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Showing posts from November, 2013

365 Comics...332: Avengers Arena #18 (2013)

This week's Thor's Comic Column has my review of Avenger Arena, the final issue.  Now with this review, which is about how much I love this series as a whole, I don't do any spoilers.......but I'm gonna now, so step away if you don't wanna know anything.





Okay, so *phew* Cammi survived.  If there was a favourite character for me in the book, she was most certainly it.  Hopeless reminded me why I liked her back in the early Marvel Cosmic/Annihilation days.Coming out of it alive...Chase and Nico (so both Runaways), Anachronism ( the only Braddock academy surivor perhaps...or maybe Bloodstone pulls through?), Hazmat, Reptil (looks like anyway) and X-23, Death Locket and Cammi...Chris Powell, Darkhawk, is not on the dead checklist in the title page but he seemed to be killed (again) by Arcade so I'm not sure.  And we assume Apex is dead, right...but I bet we see him/her again real soon.  I'm trying to figure out who these four kids are in Avengers Undercover with…

365 Comics...331: Letter 44 #2 (2013)

I wrote about how excited the first issue of Letter 44 made me not so long ago in 365 #308, but I wanted to say that the second ish is just as good, the quality holds up.  I may have a new favourite book here (well, not THE favourite,  but definitely a must read).  It's very entertaining and the execution of the story seems well thought out and nicely paced so far.  I also thought how interesting the space action sequence was give that Gravity is kind of the new benchmark for such things.  This holds up against it.  I need to dig a little more and discover if this is ongoing or a mini or what...I'm interested to know the long game in order to contextualize what I'm reading.  I guess it theoretically could run for four years, and become Letter 45 thereafter...  it would be interesting to see how a president preoccupied with an alien threat that the public is completely unaware of runs for re-election or if he even wants to.  Or when does 43, the Bush-esque ex-Pres spill the…

365 Comics...330: Five Ghosts #7 (2013)

While I do love Chris Mooneyham's art, and I genuinely like the conceit of the series (that the main character, Fabian Gray, can channel any one of five literary archetypes - the sleuth, the samurai, the vampire, the archer and the sorcerer) I'm just not engaging with the actual character of Fabian Gray.  I liked the first arc, but the subsequent two issues haven't enthralled me quite the same.  It's like when the sequel really doesn't live up to the first movie, and then you realize that there's a confluence of elements at work with the first one that probably can't be repeated, and that within those elements of a lot of them don't work on their own, they only work together.  And when the second movie starts bringing one of those elements into the fore, the whole endeavor starts to buckle under its own weight.  Or maybe not.  I'm kind of rambling at this point and should probably go to sleep.  I may need to come back to Fabian Gray after he finds h…

365 Comics...329: Prisoner Of Space (one shot)(2013)

Released through Comixology's Submit self-publishing wing, Serg Sorokin's Prisoner of Space is a wonderful little 22-page one-off about a man alone aboard a massive space craft, unsure of what happened to the rest of the crew and slowly unwinding psychologically.  He sees visions of crew members who seem to be guiding him and pushing him to do more than just give up, but Sorokin has established this survivor as an everyday guy, one full of self-doubt and apprehension, unable to make any leaps beyond his comfort zone... even if his comfort zone is maddening solitude.

The book ends with a twist, as it seems to be aptly suited for an Outer Limits or Twilight Zone-type show.  It's nicely illustrated, with Sorokin keeping a very crisp line, with nice detailing  and vibrantly coloring.  It's a really solid effort from a new talent worth keeping an eye on.

365 Comics...328: Chronos Commandos #1 (2013)

Comixology had a 99cent sale on various Titan Comics this weekend, so I decided to give the first issue of Chronos Commandos a shot.  Military/War things aren't really my bad, nor are dinosaurs really for that matter, but time travel totally is, so mix 'em all together and... well, I'm still not that into it.  It's actually fairly entertaining on a very primal army dudes-shooting-up-dinos and dinos-eating-up-army men basis, but it's not my thing.  There's no hard sci-fi aspect to it, it's just a conceit to hang action pieces upon, which gives it a b-movie feel but with big budget visuals.  Oh, it's a Roland Emmerich film in the waiting.


365 Comics...327: Scooby-Doo Team-Up #1 (2013)

I think I've mentioned before how I have an irrational attraction towards team-up books, but I have the hardest time getting behind team-up books featuring Spider-Man.  I don't hate Spidey, but I'm definitely not a fan.  Scooby-Doo, meanwhile, I do hate.  Not passionately, mind you, but I genuinely dislike the character and the show.  So I'm finding it amusing and/or curious that I'm even considering picking up the second issue of this series... and yet I am.

From what I read it was originally supposed to be a one-shot Batman/Scooby team-up, but writer Scholly Fisch's six proposals for the special were so liked that the publisher extended it to a six-issue mini-series of Bat/Scoob camaraderie, and then liked the progress of the first issue so much that they just went ongoing.  It's ongoing bi-monthly, which is weird, and I'm curious if it will survive more than it's first year.  But I'm more curious about how it will extend out from the Bat-team …

365 Comics...326: Samurai Jack #2 (2013)

Amid all the kid-free date nights, movie watching, shopping, Doctor Who marathoning, working and Plants vs. Zombies 2-ing, I've kind of forgotten about doing this thing daily.  But then the "daily" aspect of it has been kind of a joke for a couple months now.
Anyway, last week's Thor's Comic Column  featured my reviews of the Plants vs Zombies: Lawnmageddon (see last post), Samurai Jack #2 and Scooby-Doo Team-Up #1... so, kids comics.
I want to like Samurai Jack a lot more than I do.  I like it, just I want it to be more than it is.  The story is perfect for being both a serial but allowing for each issue to be different stylistically   The artist captures the look of the show excellently as well, but he needs to push his page layouts...like really push them.  Like JH Williams III pushed.  Or Francesco Francavilla... I would love to see a Francavilla Samurai Jack.
I love the subscription cover for this ish:

365 Comics...325: Plants vs. Zombies - Lawnmageddon (2013)

I was at the store staring down the new release rack and I had the choice between two Paul Tobin efforts.  There was the known entity of Bandette (see 365 #203), an Eisner-winning title which I really want to give more of a fair shake, and Plants vs Zombies, based off the silly little video game I play on my mobile all too intensely, causing damage to my eyeballs and frequent headaches.

I chose the latter obviously, because I delight in PvZ so very much.  Nothing has tickled me more this year than to see people at Fan Expo or a mother and son at Halloween dressed up in great homemade PvZ costumes.

I have a more robust PvZ Lawnmageddon review due in Thor's Comic Column tomorrow.  Keep your bananas peeled.

365 Comics...324: Wulf #1 (2011)

In comics you can't keep a good idea down for long.  But then again, in comics, you can't keep any idea down for long.  In the decade of property farming that is the 2010's everything that has ever come before will come again, all will be resurrected, if it hasn't been already.  With comic book properties dominating the media landscape (the San Diego Effect) everyone's trying to create something or license something and bring it to the fore in hopes that there will be some sweet Hollywood paydirt coming there way.  It's perhaps a little cynical, that view, since I, like many, absolutely love the medium itself, and somewhere there just might be someone completely keen on the Atlas heroes and wanting them to return to comics after a 35-year absence.

I'm not 100% certain the motivation of Ardden Entertainment's publishers, but Editor-in-Chief Mike Grell is certainly a familiar name in the comics world, and there's a dedication in the inside front cover …

365 Comics...323: Phoenix...The Protector #4 (1975)

This would be the last comic book out the door for Atlas Comics, one of only six series to make it to a fourth issue (that's out of 28 total titles to debut in 1975).  That same, increasingly sad-sack Letter From Larry Lieber from four months previous appears on the back page, "What's Happening With Atlas" still touting a bunch of issues that have already come and gone.

The letters column is revealing in the amount of praise for there being a third publisher option, but at the same time not a lot of actual appreciation for the product.  A fan asks for them to change the color scheme of Phoenix's costume and Larry Lieber writes: "Why just change colors?  Gerry Conway's not one to do things half way.  He went ahead and gave the Phoenix a whole new costume."  This traces back to what I was saying previously about Lieber being overworked.  Gerry Friedrich wrote this issue in which Phoenix gets a new costume, not Gerry Conway.

But not only does the Phoeni…

365 Comics...322: The Cougar #2 (1975)

By the time the second issue of The Cougar appeared (cover date was July '75) Atlas was on its last legs.  This issue of the comic is as much mail-order catalog as it is comic book, with only 18 pages of story.  Fan reaction was mixed with as many negative letters as positive found in the letter columns of later books.  Meanwhile, with Jeff Rovin leaving his editorial position, all the work fell on Larry Lieber's desk and so it was up to him to become the face of the company, the bullpen booster, like his brother was.  Debuting in the comics with July cover dates, "A Letter From Larry Lieber" appeared on the bullpen pages (and the same letter was still appearing in October cover date comics).

Half the "letter" was treading on his (sort-of) family name, and his past with Marvel before getting to talking about the company at hand.  Atlas gets name-checked in his letter less than Marvel does, which is telling.  He talks, briefly, about the talent on board (men…

365 Comics...321: Police Action #3 (1975)

For Atlas/Seaboard, comic historians have coined the phrase "the third-issue switch" since almost every third issue of Atlas' titles saw a drastic shift in tone, or even complete about-face of character or setting.  As well, by the third issue nearly every series would see a new creative team aboard, with Gary Friedrich coming in an writing almost every title.  Meanwhile editor Jeff Rovin left the publisher after butting heads with the Goodmans far too many times, leaving the already troubled editorial production in the hands of one man, Larry Lieber (yes, Stan Lee's brother).  Publisher Martin Goodman wanted changes to almost every title to make them even more like Marvel books, rather than finding their own distinguishing brand, while son Chip Goodman notoriously had very little business or publishing acumen.  Whether it was vendetta-driven or just a misguided commercial directive, either way it the Goodman's directions decimated the line.

Police Action comics w…

365 Comics...320: Tiger-Man #1 (1975)

The Goodmans may have been willing to spend more money on artists with Atlas comics, but they kind of skimped a bit in most other aspects of their brand's launch.  They only had two editors to start, across 20-some bi-monthly books and magazines, which I'm sure didn't do their production values any good.  Case in point, Tiger-Man #1 is an uncredited issue.  It's only from the 1/2 page bullpen article "What's Happening With Atlas" that we learn the writer is Gabriel Levy with Ernie Colon on art (Colon did sign the cover as well as a tip off).

One of the things to note about Atlas/Seaboard was not only were they a publishing company, but also a nostalgia/geek mail-order business.  The center splash to Tiger-Man is not given to any grandiose illustration, but rather to five ads for hobby kits... Super-hero kids (Superman, Batman, Hulk, Spider-Man, Captain America and Tarzan, $3.00 + $0.50 postage), Star Trek model kits ($2.50 - 2.75 ea), Glow-in-the-Dark Mon…

365 Comics...319: Morlock 2001: The World's Strangest Super-Hero #1 (1975)

In the 1990's many new superhero universes failed under the weight of their own output.  With so many new heroes and universes cropping up (even DC and Marvel were creating new ones) a new one would make a barrier for entry by starting with too many titles or characters.  Back in the 1970's there weren't many other superhero options to DC and Marvel, so a new publisher entering the fray, and doing so with 16 new titles and five black and white magazines would make a huge splash.  The problem is, if the product is not very good, then you're sunk from the get-go.
Atlas Comics emerged from Seaboard Publishing, a new entity founded by Martin Goodman, fresh off of selling Marvel Comics (and their parent publishing company) and making piles of cash.  Goodman had negotiated in good faith that his son, Chip, would be installed as editorial director after the sale, but Stanley Lieber made a play and force Chip out.  Though wholly unconfirmed, many believe Goodman was out for Mar…

365 Comics...318: Phoenix: The Man of Tomorrow #1 (1975)

I found the AV Club article about Marvel's New Universe fascinating.  I love failed superhero universes, likely because my formative comic book-reading years were filled with Impact, Milestone, Valiant, Comics Greatest World, the Ultraverse and more.  But out of the 90's boom and bust the only "new universes" left standing were the microcosms of Image (Savage Dragon, Spawn, Top Cow etc).  DC and Marvel remained "the Big Two", as they have for over half a millennium.  What fascinates me are the other companies that had a go at the Big Two prior to the 90's, like the Red Circle/Archie Adventure heroes and Tower's T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents (as you may have noticed).

Atlas Comics were new to me this year.  As I was bin diving at a local used book store I discovered about two dozen of this company's titles amidst their alphabetical assortment, and I was both puzzled them and also drawn to them.  I knew nothing of Atlas Comics, I had no awareness of their …

365 Comics...317: Shaolin Cowboy #2 (2013)

Perhaps you thought the first issue of Shaolin Cowboy was a tad too brisk, too light on story, and frustratingly lacking in any real substance beyond Geoff Darrow's insanely intricate artwork.   Well, you're going to like issue 2 even less by those standards.
But this second issue is perhaps one of the most fascinating comics I have ever read... and by read, I mean looked at because there's not a single line of dialogue, no word balloons, no words at all, in fact, beyond the credits inside the front cover and the sound effects of the chainsaw staff rumbling across the top of the page.
The oddly sized 33-page unstory starts with a splash page (where we left off last issue) with the cowboy leaping into a horde of zombies.  From there it's 16 double-page spreads, consisting of two equeally sized widescreen panels stacked one on top of the other following the movement of the Cowboy as he kicks ass and rends flesh.  It, quite literally, is one big fight sequence, or rather, a…

365 Comics...316: Smallville Season 11 #19 (2013)

The bad news?  This is the final issue.  The good news is Smallville is becoming a series of mini-series, so its not done, not done at all.  Which is excellent because this is just amazing storytelling, and tremendous fun.  Plus, like Scott Snyder with Superman Unchained,  writer Brian Q Millar is using his vehicle as an antidote to the Man Of Steel.SPOILERS AHEADNow, let me be honest and say that Superman killing Zod was one of the lesser offences of the Man of Steel... many are really stuck on the Superman Does.Not.Kill. But Clark killing Zod does have precedence.  At the same time the kind of chipper, upbeat ending yo the movie didn't imply any immediate effects on the Man of Steel.  Almost like it didn't happen.  I just think that if you're going to introduce this caliber of hero doing so by having no concern over the civilian population and snapping a bad guy's neck aren't the best ways to go about it.Check out this issue of Smallville where Clark and Diana fa…

365 Comics...315: Action Comics #594 (1987)

I'm fairly certain I had this comic as a lad but I don't really recall the events of the issue with any familiarity.   The opening sequence where Superman and Robin meet for the first time rings a little bell, but the particulars of the overall affair doesn't resonate at all.   Robin asks Superman for his autograph,  and after hemming and hawing for a panel he agrees, but "The word 'Superman' written on a piece of paper wouldn't have much significance.  Let's see if we can't find something more suitable. Like this piece of tin edging material.  It probably blew off one of the older buildings around this rooftop.  With my laser-like heat vision I can trim it to a useable size...then my super-hard fingernail can do the rest."  How could I ever forget scintillating stuff like that?The rest of the issue has Booster Gold acting like a dick then somehow beating the shit out of Superman, only to end in a cliffhanger with Supes at Booster's feet a…

365 Comics...314: Quantum and Woody: The World's Worst Superhero Team tpb

I've only recently read the first 4 issues of the original Quantum & Woody (See 365 Comics #22, 147, 174 and 175), and have collected another random dozen issues of the series, but for some reason I feel very protective of it.  As I expressed in 365 #79 I'm an after-the-fact Christopher Priest fan and I do genuinely miss him from comics, especially after reading so much of his work this year.  After the new Q&W was announced I was quite disappointed to learn that Priest and Doc Bright weren't returning, then to read about their failed attempt to claim the characters they created when Valiant went under last time kind of soured me on supporting the new book.  But Priest has been through his share of cruddy deals on the industry,  and he's been exceptionally graceful in his concession to the new series.  The good news is that Priest and Bright will be back on a new mini series in the old continuity early in the new year.  This has actually warmed me back toward t…

365 Comics...313: Earth 2 #17 (2013)

Sometimes I buy certain comics for the express purpose of reviewing them, like Earth 2, which I reviewed over at Thor's Comic  Column this week.  I really wanted to like Earth 2 when it came out, because it feels more like the fresh take on the characters and the DC Universe that the New 52 was hinting at.  But at the same time I just have such a difficult time getting into James Robinson's writing.  He's a clever idea guy but his prose and dialogue often show too much of the writer behind it, feeling unnatural in many ways.  Though I don't know Tom Taylor's work at all, I was happy to hear he was stepping in as new writer so that I could sample Earth 2 again.  Alas, as my review details, it's just not something I'm connecting with.  I guess I'll just have to stick with Smallville for some alternate Earths DCU action.

365 Comics...312: Superman Unchained #4 (2013)

Page 3,
WRAITH: It's working! They're following us up and out of the citySUPERMAN: They've caused too much destruction already, Wraith. We still need to go higher.
---
In four sentences Scott Snyder captures the essence of Superman's heroic nature than Zack Snyder did in 2+ hours of cinema.  It's truly that simple Zack.Man of Steel keeps getting more and more horrid in my mind the further removed I am from my viewing of it.

365 Comics...311: Green Arrow #25 (2013)

You can read my full review tomorrow at Thor's Comic Column, but I must gush today!  This was perhaps the most joyous issue of Green Arrow in Lemire's run yet.  While I've been loving the Outsiders tease that Lemire's been seeding in the run so far, and am quite looking forward to it starting next issue, and also while I was kind of bemoaning and dreading all of the "Zero Year" offshoots, I have to admit I'm so happy Lemire took the time out and ran with a Zero Year story here.

Why so happy?

Because with this issue Lemire introduces some of the supporting cast from Arrow into the DCU proper, Moira and Walter, yes, but moreover Diggle becomes a DCU character.  I love Diggle, I love Arrow and I'm so happy that Lemire seems to be just as big a fan.  So many great nods to the show here and some delicious tweaks to that show's melodrama.  But Diggle, yes!  Including an absolutely goosebumps-inducing back-up feature focusing on Dig and teasing the partner…

365 Comics...310: American Barbarian #1 (2010)

Now available in issue form from Comixology, but also still up for free reading at AmBarb.com... this is retro-Kirby-esque lunacy at its best.

The cover image looks like a classic 70's t-shirt decal, the kind that would start peeling after two or three washes.  I wonder if I could get a hi-res enough image to get a tee made...or if Scioli is selling them?  This is just funky wintermint all over.

365 Comics...309: The Double Life of Miranda Turner #1 (2013)

The Blockheads, Devo-esque-garbed, Lego-brick-hemorrhaging bad guys are perhaps my favourite supervillain concept ever*

*this week

365 Comics...308: Letter 44 #1 (2013)

With Barack Hussein Obamacare now entering year 6 as the POTUS, Letter 44 is not exactly timely in its conceit, but that doesn't make it any less enticing or entertaining.  I loved the first issue. The series starts with the Obama-esque President elect entering the oval office the day before his inauguration and reading the letter left for him by the outgoing Bush-esque President, as is tradition.  It's revealed that a lot of the warmongering and defense boosting of the outgoing Presidency was in preparation for a looming alien invasion.  The incoming President spends his first day in office validating 43's claims and talking to the reconnaissance mission (with an annoying 15 minute delay) deep into space.  
I enjoyed that writer Charles Soule in some respect sought to justify the actions of the Bush Presidency and the most sensible rationale for it was alien invasion.  Beyond the high concept, Soule executes the story wonderfully and, in a sense, logically.  Both the on-the…

365 Comics...307: Azure #1 (2010)

DC's Zuda Comics was a noble stab at bringing digital comics to the mainstream... but their method of going about it, by making it an on-line competition for primarily amateur storytellers, was perhaps less than best for advancing the digital form.  Zuda produced a few notable pieces, but the majority of the output, while readable, is not supremely polished from an artistic or storytelling standpoint.  It's like any first time work seen from Image or Arcana or early Boom Studios, it's just rough around the edges and doesn't feel like a fully accomplished work.  The creators were also sidled with a then-unique page structure, formatted for viewing in the Zuda app.  It transfers nicely to digital platforms like Comixology but at the time, and for new writers and artists it was just another hurdle to telling their stories.

Since Zuda has been shuttered, the properties are winding up on Comixology, like Azure here, which suffers the same fate as many of the Zuda properties…

365 Comics...306: Theremin #3 (2013)

I reviewed the first issue of Theremin for Thor's Comic Column a few month's back and I quite liked it for it's weird and different take of super-science and espionage.  Still not entirely comfortable with the digital format, I hadn't kept up with new releases, so I was surprised to find I only missed the second and third issue.  The second issue was a bit of a muddle and I'm not truly certain what happened within it (Hawaiian monkey cult?), but the third issue was a mind-twisting non-linear narrative of assassination and double-crosses.  It's best read in full pages, rather than via Comixology's guided-view (where the story is revealed panel-by-panel) as it shows the rhythm of the jumbled narrative, which is a very important aspect to understanding and enjoying the story.  This would actually be even better in physical form, being able to flip back and forth between pages manually would make putting the pieces together (seems to be three different timefram…

365 Comics...305: The Fox #1 (2013)

My write-up of The Fox popped up on Thor's Comic Column yesterday and the one thing I didn't get a chance to point out was the fact that Mark Waid wrote many, many, many of the Red Circle heroes (or variations thereof) back in the very early 1990's when DC made their first attempt at modernizing them with Impact Comics... but one of the character he never wrote: The Fox.  The Fox never wound up appearing in Impact's 2-ish year run strangely... I guess they thought the Jaguar was more than enough animal-based heroism for one superhero universe.

I love Cooke's variant cover to the first ish..