Monday, September 24, 2007

I might save some money this week and I might not; I really should come up with wittier post titles

Whatever the case, here's what I think about this week's comics:

Wait! First, I should point out my review of The Programme #3 over at SBC. Okay, carry on:

New comics this week (Wednesday, 9/26/07):

Immortal Iron Fist #9
Immortal Iron Fist Annual #1

I probably shouldn't bother mentioning this book anymore, since I'm waiting for the trade, but I wanted to note that I hope the annual gets collected along with regular installments of the series. Don't screw me, Marvel!

Criminal #9

A "Marvel" book I'm actually buying on a monthly basis. It's good stuff. Please, Sean Phillips, give up the zombie nonsense and stick to this!

Franklin Richards Monster Mash

I've bought several of these specials, and they're always fun, but I don't know if they're really worth three dollars a pop. Maybe I should switch to getting those collected digest versions.

Batman #669

My last issue of Batman for the foreseeable future, but I expect I'll go out on a good note. J.H. Williams III finishes his three-issue run, so it should be pretty and awesome and pretty awesome. My guess at the murderer's identity: Squire! Hah, nobody will expect that one!

The Spirit #10

Continued from the last issue, in a deviance from the series norm. Our hero fights the bad guy, Mortez, who ties into his origin. Darwyn Cooke is cool, and this is one of his last issues on the series. Only two more to go, I think.

Superman Confidential #6

Both my local store and Midtown Comics say that this is the final issue of the Darwyn Cooke/Tim Sale "origin of Kryptonite" story, but last I heard, that got delayed and this actually starts the next storyline. If so, I won't be getting it, but if I'm incorrect, it will be a nice surprise. I've enjoyed the story, even if it hasn't exactly been a masterpiece. I hope they'll be able to wrap it up satisfactorily. If nothing else, it's been yet another lesson on waiting for the trade.

Killing Girl #2

I really dug the first issue of this book, so hopefully this one will keep up the quality (on the art front, at least; hell, maybe the story will even bootstrap itself up to a new level). There's going to be an artist switch partway through the series, so if it doesn't appeal to me, I'll drop it. But I'll always have that awesome first issue...

Left On Mission #4

This isn't on my shop's list, but hopefully I'll get it anyway. It's been a very enjoyable spy series, so I've been looking forward to reading the rest of it. Oh well, I'll get it sometime, I'm sure.

Iron Man Hypervelocity TPB

I highly recommend this Adam Warren-penned miniseries. It's full of awesome techno-sci-fi ideas and crazy action, with Warren's signature cheeky mile-a-minute dialogue and weird sexual fixations. Not the usual sort of thing you see from Marvel, which makes it all the better. Check it out if you missed it the first time.

Empowered vol. 2 TPB

Hey, even more Adam Warren! Is this actually coming out this week? I hope so. I already received a review PDF of the book, but I haven't been able to bring myself to do more than scan through some of it; I would rather read a physical copy. I really liked the first volume, so I hope this one has more of the same. In fact, it should probably be better, since it won't have the early "learning curve" of that volume. If Warren can keep up the crazy, sexy comedy and wacky concepts while continuing the character development, I'll be happy.

Presents vol. 1
Variante vol. 1

I'm interested in both of these DC/CMX manga, which are about a creepy little girl who gives evil gifts and a girl with an evil arm grafted onto her body, respectively, but who knows if I'll ever find them anywhere. Eh, I'll wait and see if there are any positive reviews anyway.

Killer vol. 1 HC

I think Greg Burgas at Comics Should Be Good gave this a recommendation, so I might check it out at some point, if I ever see it. It's a European comic about, well, a killer. Surprise, surprise.

Loki TPB

This is the miniseries from a few years ago in which Loki defeated Thor and became ruler of Asgard, or something like that. It certainly looked nice, but I never really heard anything especially good about it. I dunno, I might take a look, but I doubt I'll buy it.

Punisher Presents Barracuda TPB

I enjoyed this miniseries, although I probably should have waited for the trade/caught up on the regular series first. It works pretty good on its own, with the titular character (Barracuda, not the Punisher) wreaking havoc in a small South American nation, but it would probably be better if you've been reading the main Punisher MAX series (which also sees the release of an annual this week).

Madman Vol 1 TP Image Edition

Hey, you can finally start to get caught up on the series (of series) without having to spring for the giant Gargantua edition! Check it out, if you want some fun Mike Allred comics (and if you don't, I probably can't help you).

Alan Moores Yuggoth Cultures TP

Weird Alan Moore stuff from Avatar. Did he actually write these, or were they just based on his short stories or something? I think I have an issue or two that I got in a discount bin; it had a lot of demon-fucking and stuff like that. I love Alan Moore, but I don't know if I would bother getting this.

I Killed Adolf Hitler TP

Another one that's not on my shop's list, but I think I preordered it, so maybe it will show up. I've been catching up on Jason's comics, and this one looks pretty good. Time travel and Hitler assassination are usually pretty fun.

Ronald Reagan A Graphic Biography HC

And then there's this. I'm not sure what to say about it, other than that I probably won't read it. But it amuses me, for some reason.

Best American Comics 2007 HC

While I probably won't buy this, I would like to see what is included. I liked the 2006 edition, for the most part, so this will certainly be worth a look. I hope my library gets a copy.

And I think that may actually be everything. Like I said, it could be light, with only a few pamphlets, but if all the various trades or whatever show up, it could be more expensive. We'll see. Anyway, I should have more reviews in the next few days, so watch for those.


  1. "Weird Alan Moore stuff from Avatar. Did he actually write these, or were they just based on his short stories or something?"

    They are based on text pieces he wrote. The text all comes from him -- it matches the prose material pretty much word for word.

    But he had no hand in conceiving the visuals.

    I love the stuff 'cause I'm a Moore completist, but I wouldn't recommend it to anyone BUT Moore completists, I don't think ... ("The Courtyard" on the other hand is really kick-ass comics adaptation from Avatar of a Moore prose story -- I'd recommend that to anyone.)

  2. Ah, okay. I'm sure I could have found that info somewhere if I had bothered looking. I'll have to check out The Courtyard sometime; this isn't the first recommendation I've heard.

    Oh, and what about Alan Moore's Hypothetical Lizard? Is that the same thing, adaptations of text pieces?

  3. Are you sure Iron Man: Hypervelocity is good? Do you swear to God it's good? I'm agonizing over that thing. I really like Warren, but I like it when he writes and draws so much better than when he just writes, and I'm not so fond of Iron Man.

    I'll second the Killer reccomendation. I read the first two singles of it, and they were pretty good, so unless the rest were godawful, it should be a decent trade.

  4. Damn, Caleb, that's putting me on the spot. ;-) I'll say that I really, really liked Hypervelocity, from a writing standpoint at least. It probably would have been better if they had got an artist closer to Adam Warren's style, but Brian Denham still works pretty well, especially after the first couple issues, during which Warren didn't know who would be doing the art. But Warren did the layouts, and his influence is really obvious. Whatever the case, it's a really fun, crazy series, with all sorts of high-tech blather and fun action that really doesn't have anything to do with the current status of Iron Man. Maybe I'm just predisposed to like his writing style, but I thought it was great.

  5. "Oh, and what about Alan Moore's Hypothetical Lizard? Is that the same thing, adaptations of text pieces?"

    "Hypothetical Lizard" in its original form is a full-length short story by Alan Moore. So yeah, pretty much the same thing as "The Courtyard." Here's more than you ever needed to know about the whole ball o' wax ...

    "The Courtyard" (the original prose version) first appeared in an HP Lovecraft tribute book. The story takes place in the near future (or it was the near future, at the time; might be the past now, like 2004 or something). It's sort of set in a world where all of H.P. Lovecraft's stories really occurred. There are a few esoteric references because of that (I've never ready any Lovecraft, so they were all lost on me), but there's also a very clear narrative of its own, and the story has some great twists (in my opinion), in spite of being generally pretty simple (the prose version was only ten pages long, I think).

    The comic "Courtyard" was scripted by Anthony Johnston, and even though Moore is my personal god, I actually like the comic book version better. Johnston came up with some really clever ways to give the story some added visual depth. I don't remember the name of the artist, but he has some great moments as well. The comic really opens the story up into a different dimension through the use of the comic medium, which is what every adaptation of this sort ought to do. It's hard to say more without giving away plot twists -- but yeah, I thought the "The Courtyard" was really impressive. I think you'd like it.

    "Hypothetical Lizard", the prose story, is quite a bit longer and more involved, and set in a shared fantasy universe begun in the '80s, called "Liavek" ( The imagery is a lot denser and the story is a bit more ... oblique, I guess? ... than the story of "The Courtyard." As I recall, a lot of Moore's words survive into the comic book adaptation (which is by Johnston also). There are some cool visual realizations of some of Moore's interesting imagery (example: a woman named "Book," whose entire body is tattooed with tiny words that tell a complete story). But the comic switched illustrators halfway through, which is a little jarring, and the illustrator of the second half of the comic seems less adept at bringing to life the story's strangeness. Plus, the plot is, I think, too esoteric to really pack the same punch that "The Courtyard" does.

    I like both comics quite a bit, but while "The Courtyard" was really memorable (and exciting enough that just writing about it now makes me want to sit down and read it), "Hypothetical Lizard" strikes me more as just a fascinating curiosity rather than a really kick-ass graphic novel.

    Then after that you get stuff like "Magic Words," "Yuggoth Cultures" and "Another Suburban Romance," which are just various Moore miscellanea (old song lyrics, half-finished stories) given illustrations. I kind of like all this stuff just because Moore is such a comic-book kind of guy that even his prose work seems somehow cooler in comic book form. But the cream of the Moore/Avatar crop is surely "The Courtyard."

  6. Cool, thanks for the info, Jason! Looks like I'll definitely have to check out The Courtyard when I get the chance. The others seem like they might be interesting to read, but probably not something I would want to expend to much energy (or money) on finding. Ooh, and how about "A Small Killing"? Is that any good?

  7. Also, keep in mind that about 100 or so pages of the Alan Moore's Yuggoth Cultures trade is taken up by Avatar's Yuggoth Creatures miniseries, which has absolutely nothing to do with Alan Moore... it's a fairly cute collection of Johnston-written vignettes that tell a Lovecraft-flavored secret history type of story, with art by pretty much everyone who was drawing for Avatar at the time, but it's not Alan Moore.

    I haven't read A Small Killing in years and years... it's kind of a suspense fable about adult compromise. At the time I thought it was pretty overwrought, but I suspect there's some crypto-autobiographical content in there that'll land much better with me today... Oscar Zarate's art is great too... he and Moore do an autobio From Hell themed short in Yuggoth Cultures too...

  8. Thanks for the info, Jog (and Jason)! I dig Alan Moore, but I'm pretty unschooled in his Avatar output. A Small Killing might be another one to check out sometime, along with the other fifty thousand comics that I would like to get to someday...

  9. Oooh, "A Small Killing"! I love it! I think it's an underrated Moore gem. And a bit of an oddity in that it's Moore really creating characters and situations from scratch, rather than playing in a shared-universe sandbox or doing a pastiche of other characters (his typical M.O.).

    Jog kind of summed it up perfectly. ("Suspense fable" -- that's good!) If there's a major flaw, it's that the "suspense" part isn't quite all that suspenseful. But the "fable" part is great. I read it as a 15-year-old back when the novel first came out from Dark Horse. Now I'm almost 30 ... I should read it again. I suspect Jog's right, and that it'll hit home even more as an adult.