Monday, December 7, 2009

This week, the manga will crush us all

Obnoxious satisfaction dept.: I was hoping if I whined enough, people would finally respond to my call for contest entries, so I was excited to get the following image from Mr. Tim Callahan:


Hell yeah! Steve McQueen! It was all worth it just for that.

Links: The latest Myspace Dark Horse Presents is up, and the highlight this month is "Duke Armstrong, the World's Mightiest Golfer", by Jim Rugg and Brian Maruca. It's awesome. There's also a cute two-pager by Damon Gentry and Aaron Conley (of Invade My Privacy), and a well-illustrated, if fairly dumb, horror thing by Cody Goodfellow and Jeff Wamester. Check them out, says I.

Kurutta, a blog which often highlights strange Japanese ephemera, posted two really cool Taiyo Matsumoto short comics (in color!) last week, "Off TV" and "Moment". They're pretty great; now I really can't wait to read GoGo Monster.

New comics this week (Wednesday, 12/9/09):

Amber Hagerman Deserves Justice A Night Owl Story One Shot

What better way to kick off the usually snide and jokey weekly round-up than with a self-published comic written by a 14-year-old about the murder of the 9-year-old girl who inspired the AMBER Alert system? You can't criticize something like that! This sort of thing is not usually an indicator of high quality, but you never know, and at the very least, it means well. You can learn more about it here.

Anchor #3

Okay, this is more like it. Badass monster-punching, demon-scheming, and amnesia-fighting, with some nice art and plenty of weird and interesting shit. I've been digging this thing, so give it a look if you haven't already.

Anywhere #1

And now comes the snark. This one is an ostensible comedy, even written by a Comedy Central producer (which could mean anything from The Daily Show to Li'l Bush), about two slacker guys who have the power to go anywhere they want, but "are more interested in unlocking the nude code in Tomb Raider than saving the day". Ooh, topical! What other references straight out of 1997 will be included? Maybe they'll kidnap Leonardo Dicaprio from the premiere of Titanic! Or dance to the song "Barbie Girl"! Yeah, this is most likely pretty awful; if you want to know more, here's an interview with some art samples.

Citizen Rex #6

Gilbert (and Mario) Hernandez's latest series finishes, just in time for me not to read it before compiling a "best of 2009" list. I'm looking forward to getting the collection though, so hopefully it won't take too long to come out.

Days Missing #5

I've found this series about some powerful alien dude with the ability to alter time and space sporadically interesting, but ultimately not all that good. However, this issue, which I believe is the final one of the miniseries, sees the return of the first issue's creative team, Phil Hester and Frazier Irving, and it seems like they might end up revealing some secrets or something, so maybe it will wrap things up satisfyingly? Considering the nature of the comic, it probably won't be either creator's best work, but it might be worth a read. Yes, I'm as backhanded as ever with my recommendations.

Daytripper #1

Ooh, here's a really good-looking release. This new Vertigo series (or miniseries, rather, scheduled for ten issues) by Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba looks gorgeous and fascinating. I love pretty much everything those guys have done, and they just keep getting better. This appears to be about a writer living in their home city of São Paulo, Brazil, although there are probably going to be magical-realist touches and whatnot; I'm trying not to learn too much about it before reading. I'm sort of planning to wait for the collection, but I might not be able to; I expect I'll at least pick up the first issue. Anyway, here's a preview.

DCU Holiday Special 2009 #1

I really don't plan to buy or read this, since these things are generally pretty awful with maybe one or two decent stories among several, but this one is at least worth mentioning because Jeff Lemire has a story in it. I doubt his style will go over very well with regular superhero fans, but you never know, maybe it will spark a revolution in mainstream artistic technique, and soon he'll be illustrating Wonder Woman or something. We can all hope.

Deathlok #2

Some people seemed to like the first issue of this weird-ass series, but I found it just bizarre and mostly incomprehensible. I guess the idea of corporations in the future fighting wars that are televised and treated like sports is kind of funny and satirical, but I found it just sort of ugly and gross. Maybe I'll like the second issue better? I'd recommend un-bleeping the naughty words though; we all know what they're saying.

DMZ #48

Your Brian Wood for the week, with more from the New York war zone. Now this is satire I can get behind, if you can call it that. I'm waiting for the next collection, as always.

God Complex #1

Here's the latest series from Michael Avon Oeming, co-written by Daniel Berman and illustrated by John Broglia, about Apollo wanting to be a human and having to fight the other gods to do so. This seems to be a popular sort of comics plot lately, doesn't it; maybe mythology is in right now for some reason. Anyway, here's an interview/preview, if you want to see what it looks like (which is Broglia imitating Oeming, apparently).

Groo Hogs of Horder #2

Groo! I always get excited about him. It's the second part of the latest miniseries, as our mendicant "hero" continues to deal with analogues for the financial crisis. Don't tell me nobody's going to be able to afford cheese dip anymore!

Incarnate #3

It's the final issue (for now?) of Nick Simmons' manga-ish vampire/monster/whatever series. This thing took a surprising turn in the second installment, morphing into a sort of school comedy or something, although it did contain plenty of action and violence. What a weird comic. I'll try to do a sort of wrap-up of the series if I end up getting a review copy.

Invincible Iron Man #21

Tony Stark continues to have coma-tastic adventures, which always makes for excitement. Actually, I don't know what's going on in this issue, but Matt Fraction has definitely brought the series in an interesting direction. Hopefully it will be good; he's managed to build up some good will after the last arc.

Muppet Show Vol 2 #0

Roger Langridge's Muppet comic is dispatching with the "series of miniseries" format and becoming a monthly ongoing, starting with this issue, which, in a surprising and hopefully temporary turn, is only written by Langridge, and illustrated by Shelli Paroline. I'm sure it will still be funny, but hopefully Langridge will be back on art duties soon. The story involves the making of a "Pigs in Space" movie. Fun?

Punishermax #2

Jason Aaron and Steve Dillon keep their awkwardly-titled run going, doing more stuff with the MAX versions of Kingpin and Bullseye, one expects. Probably enjoyable, and as good as we're likely to get without Garth Ennis.

Spider-Man and the Secret Wars #1

I have no idea what's going on with Spider-Man lately, but Marvel seems to be intent on retelling various stories from his past for some reason, possibly for the purpose of ironing out continuity issues caused by deals with the devil. Only in comics do we get stuff like this, where somebody has to write a story for the sole purpose of explaining what happened in a past story after later writers changed that story in order to make their later story make sense. Why should anybody care about this? It's completely ridiculous. It's written by Paul Tobin, who might be able to make it interesting and make some sort of sense, but really, he should be ashamed that he even has to bother, as should anybody who reads the damn thing. There's plenty of fiction and entertainment out there that isn't just different versions of things you've already read. Expand your horizons, people!

SWORD #2

I enjoyed the first issue of this series about the guys who defend the Earth against aliens, so hopefully this one will also be good. Find out more tomorrow, when I write about it for Comics Bulletin. Don't let me down, Kieron Gillen!

Wolverine Under the Boardwalk

I guess Wolverine isn't content to do his normal thing (at which he is the best, although said thing is purported to not be pleasant), so now he's crooning old pop songs about making love while people are walking above. Stuart Moore and Tomm Coker tell us all about it; way to bring the romance back into Marvel comics, guys!

3-2-3 Detective Agency in The Disappearance of Dave Warthog TP

Well, this certainly seems like a cute bit of kids' comics, about a bunch of animals who all meet on a train and form a team of detectives. That'll cleanse your palate after the inevitable blood and violence of Wolverine massacreing a bunch of Atlantic City vacationers. You can see some samples of the art here, along with a description of the cover design process. Cute?

Batman The Cult TPB New Printing

I've never read this Jim Starlin/Berni Wrightson story, but from what I've heard, it's pretty damn crazy, about Batman fighting a crazy religious leader who organized an army of Gotham City's homeless. I'll have to check it out if I get the chance.

Boys Definitive ED HC VOL 2 W/Slipcover

For those who have lots of money, here's the second half of the fancy presentation of most of the series to date, taking you up to issue #30 with extras and whatnot. If you can afford it, I won't try to dissuade you, but think of all the other good Garth Ennis comics that could be bought with that money. Also, the children, why doesn't anyone ever think of them?

Crossing the Empty Quarter & Other Stories HC

Dark Horse is publishing this collection of various short comics stories by Carol Swain, including two brand-new ones. I don't know that I've ever read anything of hers, but this looks quite nice; it might be one to check out. You can see a short preview here, and a longer one in "flip book" format here.

Dark Reign Underside TPB

I really dug the Joe Casey/Nathan Fox Dark Reign: Zodiac miniseries that came out earlier this year; it actually did something interesting with the concept, and was full of crazy energy, shocking violence, and awesome art. If you missed out on the single issues, here's the collected format, but unfortunately you have to pay for Dark Reign: Mr. Negative and Dark Reign: Lethal Legion as well. Those might not be bad (I didn't read them), but considering the general level of quality at Marvel these days, I wouldn't expect too much. Still, that Casey/Fox joint was pretty fucking awesome, so maybe it'll lift the others up to the level of "tolerable" simply through proximity.

Ex Machina Vol 8 Dirty Tricks TPB

My must-buy trade collection of the week, containing the most recent storyline and a Halloween special. I think this is the one where Brian K. Vaughan and Tony Harris make an in-story appearance as comics biographers of Mitchell Hundred? That's cool. This series has kind of lost its luster for me now that I'm not reading it each month (or whenever it comes out), but I'm still looking forward to catching up, and I hope it all ends well. Don't let me down, BKV!

Kindling James Jean Poster Book

Twelve 12" x 16" posters for 30 bucks, so if you want to festoon your walls with some gorgeous work, here you go. See samples here. I sure do like me some James Jean.

Love Buzz GN

A new graphic novel from Oni Press, written by Len Wallace and illustrated by Michelle Silva and Dave Tuney. It's apparently about a couple's relationship struggles, which get turned into fodder for the comics that one of them makes. When it comes to romance-type stories, I do prefer ones that are about a couple learning to live with each other rather than a will-they-or-won't-they retread about falling in love. This one might be worth a look. You can read a 22-page preview here.

MMW Golden Age Sub-Mariner HC Vol 3

Another volume of pricey reprints of old comics. Probably some good stuff here by Bill Everett, and some backup stories by Basil Wolverton. Too expensive for me though. Library?

Portable Grindhouse Lost Art Of VHS Box Vol 1 TP

Fantagraphics' latest non-comics book, collecting a whole bunch of covers for exploitation movies from the 70s and 80s. Sounds cool, if you like that sort of thing. Here's their usual slideshow/preview.

Return Of King Doug HC

Another Oni Press graphic novel, this one appears to be about a kid who got transported to your standard fantasy kingdom and tasked with saving it from evil or something, but instead of rising to the occasion, he fled. 25 years later, as an adult, he has to finish the job; maybe it's all a metaphor for facing your fears or something? The book was optioned for a movie adaptation by Ben Stiller, which, depending on your tolerance of him, might or might not be a sign of quality. It might be all right; Katherine Dacey has a review here.

Runaways Good Die Young TPB

This is Marvel's latest reprint of the third collection of the first volume of the series, which finished up the initial "kids vs. parents" storyline in an exciting manner. It was pretty damn good stuff, from what I recall. If you haven't read it before in some form or other, this is as good as any.

Sky Doll TP Vol 01

And here's another collection from Marvel, showing how weirdly-priced their translations of the French Soleil books are. The three individual issues of this series were six dollars each, and this softcover collection of said issues is 20 bucks. That's just a bad deal in every format. I did like the first issue when I read it, but I just can't justify spending that much, even though I'm certainly interested in the book. Maybe I can get it at the library; I'm sure they jumped at the chance to have this sort of cartoony sexiness on their shelves.

Tale Of Despereaux Movie The Graphic Novel HC

It's a sign of the times: comics are popular these days, so animated kids' movies get graphic novel adaptations. Is it any good? I dunno, was the movie any good? It looked kind of cute, so the book probably is too? Backhanded recommendations? Yes!

Vietnam Journal Vol 1 Indian Country TPB

This was apparently an acclaimed series from the late 80s about, well, what the title says, the creator's experiences in the Vietnam War. Now it's getting a collected version, so the rest of us can find out if it deserves the praise. You can read the first issue for free here.

Azumanga Daioh Collected Edition TP

There's quite an onslaught of manga coming this week, especially from Yen Press and Viz. The former has another version of this four-panel series from Hideo Azuma, creator of Yotsuba&!, which is supposed to be good, or so I hear. I've never read it, but it seems to get a new edition every year or so. Maybe I'll get to it one of these days.

Cirque Du Freak Vol 3 Tunnels Of Blood GN

Yen also has this volume of the multimedia series about a vampire circus or something. I've been curious about it, but still haven't read it, or watched the movie. Isn't John C. Reilly in that one as a vampire? Crazy.

Detroit Metal City Vol 3 TP

Oh man, I'm behind on this series already; I still haven't read volume 2. I thought the first one was pretty hilarious, so I imagine this one continues the trend. Rape me with your music, Lord Krauser!

Dogs Bullets & Carnage Vol 2 GN

I also liked the first (zeroth?) volume of this series, and thus am behind on it as well. I'm not as frantic to catch up on it, but maybe someday. Guns and genetic mutations: that's fun, right?

GoGo Monster HC

Taiyo Matsumoto! I'm very excited to read this new (to Westerners) book of his, about a kid who imagines himself into some sort of magical fantasy world. That might sound like a tired concept, but Matsumoto should be able to make it sing. The book is kind of expensive at $28, but it's a hardcover with a slipcase, so it's sort of worth it, probably. I hope.

Naoki Urasawa's 20th Century Boys Vol 6 TP

And here's another one I'm behind on. I'm all caught up with Pluto though, so that's something. This series is pretty epic though; it should be awesome to see what Urasawa does over the course of twenty-some volumes. I'll be there to the end, man.

Ooku The Inner Chambers Vol 2 GN

More old-Japanese gender-swapped political intrigue. I haven't read the first volume, but it's one I'd like to get to at some point. Oh, someday, always someday with these books...

Pandora Hearts Vol 1 GN

This seems to be another example of the Japanese interest in Alice in Wonderland, and also maybe The Wizard of Oz. You've got a kid named Oz, who gets saved from assassination by a black rabbit named Alice. I can't tell if it's a magical sort of fantasy thing, or a modern espionage thriller. Or if I should care, but I'm at least intrigued by the description. It's a maybe.

Raiders Vol 1 GN

This one (which, judging by the name of the creator, appears to be manhwa rather than manga) looks like it's going for an Indiana Jones vibe, with a teenage girl archaeologist gaining immortality by finding the Holy Grail and drinking the blood of Christ. And then she fights monsters or something. Fun?

Sarasah Vol 1 GN
Sarasah Vol 2 GN

Another manhwa, this time featuring a goofy time travel premise, something having to do with a girl being sent to the past to try to make sure she falls in love with the boy she likes, or something like that. Sounds like a goofy shojo soap opera twist on Back to the Future or something. Huh.

Time And Again Vol 1 GN

Horror manhwa, with a collection of ghost stories following the adventures of an exorcist. Could be decent.

Yotsuba Vol 7 GN

And for your final Yen offering, it's the latest volume in everybody's favorite comic about a cute little girl and all the wacky stuff that happens around her. I should try to catch up on this series at some point; as everybody on earth seems to attest, it's charming as hell. I think this one catches us up to the Japanese releases, so it might be a while before the next volume shows. Fans have been shown to be patient though, what with the drought between volumes; they'll be waiting for the next time a little green-haired girl comes knocking at their door.
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Whew, that's a lot of stuff. Comics, always comics, they never stop coming. I'm working on getting caught up on reading 2009 releases, so hopefully I'll keep writing about them. Watch this space.