pleasures really lent itself to comics nicely. Its world is pretty superhero-ish. The world is aware of monsters, and has put into motion laws that protect them as citizens, etc. Plus, Hamilton's style is very visual, so the transition isn't very jarring here under

In Passing...Wildcats to Runaways

Image
I've finally gotten a chance to get in some reading for this past week, now that next week's comics are nearly upon us... Runaways #21 Brian K. Vaughan & Mike Norton This was a really great conclusion to the "Dead Means Dead" storyarc. I wasn't too impressed up until this issue. But Chase gets another little nudge toward darkness in wake of Gertrude's unexpected death, while the other runaways come up with a strategy to cut the humongous rampaging monster down to size. And the guest artist kinda grew on me now that it's back to Alphona with the next iss. A X-Factor #12 Peter David, Renato Arlem & Roy Allen Martinez Another great finale to a storyarc sees X-Factor's invasion of Singularity come to a head, giving the team a glimpse of things to come as they confront the villains. Some cool character moments revitalize the series after it's chugged along on fumes for a little while. A- Ms. Marvel #8 Brian Reed & Roberto D

In Stores 10/25

Image
A look at some books coming to stores this week... The Fountain SC - Darren Aronofsky's original graphic novel from last year gets a softcover edition, just in time for the film! Seven Soldiers #1 - After a lengthy delay, the last issue in Grant Morrison's omni-series comes out, promising the death of a soldier. Showcase Presents: Phantom Stranger (Volume 1) TP - Another Showcase from DC is always a good thing. Impaler #1 (of 4) - A new Image mini-series. A blizzard has basically shut down New York City...but that isn't stopping a group of vampires from terrorizing the city. EC Archives: Weird Science (Volume 1) HC - I believe that this is the first of the EC Archives collections coming out, collecting classic works from the defunct publisher. If I had an extra $50 lying around...

Shortbus

Image
John Cameron Mitchell's new film is absolutely spectacular. See it!!!

Manga Monday 14

Since I had no time to read anything this week, I thought it would be a good opportunity to provide links to some great manga essays. Enjoy! Jog on Golgo 13, Part One Jog on Golgo 13, Part Two Jog on Manga He'd Like to See Translated Jog on Naoki Urasawa's Pluto and Osamu Tezuka's Astro Boy Abhay Khosla on Naoki Urasawa Yes, it's a lot of Jog, but he's a good writer. Also a great resource for everything manga: Mangablog Next week, back to the reviews with volume three of Octopus Girl and more! Archives: Manga Monday 13 Manga Monday 12 Manga Monday 11 Manga Monday 10 Manga Monday 9 Manga Monday 8 Manga Monday 7 Manga Monday 6 Manga Monday 5 Manga Monday 4 Manga Monday 3 Manga Monday 2 Manga Monday!

Marvel Solicits: January '07

Image
Sorry the posts have been a little scarce lately, but between starting my new job on Wednesday morning and leaving my previous job on Wednesday night, I've been working nearly seventy hours. Bleh. But next week should be back to normal, schedule-wise. I have quite the pile of comics waiting to be read and reviewed, including the already sold-out Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter in Guilty Pleasures #1, John Woo's Seven Brothers #1, Hellstorm: Son of Satan #1 (of 5), Wildcats #1 and The Authority #1. And then there's also the regular monthlies like Runaways to sort through. It's all on its way. But for now...the highlights of Marvel books shipping from Diamond in January ... Ms. Marvel Special - A 48-page one-shot that reintroduces one of Ms. Marvel's old adversaries in a story that sounds like it will drudge up a lot from Carol's past. Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E. #12 - The fantastic series from Warren Ellis and Stuart Immonen comes to a sudden conclusion, as sales

DC Solicits: January '07

Image
The following are the highlights of DC books shipping in January.... There wasn't much going on....seriously, this is it. Jack of Fables (Volume 1): The (Nearly) Great Escape - I was impressed with the initial issues of this series. I wasn't expecting much, but it was a pretty good read. If you've been thinking about checking out the spin-off and you read the Fables proper title, I'd say you really should be getting this or you're missing out. If you've been meaning to check out Fables for awhile now...check out Fables . Seven Soldiers of Victory (Volume 4) - Wrapping up Grant Morrison's mega-series is the final installment of Seven Soldiers , including the soon-to-be-released Seven Soldiers #1 Showcase Presents: Aquaman (Volume 1) - This was a no-brainer and a title I'm sure plenty of people are excited about. Aquaman is just so...Aquaman. Superman & Batman vs. Aliens & Predators - I think this is just great. Brilliant.

In Stores 10/18

Image
What a week! Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter in Guilty Pleasures #1 (of 12) - The first comic adaptation from Anita Blake's best-selling horror series come out from Marvel, via their new deal with Dabel Brothers Productions. I think the art looks nice. I may have to pick it up despite having read the novel already... Amazing Spider-Girl #1 - The fan-favorite character returns in a new monthly on-going title after a short hiatus. Hopefully the new number one will encourage new readers. Hellstorm: Son of Satan #1 (of 5) - A new MAX title featuring Damian Hellstorm, from Alexander Irvine and Russell Braun Essential Marvel Horror (Volume 1) TP - Coinciding with the release of the new Hellstorm series is an Essential volume collecting some of the Son of Satan's previous adventures. The Damned #1 - Culleen Bunn and Brian Hurtt's new gangester/monster series makes it debut in stores in wake of SPX. You may want to give it a try. I did . The Authority #1 - New Grant M

Manga Monday 13

Image
Welcome to another edition of Manga Monday! And it was quite a week for manga, as many of the titles I follow were released all at once. The Drifting Classroom (Volume 2) Kazuo Umezu What can I say about this manga? It's over-the-top in everything it does. There's a lot of crying and screaming, people do ridiculous things in their quest to horde food, and the deaths are rather hilariously carried out. My favorite part of this volume was when a poor little crippled girl on crutches is picked up leaving the school, and she goes through a long sob story about how she just gets in the way and slows people down, how it's hard for her to make friends, and she left the school to go to the next town for help so she wouldn't be in the way, and the protagonist screams "You idiot! What are you talking about? Besides, you're walking in the wrong direction!" That's The Drifting Classroom in a nutshell. A- Dragon Head (Volume 4) Minetaro Mochizuki Another

Halloween Spotlight: Werewolf Comics

Image
Halloween's just around the corner, so you may be just itching to sit down with a good book in a dark, quiet room to give yourself a scare. Over the next few weeks, I'll be highlighting books appropriate to read on a dark and scary night. For this opening post, I'm going to look at those monsters who always seem to get the shaft: werewolves. You may not be able to think of a werewolf comic off the top of your head, so let's change that. There was actually a time when publishers using the Comics Code Authority (in wake of that infamous Seduction of the Innocent ) were unable to produce works featuring werewolves. They were in fact banned from even mentioning werewolves or wolfmen. Things have changed since then, and while publishers don't seem to be scrambling to make up for lost time, there are a few noteworthy comics featuring the creatures. The Wolves of St. August This is a short story from Mike Mignola and James Sinclair originally featured in Dark Horse Pres

Films for Halloween

It's that time of year again where Patrick and I rent a bunch of horror movies in honor of All Hallow's Eve. Weeks of movies lead up to a marathon of films on Halloween night. We've already seen Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986) and The Wicker Man (1974) . The others on the list (most of which were added to our Blockbuster queue courtesy of Alan Jones' The Rough Guide to Horror Movies ) are... - I Walked With a Zombie (1943) - Dracula (1931) - The Mummy (1932) - Mummy (1959) - The Devil's Rejects (2005) - Omen (1976) - The Bird With the Crystal Plumage (1969) - It's Alive (1974) - Chinese Ghost Story (1987) - Peeping Tom (1960) - Curse of the Demon (1957) - Cat People (1942) - Old Dark House (1932) - Near Dark (1987) - Repulsion (1965) My favorite horror movies include The Exorcist (1973), The Ring (2002), Black Sunday (La Maschera del demonic) (1960), The Descent (2005), Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), Dawn of the Dead (2004), Infe

In Passing...Fables to Devi

Image
A light week in floppies... Fables #54 Bill Willingham & Mark Buckingham Part three in the Sons of Empire arc follows the history of the Emperor's new ambassador to Fabletown, that scary man on that disturbing cover: Hansel. We discover what a twisted soul that young man turned into after shoving that witch into the oven, as Prince Charming tries to figure out what to do about his sudden appearance. That has to be one of the best covers for the series ever, a good match for the great backstory that's sure to produce a really interesting character. A- Uncanny X-Men #479 Ed Brubaker & Billy Tan Shi'ar prisoner Korvus makes his way to the Uncanny X-Men's spaceship to deal with the threat onboard. Billy Tan provides great art among the non-stop action. I love how he draws all of the characters except Professor Xavier. He just looks strange and I can't help but be distracted when the rest of the pencils are so immaculate. B Devi #4 Samit Basu

In Stores 10/11

Image
Comics will be in stores Wednesday, despite the Columbus Day holiday (the mail was still delivered). Here are the highlights... Desolation Jones TP - Another hit from Warren Ellis, with a loyal following. I haven't checked this bad boy out yet, but now that the first six issues are being collected, it seems like the ideal time. Art by J.H. Williams III! Absolute Sandman (Volume 1) HC - The first DC Absolute version of a few hardcovers chronicling the Vertigo monster title sees release, loaded with plenty of extra goodies, and colors touched up a bit in places. Should be a beaut for anyone willing to fork over $99 for the behemoth. Fables Special Edition #1 - Been thinking about checking out Fables ? Especially in light of the definitive Bill Willingham interview in the last Comics Journal ? Well, now's a good time. For 25 cents, you can get the first issue to see if it's something worth buying collections of. Gen 13 #1 - Gail Simone tries her hand at reinvigorating

Manga Monday 12

Image
Emma (Volume 1) Kaoru Mori Emma is a delightful new manga from Kaoru Mori. It follows a young maid who harbors a secret attraction to a young noblemen whom the governess she serves as her master used to teach. This book is set in Victorian Era London and like the romances of that period, it provides an examination of the differing social classes. It was really interesting reading this book, being a big fan of Victorian novels like Vanity Fair and Pride & Prejudice . Two of my favorite forms of art converge here into a wonderful experience I never really thought I'd see (and one I never really thought of happening). The creator is really interested in London from that era, and had consultants on hand to check for historical accuracy in her illustrations. And she does a fantastic job conveying a world I've come to love to comics. As the perspective bounces between Emma and the man she admires, two fascinating characters are being drawn out, and ultimately, to each other.

Criminal #1

Image
Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips This is what Brubaker and Phillips are good at. Straight-up crime, sort of like their previous fan-favorite noir collaboration Sleeper . The two creators have sharpened their skills since then, however, as Phillips' pencils are positively stellar in this series (topping even his amazing job in their last series), and Brubaker's storytelling is virtually air tight. This debut issue follows a criminal, Leo, who is the best at what he does. He's got a clean record and has gotten out of some sticky situations, as the opening prologue demonstrates. Such skills make him a wanted man for jobs with all sorts of scum, the least of which are crooked cops. But there's more to Leo than his ample skills. He's had a tragic childhood, born into a family of crime, and he struggles with the death of his father and a relation with alzheimer's who's always scaring away the care he needs. And with his background, Leo has his own demons which co

Dr. Strange: The Oath #1 (of 5)

Image
Brian K. Vaughan & Marcos Martin Brian K. Vaughan tries his hand at the "Supreme Sorcerer" (a title wholly made fun of in this issue) as Doctor Strange relates how he came into possession of a cure for a disease that is killing his "apprentice" Wong. It's nice to see a book focus on the relationship between Strange and his manservant. There's a scene later in the issue that illustrates it perfectly, as the good doctor is chanting to open a portal to another dimension, and Wong fights off a gang of thieves and scoundrels, a situation that Strange isn't even aware of in the least. Now it's Strange's turn to protect his friend. And I'm not familiar with the character of Night Nurse, but Vaughan made her an interesting addition to the cast of this mini-series, as she exchanges witty banter with the doctor. The art in the series by Martin is really nice. Some of the shading kind of bugs me, as it seems that it could be done much better with

Irredeemable Ant-Man #1

Image
Robert Kirkman & Phil Hester I picked this up at the last minute because, well, I haven't read either Kirkman's Invincible or Hester's Firebreather , but they both look like things I would enjoy. So I should enjoy this too even if I've been too cheap to pick up those trades to be sure. And I did. The initial issue of The Irredeemable Ant-Man follows a new soon-to-be-Ant-Man and his friends on a SHIELD helicarrier in a long flashback bookended by the new Ant-Man in action. It's his origin story basically. But it's really an original one. The character of this new Ant-Man is going to be a fun one. The cover provides for a nice example as he proclaims "Sigh. Twenty-three super-villains and not one wallet." That's kind of who this character is. He's not your average superhero. He does things that normal people would probably do in his situation, as can be seen in the opening scene, where he asks a woman he just rescued from a mugger for a d

The Walking Dead (Volume 5)

Image
The Best Defense Robert Kirkman & Charlie Adlard The latest installment of the ultra-popular zombie series from Image comics continues to see the characters we've grown accustomed to make lives for themselves in a prison, safe from the undead walking past the outer three fences. But in light of the previous, over-the-top melodramatic issue that was basically...boring, this storyline reinvigorates the series, offering a new distraction in the form of a downed helicopter and the secrets surrounding what happened to the people aboard. What's really interesting about this volume is that it's really, really good - suspenseful and horrifying - without really utilizing the zombies. This book really has turned its focus onto characters and watching how the world around them change, as laws and rules are thrown out the window. It's a really interesting look at society, particularly in events that occur toward the end of this book, and it doesn't feel forced as in othe

In Passing...Eternals to Wonderland

Image
It took a while to get caught up on my floppies - it's been a busy week and there have been a lot of books to go through... Batman #657 - I really enjoyed the previous issue of this title, and am a fan generally of Grant Morrison, but I otherwise am not feeling this series. I found this issue dull. The art was okay. The annoying kid in the book reminds me quite a bit of Conner, Angel's son from Angel : bratty, trying to kill off all of the good guys, but really ultimately seeking his father's approval. It's fine that it's a straight-forward superhero comic, but something original needs to be done, like was seen in #656 with the pop art backdrop. D+ X-Men #191 - Four issues into Mike Carey's run and he already has to suffer a guest penciller. Clay Henry's art gets the job done, but Bachalo's art is by far superior, and more stylish. The story's getting a little better as the villains' background is revealed, but it's still the weakest X-t

In Stores 10/4

Image
Books new to comic stores this coming Wednesday that you may want to give a second look (and there are quite a few) ... The Complete Peanuts (Volume 6): 1961-1962 HC - Charles Schultz' masterpiece continues into its peak period. Best American Comics 2006 - An anthology edited by Harvey Pekar and Anne Elizabeth Moore, featuring the works of Lynda Barry, Chris Ware, Joe Sacco, Robert Crumb, Jaime Hernandez and more. Y-the Last Man #50 - The book that put Brian K. Vaughan on the map reaches a milestone, as the culprit behind the plague that killed all of the men on Earth is revealed. Nightmare On Elm Street #1 - Chuck Dixon's new series based on a horror icon debuts this week. A little early for Halloween, but it'll help get you in the mood... Doctor Strange: The Oath #1 - Brian K. Vaughan's new mini-series, with art by Marcos Martin, follows Marvel's resident sorcerer. Doctor Strange vs. Dracula: The Montesi Formula TP - An interesting idea for a collectio

Manga Monday 11

Image
Hikaru No Go (Volume 1) Yumi Hotta & Takeshi Obata It's about time that I got around to this book. From the pages of Shonen Jump comes the popular manga that follows a sixth grader as he releases a ghost attached to a blood-stained go board in his grandfather's attic. Young Hikaru quickly strikes a deal with said spirit and finds himself playing expert go players to the fiery passion of Fujiwara-no-Sai's ghost, despite his own indifference to the game. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this manga. Like Hikaru, I knew nothing about the board game and had no interest in it. I still don't have much interest in the game itself and find myself glossing over the parts that explain plays. Yet the events that surround these games are positively engrossing. I wanted to run out and buy the following volume immediately. It certainly doesn't hurt that the fantastic art is provided by none other than Takeshi Obata, who illustrates my current favorite manga Death Note

Maintenance

Image
Jim Massey & Robbi Rodriguez The new monthly title from Oni Press, Maintenance , debuts this December, following Doug and Manny, two janitors with an interesting job description at TerroMax, Inc. This is a science fiction comedy, and a damn good one, that sees these two goofballs cleaning up after mad scientists' messes. Sure, they clean up spills and whatnot, but it's the zombie kittens stuck in the snack machines and the slime monsters that didn't quite turn out right that make this such a fun, thrilling read. And it's kind of interesting to have these loveable characters working a job like this at all, basically as the villains' lackeys. It'll be intriguing to see just how they got themselves into such a situation. Maintenance is a very fresh title that earns plenty of laughs from its readers and introduces us to some great supporting characters like the Man-Shark and various madmen. Robbi Rodriguez is quite a find here, offering some brilliant cartoo