Monday, September 28, 2009

This week, I'm distracted by the teevee

One link, for now: This comic by Kevin Cannon is made from pieces of a pinewood derby car, and it's hilarious.

New comics this week (Wednesday, 9/30/09):

Boys Herogasm #5

Kicking off the week with some Garth Ennis super-porn. That should get me in the mood...for comics! I don't know what that means.

Die Hard Year One #1

Boom! Studios has this new cross-media something-or-other, all about John McClane not dieing easily, even in his youth. I guess he's in New York during the summer of 1976 (you know, Son of Sam and all that; I want to see if he runs into Spike Lee as a reporter); maybe he also fights a youthful Alan Rickman. Actually, it's written by Howard Chaykin, which is an interesting get for Boom!. Art's by Stephen Thompson, and action movie fans will probably still avoid comic shops.

Glamourpuss #9

Dave Sim, Dave Sim. I remain fascinated by this series, even if I don't buy it. This one might actually be a comic about the title character, rather than another essay about comics photorealism. I'll believe that when I see it.

Jack of Fables #38

More of Jack being a charming douchebag, I expect. I think the next collection of this series comes out soon? Then I'll be waiting expectantly for the collection of The Great Fables Crossover. Let's make it happen already.

Runaways #14

Kathryn Immonen and Sara Pichelli keep their run going; I've certainly enjoyed what I've seen of it, so let's hope the series is finally back on track after Terry Moore did his best to run it off the rails (hah! Mixed metaphor!). The cover hints that Gert returns from the dead, but if that actually happens, there had better be a damn good reason for it. Don't let me down, Immonen!

Shang-Chi Master of Kung Fu Black & White One Shot

Marvel doesn't seem to know what era they want to be nostalgic for from week to week; rather than the WWII-fetishization of late, here's another revival/tribute/whatever of the old magazine-format black and white comics of the 70s. Annoyingly, it guest-stars Deadpool, although they are described as having a "kung fu motorcycle race", which sounds amusing. The stories are by "four of Marvel's hottest writers", but I can't find any information on who those fellows actually are. I'll take a guess: C.B. Cebulski, Chris Yost, Brian Reed, and Daniel Way. All-stars! Also, there's a prose story by Robin Furth, to really get the fanboys excited. Sounds like a can't-miss! Don't let me down, Marvel! Oh wait, it's much too late for that.

Sky Pirates of Neo Terra #1

Ah, the video game adaptation; what would comics be without it? A more valid artistic medium, you say? Pish-posh! Those Metal Gear Solid comics prove whatever I want them to prove. This series is about some fantasy world of flying witches or something, and it will probably be dumb, but you never know. Written by Josh Wagner, with art by Camilla D'Errico. Here's an interview/preview. See, it looks purty!

Spider-Man Clone Saga #1

Oh man, I can't believe Marvel is tempting fate by bringing back the infamous Clone Saga. That was hot stuff back when I first started reading superhero comics, and while I thought it was exciting at first, it completely took over all the damn Spider-books, and dragged on and on and oooooon before whimpering to the close that resurrected Norman Osborn and inadvertently enabled Marvel's current master plot. I'm not even sure what this thing is supposed to be. Is it an X-Men Forever-style story that tells what the creators (Howard Mackie and Tom DeFalco, who are writing with Todd Nauck providing art) originally planned to do and stays out of continuity? Or is it a retcon that tells what actually happened after the whole "deal with the devil" thing? Are they doing this just so they can bring back Ben Reilly? Why should I care? See, I'm curious, probably due to youthful nostalgia. But I certainly won't go so far as buying it. I will point people to the interesting Life of Reilly series by Andrew Goletz and Glenn Greenberger though; it's a fascinating and comprehensive behind-the-scenes look at that era.

Unknown Devil Made Flesh #1

Wow, Boom! is going right ahead with a second miniseries in this Mark Waid-written series about a doomed detective searching for the answer to the mystery of God, or something like that. I haven't read the first one, but it looked interesting, and I've read a pretty good review or two. So this one looks like it's worth checking out too, methinks.

Unknown Soldier #12

Your bit of socially-relevant Vertigo for the week. I'm reading the first collection of this series, and it's good stuff. More commentary/criticism to come, of course, since I can never shut up, but in the meantime, the series keeps coming out, so I say read it.

Absolute Promethea HC Vol 1

Ah, absolute editions, the bane of my existence. But if anything deserves a huge, pretty version, it's this, with its absolutely lovely J.H. Williams III art and a mind-blowing story by Alan Moore that sees its hero explore the limits of human imagination and spiritual existence. Some people seem to think it's pretentious and boring or something, but I don't count myself among those ranks. It looks like the five volumes will be distilled into three $100 books, probably including various extras and whatnot. I can't afford it, but if I could, I might consider it. I probably still wouldn't spend that much though. And also out from Alan Moore this week: 25,000 Years Of Erotic Freedom, a book-length expansion of an essay he did for Arthur magazine on pornography and erotica throughout human history. Containing plenty of illustrations, one hopes.

Al Williamson Forbidden Worlds TP

If Dave Sim is good for one thing, it's that he made me aware of Al Williamson, so I do give him credit for that. And here's what appears to be a good collection of Williamson's sci-fi comics, along with some (incongruous) Westerns from Charlton and collaborations with Frank Frazetta on John Wayne comics. Interesting? I bet this is worth checking out.

Aya Vol 3 The Secrets Come Out HC

I still haven't read the previous two volumes of this well-regarded series about the soap operatic lives of people in the Ivory Coast, so it will probably be a while before I get to this third (and final?) volume. I hope to do so eventually though.

Ball Peen Hammer TP

First Second has this graphic novel from playwright Adam Rapp and artist George O'Connor about society crumbling after a deadly plague and how a few survivors react, probably violently. I've heard good things about this (Tucker Stone makes it sound pretty damn good), so I'll have to try to get my hands on a copy.

Batman The Black Glove TPB

It's the softcover version of the Grant Morrison/J.H. Williams III story about Batman hanging out with his pals on an island and hunting a murderer. That one was quite good, especially in terms of Williams' art. Unfortunately, the price gets bumped up by another story, which is described as a flashback in which young Bruce Wayne hunts for his parents' killer. I thought the hardcover contained the next few issues, which were the beginning of Tony Daniel's run and a sort of prequel to the big "RIP" storyline? I dunno. Anyway, the main story is a good one, but you can probably find the individual issues for cheaper and avoid the ugly stuff that got thrown in. See, I care about you guys in these difficult economic times.

Best American Comics HC 2009

Looks like it's time for more whining about various people's definition of the term "best". Charles Burns is the guest editor this year, and his selections include Peter Bagge, Gabrielle Bell, Daniel Clowes, Al Columbia, Robert Crumb, Chris Ware, Sammy Harkham, Gilbert Hernandez (he gets a turn after Jaime last year), Kevin Huizenga, Michael Kupperman, Jason Lutes, Tony Millionaire, Anders Nilsen, Laura Park, Koren Shadmi, Dash Shaw, Art Spiegelman, Jillian and Mariko Tamaki, Adrian Tomine, and Dan Zettwoch (and others). Quite a good lineup. I expect I'll read it and do like last year, saying what I think did and didn't deserve to be included. When I get to guest-edit the thing, I can stop complaining. Call me, Jessica and Matt!

Boilerplate: History's Mechanical Marvel HC

Paul Guinan originally told the story of Boilerplate, a Victorian-era steam-driven robot, on a website that posited it as a bit of lost history, which is pretty fun and charming. Now, he's got a book out that details the mechanical man's adventures, with plenty of pictures by his wife Anina Bennett, seeing him charge up San Juan Hill with Teddy Roosevelt, travel with Lawrence of Arabia, explore Alaska, fight a bear, and all sorts of craziness. Not comics, really, but still pretty cool. You can see a bunch of those images and watch a "trailer" here.

Book of Genesis Illustrated by Robert Crumb

Ah, it's one of the most awaited books of the year, in which Crumb adapts the entire book of Genesis into comics form, not sparing any gory, freaky details. I've seen some previews and read reviews, and it looks pretty great. New Crumb is always worth paying attention to, and this seems like a pretty major work that will have a lot of people talking. I'll have to try to read it.

Deformitory GN

I've seen a couple reviews here and there for this, Sophia Wiedeman's Xeric-winning graphic novel about a girl whose hands turn into anthropomorphic claws, each with a mind of its own. Sounds weird and funny; I'd love to give it a look, given the chance.

Fables Deluxe Edition HC Vol. 01

Vertigo seems to be doing this fancy-pants thing with all its successful series, which means Fables is right in line for the treatment. That means 30 dollars for a nice hardcover of the first two collections, and maybe some extras like scripts or something. Not too bad a deal (I think the first two trades are around $15 anyway), and I do like the series quite a bit, so there you go.

Garth Ennis Battlefield TP Vol. 3 Tankies

The final entry in Ennis' latest series of war comics stories, this one was pretty good, less of a straightforward story and more of a series of events as a bunch of guys in a tank sort of get lost during the post-invasion push into France and have various violent encounters with the Germans. It's war, man, full of chaos and chance. And lots of gore, rendered as disgustingly as ever by frequent Ennis collaborator Carlos Ezquerra. I hate it when you have to clean body parts out of the tank treads. Oh, by the way, this is one of those cases where the collection is more expensive than buying the individual issues, so hit the back issue bins if you want to avoid the gouging. But do read it, and the other Battlefields comics, because they're good.

Good Neighbors Vol 2 Kith HC

I was interested in the first volume of this young adult-targeted fantasy series mostly due to the presence of Ted Naifeh on art, but I never did get around to reading it. And here's part two, adding to my list of stuff I really should read at some point. I think it got some decent reviews? I'm sure it looks pretty, at the very least.

Hellboy Library Edition Volume 3: Conqueror Worm & Strange Places HC

Speaking of deluxe editions, here's another volume in the thick, nice-looking collections of the various Hellboy books. I've seen these in bookstores, and they look like they would be a good addition to a bookshelf. A bit pricey at 50 bucks, but not too bad, especially if you get an Amazon discount. Of course, I still need to read the previous books, but I'll get to them sometime. Did I mention my list of future read? Yeah, Hellboy is on it. Also this week: a prose novel called The Ice Wolves by Mike Chadbourn (whoever that is), so you can get your non-comics fix of the big red guy if you want.

High Moon TP Vol. 1

Zuda! That sounds like a swear or something. Here's the first print volume of David Gallaher and Steve Ellis' werewolf Western, and I've heard it's pretty good. Still haven't read it though, but when I do, I'll probably do it for free online. That's the American way.

Logicomix GN

This appears to be one of those educational comics, all about the "quest for the Foundations of Mathematics". It's narrated by Bertrand Russell, and features such distinguished smart guys as Frege, Hilbert, Poincaré, Wittgenstein and Gödel. Maybe interesting? You can read more information and some preview pages at the book's official site.

Malice HC

This one is from Scholastic, and it's by two guys I've never heard of, Chris Wooding and Dan Chernett. But it sounds interesting, following some kids who try to rescue their friend from a deadly comic book that you can become trapped inside if you say the right magic words ("Bloody Mary", or something like that, I suspect). I think the framing story is prose, and the sections that take place within the comic are presented as comics, as if you're reading the book that the kids are trapped inside. Interesting? It might be all right, and Scholastic is generally a smart publisher of kids' books. I'd give it a look, given the chance.

Myth Of 8-Opus Labyrinth GN

Tom Scioli continues his Kirby-style cosmic comic, which I still haven't read. I really need to get my hands on this series, since I dig Scioli's work on Godland.

Outlaw: The Legend Of Robin Hood GN

This looks like another kids' book, doing yet another retelling of the Robin Hood story. If you've read/seen/heard one version, you've probably seen them all, so I don't know if it's really worth it. But everything seems new to kids, so maybe they'll dig it. It's by Tony Lee and Sam Hart.

Power & Glory TP

Dynamite is re-releasing this collection of Howard Chaykin's series from sometime in the 90s, about a superhero and the brains behind him. I haven't read it, and I hear that it's "lesser Chaykin", but I do want to experience more of his stuff, so I could see myself checking it out.

Prison Pit SC Book 01

I thought this came out already, but maybe it only seems like it because I've seen some reviews here and there. It's something new from Johnny Ryan; rather than his gross-out comedy, it's a gross-out action book, seeing non-stop fighting between various monstrous dudes on another planet. Fun! I like Jog's review of the book; he makes me want to read it.

Refresh Refresh GN

New from First Second, it's a graphic novel by Danica Novgorodoff, although it's based on a screenplay by James Ponsoldt, which was itself based on a story by Benjamin Percy. It's all about three teens who are about to be forced to face their post-graduation future, each of them sharing the difficulty of having a father who has been deployed to Iraq. I didn't especially like Novgorodoff's last book, Slow Storm, but I do think she is a good artist, and this could be pretty good. We'll have to see. Here's one of those interview/preview combos.

Sleeper Season 2 TP

The second half of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips' cool superhero noir series, and it's pretty damn good. If you haven't read it and you want to see where they really started to come together as a creative team, here you go. Dig it.

Superman Batman TP Vol. 1 Public Enemies New Printing

Oh, Jeph Loeb, was this where you went astray? Probably not, since when you look back at his career, he was never all that great anyway, but he did provide some solid stuff here and there. I can't remember if this came out before or after Batman: Hush, but it seemed like that was the point that Loeb got especially tiresome, with his scripts becoming a parade of "awesome" moments and special guest stars and nonsensical plots. That said, I do remember this actually being kind of fun, in a dumb, explodey way, and Ed McGuinness' art is usually good to look at. But even with the space of years since I read it, I can think of several annoyances and plot holes, like the gratuitous discussion of Power Girl's boobs, or the pointless appearance of the Kingdom Come Superman, or the way our heroes struggle to fight Metallo at the beginning but then easily defeat an army of other supervillains later. Eh, it's really probably not worth that much attention, so forget it. And I should probably mention that this is being re-released to coincide with DC's animated direct-to-DVD adaptation of the story; I doubt that version improves on it much, but it probably captures the enjoyability of the explosions and punching. Have fun, nerds.

Superman Kryptonite TPB

Speaking of Superman stories that aren't really all that great but do feature some nice art, here's the softcover version of this Darwyn Cooke/Tim Sale story about the first time Supes encountered Kryptonite. It's not bad, but there's nothing all that special about it outside of Sale's art. Both creators have done better, but if you are afraid of straying outside the superhero genre or something, you could definitely do worse. Hmm, I think I need to work on my backhanded recommendations...

Timothy And The Transgalactic Towel HC

Another kids' comic, although this one is from Image, and it's by Mike Bullock (Lions, Tigers, and Bears) and Michael Metcalf. It's about a kid who has big space adventures, and apparently Bullock has read The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Cute? Here's a preview.

Tiny Tyrant Lucky Winner TP

More kids' stuff! It's another one in the series by the venerable Lewis Trondheim, so it's sure to be good. I haven't read any of them, but I do like me some Trondheim, so, why not, let's add it to my imaginary list of books to read someday.

Trick R Treat TPB

I think this movie tie-in comic from DC/Wildstorm was supposed to come out around a year ago, but it got delayed along with the movie itself. I wouldn't normally bother mentioning this sort of thing, but there are some notable creators here, with Mark Andreyko writing and Mike Huddleston, Fiona Staples, and Grant Bond providing art, so it might be interesting. I don't know what the hell the movie is about, other than the generic subject of "Halloween". Comics: not providing anything original if they can help it.

Trotsky A Graphic Biography HC

Come, comrades! Behold the rise of our beloved leader and his cowardly murder by the evil Stalin! Also, some hot lovin' with that sexy Frida lady! Rick Geary drew this, and it should be good. Da!

Ultimatum Prem HC

Hey, did I mention Jeph Loeb sucking up there? Here's the proof; it's an absolutely terrible train wreck of a series, featuring page after page of gruesome, gratuitous death and idiotic plotting and character "work". Plus, some horribly ugly art by David Finch. I can't recommend it even in the so-bad-it's-good-sense, because it's just bad, disgusting, and headache-inducing. I really don't care that much about Marvel's Ultimate universe, and the way Loeb killed characters off willy-nilly for no reason still pissed me off, probably because it was just bad storytelling on every level. Please don't buy this; nobody deserves to earn any money for it.

Umbrella Academy Dallas TPB

Ooh, I've been waiting for this for too damn long. I loved the first Umbrella Academy miniseries; it introduced an expansive world and featured a good deal of clever, witty writing and interesting characters, while sporting some gorgeous art from Gabriel Ba. I don't expect that this follow-up will differ in any way, and I'm excited to finally get to read it. Man, it better not disappoint. Are my expectations overly high enough? Probably!

Upside Down World Of Gustave Verbeek HC

Your classic newspaper strip reprint of the week, this one probably owes its existence to Dan Nadel's Art Out of Time anthology, which rescued a number of oddities like this from the forgotten depths of the past. This strip (which is actually called The Upside-Downs of Little Lady Lovekins and Old Man Muffaroo) is especially strange though, with the reader following the normal panel arrangement of each installment, then turning it upside down to get the rest of the story. It's weird, but it works, and it's a pretty impressive artistic feat. Here's one example that I found, if you want to see what the strip looks like. The book is a bit expensive at $60, but it contains the entire run of the strip at its original size, along with a bunch of bonus art, other strips by Verbeek, and essays from historians like Jeet Heer. Not a bad package, and hey, it could make a good Christmas gift for the weirdness enthusiast.

And that might be everything, but I usually miss something or other. More content coming this week, I imagine, but I say that every week. Comics! They are good!


  1. The four writers on Shang-Chi are, according to Jonathan Hickman, Charlie Huston, Mike Benson & Robin Furth.

    That's actually not a bad line-up -- Hickman's pretty good, and Huston and Benson both worked on the fairly well-received run on Moon Knight. (Not that I read it.)

  2. Ah, that's not too bad. I'd take a look just for Hickman.

  3. I'm a big fan of the Absolute format, but not willing to support DC's continuing strip-mining of Alan Moore's creative legacy. Knowing he is not involved in the production, and likely not happy about it to begin with, makes it very easy to spend my hundred dollars on something a little more ethically acceptable.

  4. Outlaw: The Legend Of Robin Hood isn't just for kids.

    And it's bloody good. Because I wrote it. :-)

  5. Thanks, Tony! And while I've got your attention (that is, if I do happen to still have it), wanna answer a few questions about the book? Mainly, why? There have been a hell of a lot of versions of the story over the years, serious, comical, cartoon, and even Muppet. Was there something new to say, to add to the collective works of man? Sorry if that sounds confrontational or rude, but I'm genuinely curious why you (or anyone, really) would decide to spend creative energy retelling a story that has already been told so many times.

    And Alan: maybe you can answer for me what the appeal of the Absolute format is. Is it the size, seeing the artwork blown up (or reproduced at the size of the original art, which I don't think is the case for every series) to really show the detail? Is it the "remastering" that they sometimes do, correcting the coloring or lettering or whatever? The specialness of having the object on your shelf, so big that it's un-missable? The design of the slipcovers (do they all have slipcovers?) and the various "extras"? I'm sure that's all nice, but they just seem so damn expensive for what, in my opinion, doesn't add that much to the experience. I mean, I can't fathom spending 100 dollars on a version of Watchmen when I can get a paperback for around 20 bucks and have four times that much left over to spend on other comics. And not that I'm trying to catch you in a contradiction, but weren't you very critical of the high price of Kramers 7? It seems that the price of that volume was much more justified than on, say a big version of Hush.