Monday, November 9, 2009

This week, I'll revel in comics history, and probably some other crap

Quick TV/DVD review: Battlestar Galactica: The Plan is sort of a victory lap for the TV show, one last chance to go back and relive the glory, or something like that. The idea is to see the Cylons' point of view of the story (and to explain the "they have a plan" caption from the beginning of each episode, although that plan turns out to be "kill all the surviving humans", which isn't exactly a revelation), although in practice, it ends up being like one of those comics series (Untold Tales of Spider-Man, say) where creators go back and tell what happened in between early issues of the original series. How did Sam form his band of freedom fighters? What exactly was going on with Boomer in the first season when she didn't realize she was a Cylon? You don't have to wonder; now you see every moment that we didn't see originally! There's something to be said for ambiguity, I think, and pretty much all of the "revelations" here were easy enough to figure out just by reading between the lines. We do get to see Dean Stockwell give more of his awesomely sneering, derisive, contemptuous lines though, which is always fun, especially when he's getting more and more frustrated at the failures of the other Cylons, and there's a nice emphasis on the scale of the destruction in the Cylon attack, making sure we realize what a horrible genocide it was. The worst bits probably involve some fairly dumb bits involving a memory-restoring elephant figurine and an abrupt realization of humanity's inherent goodness from a version of Stockwell's character, but those aren't that bad. Really, it's an enjoyable visit to the beloved milieu now that the series has ended, which is nice and all, but the great thing about the show was that it was always moving forward, continuing on to new plots and shifting status quos (status qui? Statuses quo? I don't speak latin), so it's kind of against the whole grain of the series to go back and revisit the past like this. But hey, I watched it, so I imagine plenty of other fans will also jump at the chance.

Back to your regularly-scheduled programming:

New comics this week (Wednesday, 11/11/09):

Anchor #2

As I mentioned the other day, I enjoyed the first issue of this Phil Hester/Brian Churilla series a good deal, and here's the second one already. This time out, our man fights some sort of supernatural huntsman on a horse preserve in England. I bet it will be awesome.

Authority The Lost Year Reader

Grant Morrison's run on The Authority didn't last long, but the story it started is finally going to get completed, although with Keith Giffen writing (from Morrison's plot, presumably) and Darick Robertson illustrating. I don't know how well that will work, but it might be interesting. Anyway, here's a double-issue reprint of those first two Morrison issues, with art by Gene Ha, so you can know what the hell is going on. I remember liking the first one (especially Ha's gorgeous art), but the second being a real letdown. We'll see if anything comes of this, but I kind of doubt it.

Batman and Robin #6

And speaking of Morrison, here's another one he wrote, and the last issue illustrated by Phillip Tan, which should make everyone rejoice, since Cameron Stewart and Frazier Irving will be taking over. Hell, I'll even start reading again at that point. I guess this is the last part of the Red Hood arc, if anybody cares. Enjoy, Bat-addicts.

Batman Doc Savage Special #1

On the other hand, here's the launch of another DC thing, with Batman thrown in to goose interest. Brian Azzarello writes and Phil Noto draws a revival of the old pulp hero, who I think will be joined by characters like The Shadow and The Spirit in the eventual ongoing series. I never know how Azzarello is going to work out on superhero-ish stuff, but if he's going for a pulp/crime feel, it could be good. As for Noto, he seems like an odd fit, since his stuff is usually kind of light and airy, rather than shadowy and grim. We'll see what happens, I guess.

Black Coat Or Give Me Death #1 & #2 Double-Sized

I haven't read any of this series about a masked American Revolution-era spy, but it does seem pretty cool, and the art has been by talents like Gabriel Hardman and Francesco Francavilla. This appears to be either a reprint or a double-issue kickoff of a new miniseries, so maybe it's a jumping-on point? Ben Lichius writes, and Francavilla illustrates the first issue, while Dean Kotz draws the second. Maybe I'll read it someday.

Chronicles of Wormwood Last Battle #2

Garth Ennis' continuing adventures of the Antichrist continue. Violence and profanity abound, I bet.

Citizen Rex #5

One more issue of Gilbert (and Mario) Hernandez's wacky sci-fi series to go after this one, and then I can start whining about a collection. I do so want to read this; don't let me down, Beto!

Comic Book Comics #4

Always the book of the week when this comes out, this comic about the history of comics is consistently awesome, entertaining, and educational. This issue is about the rise of Marvel Comics, along with R. Crumb and the undergrounds and Herge's Tintin. Fred Van Lente, Ryan Dunlavey, hilarity. It will be good, I declare it.

DMZ #47

Wow, almost 50 issues of this series already. I don't know what's going on in this issue, but I'll guess that Matty whines and acts like a dick, while awful shit happens in New York and political forces callously fuck around with people's lives. Good times.

Fables #90

Same here, I don't know what's going on, but I'm always excited to find out. I don't have any predictions though, although I know this current arc is about the various Fabletown witches. It's magical!

Ghoul #1

It's the latest Steve Niles/Berni Wrightson joint, about a supernatural mystery in Los Angeles and the freakish detective of the title who will solve it. I'm never sure about Niles' writing, but Wrightson's art is pretty much always awesome. Maybe worth a look, says I.

Hellboy The Wild Hunt #8

Mignola and Fegredo finally finish the latest Hellboy adventure, and while I don't know if I'll understand it, I do want to read it, so let's have a collection soon, please.

Muppet Show Treasure of Peg Leg Wilson #4

Roger Langridge finishes the latest Muppets miniseries, and I bet it's hilarious and fun and all the usual adjectives people ascribe to it. I still need to finish reading the last miniseries, and then I'll get to this one, and laugh and laugh and marvel at how good it is.

Pope Hats #1

I guess this comic by Ethan Rilly is finally coming out, at least in the direct market, but I read and reviewed it back in June. It's pretty good, one of those quirky comics about single twentysomethings, with some nice cartooning and funny dialogue. I hope the second issue shows up before too long. Read it, if you can tear yourself away from Green Lantern and his worshipful buddies.

Punishermax #1

It's the umpteenth relaunch of the Punisher, or one of his series, with a terrible title and an attempt at replicating Garth Ennis' style, sort of. Jason Aaron writes, and he's introducing mainstream Marvel characters like the Kingpin and Bullseye, but retaining the "adult" feel of the MAX version of the book, with lots of swearing and gory violence, all rendered in gross detail by Steve Dillon, whose art is probably the element most reminiscent of Ennis (even if he hasn't worked on the MAX version of the character before). The first issue isn't bad, although it focuses almost entirely on the bad guys rather than the title character. As can be said of most comics these days, we'll see how it goes.

Richard Moore The Pound

I'm always leery of releases from Antarctic Press, since they all seem like bad manga wannabes, but Richard Moore (of The Boneyard) is a pretty good cartoonist, so this might be one to check out. It's about genetically engineered chimera spaaace! Neat? Maybe? Or maybe it's just furry porn...

Sky Doll Factory #1

Didn't Marvel already do one of these "behind the scenes" things? Or did I imagine that. Anyway, rather than being the next issue of the series (which isn't even out in Europe yet, as far as I know), this is one of those "artbooks", with lots of design material and background information. I don't know if the series was popular enough to merit something like this, but if you dug the pervy adventures of a space robo-prostitute (I actually did like the first issue), go for it.

Strange #1

Marvel's latest revival of Dr. Strange, although since they've turned him into a depowered loser, it's not really the same; shouldn't he be the awesome multi-dimensional, all-powerful magical hero? Actually, this one isn't bad; the issue sees him play baseball against a team of demons in order to save some souls and whatnot. Enjoyably witty writing by Mark Waid, nice slightly manga-ish art by Emma Rios (kinda like Amy Reeder Hadley's work on Madame Xanadu), a pretty good time to be had. Could be worse.

Supergod #1

It's the latest reimagined superhero thing from Warren Ellis at Avatar, sort of a superhero-as-religion taken to the extreme, with spandex dudes worshiped as deities and taking apocalyptic revenge against humanity, or something. I bet it's entertaining; maybe I'll read it when it's collected. Art is by Garrie Gastony, whom I've never heard of, but probably fits Avatar's house style, if I were to guess. Let's hope this is good; it seems like it's been a while since Ellis did something that blew me away.


Another interesting Marvel book, this one follows the adventures of the Joss Whedon-created organization that defends Earth from extra-terrestrial threats. You've got Agent Brand, the X-Men's Beast, Lockheed, and others dealing with wacky aliens and Earthbound bureaucracy; it's pretty enjoyable, judging by this first issue. Kieron Gillen writes, with some cute, cartoony art by Steven Sanders (along with a backup story about the fate if Kitty Pryde drawn by Jamie McKelvie), and it looks to be a fast-paced, character-driven take on the wild, intergalactic corner of the Marvel universe. Give it a look, if that sounds like your bag.

Tracker #1

Top Cow is another publisher that I almost automatically avoid, but this series about a werewolf FBI agent doesn't look bad. Maybe they're getting away from the "scantily-clad girls plus demons and tentacles" genre. Anyway, Jonathan Lincoln writes, Francis Tsai draws, Darick Robertson provides a variant cover, and I will probably forget about the book's existence by tomorrow.

Wall-E #0

Here's Boom!'s latest Pixar comic, although it's one that doesn't seem to lend itself to a spin-off very well, if you ask me. We got all the information we needed in the movie, didn't we? This is apparently a prequel, seeing the cute li'l robot's beginnings as a junk compactor/collector on the dead Earth. So, basically an expanded version of the first 10 minutes of the film. Possibly enjoyable, but pretty much the definition of inessential.

We Kill Monsters #5

I mentioned Brian Churilla above, and here's the other comic he works on, about which I've heard good things. I think it's a miniseries that ends with the next issue, so maybe I'll have to watch for a collected version.

Absolute Justice HC

Another week, another gigantic, expensive version of a comic that doesn't merit the presentation. I can still hate on Alex Ross, right? Isn't that still fashionable? I've actually never read this series, and it did look kind of entertaining, in a bombastic, overserious, shiny way, but as I always say, there's no way it's worth $100. No way. So since everybody listens to my advice nobody will buy it and DC can stop doing these things. Problem solved.

A Christmas Carol HC By IDW

And so begins the onslaught of Christmas books (see plenty more below). I can't find much information about this, but it appears to be a comics adaptation of the classic Charles Dickens story, although it's not "by" IDW, they're just publishing it. It's written by Patrice Buendia with art by Jean-Marc Stainer, and it's a 64-page hardcover for $15. Not the best deal, methinks, even for a version of that story. It's probably preferable to the Jim Carrey abomination though.

Beast GN

I thought this had already come out, but maybe not. It's a new graphic novel from Marian Churchland, who is probably best known for illustrating some issues of Elephantmen (she's also Brandon Graham's girlfriend, for those who care), and it's a sort of retelling of "Beauty and the Beast", with a girl who is a sculptor completing a work for a strange, shadowy monster type of fellow. I've read about half of it in PDF form, and I should really finish it, because it's quite good. Hopefully I'll have a review up at Comics Bulletin before too long. Check it out, if you get the chance. Here's a preview.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep HC Vol 1

It's the first collection of Boom!'s adaptation of Philip K. Dick's novel, with four more to follow, I believe. There's no credited writer (other than Dick), since the full text of the book is being used (which explains the length), but the art is by Tony Parker, and based on the one issue I read, it's decent enough, but nothing revolutionary. I would recommend the novel if you haven't read it before, but it's not a bastardization or anything, so unless you don't want to have it visualized for you (and it's too late for that anyway, what with Blade Runner and all), you might want to give it a look. Maybe. Or don't, I'm not the boss of you.

Escapists TPB

Dark Horse has this new version/printing of the Bryan K. Vaughan/Philip Bond/Steve Rolston/Jason Shawn Alexander/Eduardo Barreto miniseries that spun off from Michael Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Klay. It's not bad, although it's not my favorite of Vaughan's works. Give it a read if you missed it, uh huh.

The Fir-Tree GN

More Christmasy stuff, one of a trio of related books from Harper Collins; this is apparently an adaptation of a Hans Christian Andersen story about a tree that dreams of being a Christmas tree. Sounds rather twee, but it's illustrated by Lilli Carre, so that means it's worth a look, at least. I'll try to wait until after Thanksgiving though. Here's a preview.

Gift Of the Magi GN

Harper Collins Christmas book number two: adapting the O. Henry story with art by Joel Priddy. Again, probably worth a look. Preview.

Hot Potatoe HC

From Drawn & Quarterly, it's the new book from Marc Bell, collecting a bunch of his paintings and comics and whatnot. I don't think I've ever actually read any of his comics, but I've seen samples here and there. While it's interesting, and nicely-drawn, I don't know if I like it, since it seems like a bunch of chaotic information without much point. There's no accounting for taste though.

Incredibles Family Matters TP

Collecting the Boom! Studios miniseries that tells the continuing adventures of the superhero family from the movie. I haven't read it, but it looks pretty good. Written by Mark Waid, art by Marcio Takara. It has since been turned into an ongoing series, so good times for all.

Insomnia Cafe HC

So far, M.K. Perker has been the artist for comics written by G. Willow Wilson (Cairo, Air), but he's striking out on his own with this graphic novel from Dark Horse about a rare books expert who discovers an archive of books that are still being written, and a dark conspiracy or something along those lines. Could be good; I'll take a look inside if I see it on shelves.

James Bond Omnibus

This collects a large portion of the newspaper comic strip version of Ian Fleming's superspy, apparently including eleven adventures. It might be worth looking at, but what with 007's adventures being readily available and popular in other media, this might just be a curio for those who used to read the strip or Bond fanatics. Or, you know, people who are excited about this Golden Age of Reprints that we're in.

A Kidnapped Santa Claus GN

Harper Collins Christmas book number three, adapting L. Frank Baum's story. Art by Alex Robinson, which probably makes it a really fun read. Again, here's a preview.

Luna Park HC

The latest entry in the Vertigo Crime line of graphic novels, this one is written by novelist Kevin Baker, with art by Danijel Zezelj that's apparently colored by Dave Stewart (I thought these were all black and white, but who knows). It takes place in early 20th century New York, following a Russian mob enforcer and his prostitute/fortune-teller girlfriend as they try to cheat their employers out of a big haul, or something like that. I don't know about Baker, but Zezelj is a pretty great artist, so I'd love to give this a read sometime, even though I still have yet to read any of these books. Someday, I suppose.

Nylon Road A Graphic Memoir GN

I recently read this book by Iranian ex-pat Parsua Bashi; it's a sort of Persepolis-esque memoir about growing up in Iran, and it's pretty good, if a bit scattered. I'll have a full review up at Comics Bulletin sometime soon, I hope (that is, I've already written it and am just waiting for them to post it. Expect linkage).

Peanuts 60th Anniversary Book

The Schulz love never stops. This "tribute" book will probably contain artwork and reminiscences from various people, and all that jazz. Maybe even actual Peanuts strips; who knows? I'd rather read the actual strip, but this is probably a nice coffee table book, so I can't complain. Why would I? Oh yeah, because I do about everything else.

Pim & Francie In The Golden Bear Days HC

Al Columbia! I don't think I've ever read any of his comics, outside of samples here and there, but I like what I've seen, so here's a chance to get caught up. Lots of freaky-ass disturbing horror and the like, sure to cause nightmares for a long time after reading. Sounds like fun. Here's the usual Fantagraphics slideshow/preview.

Strange Suspense Steve Ditko Arcives HC vol 1

Fanta also has this collection of early Ditko crime and horror comics from 1953-54, before the Comics Code had been established. I bet there's some great stuff in here. You can have a glimpse through another one of those slideshow/previews.

Superman Red Son Deluxe Edition HC

Here's what's often thought to be one of Mark Millar's better works, an Elseworlds story in which Superman landed in Russia and became a Communist enforcer rather than a fighter for truth, justice, and the American Way. It's not bad at all, if you're interested in alternate takes on Superman and that sort of thing. Art's by Dave Johnson and Kieron Dwyer Killian Plunkett, ending by Grant Morrison (as the story goes). $25 is a bit expensive, but that's the way things are these days.

Through The Wire The Words And Lyrics Of Kanye West HC

Looks like the genre of "comics inspired by popular musicians" is going strong, although this is more illustrated text than comics, printing the lyrics of twelve of Kanye's songs with illustrations by famed animator Bill Plympton. Interesting, to say the least. Here's a blog post with one of the illustrations.

Usagi Yojimbo HC Yokai

This is probably already out, but I failed to mention it, so allow me to remedy that. Stan Sakai's first graphic novel in his long-running "rabbit samurai" series, a full-color hardcover from Dark Horse about Usagi running into some ghosts and such. Probably very pretty. Here's a preview.

Wolverine Weapon X Adamantium Men Prem HC Vol 01

If you have to have Wolverine in your comics, this series written by Jason Aaron is probably your best bet, since (so far) it's mostly free of whatever entanglements the larger Marvel universe brings. This first arc saw him fight a bunch of soldiers that had been given healing factors and laser claws and cancer-causing guns. It was pretty fun, if a bit over-serious at some points (Tucker Stone's takedown of the issue in which Wolvie discussed literature with a guy he was trying to kill is pretty funny), with some nice art by Ron Garney. You could certainly do worse when it comes to Marvel superhero comics.

X-Men Wolverine Gambit Prem HC

Like this, for instance. Actually, I've never read it, but it's from the 90s, and it's notable for being an early work from the team of Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale. So it probably looks nice but reads terribly. So, why not package it in an expensive hardcover? Comics fans: willing to shell out lots of money for pure crap every time.

Year Of Loving Dangerously HC

If you think Ted Rall is worth reading but hate the way he draws, here's the book for you, since it's illustrated by Pablo Callejo. Me, I think he's kind of an asshole, so an autobiographical comic about Rall fucking a lot of women and being a general dick doesn't seem like my idea of a good time. He's probably going for the style of one of those addiction memoirs like A Million Little Pieces or Permanent Midnight or The Alcoholic, and who knows, maybe he succeeds, but I don't especially want to read it. But maybe you might, who am I to judge?

Cat Paradise Vol 2 GN

Manga! About cats! Fighting demons! I didn't read volume 1, but maybe I will sometime. And here's volume 2, so I can be behind! Yay!

Ikigami The Ultimate Limit Vol 3 TP

The series about government killing people to motivate them continues. I read and liked the first two, and I've got the third sitting there waiting for me to unwrap the shrink wrap; I imagine it will continue to be pretty good. We'll see, whenever I get around to it.

Inu Yasha VIZBIG Edition Vol 1 TP

I've never read any of this manga, but I have seen an episode of the anime here and there, and it never really did anything for me. But hey, it's Rumiko Takahashi, so it can't be that bad. Like the other books in the VIZBIG line, it's the first three volumes of the series in one, with a larger trim size and color pages and whatnot. I'm not sure if it's still flipped, like I've heard the original localized printing of the series was, or if they've switched to original right-to-left format. If I do get around to reading the series, this is probably the way I'd want to do it.

Jormungand Vol 1 TP

Another release that Viz is trumpeting, this looks to be in the seinen genre, about a team of assassins or mercenaries or something. Hey, I can't complain about cool, violent action comics. I'll read it if I get the chance.

Swans In Space Vol 1 GN

Finally, here's something from the opposite end of the spectrum, a cute kiddie manga published by Udon about girls going to space in a swan-shaped ship to right wrongs and help people out. Sounds super-cute; maybe I'll get it to read to my daughter.

And I think that is everything of note, and probably then some. Blogging shall commence soon enough, I expect. Be there!