Monday, March 16, 2009

This week, I don't have too much to say about anything important, and nothing nice to say about the unimportant stuff

Elsewhere: I reviewed last week's Dollhouse at The Factual Opinion.  I'm kind of late linking to this, since the show airs on Friday and the column runs on Thursday.  That means I don't usually link to it until Monday, after the next episode has already aired.  Huh, that's a pain.  Eh, I still haven't watched the next one though.  See what I think this next Thursday!

Also: I'm late linking to this, as I usually am with this sort of thing, but this video of Alison Bechdel explaining her process on Fun Home is fascinating and illuminating.  I love seeing that sort of description from cartoonists, especially with great books like that one.

New comics this week (Wednesday, 3/18/09):

Azrael Deaths Dark Knight #1

I would normally do my best to ignore this sort of book, because I really don't care what's going on with various Batman-related characters in the aftermath of his "death", and I don't have any interest in comics written by Fabian Nicieza, but there's one thing that makes this attention-worthy, and that's art by Frazier Irving.  I love his style (see here for examples of me gushing over it when it's illustrating a story I was kind of hesitant to bother with), and while it's still not enough to get me interested in actually reading "X-treme Batman stand-in #3", I will definitely look through it next time I'm in the comics store.  Now if only he would finish Gutsville...

Groom Lake #1

I reviewed a PDF of this Chris Ryall/Ben Templesmith book about aliens and whatnot a few weeks ago, so you can read that to get my full opinion, but here's the short version:  it's good.  If you like Ryall's wit in comics like Zombies vs. Robots, or Templesmith's art, you should give it a try.

Hotwire #2 

I find it amusing that this second issue of the Warren Ellis-originated, Steve Pugh-scripted-and-drawn series about futuristic ghost hunters comes with "chick w/o guns" and "chick w/guns" variants.  I guess they know what audience they're going for.  I never did read the first issue, but it seemed interesting from the reviews I read (like this one).  I suppose I could try to check it out sometime.

LILLIM #1 (of 5)

This might or might not be worthwhile, but I find the concept at least slightly noteworthy, due to its odd mix of Biblical and Norse mythology.  The title characters are the children of Lilith, Adam's other wife (you might remember her from Sandman), who are Odin and Loki, reborn in the modern age as either threats or saviors of humanity.  Weird.  The art doesn't seem too bad, at least judging by the cover images, but that doesn't necessarily mean anything.  If nothing else, it got my attention, which is harder and harder to do these days.  Take that as you will.

Mysterius: The Unfathomable #3

More Parker and Fowler.  I want to read this.

Potters Field Stone Cold One Shot

I liked the original three-issue Potter's Field miniseries by Mark Waid and Paul Azaceta that Boom! Studios published (here are my reviews of the first, second, and third issues, if you're interested), although I thought it would have worked better if it was longer.  Still, it worked for that short interval, and here's a follow-up, which could work as a single episode of the series, or some sort of special; apparently it involves the main character discovering a 9/11-related conspiracy, which seems a bit big for a series that worked well as a mechanism for smaller, more personal tales.  Eh, I'll check it out and see what I think.

Rawbone #1

Jamie Delano!  This Avatar book is about pirates, and it's sure to love lots of violence and nastiness.  Good times.  Art by Max Fiumara.  Somebody let me know if it turns out to be good, and maybe I'll try to read the eventual collection.

Transmetropolitan #1 special edition

Another of DC's "read this if you liked Watchmen" sampler books.  It's only a dollar, so maybe it'll get somebody interested in the series, which is good.  Let's see them turn this into a movie.  But only if they sell toy versions of Spider's bowel disruptor.

Ultimatum #3

This is another one that I would normally do my best to ignore, but I've actually read this issue, for a possible review at Comics Bulletin (looks like it's not going to happen, probably because they don't want me to piss off Marvel).  It was mostly out of curiosity, after the cannibalism of the previous issue made the rounds of internet complaints about gross stuff in comics.  And wow, was I not disappointed.  That is, I got all the stupid, nasty depravity I expected; if I had expected it to be any good, yes, I would have been disappointed.  But it was very, very terrible, on every level.  I'm amazed at how cynical Marvel is; a few years ago, there was a little bit of outcry at their eagerness to do stuff like Marvel Zombies or have lots of skeletons and dead superheroes on their covers, but this is a whole new level, with beloved characters (or "Ultimate" versions of them) being brutally killed on-panel for nothing but shock value.  Do people really want to read this?  And do they really want to see David Finch's ugly, ugly artwork?  I probably shouldn't be surprised by this sort of thing, but I guess I do still have some capacity for shame, unlike the people publishing this.

Uncanny X-Men #507

I guess this is still going on.  That's a dumb thing to say; of course X-Men comics are still coming out.  This is the only one I bother paying even the slightest attention to though, since it's written by Matt Fraction (wait, that's not true; I also pay some slight attention to the one Warren Ellis is writing).  There are a bunch of plots going on at once here, but the only one that really grabs me is the team that ends up fighting a Godzilla-like monster, since that's fun.  Otherwise, it's a lot of the same old angst and whining about fear and acceptance and hatred.  Terry Dodson draws, so at least it looks pretty nice; god help them when Greg Land shows up to crap all over the pages again.

Adventures Of Blanche HC

Ooh, I'll have to try to read this.  I had never even heard of it until recently, when I read Craig Fischer's look at one of these stories over at Thought Balloonists.  I like Rick Geary a lot (even though I haven't read a whole lot of his work), and this appears to be an excellent series of stories about a young woman who has a series of art-related adventures in the early 20th century.  Here's a three-page preview at Dark Horse's site.

Air Vol. 1 Letters from Home TP

Judging by the first issue of this Vertigo series (my review is here) by the Cairo (which I also reviewed here) team of G. Willow Wilson and M.K. Perker, I didn't think this series was going to be all that good.  But I've read a mention or two that said the series picked up quite a bit after that, and turned into something pretty interesting, so I might have to give it another look.  And here's my chance, with a collection of the first six issues.  Okay, Ms. Wilson, prove me wrong!

Alan Moore Light of Thy Countenance GN

Every so often, Avatar puts out a comic that sees Antony Johnston adapting a story or poem of Alan Moore's to comics form.  And here's another one, which is apparently about "the Magic of Television."  I haven't read many of these, but they always interest me, if only because I react in a Pavlovian manner to Moore's name.  I might have to check this out.  Art is by Felipe Massafera.

American Flagg Definitive Collection TP vol 02

It's another thick, expensive collection of Howard Chaykin's landmark series.  I still haven't read any of it, but everybody continues to say it's awesome, groundbreaking, etc.  I should see if I can get them from the library...

Batman Haunted Gotham TPB

This collects a story by Doug Moench and Kelley Jones from 2000, I think.  Caleb Mozzocco should be excited.

Complete Just a Pilgrim HC

The early 2000s saw the release of a couple of miniseries by Garth Ennis and Carlos Ezquerra featuring this Clint Eastwood-like character in a sort of post-apocalyptic western that featured mutants and Road Warrior-esque gangs and the like.  Not Ennis' best work, but it's entertaining enough.  Give it a try if you're craving some of his goofy nastiness.

Courtney Crumrin TP vol 04 Monstrous Holiday

This is yet another series that I've been meaning to read for a long time now.  I really like Ted Naifeh's artwork, and he can tell a pretty good story too.  Whenever I do get around to it, I'll start with the first volume, but for more experienced readers, here's the latest, collecting the recent one shots Courtney Crumrin and the Fire Thief's Tale and Courtney Crumrin and the Prince of Nowhere.  Someday...

Kaspar TP

This Drawn & Quarterly offering by Diana Obomsawin is about Kaspar Hauser, a 19th-century feral child who was famous during the time and led to (or was used as a prop for) a lot of philosophizing about the nature of man.  Sounds pretty interesting.  D&Q's site has a preview.

My Mommy Is In America And She Met Buffalo Bill HC

Fanfare/Ponent Mon is releasing the translation this European comic by Jean Regnaud and Emile Bravo, and it's one that has been making the rounds of the critical sites and getting a lot of acclaim.  Looks like it might be one of the books of the year (pay attention, Dick Hyacinth!).  Another one to look for at the library...

Platinum Grit Vol 1 TP

I'm not sure what exactly this comic is about, but I do like the look of it.  It apparently was a small-press book back in the 1990s, by Australian creators Trudy Cooper and Danny Murphy, before making the transition to the web in the early 21st century.  Now Image is publishing this collection of the first five chapters, but you can also read them at the comic's website, I think.

Powers Vol 12 25 Coolest Dead Superheroes of All Time TPB

Wow, it seems like forever since I last read Powers.  I decided to switch to trades after the issues started coming out incredibly slowly, making it all but impossible to keep up with the story.  That was something like two years ago, and now I can finally pick up where I left off.  I think this volume has a fight between Walker and Pilgrim, but who knows.  I hope it doesn't suck, since it's just about the only Bendis work that really enjoy all that much anymore.

Soleil Samurai HC Vol 1 Legend

I never did read any of this series, which was one of the French comics Marvel is releasing.  Did anyone else bother?  Is it any good?  The art looks nice, but that only goes so far.

Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane Sophomore Jinx DM HC

I think I reviewed most of the issues of this miniseries for Comics Bulletin (here's issue #1 and issue #3), and while it wasn't terrible, I didn't think it was an especially worthy follow-up to the excellent series by Sean McKeever and Takeshi Miyazawa (and later David Hahn).  Between this and Runaways, Terry Moore isn't impressing me too much as a writer (I've never read Strangers in Paradise, so that doesn't affect my reaction either way).  And Craig Rousseau isn't bad as an artist, but he's not the sort of stylish cartoonist that the title needs; ideally, it would have a shojo manga feel, and that's not present here at all.  So my recommendation is to skip it.  And my recommendation to Marvel is to get Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover to do the next version of the series.  Or a good female writer, which certainly wouldn't hurt if you're writing a female character that's hopefully aimed at girls.  Let's see if they listen to me!

Squadron Supreme Pre War Years TPB

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that Marvel released a new edition/printing/whatever of the first collection of J.M. Straczynski's run on Supreme Power, and just a few weeks later, they're skipping forward to a similar reprint of this relaunch of the title, probably to coincide with the collection of the next relaunch, which is written by Howard Chaykin with art by Marco Turini.  It was after a couple issues of this that I dropped it, because it went from a "mature readers" title that featured regular sex, nudity, and graphic violence to the Marvel Knights imprint, which might technically be kind of mature-ish, but still has the "all-ages" restrictions of books like Daredevil.  Actually, the reduced "adult content" wasn't the reason I stopped reading; it was the tiresome, drawn-out nature of the plots and the unlikability of any of the characters.  No, I had grown tired of the book before then, and this was the last straw.  So, while the series started out pretty interestingly, it grew less and less so, before reaching this stage and petering out, eventually ending with a much-derided cross over with Marvel's Ultimate characters.  It would probably be best if Marvel gave up on the concept, at least for a while, but they're probably going to keep on milking the dead cow as long as they can get something out of it.

Tor A Prehistoric Odyssey HC

This collects Joe Kubert's recent miniseries featuring his caveman character.  It looked pretty cool, even if it is sort of old-fashioned, as Abhay mentions here.  I wouldn't mind giving it a look-see.

True Tales Of The Roller Derby Doppelganger At The Hanger

I've never understood the "sport" of rollerderby, beyond the appealing concept of watching cute girls skating around and being sort of violent, so I doubt I would be all that interested in reading this book.  But it looks like it's got some decent art (at least judging by the cover image), and it could be fun.  So why not give it a mention?  There, done.

X-Men First Class The Wonder Years TPB

I think this collects the final issues of Jeff Parker's series that followed the early years of the original Lee/Kirby X-Men.  I've found the issues of the series that I've sampled to be kind of "meh", but I do like Parker's writing, and it's pretty decent if you're into fun, lighthearted superhero stuff.  I'm great with the backhanded recommendations, aren't I?

An Ideal World Vol 1 GN

Yen Press has this book that seems to be along the lines of Tokyopop's French/Chinese imports, about a kid who gets lost in a fantasy world.  Maybe worth a look?  I like the cover image, at least.

Rurouni Kenshin VIZBIG Edition Vol 5 GN

Wow, there are five VIZBIG volumes of this series out already.  It's yet another one of the series that I would like to check out at some point, but who knows if I'll ever get to it.  Maybe someday, as I say all the damn time.

We Were There Vol 3 GN

This shojo series is continuing.  I thought the first volume was all right, if not great, but it supposedly gets better, so maybe this is worth reading.  There you go.
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That appears to be everything; looks like this is "pick on Marvel" week.  Stay tuned; more Monster Mash coming soon!