Monday, April 27, 2009

This week: Uhhh...

Links galore:

Tucker Stone has a new "show" called Advanced Common Sense, in which he does his usual schtick, but on video!  Here's the first episode (my favorite part is when he's getting comics thrown at him), and new ones will be posted on Comixology, I believe.

Check out this comparison of characters between Osamu Tezuka's Astro Boy and Naoki Urasawa's Pluto.  Pretty cool.

Here's a cool tour of Chicago with Brian Azzarello via 100 Bullets.

People have been talking about Paul Pope's Spock comic in Wired, and now you can view it online.  Man, I love me some Pope.

IDW has a preview of Darwyn Cooke's adaptation of The Hunter.  Awesome.

Wide Awake Press is going to be offering a free download of their anthology The Ancient Age on May 2 (Free Comic Book Day).  I believe it's edited by J. Chris Campbell, and features creators like Ben Towle and Dustin Harbin, among several others.  Check it out.

Via The Ephemerist, here's a cool little Spider-Man webcomic that makes good use of scrolling.

New comics this week (Wednesday, 4/29/09):

Batman Gotham After Midnight #12 (of 12)

Aw, this will mean no more Caleb Mozzocco spotlights on crazy Kelley Jones contraptions.  Not until the next book he illustrates anyway.

Garth Ennis Battlefields Tankies #1

Another new Garth Ennis war series from Dynamite!  This one features illustration by Carlos Ezquerra, and it's about a British tank crew in the post-D-Day battle for Normandy.  Sure to be good, methinks.

Literals #1 (of 3)

Part 3 of "The Great Fables Crossover", which apparently is so great that it can't be contained in just two ongoing series.  This spinoff mini probably won't make much sense by itself, but I'm sure regular readers will dig it.  I think it focuses on the sort of meta-Fable characters that have shown up in the series, including Gary the Pathetic Fallacy and his relatives, who anthropomorphically represent some of the very tenets of writing itself, like Fiction or whatever.  Maybe I'm wrong about that.  I'll read it eventually.

Madman Atomic Comics #15

The David Bowie issue, at least going by the cover.  The series is sticking to "done in one" stories now, so this one is apparently about an evil cell phone or something.  Even though I got tired of the direction Allred was going in, I can't stay too mad at the series.  One of these days I'll get caught up and read all the issues; at least the art is great, as always.

Marvel Assistant-Sized Spectacular #2

The second half of Marvel's latest attempt at humorous stuff with its characters.  The first issue was all right, although the framing story seemed pretty damn in-jokey.  This one looks pretty interesting, with the highlight probably being a story about Galactus' daughter written by Adam Warren.  There's also a story about Luke Cage running for office or something, and Daily Show correspondent Wyatt Cenac is involved.  Take a look, if that sounds like fun to you.

Mr. Stuffins #1 New Edition

This series is supposedly going to finish, a few years late, but to get people to remember, here's a reprint of the first issue.  I read that when it came out, and it was all right, but I didn't think it quite lived up to the premise, which sees a teddy bear outfitted with a cyborg defense chip or something, turning it into a badass secret agent.  Maybe the rest of the series will really kick into gear.  We'll find out, if it ever shows up.

Mr. Universe (One Shot)

I don't know if this will be any good, but it looks kind of interesting.  It's from Image, and it's about a boy who is obsessed with the titular superhero, maybe to his detriment.  The art looks nice, with kind of a Simon Bisley feel.  It's by a couple of Greek creators named Vassilis Gogtzilas and K.I. Zachopolous.  The former has a short preview on his blog.

Muppet Show #2

Man, everybody sure creamed themselves over the first issue of this book, didn't they?  I haven't read it yet, but I'm sure I'll join them when I do; Roger Langridge is pretty awesome.  And here's part two; I should try to read it and write about it, yes I should.

Rasl #4

More Jeff Smith!  This series is pretty cool; I might have to make one of my infrequent visits to the comics shop just to pick it up.

Runaways #9

This issue finishes the three-part storyline illustrated by Takeshi Miyazawa.  It's been all right, even if I'm still not a fan of Terry Moore's take on the characters.  Is this also Moore's last issue?  I'm kind of excited about Kathyrn Immonen's upcoming run, but I think there's an issue or two between this one and the new team's arrival.

Sherlock Holmes #1

Another Dynamite revival of a public domain character, along with Zorro and the Lone Ranger.  This one is written by Leah Moore and John Reppion.  Holmes is a good character, but I don't often go out of my way to read stories featuring him.  But if you do, here you go.

Unknown Soldier #7

Vertigo. Violence.  I should read this.

Absolute Superman For Tomorrow HC

I never thought I would bother reading this Brian Azzarello/Jim Lee run on Superman, but Tucker Stone's recent coverage of absolutely everything Azzarello has written actually made me reconsider.  I might get to it someday, but I'll get it from the library or something if I do; there's no way it's worth $75.

Adventures Of Tintin New Ed HC Vol 01

This has been out for years, but here's a new version, in case you collect different cover designs or something.  Actually, I should try to pick this up sometime, since I don't actually own any Tintin books.  Not a bad deal, either; you get three books (Tintin in America, Cigars of the Pharoah, and The Blue Lotus) for $19.

Angst Vol 2 Best Of Norwegian Comics TP

If I remember correctly, the first volume of this anthology got a lot of talk last year when it came out.  I never read it, but not for lack of desire.  And here's part two, featuring more Scandinavian depression, I presume.  Hey, it looks like it was Tucker Stone's #2 pick of 2008!  Now I gotta read it.

Blazing Combat HC

Ooh, this looks like a good one.  Collecting all four issues of the Warren series from the mid-60s, this features art by some amazing creators, including Wally Wood, Alex Toth, Al Williamson, Frank Frazetta, Gene Colan, John Severin, and Russ Heath.  Man, I really need to read this.  You can see an excerpt, slideshow, the works at Fantagraphics' site.

Marvel Masterworks Avengers Vol 1 TP

I guess this collects some early issues of the series from back in the 60s.  Notable for art by Jack Kirby, but probably not too much else, in my opinion.  I would look at it if I saw it at the library.

Miskatonic Project HP Lovecrafts Bride Of Dagon TP

I barely know what this is; I guess it's one of those many Lovecraft comics adaptations, which I wouldn't normally bother mentioning, except this volume apparently features early artwork from Brian Michael Bendis and David Mack.  So it should be interesting to look at, at least.

Modern Masters SC Vol 20 Kyle Baker

He sure is a modern master.  I've never really read any of this series, so I'm not sure how worthwhile they are, but if you want to learn about your favorite creators, they're probably a good resource.  Myself, I'm happy to read the actual comics.

Neozoic TP Vol 01

I never read any of this series from Red 5 about dinosaurs and shit, but it looks pretty cool.  Maybe this is a chance to check it out.

Queen & Country Definitive Edition Vol 4 TP

I've still only read the first volume of this series (here's my review), but I really need to get to the rest.  And I'll continue to be behind for a while, I expect.  But hopefully I'll get to this one eventually.

Razorjack Collected Edition TP

This is John Higgins' sci-fi cop story, or something like that, and it looks pretty cool.  Tucker Stone reviewed it here, and now I want to read it.

Resurrection Vol 1 TP

I've read several issues of this Oni Press series by Marc Guggenheim and David Dumeer (here's what I said about the first one), but I don't think I would really recommend it, beyond liking the general concept (basically, what happens after the alien invasion is over and people have to pick up the pieces).  It has some nice scenes, but I never felt like it cohered into an interesting story, and the awkward art didn't help.  But here's the first collection, which gathers all six issues into one volume for only $6 (!), before the series gets relaunched in color, starting with a FCBD giveaway.  Maybe it will get better; we'll see.

Rising Stars Compendium TP

I never did read this J. Michael Straczynski series, but it has a fairly good reputation, doesn't it? But so did Midnight Nation, and I thought that was kind of lame, along with much of his other books that I've read.  Anyway, this volume collects the whole, unfinished (or did it eventually limp to an ending?) series, six volumes for $60.  Not a bad deal, I guess.  Like a lot of the stuff I mention, maybe I'll look for it at the library sometime.

Second Thoughts GN

Top Shelf has this graphic novel from Swedish cartoonist Niklas Asker that looks quite good; I'll have to read it when I get the chance.  Here's a review from Sandy Bilius.

Was Superman A Spy & Other Comic Book Legends Revealed SC

If you've been following Brian Cronin's long-running series (which was originally called "Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed", but probably changed to widen the scope or something) at Comics Should Be Good, this probably won't be new for you, but it's cool to see a fellow blogger get a book of their material published.  Very interesting stuff.

X-Men Prem HC Proteus

I guess this story is good enough to get a fancy collection?  It's not bad; part of the classic Chris Claremont run.  There was a good Wolverine/Cyclops moment, and some nice art by John Byrne.  I suppose that's worth $20, for some people.

Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo Vol 2 TP Shonen Jump Edition

I read the first volume of this series, and it was pretty insane.  Funny stuff, if you're receptive, although I'm sure many aren't.  Here's some more; enjoy.

Maid War Chronicle Vol 1 GN

Del Rey has this series by an artist named RAN, and it's apparently about a bunch of maids who have to defend a prince from an invasion, even though they have no combat experience.  Fan service ahoy, I'm sure.

NANA Vol 16 TP

Man, I keep getting behind on this series.  I've managed to get ahold of all the volumes through 15, but I still haven't read them, dammit.  I'll have to sit down and do a Nana blitz some weekend, in an attempt to completely feminize my brain.

Ninja Baseball Kyuma Vol 1 GN

This is one of the series in UDON's line of kids' manga, and it looks pretty cute, following a ninja kid who plays baseball (duh).  It might be too kiddie for my tastes, judging by reviews I've read (like this one), but I still like the idea.

Orange Planet Vol 1 GN

Another Del Rey series, this one seems to be the girls' version of a harem manga, with the protagonist surrounded by cute boys.  That's a good variation on a trend.  I doubt I'll ever read it though.

Parasyte Vol 7 GN Del Rey Edition

And here's another series I'm too far behind on.  I do have up through volume 6; now I just have to read them.  I think volume 8 is the last one though, so I won't be behind forever.

Path Of The Assassin Vol 15 Bad Blood Part 2 TP

Kazuo Koike/Goseki Kojima!  I should read this series one of these days.  I say that every time a new volume comes out, don't I?

Sand Chronicles Vol 5 GN

I really like this shojo series (read all about it each month when I talk about Shojo Beat!), so I recommend checking it out if you haven't read it before.  It's really good.  Really.

I think that's everything?  Stay tuned; hopefully I'll have some actual content this week.  I still need to talk about 20th Century Boys, if nothing else...

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Shojo Beat: Shocking! Vampiric! Revelations!

Elsewhere: I reviewed Kick-Ass #6 at Comics Bulletin.  Oh, Mark Millar, you'll never change, will you?  And I also contributed to Robot 6's weekly What Are You Reading? column.

Link: You can read the entire first half (51 pages) of the third volume of Ed Piskor's Wizzywig at his site.  That's a series I want to check out at some point.

And: I haven't read the whole thing yet, but this translation of a blog post/lecture notes by Even a Monkey Can Draw Manga co-creator Kentaro Takekuma looks pretty interesting; it's about why he feels the manga version of Hayao Miyazaki's Nausicaa is "hard to read".  I've only read a little of Nausicaa, but I never managed to finish it, and maybe this will help me figure out why.

This page from MAD by Drew Friedman is hilarious.

The latest installment of Next-Door Neighbor is by Dean Haspiel, and it's very neat.

As of tomorrow (April 22), you should be able to read the first chapter of Rumiko Takahashi's new series, Rin-Ne, at, in a simultaneous release with the Japanese version.  That's pretty awesome.

I should also mention that Matthew Loux is doing a Salt Water Taffy webcomic, a series of gag strips.  It's pretty fun so far, and should be a good way to tide fans over (see what I did there?) until the next volume comes out.

Okay, get to the review already!

Shojo Beat
May 2009

As you see on the cover, it's the anime issue, which means a small spotlight on a few upcoming series (Honey and Clover, Nana, Gakuen Alice, Romeo x Juliet, and Aria), along with a couple classic series (Marmalade Boy, Sailor Moon, and Ouran High School Host Club; the latter seems a bit recent to be called "classic", but whatever).  There's also page about Tokyo locations featured in Nana, a blurb about an interesting-looking movie called Happily Ever After, and a mention of The Color of Earth.  And, a neat double-sided poster featuring either Nana or Honey and Clover; that one's going right up on my wall (I'll go with H&C, since I already have a Nana poster).

But enough of that; on to the manga:

By Chika Shiomi

I never read Chika Shiomi's previous series, Yurara, beyond the preview chapter that ran right here in this magazine, but this seems to be something of a follow-up, if not exactly a sequel.  There is one character that continues from the earlier series, but it appears to focus on the title character, a confident, no-nonsense exorcist (who also happens to be pretty stacked).  We see how she works with her fellow employees at a ghost-hunting agency, and it's nice to see her get her job done comptently and strongly.  Most interestingly, we learn her backstory and where she got her powers: they came from a demon that attacked her when she was fifteen, branding her with a rose symbol on her chest and promising to return for her when she turns 20.  The interesting thing about this is the rape imagery that accompanies the flashback to the attack:

But while it's horrific, we see that while it was a traumatic experience, she's not somebody who is defined by it.  She's used it to become stronger, and now she's a take-charge badass ghostbuster.  See, this is what girls' comics are about: female empowerment!  That's what I like to see.  This one looks like a manga to keep an eye on.

Honey Hunt
By Miki Aihara

It's kind of business as usual in this chapter of the series, as Yura continues to whine about her agent revealing her star-begotten nature to the public and gets encouragement from her two love interests.  That sort of thing could get old if it goes on for too long, but while we know that she'll eventually go back to acting, it's kind of fun to see her try to suppress her excitement when she sees the director's plans for the scenes to be shot for their series.  But other than the near-ridiculous niceness and competence of would-be boyfriend Q-ta, there's not much else going on in this chapter.  This series is pretty fun, but hopefully it will get back to some big drama soon.

Crimson Hero
By Mitsuba Takanashi

This chapter should have run closer to Valentine's Day, because it's just about the most lovey-dovey installment of the series that I can remember.  Nobara loves Yushin, and Yushin loves Nobara, and their mutual affection is spreading out to influence the rest of the cast.  Awww:

But that's about all that's really going on this month, although Yushin's rival, a bad boy named Kaz, finally makes his move, first telling Nobara that he has a crush on her and then entrapping her in an unfortunate situation for the chapter's cliffhanger.  We'll see how it plays out next month, but it doesn't really have me on the edge of my chair.  The series appears to be in one of its lulls between moments of exciting athletics; let's get to the next game already!

Sand Chronicles
By Hinako Ashihara

The problem with a flash-forward is that it can defuse dramatic moments when we know the outcome.  That's kind of what happens here; the first chapter of this series saw an adult Ann contemplating her precious hourglass, so when she throws it away this chapter, having sworn to forget Daigo, we know it's not gone for good.  There were only a few possible outcomes: she could obtain another one, either from Fuji or elsewhere (which would be a bit dumb, since the one she tossed was already a replacement for the one her mom bought her), or she could find it again.  Guess which one happened?  But while it ended up being kind of a contrived plot, Ashihara uses it in service for some heartbreaking events.  Not for Ann though; she might be upset about her life, but she's doing pretty good.  No, the real object of pity here is Fuji, who is devoting himself to Ann wonderfully, and she's only using him to feel good while she pines for Daigo.  Damn, that's harsh.  Actually, It's a bit more complex than that, but being of the male persuasion, I can't help but feel sorry for poor Fuji.  He's losing his virginity to the girl he's always loved, and she can't stop thinking about her ex.

Really, it's more of the rich characterization that has defined this series, which is the reason chapters like this can provoke such a strong reaction.  I'm continually impressed with how well Ashihara crafts this series, and I imagine I'll continue to be as it progresses.  Don't let me down, sensei!

Honey and Clover
By Chica Umino

In everybody's favorite series about goofy art school students, not too much happens this month.  Most of the action continues to center on Takemoto's journey of self-discovery, in which he finally finds his true calling: to be a housekeeper!  Or something like that.  He ends up working with a group of construction workers who renovate temples, cooking meals and doing laundry, and it's the most fulfilling thing he's done in a long time.  Was art school all for naught?  Or will he be able to take this experience and find focus as he figures out what he wants to do after graduation?  Only time will tell.  We get some interesting, enjoyable moments in the meantime though, a testament to Umino's skill at quickly crafting memorable characters even when they only make brief appearances.

Back at school, Hagu gets to teach a children's art class, which should provide her with some of her own ideas about what to do after graduation.  And Ayu actually meets Rika, her rival for Mayama's affections.  It gives her some insight into the woman and what Mayama sees in her, and prompts her own reverie into what she will do with her life.  Will she continue as she is, making pottery and working in her family's liquor store, ending up an old maid?  Can she handle that, if that's what it comes to?  Professor Hanamoto confesses that he has pretty much accepted a similar lot in life, and he doesn't seem to be doing too bad.  It's a good, introspective subplot, and one that I look forward to seeing resolved.  My hope: that Mayama will eventually give up his dreams of getting together with Rika, and finally go for the girl that has been sitting under his nose.  But I'm sure that's what Umino wants all her readers to happen, so she'll probably do some interesting things to mess with our expectations.  As always, I can't wait to see.

Vampire Knight
By Matsuri Hino

It'll be hard to talk about this chapter without revealing any spoilers, but I'll attempt to do so, so as to keep from ruining the experience of any fangirls who are waiting for the next volume.  And wow, will they be blown away by the events of this chapter, which do exactly what I thought Matsuri Hino would never do, completely changing up the status quo of the series, and doing so in a way that was quite unexpected.  Last chapter ended with Kaname biting Yuki, presumably turning her into a vampire in order to bring back her memories and prevent her from going insane.  And, well, that's not exactly what happened, but what did occur adds another creepy, crazy layer to the plot, along with a bit of good old incest (that's one sort of indirect spoiler, but I whited it out, so only read it if you're good and ready).  It's rare that something actually happens in this series, and even more so something that gets me excited, but I'll admit that I'm actually pretty interested to see what Hino has coming up.  I can't normally call myself a fan of this series, but if Hino would pace the action a bit better and dole out revelations like this a bit more frequently, I might well end up a convert.  If you're anticipating this reveal, then you're in for a treat.

Well, this took me long enough to finish, but here it is.  Now I'm all excited for next month, for several reasons.  I don't think I'll ever stop reading this magazine, which is a bit sad.  But hey, target demographics aren't everything, right?

Monday, April 20, 2009

This week, there are a couple notables

Nothing to say here, so let's look at the list:

New comics this week (Wednesday, 4/22/09):

Astonishing X-Men #29

Warren Ellis and Simone Bianchi's run on this title is still coming out, although who knows if anybody remembers anything about it.  I think it has something to do with parallel universes?

Azrael Deaths Dark Knight #2

I haven't read this, and I don't know if I ever will unless I see it in a bargain bin, but it's your place to go for Frazier Irving art right now.  Is this the last issue, or are there more coming?  Does anyone really care that much?

Ex Machina #41

I really do want to get caught up on this series.  When is the next collection coming out?

Hellblazer #254

Hey, how has the Milligan run on the creepy old uncle of the Vertigo family been?  One day, when I read a bunch of Hellblazer and feel like I can finally understand it, I'll get to this, and hopefully I won't be disappointed.

I Am Legion #3

Nury/Cassaday, with more of the Nazi undead.  I think this marks the beginning of previously-unreleased (in the US) material.  I do want to read this, but I'll probably wait and buy the collected version.

Ignition City #2

Didn't the first issue of this only just come out a week or two ago?  I may eventually end up buying this series, since I'm hooked on Warren Ellis, but it does sound a bit like something plugged together from his book of standard plots and characters.  Still, I don't think I can stay away...

Immortal Iron Fist #25

This issue, which is apparently the penultimate chapter in the current storyline, sees Danny Rand face off against the very first Iron Fist, and then try to make an escape from his otherdimensional prison.  What I've read of this has been pretty darn good.

Jack of Fables #33

I think I failed to mention it, but the most recent issue of Fables kicked off the "Great Fables Crossover".  And here's part two.  I have no idea how this story is going to be collected, but hopefully it will all go into one volume, rather than having three separate books.  Also, I hope it doesn't suck.

Kick-Ass #6

I thought this might be the last issue of Mark Millar's creator-owned thing, but apparently not.  It does appear to focus on the little girl assassin who has shown up at some point.  I should have a review up at Comics Bulletin tomorrow, so watch for that.

No Hero #5

More Warren Ellis.  This is probably one that I'll pick up in trade, unless I forget.  I've heard very little about it since the first issue (#0) came out, so who knows if it's good.  I did like the concept though.

Tales Designed To Thrizzle #5

Michael Kupperman!  This comic is funny.

Viking #1

Ooh, here's the new semi-indy comic to check out; it's from Image, and it's by Ivan Brandon, with art by Nic Klein.  It's about exactly what the title says.  I really like the sample art I've seen, so I definitely want to take a look inside, at the very least.  Here's an interview with some preview pages at CBR, and I dug this Newsarama article where Klein demonstrated his step-by-step art process.

Ashley Wood's Art Of Metal Gear Solid TP

I really don't care about the Metal Gear Solid games, having barely played any of them, but I usually take notice whenever Ashley Wood's name is on something.  This appears to be an artbook focusing on Wood's contributions to the comic series adaptation of the game.  That's a bit too removed from much of anything for me to actually buy, but I would flip through it if I saw it on a shelf.

Best Of Simon And Kirby HC

I think this already came out, but it's still worth mentioning.  Early Joe Simon/Jack Kirby stories!  That's pretty awesome; I do want to get more familiar with their collaborative material, since most of the Kirby that I've read has been from Fantastic Four onward.  

Bun Field TP

I think this is another book that's out already, but it's one I've heard about here and there, and I wouldn't mind checking it out at some point.  It's a sort of surreal, dreamy story by Finnish creator Amanda Vahamaki, and it's supposed to be pretty good.  Here's a review by J. Caleb Mozzocco.

Chicken With Plums TP

And heck, this book has been out for years, but I haven't read it.  It's one of Marjane Satrapi's non-Persepolis books, and since I liked those, and the movie adaptation, I would also like to read this one.  This new paperback edition looks like my chance; to the library!

Classwar Series 1 Collected Edition HC

If it wasn't for Tucker Stone, I probably wouldn't even have noticed this book, which collects an early-2000s Authority-esque superhero series by Rob Williams, Trevor Hairsine, and Travel Foreman.  His review of the book in his Comixology column definitely made it sound worth a look, so I will do so, if I get the chance.

Freakangels Vol. 2

Whoa, even more Warren Ellis!  When his comics come out, they do it all at once, don't they?  This is the second collection of his webcomic with Paul Duffield, but I still recommend reading it for free rather than paying for it.

Jellaby GN Vol 2 Jellaby in the City

Kean Soo's kids' series looks pretty nice, so this second volume is probably one to get.  I should read the first one first though.  Here's Caleb Mozzocco's review of the first volume, if you want to know more about the series.

Mess Of Everything TP

This graphic novel by Miss Lasko-Gross appears to be a sort of sequel to her semiautobiographical first book, Escape From Special, with the new installment dealing with her high school years.  The art looks great; you can read a preview at Act-I-Vate.  And you can also see a slideshow at Fantagraphics' site.

Scalped Vol 4 The Gravel In Your Guts TPB

Why have I not read this series yet?  I keep hearing good things about it, and I keep wanting to get to it, but I still haven't.  And now I'm farther behind.  One of these days...

Stonecutter HC

This adaptation of a Chinese folk tale sports some art by Jon J. Muth, so it will certainly look very nice.  It apparently was only previously available in a very limited edition, so now non-rich people get to look at it.

Tick Big Blue Destiny Complete Works TP

I do like the Tick, what I've read of it, although most of my experience is probably from the cartoon show.  This appears to collect every Tick comic; 320 pages for $30.  Sounds like fun.

Crayon Shinchan Vol 8 TP CMX Edition

More horrible childhood hijinx.  Funny stuff, from what I've seen of it.

Manga Guide To Databases TP

Another volume in No Starch Press' line of edu-manga books.  I previously reviewed The Manga Guide to Statistics, and here's another similar one.  Sure to be fun, right?  Right?  Eh, maybe not so much, but it will probably involve a cute, clueless girl being guided by a smitten nerd.  If that (along with learning) sounds like your sort of thing, by all means, seek it out.

Naoki Urasawas 20th Century Boys Vol 2 TP

I just finished the first volume of this series (review coming soon, I hope), and it was really good.  So here's the second, ready for me to seek it out.  I just can't get enough Naoki Urasawa.

Real Vol 4 GN

And here's another mangaka that I can't get enough of: Takehiko Inoue.  I thought the first three volumes of this wheelchair basketball series were really, really good, so I've got no reason to think this one will be otherwise.

Shojo Beat Vol 5 #5 May 2009

I also just finished this issue, and if all goes as expected, I'll have posted a review by the time you read this.  I'm always happy to read more of my precious girly Japanese comics.

Vagabond VIZBIG Edition Vol 3 TP

And here's more Takehiko Inoue.  I still need to re-read the first VIZBIG volume of this samurai series, and then maybe I can try to get caught up.  We'll see how that goes.

Is that it?  I think so.  We'll see if I get to anything else this week, but maybe not.  But don't worry; I'm not going anywhere.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Spirit: I miss Will Eisner

Elsewhere: I reviewed Incognito #3 at Comics Bulletin. Also, I wrote about last week's Dollhouse at The Factual Opinion.

Links: It turns out that "Veronique Tanaka", the creator of the graphic novel Metronome, was fictional, with the actual author being Bryan Talbot. How about that. I was interested in that book before, but now I feel like I should try to seek it out.

I found this article by Paul Gravett, about Italian cartoonist Gianni DeLuca's adaptation of Hamlet, to be rather fascinating, with some incredible examples of the book's artwork and lots of examples of other works that use similar techniques.

A blog called Awesome Engine is doing a series of posts on Go Nagai's Violence Jack, and it's pretty interesting stuff. I don't think I've read anything by Nagai, but the examples here are pretty nuts, full of post-apocalyptic violence in the manner of Kazuo Umezu.

Online comics: Evan Dorkin has a short comic up at TCM's Lost Scenes site, imagining a bit from 2000 Maniacs, and the latest MySpace Dark Horse Presents has a comic by Farel Dalrymple. Good readin'.

Okay, here's some babble about a stupid movie:

The Spirit
Directed by Frank Miller

What was Frank Miller thinking? Actually, that's not the question, since it's pretty obvious that Miller was making this movie solely for himself; rather, we should ask why anybody would sink millions of dollars into his ridiculous vision. It obviously wasn't a good decision, since the movie bombed big-time, but that's something for the bean-counters to worry about; we can just bask in the resulting stupidity and try to figure out what the hell is going on.

The thing is, Miller is a terrible choice to adapt anything by Will Eisner. The former's comics are pretty much completely bereft of the latter's humanity; trying to create a mash-up of the two styles is near-impossible, and now we have the evidence to prove it. Miller has taken Eisner's characters and setting and removed most anything resembling Eisner's original creation, transporting them to the world of Sin City while trying to retain a distractingly broad sense of humor. It doesn't work at all, but it's a hell of a crazy thing to witness.

The tone of the movie is all over the place, veering from the grim-and-grittiness of The Dark Knight Returns (or, more appropriately, All-Star Batman and Robin) to over-the-top silliness, often in the same scene. Gabriel Macht, playing the title character, gives lots of Batman-esque voiceover narration (or just talks to the camera) about how Central City is his lover, and his mother, and his obsession, and, I dunno, his snuggly teddy bear. He's so serious about his mission to fight crime (which, other than a single mugger, seems to consist only of Samuel L. Jackson's Octopus), but then he'll start mugging and acting clumsy, in an apparent attempt to reference those Eisner-drawn images of the character shrugging or rolling his eyes. An early fight scene with Jackson sees him spit out lines like "I'm going to kill you all kinds of dead!" and spend thirty straight seconds repeatedly punching his adversary in the face, and then he gets whacked in the crotch by a giant wrench or bonked on the head with a toilet. It's downright whiplash-inducing.

Miller does try to cram in a lot of Eisner creations, including a bunch of sexy dames, but other than Eva Mendes as Sand Saref, most of them seem like window dressing. Sarah Paulson's Ellen Dolan is the good girl. Scarlett Johansson's Silken Floss is the bad girl, Jackson's sidekick. And beyond that, it's little more than cameos, with Jaime King playing Lorelai Rox as a sort of spectre of death rather than a siren-ish criminal, and Paz Vega nonsensically dancing around for one scene as Plaster of Paris (which is a terrible character name, even if Eisner came up with it). And don't forget Stana Katic as rookie cop Morgenstern, who manages to make a uniform and flak jacket look like a leather catsuit. They're all just there to look hot though. Mendes does try to make her performance fit the varying tone of the film, even though she's a pretty poor actress. And in an odd twist, a photocopy of her ass ends up being a pretty key prop. That was just one moment that made me wonder what the hell I was watching.

And hell, the plot itself is pretty bonkers, somehow mixing in mad science and mythology with the crime aspects of the original stories. The Spirit is now more of a superhero, with a regenerative healing ability that he shares with his nemesis, the Octopus, who is a mad scientist that gave him his powers and also shares them. And they're busy fighting over a vase containing the blood of Heracles, which will grant immortality. I guess this is Miller's attempt to do something a bit more comic-booky than his usual hardboiled violence? Like most of the movie, it really doesn't work.

Really, the only thing that does work is Samuel L. Jackson, who throws himself into his character, giving a strange, cartoony performance that seems to be the only thing actually keyed into Miller's "vision". He shouts and cackles like a madman, he changes into a series of ridiculous costumes, he obsesses over eggs for some reason, he violently murders his army of cloned henchmen (all played by Louis Lombardi) whenever he gets upset. It's hilarious to watch, but like the rest of the movie, it can be a bit much.

I suppose a word could be said about the look of the movie, but if you've seen any commercials, you know what to expect; it's basically Sin City, with possibly a bit more (virtual) urban backdrops. It can be pretty distracting, with the occasional cut to white-on-black silhouettes, or spot color highlighting the bright red of the Spirit's tie or the bright white of the soles of his sneakers (I don't know why that would be worth highlighting either). There are a few images that are meant to be homages to Eisner, like sewer grates or curved lampposts, but it's really all Miller, all the time.

So, I don't know, I really can't recommend this movie, at least not without a multitude of caveats. It's certainly a unique work, and the majority of the appeal is seeing what ridiculous, moronic thing Miller will do next. If that sounds like a good time to you, then by all means, see it. But don't expect it to be good.

Monday, April 13, 2009

This week, the ammunition is all spent

I'm sort of working on something, so posting might be light.  Unless I finish reading whatever I'm reading, and then I'll write about it.  How about that?  Anyway, here's some links:

A video interview with Paul Pope!

I think it was Robot 6 who clued me into Paolo Rivera's blog, and he's got this series called "Wacky Reference Wednesdays", in which he posts photos that he took of himself in som pose that he could reference for some artwork.  I love that sort of stuff, so check it out if you think that sounds like fun.

I don't usually talk about solicitations much anymore, but I gotta point out Dark Horse's releases for July (and also September, apparently), because there's lots of goodness in there.  Matt Kindt's 3 Story: The History of the Giant Man!  BPRD 1947, with art by Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba!  Citizen Rex, a new miniseries by Mario and Gilbert Hernandez!  The new version of Creepy!  Dethklock vs. The Goon!  The Noir anthology!  Dave McKean's Pictures That Tick!  Wow, that's a lot of money to spend.

Here's a lengthy preview of the upcoming "manga" Wolverine book.  Doesn't look too bad.

Have I mentioned that Jog and Tucker Stone are blogging their way through all the books released in the brief DC/Humanoids deal?  I've been enjoying the hell out of the series so far, and now I've got several more things on my "to find and buy someday" list.  Here's the latest installment (as of this writing), which has links to all the others.

New comics this week (Wednesday, 4/15/09):

100 Bullets #100

Here's the big one for the week.  Final issue!  Who will live, who will die, and who will finally explain the convoluted plot?  I can't wait to read it.  Luckily, it won't be too long, for once.

Atomic Robo And The Shadow From Beyond Time #1

Hey, a new Atomic Robo miniseries?  I never did finish reading the last one, but I will at some point.  This time around, Robo meets up with HP Lovecraft, which should make for some nasty tentacular fighting.  This series is fun.  

DMZ #41

This is still coming out.  I still need to read the last trade.  Soon.

Fables #83

And also this.  I need to read the next trade, so it should come out already.

Godland #27

Also also this.  See what I said about DMZ.

Incognito #3

Brubaker and Phillips continue their tales of supervillainy.  I should have a review of this up at Comics Bulletin tomorrow.

Mysterius: The Unfathomable #4

Parker and Fowler keep this one coming.  Sorry to disappoint Evie, but I'm waiting for the trade.  Looking forward to it though!

Overlook #1

This is a three-issue crime/noir series from Image, by Joshua Williamson and Alejandro Aragon.  It's about a prize fighter who gets involved with the mob.  Looks pretty nice; I'm always interested in crime comics like this, so it sounds like it's worth a look.

Rampaging Wolverine #1

Obviously, we needed another Wolverine comic.  This one seems to take the form of a black and white magazine, similar to the ones Marvel used to publish in the 70s.  Features stories by Joshua Hale Fialkov and Ted McKeever.  Maybe worth a flip-through?

Secret Invasion Aftermath Beta Ray Bill The Green of Eden #1

Wow, that's a long title.  I probably would not care about this in the slightest, but I'll mention that it's by Kieron Gillen and Dan Brereton, which might make it worth a glance.

Sub-Mariner Comics #1

More of Marvel's 70th anniversary celebration, this one features a story by Roy Thomas and Mitch Breitweiser, another one by Mark Schultz and Al Williamson, and a reprint of the character's first appearance.  Enjoy, if that's your sort of thing.

Wolverine Noir #1

Marvel definitely seems to be pushing these "noir" books, but their appeal is kind of lost on me.  I would rather read a real noir detective story than with weird interpretations of superheroes shoehorned in, but maybe that's just me.  This one is by Stuart Moore, with art by C.P. Smith.  It looks kind of neat at least.

X-Men #508

Matt Fraction still has his run on this title going on.  Terry Dodson's recent arc is finished though, so we're back to the ugliness of Greg Land.  Have fun with that, X-fans.

100 Percent HC

In the same vein as the fancy Heavy Liquid reprint, here's a fancy version of Paul Pope's excellent Vertigo sci-fi comic.  It's $40, which is kind of pricey, but I bet it looks really nice.  This might be my favorite of Pope's comics, with some great, personal stories in a detailed futuristic world.  If you haven't read it before, give it a try.

Alex Toth Goes Hollywood SC

I haven't read nearly enough of Toth's work, so here's a book to try to read, maybe.  It collects stories that adapted old TV shows or movies, featuring Roy Rogers and the like.  I bet it's some good readin'.

Firebreather TP Vol 02 All Best Heroes Are Orphans

This collects the recent (mini-?)series from Phil Hester and Andy Kuhn, about the monster-fighting son of the devil, I think.  I never read it, but it looked like it could be good.  Maybe someday, as I often say.

Herbie Archives Vol 3 HC

More of Dark Horse's collection of the gleefully insane adventures of a fat kid and his magic lollipops.  I've only seen a tiny bit of this series, and it's crazy and hilarious.  Someday I'll read these volumes, and laugh and laugh.

Hollow-Eyed Mary GN

Being from Devil's Due, I thought this might be one of their Humanoids reprints, but apparently it's not.  It's actually some sort of post-apocalyptic serial killer story, which could be all right.  It's by Andre Duza (or adapted from a book he wrote, maybe) and Rudolf Montemayor.  Here's a preview.

Perhapanauts Vol 1 TPB

I enjoyed what I read of this Todd Dezago/Craig Rousseau series when it was a miniseries from...I forget.  Dark Horse, maybe?  Anyway, it was revived at Image, and this collects the first storyline.  For those who are unaware, it's about a team of monsters who work for the government investigating supernatural stuff.  I haven't heard much about this incarnation of the series, but I doubt it's very different, so it's probably still enjoyable.

Planet Of Beer SC

This book from Dark Horse collects a bunch of the alternative weekly strip "Smell of Steve", by Brian Sendelbach.  I've never read it, but it looks cute.  You can see some preview strips at the strip's Myspace page, or at Dark Horse's site.

Punisher War Zone Resurrection Ma Gnucci HC

Here's the expensive hardcover collection of the recent Garth Ennis/Steve Dillon miniseries.  It was pretty good, with some fun violence and classic Ennis humor.  Probably not worth the $25 price though, so I recommend either waiting for a softcover or grabbing the individual issues.  If you want, you can read my reviews of issues one, two, three, five, and six.  Strangely, I don't think I ever linked to that last one.  Huh.

War Is Hell First: The First Flight of the Phantom Eagle TPB

And if you want more Garth Ennis, here's another series he did last year, about fighter pilots in World War I.  It was very good; Ennis' war stories are almost always excellent.  Howard Chaykin did the art, and there was much goriness.  I think it might have previously come out in a hardcover, but this is the cheaper paperback edition, so here's your chance if you were waiting to save money.  Here's my review of the first issue.

Wolverine Logan TPB

And here's another cheaper softcover collection, containing the three-issue series by Brian K. Vaughan and Eduardo Risso, in which Marvel's ubiquitous mutant is revealed to have been in Hiroshima when the A-bomb dropped.  It's not the best work that either creator has done, but it's not terrible, and it's worth a look just for Risso's art.  Damning with faint praise!

Dogs Vol 0 Prelude GN

Here's the only manga that I thought was worth mentioning this week; it's a seinen (I think) series from Viz about hitmen.  Could be good; I've got a copy on my review pile, so hopefully I'll be able to get to it soon.

And that appears to be everything.  We'll see if I get to any more writing this week, but hopefully it'll happen.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Swallow Me Whole: Don't do that

Elsewhere: I talked about last week's Dollhouse at TFO.  I think that show's finally growing on me.

Swallow Me Whole
By Nate Powell

Mental illness is a difficult subject to cover, in any medium.  For example, in film, obsessive compulsive disorder can come off as eccentricity (As Good As It Gets), and schizophrenia can be pat and simplistic (A Beautiful Mind). Prose probably works a bit better, with a good writer able to place the reader inside the head of somebody suffering from a disease like Tourette's Syndrome (Motherless Brooklyn).  But what about comics?  Well, as is often said, comics can do anything, so in the hands of the right creator, all it takes is a willingness to approach the subject seriously, treating the mentally ill as real people and chronicling their struggles (and some artistic chops certainly help).  Luckily, Nate Powell fits that description to a T, and this graphic novel functions as a harrowing look into the lives of those dealing with the toll that diseases like schizophrenia take on a person, especially during the adolescent period where nothing seems certain or concrete at the best of times.

Powell is definitely willing to approach the subject with clear eyes, neither romancing the concept or making the characters into raving lunatics.  Rather, he presents his cast as a dysfunctional family, except rather than existing in their interpersonal relationships, the dysfunction is internal, messing up their perception of reality.  The main focus of the book is on teenage brother and sister Ruth and Perry, who both deal with their own issues.  Perry has been battling the perception that a miniature pencil-topper wizard is talking to him, giving him instructions about some nebulous "mission".  Luckily, he's able to channel this into drawing, an acknowledgment that artists often follow a different path than the rest of us, to say the least.  Ruth, on the other hand, has a harder time of things; she has an obsession with insects and small creatures like frogs and lizards, believing that they are communicating with her and amassing an extensive collection of them in jars that she keeps lined on the shelves in her bedroom.  The perceptions seem to come and go, sometimes seeming as though they are all around her, even to a debilitating extent that leaves her rooted in place, afraid that she will inadvertently destroy some of them through movement.

The siblings' family and school life doesn't seem to help too much with their problems; at home, their ailing grandmother ("Memaw") takes up most of the family's attention, and the teachers at school are eager to hammer down any nail that sticks up.  They do have each other, and Powell ably shows their relationship, in which they care about each other and try to offer encouragement and understanding as they deal with issues that they don't even understand.  But that's not enough, and it can be difficult to watch as Powell puts them through their paces, especially since he does such a good job developing them into likeable, realistic people that we want to be happy.

But when it comes to the effects of the disease, he doesn't pull any punches, really selling the horror of not being able to trust your own senses.  When Ruth feels that she can see and hear a mass of buzzing insects closing in around her, it's presented as an overwhelming oppression of sight and sound:

And the way she describes it is compellingly alluring, saying of her collection, "Sometimes I feel like I can open some magical gateway, if I discover the precise order for my shelf."    These obsessive tendencies seem awful, but they're calming and reassuring for her.  Likewise, she loves the beauty of these creatures, rather than being hounded and oppressed by them.  But it's obviously not healthy, and even though she does get some medical attention and ends up on medication, the problems never go away.

In fact, the ending that Powell reaches is almost unrelentingly bleak, at least in my interpretation [SPOILERS ahead].  As Ruth's condition worsens, it eventually brings her whole life crashing down around her, causing her to be kicked out of school and lose the museum job she loves.  Her parents, not knowing what else to do, decide to remove what they see as the source of her problems, and go about packing up her bug collection.  When she discovers this, she totally breaks down, and the rest of the book plays out in a near-wordless series of scenes that see her float out of the house and allow herself to be consumed by insects.  It's hard to see it as anything other than suicidal hallucinations, including imaginings of how others (especially Perry) will react [end spoilers].  It's horribly depressing, even in its beauty.  Is it a call to action by Powell, wanting people to educate themselves on the subject of mental illness and ensure that this won't happen to people in real life?  Perhaps, but whatever the case, it's powerful stuff.

The interesting thing is, a lot of the imagery is left open to interpretation, especially in the way the illness affects people.  One repeated image is that of a sort of anthropomorphic representation of a pill, which we first see escaping from Memaw's sleeping lips.  This could show that, since Memaw is shown to have her own problems with perception and reality, the illness is being passed down from generation to generation, although it's never clear who is seeing it this way.  We also see the "pill" growing huge and devouring swarms of bugs, a possible depiction of how the medication is helping with Ruth's hallucinations, but in doing so, is taking away something she cares about.

It's all a lot to think about, and the gorgeous art gives plenty to marvel over as well, with pages full of wonderfully expressive characters and beautifully realized settings.  Powell really captures the rhythms of teenage life, including excellent depictions of music:

And the interactions between characters seem so real, whether in simple conversations or ones that use somewhat fantastical techniques, such as this heartbreaking conversation between Ruth and Memaw that sees the latter transform into a younger version of herself:

The storytelling is also impeccable, with actions and scenes never confusing, but clearly delivering all the necessary information.  And some scenes are lent a page-turning intensity that comes from what we know of the characters' emotional states, like this page from a scene near the end of the book:

It's masterful work throughout, giving readers plenty to mull over through the course of the story and beyond.  Powell knows and cares about his subject, as he reveals in this interview, and it shows.  He's an astonishing talent, and one can only imagine the greatness that lays in store.

By the way, the book has been nominated for three Eisner Awards (Best Graphic Album-New, Best Writer/Artist, and Best Lettering) and is a strong contender to win any or all of them.  I didn't read it before I completed my Best of 2008 list, but at the moment, I would probably rank it in the top five; it's that good.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Salt Water Taffy: With this weather, I could also use a vacation

Eisner nominations are out.  I might do a post about them at some point; we'll see.

Salt Water Taffy: The Seaside Adventures of Jack and Benny, volume 2: A Climb Up Mt. Barnabas
By Matthew Loux

Matthew Loux can do pretty great kids' comics, that's for sure.  He established that with the first volume of Salt Water Taffy, which introduced his young sibling protagonists and their fantastical setting.  But you don't need to know anything that's not explained on the back cover of the book, so it's okay to read this one if you haven't read the first one.

This time out, Jack and Benny get involved in a quest to recover their dad's hat after it gets stolen by a giant eagle that lives on top of Mt. Barnabas, an impassible peak that has never been conquered (or so the legend goes).  It's a fun story, and it's impeccably structured, with the whole thing being kicked off by their dad's tall tale about climbing the mountain as a child and stealing his hat from Barnabas (who shares his moniker with the mountain where he lives).  Even tossed-off bits like a helicopter toy that disappoints in its lameness and a pail of blueberries come in handy later in the story; it all fits together like a jigsaw puzzle.

Loux's artwork really works to bring out the best in the story; it's a unique style that perfectly fits the subject matter.  The thick lines, sharp angles, and weird pointy bits give all the characters (both animal and human) a nice physicality that blends right into the lush backgrounds.  It's really nice-looking stuff:

And the comedy works really well, playing Jack and Benny's relationship off each other and everyone they meet.  He also gets some mileage out of talking animals, in scenes that seem strongly inspired by Jeff Smith's Bone:

It's good times all around in Chowder Bay.  Bring on volume three!

Monday, April 6, 2009

This week, I might fall asleep while typing this

Seriously, almost nothing worth mentioning.

New comics this week (Wednesday, 4/8/09):

Dead Irons #3

The supernatural western continues.  I've flipped through this, and Jason Shawn Alexander's art looks nice.  Who knows if the story is worth reading though.

Doktor Sleepless #12

This is still coming out.  I don't know if I ever even finished the first "volume" of the book, so I might be lost if I ever try to catch up.

House of Mystery #12

And this is also still coming out.  Did the second trade collection ever appear, or is this story going to be in it?  It's part two of the current arc, so who knows.  I'm not sure, but I think the guest artist this issue is Grazia Lobaccaro, who did the art on a 2005 Slave Labor book called Silent Dance, and was also going to illustrate the Minx book Clubbing in Tokyo, which I don't think ever came out.  Also, the cover by Esao Andrews is pretty nice.

Ignition City #1

It looks like you can't have only one Warren Ellis book come out from Avatar in a single week, so here's a new ongoing series about an alternate history with pulp-style space heroes, or something like that.  Art is by Gianluco Pagliarani, who illustrated Ellis's Aetheric Mechanics.  This one is in color though, so that should be interesting to see.  Definitely a series to check out.

Infinite Horizon #4

Hey, I thought this had kind of disappeared into the ether!  Looks like it's still coming out; is this the last issue?  It was an interesting concept, reimagining The Odyssey in a sort of possible future in which the U.S. has lost the war in Iraq, and a soldier has to try to make his way home.  Decent, if not great, art by Phil Noto, but the story was plodding and not all that interesting.  Who knows, maybe it will get better at the end.

Northlanders #16

This is the final part of the Ryan Kelly-illustrated "The Cross + The Hammer", so hopefully that means a second collection is on its way.  I really want to read this.

Adventures In Cartooning How To Turn Your Doodles Into Comics TP

I linked to a preview of this kids' instructional comic a week or so ago, because it looked cute and fun.  Here's the actual book, by James Sturm, Andrew Arnold, and Alex Frederick-Frost, published by First Second.  Looks like fun.

And There You Are GN

New from Adhouse, this is a collection of stories by Ronnie del Carmen, and it looks really nice.  I wouldn't mind giving it a read.  You can download a PDF preview from Adhouse's site.

Chronicles Of Some Made GN

I've been seeing reviews of this book here and there, and I even saw a copy at my local comic shop the other day, but it's certainly worth mentioning.  It's a Xeric winner, about lovesick robots and cutesy stuff like that.  You can read one of the stories from the book here; I liked that one quite a bit.

Dark Tower Treachery HC

Hey, did anyone else notice that Jae Lee has apparently either slowed down quite a bit on this series, or stopped doing the regular artwork?  Colorist Richard Isanove has taken over the interior artwork on all the recent issues I've seen, attempting to mimic Lee's style as closely as possible.  It's weird that nobody has mentioned that, but maybe the only people reading the series are Stephen King fans or something.  I've certainly been pretty put off by what I've read of it beyond the first miniseries.  Too bad; I thought it started out well.  Eh, I should just read the original books sometime...

Funny Misshapen Body TP

New Jeffrey Brown!  To tell the truth, I think the only book of his I've read is The Incredible Change-Bots, which was pretty enjoyable.  But I haven't really liked what I've seen of the autobiographical stuff he's done; it just doesn't really appeal to me.  Maybe I need to give it another try sometime.  Anyway, this one is about Brown's development as a cartoonist over the course of his life.  Could be interesting.

Green Arrow Year One TPB

Did this end up being good?  I don't really remember, from what I read.  I really don't care about Green Arrow's origin story or whatever, but it's by the creative team of The Losers, Andy Diggle and Jock, which makes it worthy of attention, at least.  Eh, it's probably one to look for at the library.

Likewise TP

Apparently, this is the final volume of Ariel Schrag's autobio comics about her high school years.  I like Schrag's artwork, but like many, I'm kind of tired of memoirs like this.  Of course, I haven't read any of this series, so maybe it's good enough to change my mind.

Pedro And Me Friendship Loss And What I Learned TP

I've never read this book, but it's supposed to be good, right?  Judd Winick writing about his fellow Real World cast member, who died of AIDS.  It was what made Winick's comics career, right?  Of course, given what we know about Winick these days, that he's a pretty poor writer who will do whatever he can to shoehorn cheesy social commentary into his superhero stories, mabye it's not worth going back and reading this.  Eh, who knows?

Popgun Vol 3 GN

Ooh, another nice-looking anthology volume from the guys at Image.  I really dug the first volume, but I never did get my hands on the second one.  But here's number three, full of good pop comics.  Contributors include Paul Grist, Connor Willumsen, Dan Brereton, Mike Dawson, Juan Doe, Joelle Jones, Nic Klein, Mark Andrew Smith, Jim Zubkavich, and Laura Allred, among many, many others.  Cover by Tara McPherson.  You can read a 30-page story by Mark Andrew Smith and Johann Leroux here.

Shortcomings TPB

It's the paperback version of Adrian Tomine's acclaimed story, so check it out if you haven't before.  I reviewed (a version of) it here.

Showcase Presents Doom Patrol Vol 1 TPB

If I was collecting these black and white phonebook collections of old comics, this would be one to get.  Arnold Drake was ahead of his time with these crazy stories, so here's a chance to read a bunch of them.  Maybe I'll get to them someday.

Color Of Earth TP

I think this is First Second's first venture into Asian comics, with the opening chapter of a manwha trilogy by Korean artist Kim Dong Wha.  It looks to be a quiet story about a girl falling in love, and it's probably quite nice.  First Second is one of those publishers whose output has been so excellent that their release of a book is enough to grab the attention, and hopefully this won't be any exception to their usual level of quality.  You can read a short preview here.

Dinosaur Hour Vol 1 TP

This is one of the books from Viz's kids line, and it looks cute and fun, about anthropomorphic dinosaurs getting up to silly antics.  Who doesn't love dinosaurs?

Gantz TP vol 04

On the other end of the spectrum, it's more ultraviolence, and possibly some sex.  I should try to read this series sometime.

Honey Hunt Vol 1 GN

I've enjoyed this Miki Aihara series as it has been serialized in Shojo Beat.  For those who don't know, it's about a girl with famous parents (her mom's an actress, and her dad is an Academy Award-winning composer) who decides to strike out on her own and become famous herself.  So far, it's been fun and dramatic; we'll see how it goes.

JoJos Bizarre Adventure Vol 11 TP

I just mention this one to note that I've never read this series, but I often hear it's bizarre greatness touted, so I do want to give it a try someday.  That's all.

Leave It To PET Vol 1 TP

Another Viz kids' book, about a boy who has a protective super robot that often causes more trouble than help.  Sounds like fun.

Legend Of Zelda Oracle Of Seasons GN

And more Viz Kids.  They've already released some Zelda manga adapting the storylines of various games in the series, and this one appears to come from a Game Boy game, which I've never played.  It's supposed to be good though, so maybe the comic is too.

Slam Dunk Vol 3 GN Viz Edition

And finally, some more awesome basketball comics.  I already read and reviewed this volume, and it's great, full of fun sports and plenty of hilarity.  If you're not reading this series already, do so, I implore you.

And that's the meager week.  Plenty of Viz manga, but little else.  Get caught up on your backlog, everybody!  That's what I plan to do.