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Showing posts from October, 2013

365 Comics...304: Smallville Season 11 Special #3 (2013)

With all the fun that Brian Q Millar has been having building another DCU within the Smallville Universe, it's become easy to forget that for ten years this was a TV show with a regular cast and a whole lot of characters passing through that a Smallville fan might want to know what's happening with them.  The Specials have allowed Millar the opportunity to write the main series unfettered by the TV show's cast by putting their stories into the spotlight here.  This issue covers the current status of the sibling rivalry between Lex Luthor and his sister Tess Mercer.  If you missed it, Tess was apparently killed by a resurrected Lex in season 10, but managed to stay alive somehow in Lex's brain, as seen earlier this season.   Once her consciousness was discovered Clark an Emil Hamilton managed to transfer her into a digital persona, which has led her to question her existence somewhat.  On that same track, Lex has pondered the same, his memories still absent from his gap…

365 Comics...303: Five Ghosts #6 (2013)

I realized that, while I like the concept of Five Ghosts, it's really Chris Mooneyham's art that I'm attracted to.  I'm okay with pulp adventure, but it's not my preferred genre, so there has to be something special to draw me in, and with Five Ghosts, it's partly the concept of a Fabian Grey channeling Sherlock Holmes, Dracula, Robin Hood, Merlin and the samurai from literature whose name I've forgotten, and it's even more partly Chris Mooneyham's Kubert-ian artwork.  This issue features an enjoyable done-in-one script from Frank Barbiere, but the art from Garry Brown pales compared to Mooneyham.  Brown has an excellent sense of storytelling but the end work winds up feeling rushed and sloppy in execution.  I quite like his work on The Massive with Brian Wood, so I'm not sure why I dislike it so much here.  Is it just the difference in style from the series creator, or is it just ill-suited for the subject matter.

Either way, this feels like a b…

365 Comics...302: Velvet #1 (2013)

Depending on how much of a stickler you are for near mint/1st printings/value, I either got lucky or screwed.  I was way late to my weekly pull and (despite impressive 50k+ print runs) both Velvet and Pretty Deadly were sold out.  But as I checked out,  I noticed a copy sitting on the back counter.  I asked if there were any more and they said I could have that one.  Getting around to reading today, I believe it to have been a returned copy (though likely unknown to the employee helping me) since there were a few gently  torn pages in the middle of an otherwise pristine book.  But, for me, I don't care.  I'm just happy to have the book.And it's a great book. For fans of pop-spy stories in the James Bond/Man From U.N.C.L.E. vain it's a beautiful twist on a familiar structure.  Essentially it's a "What If...Moneypenny were really the best spy in the agency?"  But it's richer than that.  Velvet Templeton had the potential to be the best but she settled f…

365 Comics...301: Marvel Now What?! (One-Shot)(2013)

The folks at Marvel seem to be having a lot more fun than their Distinguished Competition.  I mean, all the goofy variant covers is one key sign, but the other is stuff like this where they actively make light of themselves.  Also there's someone at Marvel who enjoys comedy, in recent years having Bill Hader and Seth Meyers write a Spiderman story, hiring Brian Posehn and Grerry Duggan for Deadpool, and hear bringing ex-Daily Show correspondent Wyatt Cenac and 30 Rock cast member Scott Adsit, amongst others, in to lampoon the current state of the company or present off-beat, out of continuity sketches starring Marvel characters. As all anthologies are, it's a mixed bag with the first big sketch from Elliott Kalan and artist Jacob Chabot being the strongest and the funniest.  Meanwhile Duggan and Posehn present a retro tale of Doc Oc appearing on the gong show, an absurdly amusing bit delivered with some of Pat Olliffe's finest work to date but even more nailed by colorist …

365 Comics...300: Young Avengers #11

Prodigy sends a text...

365 Comics...299: DC Universe vs. Masters of the Universe #2 (2013)

The first issue came out the first week of September, which puts the second issue a few weeks behind schedule.  In the process, all of a sudden Tony Bedard has replaced Keith Giffen on the script, which is interesting, considering that Giffen has also left the main Masters of the Universe book (now written by Dan Abnett) and he replaced James Robinson as writer of the first MOTU mini-series last year on the second issue.  I wonder if Mattel is really that hard to please.

Anyway, I was about done with this mess of a book when Skeletor enchanted the Justice League and sent them after Batman who teleported to the Batcave where He-Man, Teela, Queen Marlena, John Constantine and Madame Xanadu are waiting for him.  It dawned on me that both the Justice League and the Masters are not the characters I know and like.  Like, Marlena knows that He-Man is Adam, which means Teela knows He-Man is Adam?  When did that happen?

Anyway, the thing that gave me pause was the part of the ridiculous Masters …

365 Comics...298: Zero #2 (2013)

Zero #1 was a bit of  a blind buy for me.  I was familiar with only one of writer Ales Kot's previous works but I had no prior knowledge about what the series was about or how it would play out.  It was an engaging first issue, military and espionage elements, with gritty, heavy artwork.  I was expecting a second chapter to follow along, carrying the threads introduced, with the same artistic team.  Instead we get a flashback to Edward Zero as a boy, training for the agency, and taking on his first mission.   The art comes from Tradd Moore, artist of the Luther Strode series, an egregiously hyper-violent series that reaches for Mark Millar-levels of fanboy wish fulfillment.  I thought Moore's work was distinct and interesting, the story of Luther Strode far less so.  It's great to see his work again in a different, better-written context, though the drastic differences between his style and Michael Walsh's from the first issue is very jarring.

I like both of these stori…

365 Comics...296/297: Deathmatch #9 & #10 (2013)

Oh man, I was starting to get nervous.  My wife reported our LCS had run out of copies of issue #9 when she was picking up books that week in September and this month when issue #10 came out, once again, it was missing from the stands.  Likewise I visited a couple of my backup shoppes and they too were missing the issues.  I love this series and was seriously bummed that not only was I two issues behind but that those two issues were relatively unavailable.  A few weeks later though, lo-and-behold there they both are, sitting on the back-issue rack, one battered copy of issue #9 and two bent copies of #10.  I'll take 'em.  Not gonna be picky at this point.

With issue 9, we're down to 6 combatants and things are looking rather dire for the good guys.  Though we know a few of the secrets there's still the what-the-hell-is-really-happening mystery backburning.  Issue 9 brings up some surprising character revelations and shows us the final showdown between longtime rivals D…

365 Comics...295: Samurai Jack #1 (2013)

I've fallen behind on 365 once again, this time due to a massive hit of vertigo on Tuesday overnight which took days to truly subside.  My wife. meanwhile, stayed home on new comic book day, and promptly developed the flu, meaning we were both way too out of it to pick up comics in a timely fashion.  I was most worried that my LCS would have sold out of the first issue of the new Samurai Jack series from IDW.  Both of our kids are huge SJ fans, as, naturally, we are as well, so you can bet that this series is hotly anticipated around these parts.

Thankfully, even five days later, my shoppe still had two glorious copies remaining, and with everyone in my household keen to read it I was tempted to take both, as you can bet that the 11 and 4 year-olds will decimate their copy.  But I decided, for now, that I'd just get the one, perhaps seeing if I couldn't track down one of the Genndy Tartakovsky covers elsewhere (one is a retailer incentive cover from the Beguiling, another l…

365 Comics...294: The Superior Foes of Spider-Man #4 (2014)

With Breaking Bad coming to a close there's been a lot of talk and examination of the recent trend towards anti-heroes in television.  But comics have had a long history with anti-heroes, rising most prominently in the 70's with the arrival of The Punisher,  as well as numerous titles with villains as the lead (Secret Society of Super Villians, the Joker, Kobra, Super-Villain Team-Up).  There have been dozens upon dozens of villains-centric series and miini-series, but few have captured the zeitgeist like the Superior Foes of Spider-Man.   This quintet, forming the Sinister Six, aren't super-geniuses, nor criminal psychopaths, but hardened criminals  trying to keep out of jail and their pockets lined, both far more difficult than it should be for costumed and powered villains.  The book is funny, but it's not an outright comedy.  It uses its humour to show why these criminals remain so low on the totem.  They're kind of dumbasses, but generally likeable, which goes…

365 Comics...293: Wonder Woman #24 (2013)

Seriously, I put together four or five paragraphs yesterday talking about Hickman's Fantastic Four,  entered my hyperlinks and attached the picture and ckicked "save" only to *poof* have the whole thing disappear.  Refreshing the page a couple times all that finally was returned to me was the subject line with no text body.  It's not like it was a masterpiece,  and it only took 1/2 hour to plunk into the Blogger app on the ol Android phone, but losing work, any work, no matter how frivolous, is always frustrating. Long and short of the post was that Hickman's FF and Fantastic Four runs were amazing,  but both kind of overstayed their welcome for about six months, treading water instead of building another grand arc.... I wonder when Hickman found out he had the Avengers gig.  Probably around the time he was concluding his big story, but there were still so many months to go before Marvel Now would launch so he played through until it was time.As for this issue of…

365 Comics...291: Nowhere Men #6 (2013)

Only a few weeks ago I was wondering what had happened to Nowhere Men,  one of the brightest of Image's many bright new series released this year.  It's been quite some time since the last issue.  Two weekends ago I was sorting the massive pile of comics beside my bed, just under months worth, and I noticed there was no issue of Nowhere Men to put away.  Issue 5 didn't seem like the end in any form, and I knew the series was doing fairly well, critically at least, so it shouldn't just have disappeared.   But creator-owned series can be like that... a good book just derails and never gets back on track (I'm still waiting for Spurrier and Irving's gutsville to resume.)  By all accounts though, the way the series was going it didn't appear to be moving in an arc method, but old school serialized,  so maybe there wasn't to be a logical stopping point and a break just needed to be had.Thankfully, here's issue six where, to my surprise, stories collide, t…

365 Comics...290: Fables #134 (2013)

I don't remember what the last issue of Fables was that I read...maybe issue 88 or so with Mike Allred on art duties.  But I gave up before that.  Once the big war ended -- which was what the entire series was driving towards -- the series felt like it was spinning wheels, directionless.  My wife is still an avid reader and fan, so I still get to admire the pretty covers and every so often flip through an issue to see if anything piques my interest, which it rarely does.  This issue, though, appeared as all talking heads stuff, a prolonged conversation between two characters, standing out even more as the backdrop deteriorates into nothingness. Beneath a beautiful Mark Buckingham cover, Boy Blue meets Bigby in Limbo to discuss the afterlife, resurrection, the past and the future.  It notes back to many incidents and plot points I missed not reading the  serires, like Bigby dying, or the religion formed around Boy Blue,  but it's still largely an accessible read, not bad for a …

365 Comics...289: Batwoman #24 (2013)

Well, that was... maddening.We hit the crux of the DEO's plan to unmask Batman with Batwoman taking the lead (perhaps the title's most nerd-friendly plot to date) and we won't get to see how it plays out because Dan Didio and company are being really fucking petty.  They want to jump on board the "zero year" train asap, because, well zero year is only running in Batman for another 8 months you see, and they couldn't wait two issues to wrap up the current storyline and introduce the new writer...  If I'm a betting man (which I'm not because I have an addictive personality) I would say they will run the finished pages/scrpts in the trade paperback so as to force the loyal Blackman/Williams fans into double purchasing some of the issues they already have.  Cause they're opportunistic dicks like that.(Edit: or, maybe not http://m.hollywoodreporter.com/heat-vision/jh-williams-iii-teases-abandoned-649301)

365 Comics...288: James Bond 007: The Man With The Golden Gun (2004)

I had thought all of the Titan collections of the Bond newspaper strips collected 3 stories each and hit around 110 strips apiece, but I guess they aren't so uniform, given that The Man WithThe Golden Gun runs 209 strips while the Living Daylights, the second of two stories in this collection,  is only around 80. Golden Gun is not nearly as entertaining as the film, but what I find interesting about the strips is the continuity, how one Bond story carries into the next, how things that happened in earlier episodes carry forth.  The films are naturally more stand-alone in, and can't maintain the same sense of consistency.   Felix Leiter, for instance, reemerges in Golden Gun, with a hook hand and all after it got bitten off by a shark in Live and Let Die.  And Golden Gun kicks off with Bond having amnesia, believed dead after the events of You Only Live Twice.The Living Daylights though is an utterly ridiculously executed story that finds Bond wallowing in self-pity over having…

365 Comics...287: God Is Dead #2 (2013)

It feels like someone waving a middle finger in my face.  There's a $4.99 price tag on my copy of GID #2, and I'm not certain why.  It's a variant cover, but there's nothing else to it... it's not any different in quality, this variant cover, so why the uptick in price?  Just because they can?  The only reason I have this variant "extra costly" cover is because my wife has been picking up my books for me most weeks and either didn't notice the price tag or long ago stopped second guessing my pull lists (I do enough of that on my own).I don't like Avatar as a publisher much.  Their books, regardless of the A-level writing talents involved, tend to be pretty ... gross... I dunno, they just feel like sleazeball comics.  Their "house style" of art is completely unappealing to me and it tends to sink the works of really good writers.  This "extra priced" cover business, for really the wost comic to ever have Hickman's name assoc…

365 Comics...286: G.I. Joe: The Cobra Files #7 (2013)

Given that cover image are we supposed to infer that Tomax Paoli is Daredevil?The recent events in The Cobra Files feels like there's an end game in play.  I just wonder if it's yet another relaunch onthe horizon or if Costa is finally done playing Joes and Snakes... for the record I'm with him on his Joe-rney (ugh, sorry about that one) for as long as he wants to make it.

365 Comics...285: Aw Yeah, Comics #1 (2013)

Of all the news to come out of NYCC this weekend, and there was quite a bit of interesting stuff, for me the most exciting tidbit was the return of Tiny Titans.I don't know why I am so attached to that iteration of Art Balthazar and Franco's oeuvre, because they've done just as well with their similarly styled Superman Family Adventures, Itty Bitty Hellboy and their Kickstarted Aw Yeah Comics... I think a large part of it is how Tiny Titans satisfied both my comics nostalgia as well as my fondness for costume-dense comic books (and pulling virtually every Titan out of the bag in their 50 issues was a spandex feast, even if meant as a younger reader book).I'm really looking forward to its return but though I should also have a look at their self-published venture (which I would like to get physical copies of, but they are not easy to find), Aw Yeah Comics.  I gather that AYC is a honest to real comic book store in Skokie, Illinois (unless Franco and Balthazar are pullin…

365 Comics...284: Uncanny X-Men #1 (2011)

Maybe a bit of a cheat for 365 Comics, as this actually is reprinted in the back of X-Men Season One rather than being an independent comic I read, but at the same time I would normally have skipped it if not for the fact that I was in desperate need of some already-read comics for today's catch-up blitz.

I tend to avoid Marvel's X-Titles, beyond the recently-ended X-Factor, which was able to largely operate outside of the X-brand and with its own unique drive.  I find the conceit of most of the X-sphere to be kind of ridiculous when it's placed inside the Marvel Universe as a whole.  I like the idea of using "mutants" to explore social and political issues, but in the context of the Marvel Universe where there's hundreds of ways to acquire superpowers and there's heroes aplenty everywhere, to ostracize and vilify mutants seems absurd.  I guess that's why, for the most part, the X-books tend to operate in their own little domain of the Marvel Universe …

365 Comics...283: X-Men: Season One (2012)

Erm, I'm kind of tired of origin stories.  I like Batman Year Zero, because it's not an origin story, but just a story that takes place near the inception of the vigilante.  The Marvel "Season One" books, from all perceptions I have of them, seem to be just a new retelling of the origins of various characters and teams, stories that have been told and retold countless times already.  These "Season Ones" are original graphic novels geared towards the bookstore market, though, aimed at the casual comics reader, or the curious movie goer who wants to read a comic-story of their cinematic heroes, rather than being for the avid comic book fan who have seen these stories countless times.  That's the main reason I avoided them, they're not for me.  But I couldn't resist this one, certainly not a 1/3 the price, because I love Jamie McKelvie's art, and Dennis Hopeless' Avengers Arena is one of my favourite superhero titles right now.

X-Men Season …

365 Comics...282: Batman #24 (2013)

Speaking of this week's Thor's Comic Column, I do a write-up of Batman #24 which costs a whopping $7 for a 54 page book.  Looking at it more closely, that's about right, given that the usual Batman comic is $3.99 for a 30-page book.  It's just a big hit for a single book, particularly when I can go to a lot oddball places and pick up 21 comics for that same amount.  But you can't think about things that way.  It's like thinking about how much money you spent on a movie in the theatre, and then bought on Blu-Ray when it came out, only to find it a little while later in a $5 bin... or to see that the TV series that you loved and bought every season set for $70 has been collected into a "complete series" set for less than $70 with tonnes of new bonus features.  Or when a favourite comic book gets six issues collected into a $10 trade paperback.  You think you should have waited, but you wanted it at the time and you got it and you were happy with it, so …

365 Comics...281: The Shaolin Cowboy #1 (2013)

If you've been to this week's Thor's Comic Column already you've read my compatriot Adam X's comments on Shaolin Cowboy #1, which posited it as a middling sort of comic, rich on visual details but direly light on story.  Adam's points are all valid, but he's also new to Shaolin Cowboy, and well, that's kind of how things are done around Darrow's parts, and you either buy into it or you don't.  It's a lot of offbeat weirdness for weirdness' sake, a lot of fighting, blood and whatnots, and not a whole lot else.  What are the Cowboy's motivations?  Who knows, he's just out there fighting what needs to be fought.  There's a lot of bad guys that want to take him down and evil things whose path he's impeding, but he doesn't seem to much care, he just fights.

Missing from this series is the talking donkey, the braying ass that, for me, was the weakest element of the original series.  The incessant chatter seemed to be forcibl…

365 Comics...280: Avengers Arena #16 (2013)

Oh, we're getting so close to the end, and I just can't wait for it.  I want there to be a new issue every week until the story is done.  My fandom for this book has grown exponentially since hopping aboard with issue 3 and I'm feeling ever rewarded with each new issue.  Even reaching back into Avengers Academy has made me appreciate this series even more.

I was nervous with the awesome Francavilla front cover spotlighting Cammi (hey another "rocket girl" image, with the rocket properly placed on her back), my personal favourite character of the series, hoping that it wasn't a spotlight issue for her, because a spotlight issue so often ends in death.  Mercifully, no, it didn't happen.  But the kids all seem to be getting so aggro with one another at this point, which in series time is day 29 (of 30).  Arcade's back in play as Deathlocket and the surprisingly still-alive Apex start messing around in his underground layer, but he's still more than a …

365 Comics...279: Smallville Season 11 #18 (2013)

One of the things Smallville the TV show rarely did well was action, mostly because of budget limitations, but also the focus of the show was always more on melodrama.  Brian Q. Miller's season 11 has shifted totally away from melodrama opting in favour of being an action comic.  This issue is just gratuitous action all over the place, and it's glorious.  Gun fights, magic blasts, demonic explosions, giant monsters crashing through buildings, fist fights, zombies going smush, lightning, helicopers exploding, humvees crashing, tornadoes ... just action, action, Action Comics starring Superman, Wonder Woman, Cameron Chase, Lois Lane, General Lane, Steve Trevor, Mr. Bones, Hyppolyta, Felix Faust, Hades.  I love this comic...it's probably my favourite on the stands right now, and that's kind of embarrassing to admit, given it's source material.  If there were a consistent artist on the series, I'd probably feel a little more at ease with that statement.

365 Comics...278: Rocket Girl #1 (2013)

I had originally intended to write this up for this week's Thor's Comic Column, but it turns out I don't really have all that much to say about it, not yet anyway.  It's a cute book, something I want my daughter to read when she's like 11 or 12 (the only thing making it less of a teen book is the brief allusion to a blowjob).  The awkwardly named Dayoung Johansson is the titular Rocket Girl, a 15-year-old police officer from a drastically different 2013, a time and place where it seems teenagers are much smarter and more mature, though still teenagers, and in charge of everything.  This 2013 has a cityscape right out of the Fifth Element, flying cars and all, but it's like Bugsy with all these kids walking around acting like grown ups.  There's a Time Cop element, where Dayoung travels into the past (1986) in order to stop her future from happening, most of it centered around a specific group of scientists making a particular discovery or technological inno…

365 Comics...277: The Manhattan Projects #15 (2013)

I'm loving the Manhattan Projects more and more with each issue, except when the focus turns to Oppenheimer.  I'm not digging the red-blue war happening between the infinite Joe and Rob Oppenheimers in his brain.  I just kinda don't see the point, or relevance.  Oppenheimer seems to be having a generally nominal effect on the proceedings of the series (despite seeming so crucial in the early goings) so I'm wondering why I care at this point.  That said, for the first time there's a fill-in artist (or is he the new artist? I dunno, I haven't been reading the ever dwindling comics blogosphere as of late) and Ryan Browne does a bang-up job of rendering infinite Oppenheimers at war, keeping on-model with regular series artist Nick Pitarra while allowing his own style (which reminds me much of Ming Doyle's work on Mara) to come through.  Of course, so much of this book would be nothing without colourist extraordinaire Jordi Bellaire's phenomenal use of a duo…

365 Comics...276: Chew #37 (2013)

In a perfect world Bryan Fuller -- creator of Dead Like Me, Wonderfalls, Pushing Daisies and Hannibal -- would be working on making Chew a reality.  It's right up his ally, a casual genre blend of comedy, paranormal investigations, death, food porn, and body horror, whilst being incredibly character -centric.  It's right up his ally, all his favourite tropes.  But, if anyone's familiar with Mr. Fuller's resume, they know that his type of television programming doesn't tend to stick around much beyond two seasons (two delightful seasons mind you)... so perhaps it's for the best he's not involved.

But man, Chew does need to be brought to life as a TV show and adored by millions.  I don't know that it'd have the cultural groundswell of a Walking Dead, but I think that people would dig it.  And it would draw them back to the comic, which is amazing.  I don't even know why I want a TV show so badly... the comic is so great.  I guess maybe I just want …

365 Comics...275: James Bond 007: Casino Royale (2005)

Oh man, I've been asleep at the 365 Comics wheel for...whoops...9 days.  If I wasn't behind on my "daily comics blogging" (what a joke that's become,eh?) as is, I'm certainly wa-aaa-aaay behind now.  Were I to blame anything it would be the fall television season, some Netflix diving, live events and general fatigue.  But if I could read comics and write about them (almost) daily a month ago, when things were at their most insane, I think I should've been able to do it in the past week as well.  Ah, whatever.  Catching up now.

To tell the truth, I realized that I hadn't been reading many comics since I last posted, and even then it was just those three books from last week's pull that I wrote up for Thor's Comic Column.  This morning I discovered beside the bed the rest of last week's pull, still unread.  I've done better with this week's pull, the fruits of which will be posted about shortly.

I tried reading a Kamandi Archive last w…

365 Comics...272-274: Francesco Francavilla Covers (Grindhouse #1, Fantomex Max #1, Savage Wolverine #9 - 2013)

I can't think of another illustrator who was so unobtrusively prevalent as a cover artist as Francavilla is today [his tumblr is a must follow].  The guy's work is literally everywhere, unavoidable and yet always distinctive, always unique, always eye catching... he's a hell of an artist, who also has impeccable design sense.  Just look at how different these three covers are (Savage Wolverine is a variant, I should add, whereas Coop provided the variant for Grindhouse).

I have write-ups for all three books hitting Thor's Comic Column shortly (link TK), and I kind of cranked those ones out on a tight deadline and a very busy schedule.

The only think I didn't really say that I wanted to was just what the hell is Savage Wolverine's conceit as a title?  Is it supposed to be earlier in his career when he was still being pushed by scientists to see what his limits are?  Or is it an anthology book like Legends of the Dark Knight or something?  The brief introductory p…