Monday, December 31, 2007

This week, a new year of comics starts (on Friday again?! #@&*!)

That's right, new comics come out on Friday again, for some ridiculous reason. Eh, whatever, it's not like I'm running out of stuff to read anytime soon. Anyway, happy new annual arbitrary date, everyone! Maybe I'll have a top ten list (which will probably have much more than ten items on it) up soon. Anyway, here's the new stuff:

New comics this week (Friday, 1/4/08):

Atomic Robo #1 (2nd Print)

I need to write something about this series, because I've been loving it. If you missed it the first time around, I implore you to check this out!

Black Diamond #6

I've read one issue of this series (#5, I think, because AIT sent it to me), but it was kind of hard to follow in the middle of the story. It does seem quite interesting, so I'm looking forward to reading the whole thing when it's collected.

Doktor Sleepless #4

Warren Ellis book number one this week, with more weird sci-fi shenanigans. I'm enjoying the book, but I still hope that it gets better.

End League #1

I wouldn't normally point this one out (another superhero book, yawn), but I reviewed it the other day, so it lets me link to myself. It's not terrible, but not good enough to really hold my interest. It might get better though.

Gravel #0

Here's Warren Ellis book number two, a new ongoing series about the "combat magician" from the Strange Kiss/Strange Killings series of miniseries. I've read some, but not all, of those, and they're decent enough. I'll definitely give this one a try to see if I want to follow it. On the plus side, Mike Wolfer, whose art was the weakest part of the previous minis (in my opinion), is not doing the art; instead Crecy's Raulo Caceres is illustrating, and he's pretty good.

Lucha Libre #3

Belgian-illustrated Mexican wrestlers getting into trouble. It took me a couple issues to get into it, but I've started to dig the weird vibes of this book. Looks like I'm on board for the long haul.

Northlanders #2

Brian Wood. Vikings. I liked the first issue. Keep it up, fellas!

Ultimate Human #1

And then there's Warren Ellis book number three, in which Ultimate Iron Man fights Ultimate Hulk for the fate of Ultimate Humanity, or something. I'm kind of soured on Marvel superheroics (Ultimate or otherwise), so I don't know if I'll bother with this one, but I'll consider it; I did like the Ultimate Galactus books that Ellis did, and Cary Nord's art looks really nice. We'll see.

JLA Kid Amazo

Peter Milligan's JLA Classified story. I heard it wasn't all that great, so I probably won't be getting it. But it's worth pointing out, I guess.

Powers vol. 11

I was wrong about the previous volume that came out a month or two ago; this is the one that collects up through where I stopped getting the monthly series. So now I might finally be able to start looking forward to the next one. When I stopped buying it, I wondered if it would completely drop off my radar. That hasn't quite happened, but it's not like I'm emailing Brian Michael Bendis to hurry up and put out more issues or anything. I'll probably get it when it comes out, but I'm not getting impatient like I do with 100 Bullets or Fables.

Pride of Baghdad SC

One of the better books of 2006 comes out in an affordable format. I recommend it, although you should probably skip it if Brian K. Vaughan's writing style bothers you. Beautiful art by Niko Henrichon though.

Aria Vol 1 GN Tokyopop Edition

I keep hearing that this series is really good, so I guess this is my chance to get on board. And then get behind, like always.

Sgt Frog Vol 14 GN

What, is this series coming out annually now? I stopped reading after volume 12, and only two more volumes have shown up since then? Damn, maybe I should just start up again; it's not like it's going to break the bank or anything.


Holy crap, it's the new volume of Nana! Now this is the book of the week; I'm going to have to frantically search bookstores to find it. You can check out posts in this link if you want to learn more about my Nana obsession. Crap, this is going to keep me up nights.

Reborn Vol 6 GN

I should try this series out sometime; it sounds enjoyable ridiculous, being about the adventures of a toddler hitman. As Chris Butcher would say, Japan.

Sand Chronicles Vol 1 GN

Finally, we have another excellent manga release. If you've been reading my Shojo Beat posts (see the link in the Nana entry above), you know I've been loving this series, so I wholeheartedly recommend it for anyone looking for good shojo drama (lightened with comedy). Please, check it out.

Okay, that's it for the week. I'm off to search the Borders website and see if that volume of Nana is in stores yet. Wow, I'm such a fangirl. I don't know if I'll have any other posts tonight, what with the partying and all (if playing Rock Band with my nephews counts), but maybe I'll do something tomorrow. Happy annual drunkenness!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

MW: Stands for Major Wacko, I guess

Hey, I'm actually back with some real content! This is a book I've been trying to get to for a few days, so it's good to finally talk about it. Now I'll have to sound like I'm being coherent. But first, I've got a review of The End League #1 up as part of the Sunday Slugfest over at Silver Bullet Comics. Okay, on with the show:

By Osamu Tezuka

I'm loving the adult-oriented manga that Vertical publishes, and I'm very, very happy to get my hands on anything available by Osamu Tezuka, so reading this book was a treat. It's probably not one of Tezuka's best works, but it still has his crazy energy and batshit insane weirdness on every page. I mean, where else are you going to find a 70s-era manga about a gay Catholic priest, a serial killer, and a plot to destroy the world?

So here's the story: Father Garai was once a young hoodlum, and his gang of hippie thugs were causing trouble on a little island when they kidnapped a young boy. But there was a leak of chemical weapon gas called MW from the military base on the island, and it killed the entire population. Garai and the boy, Yuki, survived, and Garai felt so guilty he entered the priesthood. But the gas affected Yuki's mind, so he grew up to become an amoral, maniacal killer. Oh, and he and Garai are also lovers. That's the backstory; most of the book is actually about Yuki's murderous activities and Garai's attempts to stop him. He's pretty ineffective though, since he has some sort of priestly code that won't allow him to go to the police (maybe he secretly doesn't want to rat out his lover), so he mostly ends up yelling at Yuki before breaking down and having sex with him.

Meanwhile, Yuki is a despicable nutjob, gleefully going about raping women, extorting money, cross-dressing whenever he gets the chance, seducing Garai's old flame, and just wreaking havoc all over the place. He eventually develops a plan to steal the remaining MW from the army and wipe out the entire population of earth, just for kicks. Tezuka seems to really be going all out with this character, coming up with every psychotic activity he can think of so he can show it to us. There's rape and murder involving drugs:


Blowing up children:

And all manner of other despicable activities. Not to mention the homosexual content, which must have been quite edgy in 70s Japan:

It's a hell of a ride; you never know what Tezuka is going to throw at you next. Maybe he'll have Astro Boy's Mr. Mustachio show up to get bodily mangled by Yuki's attack dog:

That's actually a really exciting sequence, by the way. Tezuka could really lay out a dynamic chase; I love the way he intercuts between the faces of the pursuer and pursuee:

And the dog looks like a vicious, dead-eyed brute, far removed from the cute beasties of Buddha.

Tezuka throws plenty of other visual tricks our way. At one point, he depicts a conversation/sex scene between Yuki and Garai as images from classical art:

I'm not sure what the purpose of that was, although I suspect that he was trying to indicate that Garai is also going crazy. Or maybe he got bored and felt like drawing something different. And then there's stuff like the use of circular panels for a flashback:

I love the way the panels work as a transition, like a "circle wipe" in a movie fading in and out on a scene.

As you can probably tell, I'm not trying to analyze the plot too deeply or anything, because I didn't get much out of it outside of a crazy story. I could talk about the role of women here, and that they don't seem to have much purpose in the story except as victims. One of them even gets raped and then falls in love with her attacker; I always hate when that old plot gets trotted out. And there's also an interesting discussion of the use of weapons for indiscriminate killing, such as one that certainly had an effect on the nation of Japan:

Tezuka might be trying to make a point about the effect the atom bomb had on Japan; they could have sworn revenge like Yuki, but they actually became more peaceful and turned their energy toward building their country. But that would probably be reaching. Really, the point of this book seems to be as transgressive as possible, with Tezuka exorcising his darkest impulses. For that end, it works magnificently. Not every book has to be a literary masterpiece; some of them can just be a nutty, murderous romp. I'll take Tezuka's brand of madness over the bland superheroics of mainstream American comics any day.

I dunno, that might have been kind of half-assed, but hopefully I'll have some more stuff up in the next few days. I could still get around to those single-issue reviews I promised a while back...

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Solicitationary blatherings: Other companies, March 2008

Looks like there's enough of these things out for me to do a final roundup of stuff that supposedly comes out in March. And who knows, maybe I'll get around to posting some reviews over the next couple days!

Ape Entertainment:

White Picket Fences: Double Feature - I have some affection for this series, even if I don't think it's especially good. Maybe it's because I met the creators, and they were such nice, enthusiastic guys. So I'll probably break down and get this one-shot extra-length special from their weird 50s-era sci-fi series. I hope it's worth it.

Arcana Studio:

Clockwork Girl #4 - I still have yet to see an actual issue of this series, but I get more interested the more I see of it. Maybe I'll eventually pick up a trade or something.

Grunts TPB - I think I saw this series at some point, and it looks like it could be fun. It's written by Keith Giffen, and it involves American's fighting occult Nazis, which everybody likes. I could check it out.

Dark Horse:

Eden: It's an Endless World! volume 10 - Man oh man, I'm waaaay behind on this one. I might eventually get to this one. Someday.

The Goon #22 - Hey, it looks like this series will be back on some sort of regular schedule! Awesome! I dunno what this issue's about, but it looks violent. Love that Eric Powell artwork.

Hellboy volume 8: Darkness Calls - I bought this one as it was coming out, and I definitely recommend it if you like Hellboy. Duncan Fegredo's art is really good. I don't know what's going on in the story, but that's my fault for not having read all the previous volumes. Anyway, check it out.


Cory Doctorow's Futuristic Tales of the Here and Now #6 - It's the final issue of this hit-or-miss series (I don't think I mentioned it, but I picked up the most recent issue, which adapted "Craphound", and it was quite good), and this one adapts "After the Seige". It's a pretty good story, but I have no idea how well it will work in comics form. Depends on the artist, probably. I subscribed to the series at my local shop, so I'll get the rest of the issues, but I might drop it by the time this one comes out, depending on whether I like any art that I see online.

Everybody's Dead #1 - It's yet another zombie book, with this one seeming to combine frat-boy party-based comedy with the usual shenanigans. I wouldn't normally bother with it, but the art is by Dave Crosland, and he impressed me with the story he did in the Popgun anthology. So I might take a look.

Wormwood volume 2: It Only Hurts When I Pee - I keep meaning to get the first volume of this series, but I still haven't. Maybe this will provide some motivation, so I can get caught up before the second volume comes out. I've heard good things about the Ben Templesmith series, and I like his art, so I hope this doesn't disappoint. Of course, I'll be more disappointed if Templesmith never gets around to doing more issues of Fell...

Zombies vs. Robots. vs. Amazons TPB - Well, only one issue (of three, I think) of this has come out so far, but the collection is supposed to show up in March. In typical IDW fashion, it's more expensive than if you just buy the single issues, although it probably has some bonus art or something. I think I might be tiring of this concept (luckily, Ashley Wood also has Duo Stars, his car racing series, coming out), but I'll buy the rest of the issues. If you want to spend more for a nice-looking book, I guess this is for you.


The Boy Who Made Silence #1 - I picked up the first issue of this from the creator, Joshua Hagler, at Wizard World Chicago last summer, and liked it quite a bit. It looks like Markosia is publishing it now, so that means more people should be able to get it. I definitely recommend checking it out.


Blue Monday: Absolute Beginners - I don't have all of the Blue Monday books, but I do have this volume, and it's pretty fun. The first volume is a bit better, but this is no slouch in the raunchy comedy department. Chynna Clugston is pretty damn good at the manga-style cartooning. So I recommend it.

The Damned: Prodigal Sons #1 - All right, it's a new Damned miniseries! I've been looking forward to this for quite a while now (especially after I met Brian Hurtt and Cullen Bunn). I can't wait.

Resurrection #4 - I reviewed the first issue of this a couple months ago, and I thought it was interesting, even if I didn't especially like the art. So I don't know if I'll keep following it or not, but here's the March issue. We'll see.

Red 5:

Atomic Robo #6 - This is the final issue of the miniseries, and although I haven't written about the first three issues (yet), I think they're awesome. I wish this was an ongoing; I would love to read this book every month. But maybe they'll do a sequel or something. Anyway, check this out if you haven't already.

And that's everything, I think. I might try to do some sort of manga roundup, if I can find the information, but that's it for the American publishers. Man, I love comics. So, anyway, I hope everybody had a good holiday, and hopefully I'll be back within a day or two with some real content. See you then!

Monday, December 24, 2007

New comics, ho ho ho!

Man, I get lazy with the blogging this time of year. But who's reading, anyway? Well, let's look at the ol' upcoming comics list, which has to wait until Friday this week, for some reason:

New comics this week (Friday, 12/28/0&):

Berlin #14

I haven't read any of Jason Lutes' series, so this probably wouldn't be the best place to start. I should try to pick up the first collection sometime.

Brawl #3

I never got around to writing about the second issue of this weird book, but I definitely liked it. We'll see how well the ending works.

Dan Dare #2

I picked up the first issue of this (I had to go with the ugly Greg Horn cover, unfortunately), and it was pretty decent. I like Garth Ennis in his "war comics" mode, so this could turn out to be pretty good. I'll give it another issue, at the very least.

Hulk vs. Fin Fang Foom

Peter David writes a monster-fightin' one-shot that could be enjoyable, depending on the artist. It's still listed as TBA, and I doubt I'll buy it unless the mystery creator turns out to be Paul Pope or somebody. That would be a Christmas miracle.

Jack of Fables #18

In what looks to be a fun storyline, Jack and Co. travel to Americana, the land of American fables. This is a good book. I hope it stays that way.

Pax Romana #1

Hey, a new Jonathan Hickman series! This is the time-traveling military one; I'm pretty excited, since I dug The Nightly News so much.

Punks the Comic Christacular

I never did see the regular Punks comic, which is too bad, since I had wanted to read it. But maybe I'll end up getting what appears to be a Christmas special.

Snaked #1

I reviewed this issue a while back, and it's interesting, but I don't know if I'll want to keep reading. Um, that's all I got.

Acme Novelty Library vol. 18 HC

Hey, looks like Chris Ware managed to sneak in an "issue" (a funny term for a hardcover comic) of his series just before the year ended. He must be planning to mess up any top ten lists that have already been composed. I believe this one takes a break from the ongoing "Rusty Brown" story to collect the "Building Stories" comic that ran in the New York Times. I can't wait to read it.

Blue Pills HC

A depressing-sounding graphic novel by Frederik Peeters about a guy who befriends a woman and her three-year-old son who both have HIV. Might be pretty good, in a literary comics way. It's published by Haughton-Mifflin, who put out what was probably last year's best comic, Fun Home. I don't know if I'll buy it, but I'll probably try to get it from the library or something.

Midnight Sun TPB

More of a conventional graphic novel here, about a North Pole expedition in 1928. It's by Ben Towle, collecting some previously-published issues and completing the story. Could be pretty good.

Satchel Paige: Striking Out Jim Crow

My IndiePulp cohort Bernie Gonzalez just reviewed this illustrated book by Rich Tommaso and James Sturm, and it looks pretty good. I still have yet to read Sturms other books, like The Golem's Mighty Swing, but I do want to one of these days. This might be another one to add to the pile.

Tales of the Batman Tim Sale HC

Early Batman stories by the artist. I like his work quite a bit, but I don't know if I'll bother spending anything for this. I'll probably take a look at it though.

Wasteland Book 2 Shades Of God TP

Hey, I'm glad to see this one show up, since I dug the first volume of the series. Good old post-apocalyptic violence, with a focus and culture, class, and religion. I can't wait to read it.

Dragon Head Vol 9 GN

And here's this week's manga volume in a series on which I'm hopelessly behind. I'll catch up someday, I hope.

I think that's everything. Man, I'm excited about that Acme Novelty Library. Looks like a good week. But not for blog content though; don't expect any posting or anything. Sorry. Maybe later, but you know how busy things get around Christmas. So I'll get to it some other time. Yup.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier: What ho, Magus! Or, Alan Moore is an old dirty bastard

I was going to wait and review one or two other things before I got to this, but I got thinking about it today and have to get my thoughts down. So, enjoy. And by the way, this is post number 420. Duuude, enjoy the trippiness.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier
Written by Alan Moore
Art by Kevin O'Neill

I gotta say, this book makes me feel pretty dumb. I'm sure at least half of the references here go way over my head, so when I do get one, I clap my hands like a second-grader receiving a gold star. That's the power of Alan Moore: he makes me feel stupid, then slightly smart. But I'm probably not alone there; he's woven so much literary and artistic history into this series, pretty much nobody is going to get all of it. Even Jess Nevins got lots of help with his annotations. And by the way, those annotations are invaluable; I read most of the book without looking at them, then went back to see what I was missing, and it was a lot. I'm sure I would have never figured out that "Mr. Night's daughter" was Emma Peel, for instance. And I would never have realized the incredible, almost obvious awesomeness of connecting a comic strip about British schoolkids to Orwell's Big Brother and The Third Man's Harry Lime. On the other hand, I'm sure some of the fun here is trying to see how much you can figure out on your own, so maybe they should only be a last resort. And they do get a little bit pedantic at times; I didn't really need the meaning of "Oodles O'Quim" explained to me, and I could figure out for myself what "will-gill" means. But overall they really enrich the reading of the book.

Which I suppose I should talk about, since this is a review of that book, after all. It seems to be meeting a somewhat poor reception in critical quarters, but that might be due to extremely high expectations. Me, I found the whole thing to be delightful, a rousing adventure tale and an amazing collection of Moore-ian impersonations of other authors. And the comic surrounding the dossier sections is no slouch either. The previous volumes of the League's adventures have been some really good comics, but they were large-scale adventure tales, smart, epic, action-movie-style stories utilizing every possible literary reference that could be crammed in. But here, Moore is going for something different; he seems to be trying to expand what is possible in this Wold Newton-esque world that incorporates every fictional character ever created. He's giving us a history, filling in the margins with stories and details that we've only previously imagined. And he's not just reciting dry facts, he's doing it in the style of more stories, since that's where all these characters and settings originally came from anyway. It's like opening your eyes to an aspect of this universe that you never even considered.

The framing story works pretty well too, letting us know what Mina Murray and Allan Quatermain, the last surviving remnants of the League as we know it, are up to in 1958. They start the book off by stealing the titular Black Dossier, and as the story progresses, they read through it, and we get to see what they're reading. But every so often, they pause in their reading so they can have more adventures, escape the clutches of the British government, and discover more secrets, leading to the big ending revelation, which will surely have a big impact on future League stories. I'll get to more about that later, but I wanted to look at the contents of the Dossier. It's an amazing collection of diverse works, so I figured I would look at each of them and give my thoughts, starting with:

The first page: Large red block letters reading: "THIS WARN YOU", and a bunch of 1984-ian Newspeak that had me cracking up. "Everything not banned compulsory. Everything not compulsory banned." It's a great beginning.

On the Descent of the Gods: This is "written" by Oliver Haddo, which was apparently a pseudonym of Aleister Crowley. Gotta love those annotations! It's an essay about occult mythology, seemingly tying Lovecraftian extra-dimensional beasties into pretty much every instance of gods, faeiries, or supernatural beings in human history. A good way to begin the Dossier, since it makes known the themes of supernatural beings that dominate this book. Pretty interesting, too.

The Trump: A British-style comic, most of which tells the life of Virginia Woolf's immortal, multisexual Orlando. But the first page has a funny strip about the sisters from Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? that manages to reference Joan Crawford's wire hangers and Rock Hudson's homosexuality. It's kind of a throwaway gag (or several), but it's funny. The real content is the Orlando stuff, which is incredibly dense, since it covers 3000 years of history in eighteen pages. I got a lot of the references, but missed many more. I think the gag about the Mona Lisa was my favorite bit:

I didn't really know anything about Orlando before reading this, except that he/she was a creation of Virginia Woolf, so it was pretty interesting. And, like the whole book, impressive, in that Moore managed to make him/her fit in so many other stories and historical events. The scope of the section is pretty impressive. And I should mention Kevin O'Neill's excellent art here; the level of detail he puts into this section is amazing. He's using a slightly different sort of style to fit the type of comic being emulated, and it's wonderful stuff. Oh, and the back page is a jokey strip about a family visiting a zoo full of aliens, and it contains Triffids and Tralfamadorians! Awesome!

Faerie's Fortunes Founded: This supposed lost Shakespeare play (or portion thereof) is pretty enjoyable, but I don't know if it's all that Shakespearean. For one, it's supposed to be the entire first act, but there isn't really any conflict introduced or hint of a plot. It's really just an excuse to tell the story of the formation of the League in an enjoyable manner. And it is pretty fun, with some nice dialogue and good jokes. But it doesn't seem like actual Shakespeare to me (although I'm hardly an English scholar, so I could be way off here). And naming characters Pysse and Shytte is funny, but seems a bit "on the nose". Sure, Shakespeare had plenty of dirty jokes, but that's a bit too obvious, if you ask me. But some of the lines are great, like Orlando's wowing of the doormen with orchid-based rhymes (which reminded me of V's alliterative soliloquy in V for Vendetta), or Queen Gloriana's dissembling about her genitalia. And it's cool to see the origin of the League, along with 007 and M.

There's also an essay about whether the play is genuine or not, which is amusing, recalling the debates about whether or not Shakespeare actually existed.

The New Adventures of Fanny Hill: I also wasn't previously familiar with Fanny Hill, but, man, it must have been dirty. This is prose with illustrations, and its very funny stuff, with the titular (pun intended this time!) character having sexual escapades all across the fictional world. On the second page, she meets Moll Flanders, who advises her to use euphemism when describing her adventures so people won't be too scandalized. And use it she does! Every pages is chock full of double entendres, and they're hilarious. "Mound of Venus", indeed! This is another spot where Moore makes tons of references that I don't get, but he still tells an entertaining story. And once again, Kevin O'Neill provides some incredible illustrations, full of dirty, dirty details:

There's a joke about Brobdingnagians here that had me gasping at its pornographic audicity. The section is also printed on a thicker paper stock to make it seem like a printed pamphlet, I guess. The only think I wonder about is its length; it seems pretty short. Was the original Fanny Hill over so quickly? I know we don't need a full-length novel here, but it might have seemed more authentic if we had just seen an excerpt. These are the kinds of nitpicks I'm reduced to making here, when presented with brilliance. Sorry, folks.

Gulliver's Travails: A scatological political cartoon. Funny. See the annotations for an example of a similar 18th century cartoon. I don't have much else to say about this one.

A True and Faithful Map of Ye Blazing Worlde: It's interesting-looking, and sort of heightens the mystery about this "blazing world" that has been mentioned here and there in the book so far, but there's not much to it. I did try looking at it with the 3-D glasses to see if there was somehow some hidden information (since there is a note about wearing "variously glass'd pince-nez...comprised of ruby and of em'rald both"), but I didn't see anything. It's probably just a warning about wearing the glasses when you read the bit at the end.

Shadows in the Steam: A report about the formation of "the Murray League", which is the version of the team we're most familiar with. It's kind of dry, until it gets to an excerpt from Mina's report about her mission to recruit Captain Nemo. That's interesting enough, but not exactly essential stuff.

The Nautilus, a cutaway schematic: A double-page spread with lots of details of the Nautilus. It's cool, but not my favorite bit at all. I was never one for the Official Marvel Handbook, or whatever those books were that had all the diagrams of comics characters' equipment and whatnot.

A Prospectus of London, 1901: Like a tourist map, showing significant spots where the League had adventures. Stuff from the first two volumes of the series. Interesting, but still inessential (although I liked the "here be south Londoners" gag).

The Murray Group, Correspondence, 1899-1913: Now that we're getting into the League's undetailed (so far) adventures, it gets more interesting. In an official report, we learn about Mina and Allan's travels after the events of the second volume, and the other Leagues they formed, with Raffles, Carnacki, and Orlando (again). It's interesting stuff that will probably be explored further in future volumes (and maybe some of it in the text pieces of volume two, which I haven't read), and there are some nifty postcards that they sent from places like Arkham, Toyland, and the Paris Opera. Cool!

The Sincerest Form of Flattery: A description of two other League-like groups, from Germany and France. The German one has Dr. Mabuse, Dr. Caligari, and the robot from Metropolis. The French group has characters like Arsene Lupin and Fantomas. Pretty cool, especially the description of the League's battle with the French group in the Paris Opera. I don't know if we'll get to see more of this in a future volume, but I hope so.

What Ho, Gods of the Abyss: Oh, man, this is probably my favorite part of the book; it's absolutely hilarious. Combining P.G. Wodehouse's Jeeves and Wooster with Lovecraftian horror is a stroke of genius, and some of the descriptions here had me laughing out loud. A bit where Wooster has a conversation with a gardener who has been possessed by an Elder God (or whatever; I'm not a Lovecraft expert) is gold; he keeps talking about an Indian chief named Cool Lulu who is sleeping at a place called Riley. Funny, funny stuff.

When They Sound the Last All Clear: A report about Mina and Allan's activities between the first and second world wars, with an bit "written" by Mina about meeting with the Prime Minister and deciding to flee to the United States to escape the impending Big Brother regime. Interesting information, but the best bit is a propaganda picture that says "Watch Out - Adenoid's About!" I love that Moore has replaced Hitler with Charlie Chaplin's Adenoid Hitler in his universe.

The Warralson Team, 1946-1947: A description of a failed version of the League assembled in Mina and Allan's absence. This one's pretty interesting, since it seems (to me) to be a commentary on poor imitations of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, the comic, perhaps even the movie that was based on it. The powers-that-be assembled a facsimile of the original team, including a strong woman leader, an explorer/rifleman, a guy with a submarine, and invisible man, and a hulking monstrosity. It was a pale, slavish imitation, and it failed, not having the charm or staying power of the real thing. I might be reading too much into it though, but the message should at least be that if you're going to try something similar to this series, do your own thing rather than imitating others' success.

The Crazy Wide Forever: Oh, boy. This was probably the only part of the book I found tedious, and somewhat of a chore to finish. Of course, I haven't read any Beat writing, so I'm not familiar with the style, but this jumble of language is so hard to follow that it's almost not worth it. But after I stuck with it for a while, I started to be able to follow the rhythm of the language, and it worked okay. But it's still pretty rough going. I dunno, maybe it's a good Kerouac impression, but it makes for some slow going. I do like the "cover illustration" though:

Is that what the cover of something like On the Road would look like? It seems more like a pulp novel or something. Anyway, there is also a mention of a song that was written about Mina and Allan, and I believe that's the song that will be sung by Alan Moore and released on a vinyl record in the Absolute edition of the book. That should be interesting to hear; somebody upload it somewhere so I can listen to it.

Workbelt Crimepoke!: A "Tijuana Bible" that takes place in the world of George Orwell's 1984. Funny stuff, especially lines like "Oh! Our sacred, shameless act of desire defeats them! Their oppression is meaningless before our lust!" Dirty stuff, like much of the book, but a pretty good joke. Its placement in the middle of "The Crazy Wide Forever" is probably intentional, since it breaks the tedium of that section.

Director's Summary: A final report about Mina and Allan, detailing speculation about their exploits in America. My favorite bit is a line from Barney Fife. Who expected that? They also met some Golden Age superheroes, apparently.

And that's that for the contents of the Dossier. Overall, it's excellent stuff, especially since it isn't just random pastiches that Moore wanted to do, but actually conveys a lot of information about various incarnations of the League, filling in gaps in our knowledge (but leaving plenty to the imagination).

And then there's the ending (I guess there might be SPOILERS after this point, so watch out). Mina and Allan successfully escape their pursuers (in some exciting, beautifully illustrated action scenes), and make it to the Blazing World, and that's when the 3-D section starts (helpfully indicated by the characters also donning their 3-D glasses). And man, does it look beautiful. There are mind-bending vistas and tons of crazy characters and details, all presented in 3-D glory. And they even pull off some neat tricks, too, like a series of portals that show different scenes depending on which eye you have open, or the appearance of an emissary from Yuggoth (a.k.a. Lovecraft Land) who looks like a man through one eye and a tentacled monster (with freaky alien speech balloons) through the other. Beautiful stuff. Moore, always one to reuse a good idea, also works in an appearance by Mary Poppins where she's travelling through time in the opposite direction; he used the same idea in one of the issues of 1963.

(By the way, if you want to weird people out, read the 3-D section in your office lunchroom while wearing the glasses. That's what I did, and I think the business is still trying to recover from fits of laughter.)

The book ends with a speech delivered directly to the reader by Prospero. It's a fitting ending, with a Shakespeare character giving a Shakespearean monologue in a Shakespearean ending. But it's a revelatory speech that I'm still trying to process; Prospero (looking somewhat like Moore himself) talks about the role of fiction in the world, how it provides an escape and an outlet for imagination, but also how fictional ideas inspire real-world progress ("Whence came thy rocket-ships and submarines, if not from Nautilus, from Cavorite?"). It's a cyclical process, made all the richer through exploration. It's like a mission statement for the series, with the imagination (Immateria?) providing a perfect world in all our minds. "Here is our narrative made paradise, brief tales made glorious continuity." It's a rallying cry for lovers of fiction and those who believe stories can change lives and make a difference. Whatever the book's faults, whether you like it or not, it ends beautifully and movingly, with a celebration of the sheer possibility of all the great stories that are still out there, waiting to be told.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Solicitationary blatherings: Image, March 2008

More looks at comics' future right now, but I might do something or other later tonight; it depends on how I feel when I get home. Oh, and I also contributed to David Welsh's column about overlooked comics, so read that one if you feel like it. Onward:

Casanova #14 - And here's the final issue of the second story arc of one of my favorite books. I don't think I wrote anything about it, but that last issue was pretty damn great. I really, really love this comic.

Cemetery Blues #3 - CBR had a nice interview up with the creators of this book the other day, and now I'm interested in it. It's about a couple bumbling henchmen that end up working as monster hunters. I like Thomas Boatwright's art (even if I never did read The Surreal Adventures of Edgar Allen Poo), so I might have to check this one out.

Dead Space #1 - Hey, cool, it's a space horror book by Antony Johnston and Ben Templesmith! What? It's a prequel to a video game? Crap, it'll probably suck then. But I hope not.

Godland #22 - This book seems to be coming out on more of a regular schedule, which is nice. I'm still waiting for the next collection, so I can read some more of the series. I assume that will happen when #24 rolls around. This cover is nice.

Jack Staff #15 - Also a nice cover. I haven't decided if I'm going to try this out or search for trades and get caught up. We'll see.

The Last Winter OGN - I remember reading a review of the movie this is based on that made it sound interesting. It was kind of a negative review though, so who knows if it's any good. This comic might be all right though; it's an "eco-horror" story about murderous Arctic oil drillers, I think. It's a maybe.

Madman Atomic Comics #9 - Also a nice cover. I don't know what else to say, other than that I'll be reading this.

Mice Templar #4 - I'm not sure if I'll keep reading this, but this is another really nice-looking cover. Even if the mouse feet kind of bug me. Love those colors though.

Nixon's Pals OGN - Man, Joe Casey is really pumping out the graphic novels lately. This one is about a supervillain parole officer, and judging by the cover image (where else are you going to see a combo of laser boobs and face boobs?), it looks pretty funny. I expect I'll get it.

Screamland #1 - Frankenstein's monster as an out-of-work actor. I probably would have said "meh", but Matt Fraction has a very laudatory quote on the cover, which makes it worth a second look in my book.

Scud the Disposable Assassin #22 - Last issue had Ashley Wood on the cover, and this issue we get Jim Mahfood! Sweet. Don't know if I'll buy it though.

Stupid Comics: Phoenix Edition - A collection of a weekly strip Jim Mahfood did for the Phoenix New Times newspaper. I do like Mahfood a lot, so I'll probably get this. Unless it's all jokes about local cuisine or something.

Tellos Colossal volume 1 TPB - The solicitation lists this as "Tellos Gargantua", but I think they're mixing it up with Madman. Anyway, I'm interested in this work by Todd Dezago and the late Mike Wieringo, but I didn't want to spring for the pricey hardcover. Luckily, this paperback collection is coming along, with 288 pages for $17.99. I'll almost certainly be getting it.

Transhuman #1 - Another miniseries written by Jonathan Hickman (who really seems to like circles on his covers), with art by JM Ringuet. It's apparently about genetic engineering and superpowers, but the solicitation describes it as a "mocumentary", which seems odd. I trust Hickman though, so hopefully it'll be good. CBR has a couple pages of artwork in the solicits, so you can see what it'll look like.

Okay, I guess that's it. Tonight: something! Maybe.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Solicitationary blatherings: DC/Marvel, March 2008

Damn, I've been sick as a friggin' dog the last couple days, so that's my excuse for not posting. So here I am with a look at comics coming out in a few months, but nothing else of consequence. Maybe I'll get back to something more interesting tomorrow. In the mean time, here's my nonsense about both DC and Marvel, since I don't feel like doing them separately:


Bat Lash #4 - Whoa, this looks like it gets violent, judging by the cover (by the way, I seem to be one of the few who aren't too keen on Walt Simonson's covers for the series, but whatever). I liked the first issue, so I'll probably end up getting the whole series. I hope it doesn't disappoint.

Justice League: The New Frontier Special - I'm courting controversy here, but I've read New Frontier, and while it was all right, I didn't think it was the life-affirming masterpiece that many people seem to think it is. Sorry, everybody. There's some nice Darwyn Cooke art though. So I'll probably end up getting this.

JLA Presents: Aztek: The Ultimate Man TPB - More controversy: I've read this series too, and it was only okay, not all that great. Definitely nowhere near as good as Grant Morrison's JLA. But it's worth reading if you're interested in Morrison's lesser-known work from that time. Or if you wonder how well he collaborated with Mark Millar. But don't expect a lost masterpiece or anything.

Jack Kirby's O.M.A.C.: One Man Army Corps HC - Hell yeah, it's another collection of Jack Kirby stuff. I actually own the first few issues of this, and it's some crazy stuff. "Are you ready for the world that's coming?" I'm not too keen on this cover, but it's probably not the final one. If you ask me, they should go with some variation of the cover to the first issue. That one's awesome. Anyway, the book is $24.99, and I might get it, or I might just keep trying to find all the back issues. The thrill of the hunt!

Starman Omnibus volume 1 HC - This is one of those series I always hear is great, but I never read it. So I guess here's my chance, if I want to shell out fifty bucks a volume. I'll consider it; I do really like Tony Harris's art.


The Programme #9 - More of this book. I don't know what else to say, other than that I like it for the most part, and the cover seems to indicate some action, which is a good sign.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier Absolute Edition - I'm finishing up reading this book (the non-absolute version) right now, and it's great; expect a review of some sort soon. But here's the super-expensive version, which doesn't seem much different, except it contains a vinyl record of Alan Moore singing a song referred to in the book. And it's probably oversized or something. So if that's worth an extra $70 for you, go for it.


Absolute Sandman volume 3 - I've seen these volumes in stores, and they look pretty incredible. I'm too cheap to spend $400 on the whole series, but if I could afford it, I would pick these up in a second.

DMZ #29 - Looks like a new storyline starts here, and I'll try to continue to resist buying it until the trade comes out. I definitely miss my monthly dose of the series, so I hope the next trade shows up soon.

Fables #71 - As always, I have to point out James Jean's awesome cover art. Also, I wanted to note that my wife is currently reading all the volumes of the series that have come out so far, and she loves it. I'm always happy when I can get her reading comics.

Jack of Fables #21 - And another issue of Jack's adventures. I notice that Brian Bolland didn't do this cover; is he done with his stint as the cover artist? I hope not; his work has been awesome. Anyway, looks like this issue is about Wicked John and Gary the Pathetic Fallacy. Cool. I love this book.

Northlanders #4 - Looks like snow. I liked the first issue, so I'm on board for the time being. Don't let me down, Brian Wood!

Young Liars #1 - Courting controversy again: I'm not really a fan of David Lapham. I've read some Stray Bullets here and there, but he just doesn't really do anything for me. So I don't expect to get this, but it seems like a big deal for Vertigo. I suppose I could try it out if I hear that it's really good or something, but I'll probably be skipping it.

The Un-Men volume 1: Get Your Freak On TPB - I never did buy any issues of this series, but it does seem like it might be interesting. And Mike Hawthorne did stop by to tell me to try it. So I suppose I might try out the first collection and see what I think. Has anybody read it? Can you tell me if I should try it out? What's the verdict, people?

That's it for DC; I notice that there's no solicit for The Spirit, and I thought there was something else missing, but I can't remember what it was. Huh. Anyway, here's the other end of the big two:


The Dark Tower: The Long Road Home #1 - Here's the second miniseries in Marvel's Stephen King adaptation. I haven't decided if I want to bother getting it, but I'll consider it. Interestingly, it's only five issues this time around. I guess I'll decide when it comes out (but I'm leaning toward no).

Daredevil #106 - I don't plan to buy this, but I really like the cover. That Marko Djurdjevic draws really nice.

New Avengers #39 - I don't normally read this series, but this issue is illustrated by David Mack and has to do with the character Echo, so I'll consider picking it up. I really like Mack's art, and I bought the collection of the Daredevil arc he did about Echo a few years back, so I could see checking this out.

Logan #1 - I would normally have no interest whatsoever in yet another Wolverine comic, but the one-two punch of Brian K. Vaughan and Eduardo Risso is going to be impossible for me to pass up. I hope it doesn't suck. I'm interested in the colors, at least judging by the cover; it's a different sort of style than you usually see for Risso.

Omega the Unknown #6 - I'm waiting for the trade on this series, but man, this is a cool-looking cover. I can't wait to read it (even if the reception seems to be mixed so far). Also, the solicitation mentions a "special guest artist" on a comic-within-the-comic, but doesn't say who it is. Mystery!

Kick-Ass #2 - I still don't know what to make of this series, but this time around the solicitation says it's "the most screwed-up superhero comic of all time". I'm sure this will live up to that description. We all know how well Mark Millar works when he's trying to be offensive. That is, he gets people pissed off, and then there are movie adaptations. If this leads to a movie called Kick-Ass, I will be amused.

War is Hell: The First Flight of the Phantom Eagle #1 - Hey, Garth Ennis is doing war comics for Marvel now. Cool. This is a five-issue miniseries, illustrated by Howard Chaykin. It's a MAX book, so he'll probably go crazy with the violence and whatnot. Should be good.

Punisher MAX #55 - Looks like the rumors are true; this is the first issue of Ennis's last storyline on the Punisher. Bummer. Not that I've been reading it, but I have been meaning to someday. At least it will be a finite run now.

Criminal 2 #2 - I don't know what's up with this picture, but it's the second issue of the Criminal relaunch, so I'm excited to read it. It's another standalone issue, this time about Tracy Lawless's father, I think. I'm stoked, man; stoked!

Powers #30 - I haven't been reading the monthly issues of this book, but this one starts a storyline called "The Redemption of Deena Pilgrim". That'll be a tough order, given what she's done, but I'm interested to see how Bendis works his way out of it. Of course, if I'm waiting for the trade, I could be waiting for a few more years before I read it. We'll see.

Newuniversal: Everything Went White TPB - So, is this series dead? I thought it was supposed to be ongoing, but it just kind of stopped after six issues. This trade collects those six issues, but who knows if Warren Ellis and Salvador Larroca will ever get back to it. I hope so; it was pretty interesting while it lasted. Anyway, if you want to play a fun game, see how many celebrities you can spot on the cover.

And that's everything that catches my notice from the big two. I'll get to other companies as soon as they come out. And really, I might have some actual comics criticism soon; I'm sick of being sick. Later!