Friday, November 30, 2007

UPDATED: Solicitationary blatherings: Manga, February 2008

UPDATE: I've added some pictures, stolen from Mike Sterling. I hope he doesn't mind.

Hey, here's a new one. I don't usually do any look at manga solicitations, because I haven't been able to find them online before (not that I've scoured the web (gone over it with a fine-toothed comb, that is) for them or anything), but MangaCast has the listings in December's Previews, so now I can look at what's coming out in February and March (and April, in some cases)! So, here goes, but first, enter my banner-designing contest! Okay, to business:

ADV Manga:

YOTSUBA&! TP VOL 06 SRP: $9.99

I just recently got into this series, so it'll be a while before I get to this volume. I'll probably read it someday though.


I'm way, way behind here; I still haven't got the fourth volume of this awesomeness yet. Someday, someday.

Digital Manga Books:


I don't know if this is a reprint of older material, or something more recent, but it might be worth looking at. Hmmm, some descriptions or cover images or something would definitely liven this up. I might have to do more web-scouring and see what I can find. Next month, that is.

Last Gasp:


This is one of those classic series that I should probably read someday. At least it's still in print, so if I want to, I should be able to find it.



They must have thrown that extra dollar or so on there after Jason Thompson called this the worst manga he'd ever read. Maybe they're hoping that'll get people's attention; it certainly made me curious, but not enough that I think I would actually spend money on it.



Oh, awesome. Becky Cloonan! Pirates! Monsters! Check it out, if you haven't already. I'll be eagerly awaiting this one. Here's my review of the first volume.


I hear that this series is good, but I haven't read any of it. It's another one to maybe get to someday.



I still haven't got the second and third volumes of To Terra..., so I won't get to this series in a while. But I do want to read it. And, hey, where's Dororo? I'm excited about that one too.

Viz Media:


I've been talking this series up ever since it started serialization in Shojo Beat, so people who don't read the magazine can finally find out why I like it so much. I highly recommend it, so expect me to enthuse about it a bunch more between now and February.


That's a funny title. Any good? Who knows?

NANA TP VOL 09 (MR) SRP: $8.99

Oh, man, I've been going through withdrawals for this series ever since it stopped serialization in Shojo Beat. Volume 8 comes out in January, and I'll be all over it. The same goes for this one two months later.


This is the Yakuza-based shojo series that was previewed in last month's Shojo Beat. I could see myself reading the first volume, and if I like it, the second one shows up here.


Another series I always hear is good. Someday I might get to it.


Is this the last volume of the series? It's another one that I really, really want to read, but I only have the first volume (and I haven't had a chance to read it yet). This is another "someday" volume, except I'm certain I will obtain it; there's no "might" here.

Yen Press:


I'm in the middle of the first volume of this series, so watch for a review soon. It's pretty good, although I wonder how long it will continue. Does the series follow the family all the way until the kid is an adult? If so, that should be quite interesting.



I know nothing about these (are they even Japanese, or OEL?), but they could be worth a look. UPDATE: I love the covers, with the goofy looking characters. Might be disrespectful, but they would certainly grab my attention if I saw one or more of them in a store..

Okay, that's everything that caught my eye. Next month I'll try to do more research, looking at information about series I'm not already familiar with and maybe even scaring up some cover images. But the half-assed version works for now. Later!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Shojo Beat: Drama, action, and angst. And that's just in my response to Haruka

I'm a bit behind in getting to this month's issue, but I'm behind on everything, so don't feel bad, girly manga. See below for more, but don't forget about my contest! Gotta pimp the contest. Okay:

Shojo Beat
December 2007

Hey, that image doesn't look too bad, even though I ripped the cover. Whoops! This issue is a Christmas issue, but there's not much non-comics content that I feel is worth talking about, except maybe this ad for a computer game called Die Bunny which features art by Junko Mizuno:

This issue's preview is of a manga called High School Debut, by Kazuna Kawahara. It's about a girl who is a tomboy but also likes shojo manga, so she wants a boyfriend. Now that she's in high school, she tries to reinvent herself to become attractive, following advice in fashion magazines. But she sucks at it and never gets hit on. Boo hoo! But then she enlists the help of this guy who is apparently very fashion-conscious, because he "knows what guys look for in a girl". Maybe Japanese guys are more picky than Americans, because she's not exactly homely. It doesn't take much to get guys interested, especially teenage ones (I speak from experience, having been a teenage boy not so long ago...okay, it was a while ago, but I still remember some stuff, and raging hormones were definitely part of the experience). Anyway, he refuses, but she eventually pesters him into consenting, because she's so enthusiastic and pure of heart, or whatever the popular qualities are for manga protagonists. And I'm sure she will eventually fall in love with him and pester him into a codependent relationship, but that's all in future chapters. It's enjoyable enough, but nothing that I would go out of my way to read. I certainly enjoy some of these comics (I do have a subscription to the damn magazine), but this sort of thing is way too girly for me. I think I've reached my chick threshold here.

Okay, on to the regular series:

Haruka: Beyond the Stream of Time
By Tohko Mizuno

Oh boy, I can tell this one is going to be a chore to read each month. In this chapter, we find that our heroine, Akane, has fallen in love with the demon leader Akram, because he has a manly presence or something. She's only talked to him twice, but I guess you gotta follow your heart and go for the weird masked guy that everyone tells you is evil, even if you are stuck in the past and caught up in a magical conflict involving dragon jewels and whatnot. The rest of this chapter involves Akane having an out-of-body experience in which she follows a young sorcerer, watches some (human?) meat get fed to water nymphs, and gets involved in a conflict with demons or something. Really, I have no idea what the fuck is going on here, and I'm already getting sick of it after only three chapters. This might turn out to be the first series that I just decide to skip each month.

Honey and Clover
By Chica Umino

Ah, this is more like it. This month, Takemoto is still freaking out about doing Hagu's Rococo-style doll wardrobe:

And we finally get introduced to Mayama's ex-girlfriend, Ayumi, in a series of video game-style defeats of the guys:

There's plenty of funny business, but the best part of this series is its heart, with realistic characters in believable relationships. Even though we just met Ayumi, we can see how she and Mayama relate to each other, and why they treat each other the way they do.

We also get some nice moments with Hagu, as she frets about not being able to relate to other students. Umino uses some nice effects, like this scene in which Hagu is surrounded by people talking and hanging out, but ignoring her:

So it's a couple good chapters of an excellent series. It definitely gets my spirits up after suffering through the soul-crushing Haruka.

Crimson Hero
By Mitsuba Takanashi

More angst and training sequences. This series can be exciting and interesting, but it can also be pretty dull, like this chapter (outside of a flashback to Nobara's childhood, in which she cheers at a volleyball game on TV while getting spanked by her grandmother). Ryo's training just isn't getting through to Nobara for some reason, and she seems to be losing it with her near-fanatical devotion to being awesome at volleyball. I'm sure she'll learn a lesson about friends being important or having other goals or something, but right now she's busy moping around and not doing anything interesting. She needs to get back to her team, have some romantic tension with the boys, and play some games. The actual volleyball matches have generally been the best parts of the series, so they need to quit with these training shenanigans and focus on competition. In my opinion. Maybe something interesting will happen next month.

Vampire Knight
By Matsuri Hino

Man, this series really fades in and out of being interesting; last month I was getting bored, but this month I'm pretty entertained by the action. Maybe that's because something happens: Yuki and Zero fight Shizuka, the vampire that killed Zero's family and turned him. It's mostly characters talking at each other, but Hino makes it pretty exciting by varying the angles and having characters deliver their lines dramatically:

Then the action starts, with shooting and stabbing and blood drinking, and a big cliffhanger revelation that I won't spoil even though it's probably obvious. What will happen? Who knows, but I almost actually care. Huh.

Absolute Boyfriend
By Yuu Watase

And the plot drags on, with the evil corporation scheming to replace Night with an exact duplicate in order to shoehorn in some more quasi-attempted rape scenes. Wonderful. We do get an enjoyable fight scene between the two Nights:

And there's a possible resolution to the plot about the company trying to take Night back. So maybe Watase can finally end the damn series now, and have them live happily ever after. Please, just end it. I am curious about that ending though; apparently it was not well received. So let's just get to it already, and quit dragging this thing out.

Sand Chronicles
By Hinako Ashihara

Man, the hits just keep coming in this series. This chapter sees Ann's dad show up, three years after his ex-wife died. He wants her to move back to Tokyo with her, but she's actually happy with her friends in the country. She says some pretty harsh stuff to him, accusing her of abandoning her and her mom (which is pretty much the truth):

And, since terrible things have to happen in this series, her words seem to have a pretty bad effect. Man, the tragedy never stops around here. But it's effective; we grow to like these characters, and that's why we're upset when something bad happens.

Actually, Ann's life isn't non-stop tragedy. The series has covered three years of her life so far, in only five chapters. Ashihara is just focusing on the major events, which all happen to be horribly depressing. No, that's not quite true; the last two chapters before this one were actually pretty happy. But I guess high highs really make the low lows that much more effective.

And it is effective. I really like Ashihara's art style; in the page above, the expression on Ann's face after listening to her dad talk is priceless. She doesn't believe a word of it. And Ashihara is also really good at capturing some nice, simple, beautiful moments, like in this sequence with Ann and her boyfriend Daigo:

I really like this series; it's a pleasure to read each month. We'll see if I can get through the next chapter without soaking the pages in tears.

And that's it for this month. I'm excited to see what's coming next (except in Haruka; that series can go screw), and that's a sign of a good magazine. Shojo Beat: getting me in touch with my inner thirteen-year-old on a monthly basis!

Solicitationary blatherings: Other companies, February 2008

Well, I should probably get to the rest of whatever's coming out in February before the next month's stuff shows up. At least, the stuff I know about without reading Previews. But first, another plug for my contest! Please enter! Okay, here's what I think looks interesting, separated alphabetically by company because I'm anal:


Black Summer #7 - It's the final issue of Warren Ellis's violent, political superhero story, and there's some sort of promised twist ending. I thing it's been decent so far, but it hasn't made me want to praise Ellis to the heavens or anything. He could definitely change my mind in the second half of the series though, so I'll keep reading. As usual, I chose to spotlight the wraparound cover, but I should note that there is also a zombie variant cover, which I'm surprised it took this long for Avatar to get around to.

Doktor Sleepless #8 - Man, that is a really nasty cover there, so don't look too closely if you don't want to be grossed out. I'm starting to really like this series, so hopefully Ellis will keep improving, adding interesting elements and neat/weird sci-fi ideas. Don't let me down, Ellis!

Narcopolis #1 - This miniseries by written by Jamie Delano (with art by some buy named Jeremy Rock; I've never heard of him, but he seems to have a fairly standard Avatar style) looks like it's about an Orwellian future, with lots of drugs and weirdness. It looks pretty cool, so I'll probably try out the first issue, at the very least. I can't find any mention of how long the miniseries is supposed to be, but it's probably no more than six or seven issues. Here's an article/interview with Delano about the series.

Boom! Studios:

Jenny Finn: Doom Messiah TPB - I never did read these books, but they looked interesting, and I've heard they're pretty good. Mike Mignola writes, Troy Nixey and Farel Dalrymple draw (I think), it's about a Victorian girl dealing with Lovecraftian horrors or something. I might have to check it out.

The Stardust Kid volume 1 TPB - How many issues of this series ever came out? I don't think there were very many; maybe J.M. DeMatteis and Mike Ploog are switching to serialized graphic novels (or text/comics amalgamations, like their other series, Abadazad). I haven't read either of the series, but I've heard good things, so I could check it out. It seems like something I could get my wife to read, so that's always good.

Dark Horse:

Abe Sapien: The Drowning #1 - Yet another Hellboy-verse series, this one written by Mike Mignola with art by Jason Shawn Alexander, with a solo Abe Sapien adventure (if you couldn't figure that out from the title. I won't buy the miniseries, but I'll probably get to it someday whenever I get caught up on all the various Hellboy-related collections.

Evil Dead #2 - I'm really not that interested in an adaptation/expansion of the first (and worst, in my opinion) Evil Dead movie, but it features art by John Bolton, which seems odd to me. It will probably be worth a look, if nothing else.

Hellboy Library Edition volume 1: Seed of Destruction and Wake the Devil - Did I mention that I need to get the various Hellboy collections? I don't know if this is the best format though; it's $50 for the contents of two $15 trades. But I bet it will look hella-nice. Oh, and an introduction from Alan Moore, if that tips the scales for you.

The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite #6 - The final issue of this first miniseries, with another excellent James Jean cover (that could go without saying, but I like to say it). Have I mentioned that I really like this series? Now bring on the next one!


The Boys #15 - This book seems to teeter on the edge of my awareness, not bad enough that I want to drop it, but not good enough to have me eagerly awaiting each issue. That might be why I haven't switched to trades yet; I feel like I might not feel compelled to pick up the trade with a wait of six months or more between issues. It's definitely not bad though, so I'll probably keep buying it. This issue starts a new storyline, and that cover makes me laugh; I like the detail of the torn fishnets and the panties. Really, this would be a prime stopping point for me, since the trade collecting issues 7-14 also comes out in February, but I think I'll keep sticking it out. I did read an interview with Garth Ennis the other day that makes me want to keep reading, just to see what he does with the stuff he hinted at.

Zorro #1 - I guess this goes along with the Lone Ranger comic that Dynamite publishes (that is them, isn't it?). I won't get it, but it's worth pointing out the creative team: Matt Wagner and Francesco Francavilla, with covers by John Cassaday and Mike Mayhew. It'll look nice, but I'm just not interested enough in Zorro to bother.


Little Orphan Annie volume 1 HC - Here's another reprint project for IDW, to go along with Dick Tracy and Terry and the Pirates. I should read these, although they're a bit pricey. It's good to see IDW diversifying their output to include reprints and manga (I'm currently reading their printing of Kazuo Umezu's Reptilia, and it's great).

I should also mention IDW's Wormwood book, which I'll probably buy in trade, and this month's issue of Cory Doctorow's Futuristic Tales of the Here and Now, which contains an adaptation of "I, Robot", which is a really good story. I recently read an interview with Doctorow, and he mentioned that the Creative Commons license that he uses for his work will go into effect when this series is collected, meaning the book will be freely available for download. I'll be sure to point a link to that when it comes out.

Oni Press:

Jumper: Jumpscars GN - I read part of the young adult novel Jumper many years ago, but I never finished it for some reason. It's about a kid with teleportation powers, and a movie adaptation is coming out next year, I believe. This graphic novel is a prequel to the movie, written by Nunzio DeFilippis and Christina Weir, with art by Brain Hurtt. I'll be willing to check it out just for Hurtt's art; his work on Hard Time and The Damned is excellent.

Maintenance volume 2 TPB - I've been talking up this series for a while now, so here's your chance to get caught up, with a collection of issues 4-6. Good stuff.

Wasteland #15 - A new story arc, which means the second collection will be appearing soon, I hope (was it already solicited? I don't remember). I can't wait to get caught up.

Red 5:

Atomic Robo #5 - I haven't written anything about it yet, but I got the second issue of this book (still waiting for the first), and it was a riot. Really, really fun, with some heart, even. I'm on board now.

Neozoic #3 - This is another Red 5 series that looks neat, but I don't think the first issue has shown up yet. People vs. dinosaurs, in the future, or something. Looks cool. I hope I actually see it somewhere.

And I think that's everything, unless I missed something somewhere. I'm sure there will be other stuff worthy of attention (like manga, which I don't even mention in these things), but I guess that will be more of a surprise.

I guess I lied about having some content yesterday, but hopefully I'll get to it tonight. Really!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Parasyte: This is much worse than something like leeches

Hey, two reviews in one night! I'll keep harping on my contest, just to keep it at the top of the page. I've already received one entry, so let's get some competition going, people! Okay, on to the good stuff:

Parasyte, volume 2
By Hitoshi Iwaaki

A good quality of manga that Westerners often talk about (since it's an obvious comparison to our market-dominating superhero comics) is the finite nature of the stories. Without a need to maintain a rarely-changing status quo, characters are allowed to develop and plots can take unforeseen, series-changing turns. Even so, series can still hit a plateau and stay there with little forward movement, but I'm quite happy to say that Hitoshi Iwaaki's Parasyte is not one of those series. It could have continued with the wacky "kid with an alien arm" antics of the first volume (which I reviewed here), but it gets much more dramatic in this volume, with some major changes to the main character and those around him. There's some powerful stuff here, plots I wasn't expecting to encounter in a goofy "boy and his alien" story. And the whole nature of the series shifts; not only do Shin and Migi grow closer (in a manner of speaking), but Shin is starting to have to fight to maintain his humanity as much as he and Migi are fighting an alien invasion. I won't spoil any details of the plot here (at least, none that I haven't already), but I will say that this new direction has me even more interested in the series than before. It went from being "pretty enjoyable" to "can't wait for the next volume".

I think the art might have improved as well, possibly due to the shift toward a more dramatic tone. At the beginning, Iwaaki still includes some of his goofy facial expressions:

But he gets better as he shifts away from comedy; I was especially impressed with his depiction of Shin's increasingly animalistic countenance:

And the weird alien designs continue to be awesome; Shin and Migi encounter and befriend another human/alien pair that have taken a bizarre form:

And the action is still quite exciting and dynamic, especially as Shin begins to develop more superhuman abilities. Whether he's exhibiting acrobatic skill:

Or having badass alien duels:

It's exciting to watch. Like I said, I can't wait to see what happens next. I enjoy the implications of human/alien bonding that Iwaaki is continuing to explore (there's an especially funny/crazy bit involving a woman's head on a man's body), and I really want to see how he continues to develop Shin's character (parallels to puberty/the journey to adulthood!) and his relationship with Migi. Bring on the next volume!

Okay, I think that's enough for tonight. Tomorrow: the monthly dose of girly comics!

King of Thorn: Despite the title, there's more than one thorn in this book

Okay, I'm finally getting to some of these reviews that I have backed up, but first, I want to remind people about my contest. Help me spruce up the blog, and win something for your trouble! Okay, on to business:

King of Thorn, volume 2
By Yuji Iwahara

This is a pretty good follow-up to the first volume of this series (which I reviewed at the bottom of this post), with more adventure, big action, gruesome deaths, and even the beginnings of some answers to the central mystery of the series (which would be "What the fuck is going on here?"). When we left the small band of survivors last volume, they were escaping their island prison through an underground/underwater tunnel, and in short order they encounter some plesiosaur-like monsters, fight among themselves, get separated into several groups, fight a bunch more monsters, and discover some secrets, both about their apocalyptic landscape and each other. It's exciting stuff that doesn't let up for pretty much the entire length of the volume, and it has me ready for the next one to show up.

I'm also really digging Yuji Iwahara's art style; it's very detailed, with more of a sense of space than a lot of manga that I've read. It's a style that fits this series very well, with its characters fighting for their lives in tight passageways and monster-filled passages. The character and monster designs are also pretty sweet, and the action is pretty incredible. It occasionally gets slightly hard to follow, but for the most part it's dynamic and exciting. I definitely have to give props to one of the best impalings (impalements?) I've seen in a while, especially since it manages to be sacreligious as well as visceral.

So, yeah, I'm ready for the next volume. I want to see how/if the various members of the group manage to reunite, who the strange cloaked girl is that is watching from the wings, what exactly happened to the world, and how these characters are involved. Unfortunately, I'll have to wait until February for the next installment, but maybe I can grab Iwahara's other series, Chikyu Misaki, in the meantime to tide me over. Because I don't read enough manga already.

Another review tonight? Maybe!

Monday, November 26, 2007

In which I celebrate my verbosity and try to get people to do stuff for me

So, believe it or not, this is the 400th post here on Warren Peace Sings the Blues. That's a lot of jibber-jabber. I hit my one-year "blogoversary" (god, that's a stupid word) about two weeks ago, so that means I've been averaging more than one place a day. Jeez, I almost want to apologize for writing so much. So here's a roundup of some of my favorite posts, but if it bores you, skip past it, because you'll want to read about the contest/giveaway I'm doing:

Will Eisner Week
Excellent Jack Kirby panels
The original version of my 100 Bullets character map
And the updated version (at the bottom of the post), which I did after I read the eleventh volume

Reviews I like:

The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Empowered volume 1
Ode to Kirihito
Drifting Classroom volume 2 (notable for manga scholar Matt Thorn's revealing comment)
Heartbreak Soup
More about Heartbreak Soup
Maggie the Mechanic
King City volume 1
To Dance
Rocketo volume 2
War Fix
Vampire Loves
Garage Band
The Plain Janes
La Perdida
Elk's Run
The Professor's Daughter
Kampung Boy
The Black Diamond Detective Agency
Alice in Sunderland
Bob and Harv's Comics (focusing on silent panels)
The Salon
Templar, Arizona volume 1
Northwest Passage
The Homeless Channel
Buddha volume 1
Chance in Hell
Shortcomings (or rather, the original Optic Nerve issues)
Silent War
Exit Wounds
Tekkon Kinkreet

Other silliness:

A crappy drawing I did as an entry for a contest on Chris Sims' blog.
Lame jokes about an early issue of Fantastic Four.
In the spirit of the holiday season, an image-heavy look at a Christmas-themed issue of Spider-Man's Tangled Web by Darwyn Cooke.
A look at the crazy-ass manga Octopus Girl, and the origin of the term "WST" (Weird Shit Tolerance) that I use every so often.

Non-comics content:

In memoriam: Kurt Vonnegut
My favorite movies of 2006 (and the revised list)
I bitch about the 2006 Oscars

Movie reviews:

Down in the Valley
Samurai Saga
Black Snake Moan
This Film Is Not Yet Rated
Meet the Robinsons
Brand Upon the Brain!
The Great Yokai War

Video game reviews:
Final Fantasy XII

Okay, that's enough of that. How about a contest? I have an extra copy of the graphic novel Unbeatable:

I reviewed this yesterday, and it's a pretty good book, so if you want to win a copy, here's what you have to do: design me a banner to go at the top of the site. I'm sick of the plain text up there, and I want something more snazzy. I might be able to make an attempt at coming up with something myself, but I figured I would try to get someone else to do it for me. So, if you want to enter, come up with an image that incorporates the blog's title, Warren Peace Sings the Blues, and email it to me at mbrady325[at]gmail[dot]com. It can be an image relating to comics, a visualization of the title, or whatever the hell you feel like doing. I won't guarantee that I'll use any images, but I'll post all entrants either on the blog or on Flickr (except for any that I somehow find overly offensive, which is unlikely), and I'll mail the comic to the one that I decide is best. Depending on the number and quality of entrants, I might even award a second or third prize and send out other stuff that I have lying around. I figure I'll give a couple weeks to get any entries in, so the tentative deadline is December 10. Thanks in advance for entering, and I look forward to seeing what people come up with!

After last week, I might not have enough money for this week's stuff

I won't let that stop me though. Really, I spent a lot, especially since my store was having a sale that allowed me to pick up some stuff I had been wanting for a while. So this week might cause more thinness of the wallet. But before I talk about my upcoming expenditures, here are some reviews I did for Silver Bullet Comics: Groo: Hell on Earth #2, Left on Mission #5, and Rex Libris #9. Woo hoo! Okay, back to my outgoing cash flow issues (note: comics come out on Thursday this week, because of the holiday last week, I guess, which seems kinda dumb):

New comics this week (Thursday, 11/29/07):

Casanova #11

Hey, this seems to be coming out at a nice clip. Awesome. I really dug the last issue, with the Secret Cinema and the sexiness. Here's hoping Fraction and Moon can keep it going.

Doc Frankenstein #6

Holy cow, it's been a while since the last issue of this one. What is it, and annual now? I usually enjoy it, even though it's ridiculous, over the top, and kind of overly serious about religious persecution, but there's really nothing else like it being published, so I'll take it. Now if we get a new Shaolin Cowboy before March, it'll be a real miracle...

Jack of Fables #17

Last issue was kind of a standalone deal, so this one will probably get back to the main story, with Jack putting Humpty Dumpty back together. Have I mentioned that I really enjoy this book?

Madman Atomic Comics #5

Ooh, and another book that is sometimes late but always welcome. More of Madman's cosmic adventures in space. I can't wait.

Dan Dare #1

I'm not sure if I want to get this one, but I'm interested in most stuff Garth Ennis writes. I'll have to check it out and decide if I want it.

Archibald Saves Christmas #1

Some sort of gothic-cartoony funny animal violent Santa special. It could be fun, or it could be lame. Here's a group review that makes it sound kind of interesting.

Dock Walloper #1

I don't really know much about this one, but it's "written" by filmmaker Ed Burns (with Jimmy Palmiotti), and it's some sort of crime/gangster story in Prohibition-era New York. Heidi MacDonald has the press release here. I might take a look at it.

Popgun Vol 1 GN

This is a cool-looking anthology from Image, with contributions from the likes of Mike Allred, Erik Larsen, Joseph Michael Lisner, Jim Mahfood, and plenty others. I'll probably pick it up; it looks like it will contain some pretty good stuff. Here's a preview.

Jack Kirbys Galactic Bounty Hunters HC

I bought the first issue of this Kirby-sploitation miniseries, but wasn't all that impressed. Apparently, it's based on sketches and characters that Kirby created but never used, but I didn't see much of Kirby's energy or creativity in that issue. I suppose I could check out a collection of the series if I'm looking for something to read, but I'm not going to spend $25 on a fancy hardcover version.

Cut GN

A horror graphic novel from Dark Horse, written by publisher Mike Richardson. It's got a nice cover by Mike Mignola, if nothing else. I probably won't get it this week (did I mention the money shortage?), but if I hear good things I could see myself buying it.

Talent Vol 1 TP

I never did read this horror(?) miniseries from Boom! Studios, but I heard it was pretty good. Yet another one I might possibly check out someday.

Testament Vol 3 Babel TP

I believe this was the arc after which I dropped this book, but now that it's getting canceled, I might try to read the final issues and see if it ever got better. It was too bad; I really like the book for a while, but it just got too incoherent, and the art started really turning me off. We'll see what ends up happening.

Locas vol. 3 Perla La Loca
Palomar vol. 3 Beyond Palomar

I believe these actually came out last week in most places, but my shop has them on their list for this week, so that means I'll probably be getting them soon. I can't wait to read them.


I can tell this is another series that I'm going to be perpetually behind on. I'll try to get caught up though.

Pumpkin Scissors Vol 1 GN

David Welsh reviewed this one a week or two ago, and it sounds pretty good, despite the awful title. I might check it out eventually.

Ice Wanderer GN

I've never read any Jiro Taniguchi books, but I always hear they are really good. I'm hoping to get caught up someday, but here's another one to add to the pile. Chris Butcher has more information.

And that's it for the week. Really, it's not that big of a week, but I just spent too much last week, so I'm short on dough. But it's not like I don't have enough stuff to read already...

Anyway, I've got another post coming up, and it's one people should read, so check back later! And I might even do some sort of reviews, which is kind of the point of this whole blog, isn't it?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Unbeatable: I, unfortunately, am quite beatable

Hey, where have I been? I've still got plenty to review, but I'm just going to go with this one for right now. Family emergencies have kept me busy over the weekend, but I might be able to get some stuff done over the next few days. Anyway, here's an interesting little book:

Written by Matthias Wolf
Art by Carlos Gomez

So here's the description of this independent graphic novel, as printed on the back cover:
"A young man awakens in an asylum with no memory of how he arrived. His only escape from the padded walls are his nightmares, where he dreams of fighting the greatest warriors in history. He suffers constant beatings and thousands of deaths. Is he going insane? Or is it something else?"
It's an interesting concept, one that grabs the reader and gets them interested. And the book starts out well enough, with the young man, Heimen Dale, waking up in that asylum, struggling to figure out where he is, and flashing back to what happened before he got there. Unfortunately, what seemed like it might be a short flashback ends up taking up half the book. We learn about Heimen's childhood, how he fell in love with a pretty girl, his relationship with his father, and some weird occurrences that eventually led to him possibly going crazy and ending up in the asylum. Eventually, we get back to where we started, and the story begins to pick up, with Heimen questioning his sanity as he experiences repeated violent deaths each time he falls asleep and no indication of any other human contact when he is awake. This stuff is really interesting, making the reader wonder what is happening, why he is going through this, how his father is involved, and if he will ever find a way out.

But that first half of the book is kind of a drag. It's not bad, but it could definitely have benefited from being broken up into several flashbacks interspersed between Heimen's nightly violent dreams. It's important groundwork, crucial to understanding the eventual revelations, but it seems like marking time until we can get to the exciting stuff.

Writer Matthias Wolf (who is also the founder of the independent publisher, Razor Wolf Entertainment) does a pretty good job of characterization, especially in the relationship between Heimen and his father (who shares the same name). Heimen Senior's seems to have a cowardly philosophy, encouraging his son to run away from any danger, but we eventually learn that there is more to him. And Heimen Junior is pretty attached to his dad, which is the eventual reason for his "incarceration". The peripheral characters do suffer a bit though; Heimen's girlfriend is little more than a pretty face (attached to the requisite huge breasts), and his mom appears in all of two panels. But the central characters are pretty interesting and compelling, especially after the big reveal at the end of the book.

Carlos Gomez's art is also pretty nice; it's crisply cartoony, reminiscent of UDON Studios' video game adaptation art. He's also aided quite a bit by Simon Bork and Teodoro Gonzalez' coloring, which really adds to the atmosphere; early, happy scenes are bright and cheery, but later, when the story takes a dark turn, the panels become dark and menacing. The colors were probably all done in Photoshop, but they occasionally use an effect that I really like, in which colors look like they were smeared on the page finger-paint-style:

Gomez is also quite dynamic, making the actions scenes really come alive. There are a couple awkward, hard-to-follow bits in the first half of the book, but by the time Heimen is in the asylum, living out violent deaths night after night, the action starts to really pop, with Heimen sometimes being killed five or six times on one page. Gomez also does a great job highlighting Heimen's mental state; after a while, he begins to cover the walls of his cell with writing about his experiences; it reminded me of the beginning of the movie Oldboy. I did begin to wonder how long he had been there though; his hair doesn't get any longer, and he doesn't grow any facial hair, even though his notes say he was in the cell for over a year. But overall, Gomez does a really good job, even working in some visual clues that make perfect sense after the ending revelation.

I do have a bit of an issue with the art, but it doesn't have to do with any problem of Gomez's. He does a great job with what he is given, but I wonder if he was the best choice of artist in the first place. We find that Heimen's nightly "dreams" are actually encounters with actual historical figures (or legends), like Achilles, Joan of Arc, the Three Musketeers, Robin Hood, and Musashi Miyamoto. But they all seem too cartoony to have much impact; for instance, Joan of Arc seems more like a video game version of herself rather than the actual person:

And Musashi Miyamoto, who turns out to be pretty important, is hard to take seriously as "the greatest swordsman in the world" with his goofy bright red armor that doesn't look much like samurai armor at all:

But really, it's just a question of my taste, and at least we did get a cool version of Bruce Lee:

Another quibble: the dialogue is sometimes awkward, and some more clever wordplay could have definitely livened up the first half of the book. Wolf often uses full words when contractions would sound more natural; a lot of the speech balloons would sound wrong if they were actually spoken. And the ending, while offering a satisfying explanation for all that has come before, is basically one character giving an exposition dump in a pretty non-dynamic fashion. Really, none of the problems are dealbreakers; they seem more like mistakes that come with being new to the creation of comics.

Really, it's a pretty good book, especially considering its independent origins. The artwork is slick and pretty, and the paper quality, binding, and presentation are very professional. I definitely hope to see more work from these creators.

So, I'll give the book a qualified recommendation; it's not perfect, but it's entertaining and shows a lot of promise. If you're interested, you should be able to order it from your local comics retailer or get it on Amazon for $14.95. If it sounds like your sort of thing, check it out!

This review was based on a complimentary copy provided by the publisher.

I think that will be all for today, but hopefully tomorrow I'll start on a whirlwind of reviews, burying readers in my all-important opinions. Beware!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Solicitationary blatherings: Image, February 2008

Hey, more future books! But first, I've got a review of the excellent third volume of The Middleman up over at Silver Bullet Comics. Enjoy! Then you can read what I think about this stuff:

The Perhapanauts Annual #1 - I read the first Perhapanauts miniseries, and while it was okay, it didn't seem overly awesome or anything. It's not bad or anything, and it's kind of fun. I doubt I'll get this; really, I'm just pointing out the nice variant cover by Mike Allred.

Scud, The Disposable Assassin #21 - And likewise, I doubt I'll get this (I've never read any Scud comics, so I don't know if they're good or not), but I wanted to spotlight Ashley Wood's cover.

Savage Dragon #137 - And I'm almost certainly not getting this (not a fan of Erik Larsen), but I had to mention it since it has appearances by both Madman and The Amazing Joy Buzzards!

Casanova #13 - I'm all over this one though. This has been a pretty damn good arc of the series so far, and I don't see any reason why that would change.

Princess at Midnight OGN - I'll probably get this too, considering how much I'm enjoying Andi Watson's Glister. Oddly, this story was already published in a "best new manga" anthology, but I don't think Watson's art or storytelling is especially manga-esque. It's probably still quite good though.

Jack Staff #14 - This is the point at which Jack Staff is supposed to start coming out monthly, but I think everybody will believe that when they see it. I might get this, depending if I'm able to get my hands on the special that comes out in December or January, and whether I like it or not. People say this is good, so I'm hoping I do like it.

Hazed OGN - I'm not sure if this is new or a reprint. It seems like it might be lame; it's a "satirical" look at sorority life and eating disorders from a couple of men who probably don't know much about that world outside of stereotypes (at least, that's the impression I get from the solicitation text), but I like Robbi Rodriguez's art on Maintenance, so I'll probably take a look at it if I see it.

Krash Bastards OGN - I have no idea what this is; the solicit describes it as "an original manga adventure". It's written by Joe Casey, with art by Axel#13, which is either an odd pen name or a typo (the solicitation also says the book is "black and hite"). The description makes no sense, so who knows if this will be something cool or some kind of jumbled mess. It's got my attention though, so I could take a look.

Pax Romana #4 - I think this is the final issue of Jonathan Hickman's miniseries. I hope it's good.

Red Mass for Mars #2 - Ditto what I said about the last book. I don't know what else to say until I'm able to actually read these.

The Nearly Complete Essential Hembeck Archives Omnibus TPB - Well, this is a cool-looking collection of Fred Hembeck's humorous strips. I don't know if I like his stuff enough to shell out $25 for it, but it does look cool.

Mixtape volume 1: Food One/Mahfood Art HC - Here's an artist I do really like, but I probably won't get either, because I don't think I can justify spending $25 on a 48-page black and white collection of drawings. Bummer; it looks cool.

And I guess that's everything. No Madman Atomic Comics, unfortunately. But there's always other stuff to get.

Tonight: at least one more manga review, I hope. Be there!