Sean Maher's Quality Control

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Speakeasy Survivors

I wanted to give some props to Helios co-creator Mike Penny for this:

Will Carper, at 5:23 yesterday, posted in the Death Of Speakeasy thread at MillarWorld to say, "Damn. I want to know the fate of Helios. NOW."

Mike Penny, at 9:08 yesterday, posted this response:

Helios: "In With the New" # 3 will be in April PREVIEWS to ship in June under DAKUWAKA Productions. It will feature a double-sized issue for $ 4.95 & feature a cover by "Witchblade's" Mike Choi.

Here's the issue summary:

The king is dead. Long live the king.

Things only get worse when the team is informed of Jack's death. Ashley, Kyle and Jason are shattered, while the newcomers move to take advantage of their grief. Meanwhile, Strickland and General Harlowe continue to maneuver Neo Force toward their ultimate goals and a new and powerful threat enters the arena.
But are things truly as they seem?

Check out the newly updated DAKUWAKA web site at:

Thanks to all our fans for their support through this period.
Mike Penny President / Dakuwaka
Co-creator/ Editor HELIOS

Now that's the way to get on the fucking ball in the wake of your publisher folding. Less than four hours and you have a new publisher to announce and a pitch for the next issue? Good one.


I also think that what The Hunger writer Jose Torres is up to sounds pretty damn cool. According to this press release (again, way to get on the ball in terms of addressing your audience, gents!),

In July, Markosia will be adding The Hunger to their line-up by way of a 200 page, eight-issue spanning Trade Paperback containing the entire first story arc [which I'll definitely be buying -ed]. The first thing I said when they mentioned this to me was, "But what about the people who've been faithfully buying the book from the get-go?"

--whereupon he offers to personally reimburse the price of the trade to anyone who has purchased the first five issues and gets the trade as well.

Now that's how you take care of your people. I've been meaning to start reading The Hunger for a while now, and this will be where I start.


Also, in the Engine thread Warren Ellis started to roll call the Speakeasy creators, Elk's Run writer Josh Fialkov is the first one to speak up, with a no-nonsense account letting readers know the straight scoop:

Elk's Run is just about finished (7 out of 8 complete, only 4 released) and we're currently shopping for a new publisher. We've had some very interesting offers, and it's just weighing our options.

More to come.

Check the links in the signature for constant blog updates etc. etc.

Thanks for all the love and support and well wishes everyone (I think every single one of our remarkably few but loyal readers e-mailed me to scream NOOOOOO!)

You will see this book. On this I swear.

I had the pleasure of meeting Josh at the Isotope's Eric Powell party a few weeks back, and his dedication to his work - tempered by a realistic, honest awareness of the huge challenges our indie comics soldiers face every goddamn day - really impressed me. Expect the massive Elk's Run love to keep a'coming here at Quality Control, for as long as Josh & Co. keep fighting the good fight.


(This column started as a bit of finger-wagging at the Speakeasy guys, until I realized that (1) nobody wants to hear that from my stupid ass, (2) Hibbs will, I suspect, have something much smarter to say about it than I would, and (3) you know, these guys were trying something different and new, and maybe they got carried away a bit, but they still deserve some credit for experimenting - when you gamble on something new, you don't always win. Thanks for putting out some good books, guys, and I hope we see you down the road a piece.)

Monday, February 27, 2006

Well, I'll be.

Mmm. Lot goin' on. But there always is, isn't there? A lot goin' on.

So, everyone's all excited about the New York con, the actual name of which I don't even know. 'Cause fuck New York.

(Lord, I'm territorial lately, aren't I?)

But there were some exciting announcements, and some other cool shit going on over the weekend.

ITEM! Turns out Mike Carey's getting an ongoing gig as the new writer of Ultimate Fantastic Four, along with recent collaborator Pascual Ferry, picking up with issue #33 after Mark Millar's run with Greg Land. I hugely enjoyed Carey's two-issue fill-in story in UFF, though I was less impressed with his recent Ultimate X-Men and Fantastic Four crossover mini (with its ending taken right out of Millar's "Earth Inferno" arc in The Authority), but the cosmic angle they're teasing (Carey's take on Thanos oughtta be good) and the fact that it's just the FF makes me happier. I'm looking forward to this.

ITEM! Richard Starkings - whose beloved Hip Flask series I talked about back in August - is bringing a monthly prequel series called Elephantmen to Image Comics, with a collection of artists that includes Justin "Moritat" Norman, Henry Flint, Tom Scioli, Duncan Rouleau, David Hine, and Chris Bachalo.

I mean, holy shit.

According to the Hip Flask site, the new series'll launch in July, with #1 clocking in at 36 pages for a scant three bucks. Expect this one to go on my pull list without hesitation.

ITEM! "Whilce has finished a ton of issues," [Jim] Lee remarked, when asked about Wetworks, and the series is scheduled to launch in the summer. No kidding. This was announced, like, two years ago. Three? Like, the last time the WildStorm line got revamped? Well, at least it's among stronger contenders now - frankly, I can't wait to see all these titles launch.

ITEM! I'm happy to hear that When put to the audience for a vote, the room voted overwhelmingly in favor to a New Frontier Absolute Edition (by Darwyn Cooke), which neither Levitz nor Wayne denied would be happening. 'Cause, frankly, I sat that one out when I learned they were splitting the story into two $20 trades.

ITEM! Further, in the same panel, Dan Didio "confirmed... they felt [artist George] Perez would be better suited to launch the upcoming Brave & Bold series to be written by Mark Waid." I was excited about this when it was first mentioned (several months ago... was it San Diego?), but adding Perez just sweetens the pot.

ITEM! Looks like a lot of people are having similar experiences to mine with Mouse Guard #1, if the MillarWorld thread is any indication. Nice to see such a great series getting some love!

ITEM! Is this news? This is news, right? That Neil Gaiman's new project will be The Eternals, for Marvel, with John Romita Jr. doing the art? I mean, I sure haven't heard about it before, but sometimes I miss these things. Sounds promising - I'll be really curious to see how that creative team responds to each other. Kinda makes me wish I knew anything about the Eternals.

ITEM! Some new Vertigo projects on their way, though only one looks like my cup of tea. I'm not real interested in "the heart of a struggling writer, just coming off a doomed romance" (why do writers always think writers make interesting characters?) or "the battle for racial justice" (Kyle Baker's excellent Nat Turner aside), but Cameron Stewart drawing a Vietnam story featuring "one of the most visceral scripts [Vertigo editor Will Dennis] ever read" sounds like it might be right up my alley. I'm hoping not to have The Other Side present another "Iraq is the new Vietnam" argument, but if the loose story outline they described at the panel is any indication, I won't have to worry about that too much.

And Cameron Stewart, apparently, "flew over to Vietnam after San Diego to get reference images and fire an AK-47 and crawl through Viet-Cong tunnels."

Which makes this sound even better. Whew. This could really kick ass...

ITEM! Ah, finally, a release date for the Fables graphic novel. October, they say. They also let us know that Fables' cover artist, James Jean, will actually do a sequential story for the collection, which sounds mighty fun.

ITEM! Official word is that Paul Smith will be the new ongoing artist on Dan Slott's excellent She-Hulk series. Who the hell is Paul Smith? I ask myself - a Google tells me he's worked on X-Men, Nexus, Dr. Strange and Iron Man, but I still don't really get a feel for his style - can anyone link me to some pages? Also looks like Slott will write a one-shot, coming in June, about She-Hulk supporting character Two Gun Kid (with artist Eduardo Barretto), which sounds just fine to me. An Eric Powell cover don't hurt, neither.


Those are the bits that have me excited. Some of that DCU stuff bores me to tears just trying to read it... man, some of these comics people are fucking nerds! Anyway, that's me for today. PEACE!

Friday, February 24, 2006

Mouse Guard #1: Book of the Week

I had half this review typed and smokin' hot last night when I "accidentally" closed the program and lost everything. Let this be a warning: don't use the red "X" box to close your fucking programs. I know it looks like you've got Windows Media Player "on top," but you're wrong.


Too often, it seems, I find a new book that I get really excited about, reading preview after interview after etc., etc., and when the damn thing finally comes out and I go to the store and buy it, somewhere between my misplaced expectations and (perhaps) a less-than-stellar performance on the part of the creator(s), the whole thing just kinda falls a bit flat.

Mouse Guard #1 represents a marvelous success on the parts of both writer/artist David Petersen and myself.

I'll get the self-congratulation right out of the way: I did this one right. The cover art for issue two caught my eye in a big way. I read the high concept, looked at two of the fifteen or so preview pages available on the website, e-mailed my LCS to have them stash a copy of issue #1, started a quick MillarWorld thread to let some other folks know how psyched I was, and stopped. No speculation, no looking for interviews or big fat previews - sometimes that stuff is really nice, but sometimes it just gives too much away. I start imagining the book in my own mind, the way I would make it, and then the read just gets fucked up.

So, the issue came and I read it yesterday and then made Molly read it and then read it two more times.

I loved it.

There's a certain level of craft unavailable to writer/artist teams, a cohesion between the concept and the presentation, that really shines when a single person is behind the whole product; David Petersen looks to be a major new talent on the field, a storyteller who realizes and takes firm grasp of the power of comics to communicate beyond the scripted lines. Don't get me wrong - this isn't a silent comic at all, and the scripting is solid - but the real gutpunch behind this comic, to me, is the ability of the artwork to communicate subtle story points. Take, for example, this page, which introduces the three main characters:

The artwork is gorgeous, yes - that's the most obvious and immediate thing about the book - but unlike many artists with this level of aesthetic talent, Petersen includes in every panel a key part of the ongoing story. Nothing here is pretty just for pretty's sake; it's all functional. In the page above, we're given visual cues that lead to a quick understanding of each character. Lieam, on the right, is wide-eyed, with his face turned upward - a young, stout-hearted but very green soldier, eager to learn and make good. Kenzie, in the middle, is the tallest of the three, carries a stick rather than a blade, and has grey fur - the wise and experienced leader, the thinker, the glue that holds the trio together. And Saxon, on the right, is the shortest of the three, with a pissed-off expression in his eyes and his fist on the hilt of his sword - a scrappy taker of action, the first one to get into trouble but the last one you'd look at sideways.

Funny thing is, I got all these ideas just looking at the page - the personalities are developed, of course, as the issue goes on, but we're given a cue like this in almost all of the artwork here. It makes each page a satisfying experience, because you want to spend some time just soaking in how beautiful it looks, but at the same time you realize you're absorbing more subtle elements of the story itself. It's a guilty pleasure without the guilt.

The plotting is excellent, and takes full advantage of the format in which Petersen's telling the story - we're given a full adventure that introduces the characters and puts them through a dramatic trial, and left off with a cliffhanger that opens the series to a much larger story. It's episodic storytelling as only a handful of writers in comics have managed in recent memory, and it makes the hard-earned coin I plunked down for the issue feel well-spent.

This really is a spectacular launch, and I'm already hungry for more. Cheers to David Petersen for creating such an accessible, rewarding comic, and to Archaia Studios Press for bringing it to me. Bless you all - between this, and first-rate issues this week of The Thing and Lucifer (and, actually, Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk), I'm juiced as fuck about comics today.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

A little gauntlet throwing.

At the Isotope last week, I asked James how the submissions were going for the Isotope Award for Excellence in Mini-Comics. It sounds like some really fucking exciting stuff is coming in, and I can't wait to see who takes it this year... frankly, I think it's time for some local talent to step up and take this shit, 'cause as much love as I've got for Rob Osborne, Josh Cotter and Daniel Merlin Goodbrey (and hey, there's plenty of love there), I think San Francisco (and its greater kingdom called the Bay Area) is a major hub of indie comics activity and there's no reason why we haven't laid claim to one of these.

I mean, we're the home of the Alternative Press Expo, for Christ's sake. And that's the cool indie con - SPX is in Bumfuck, Maryland - in a fucking Holiday Inn, for Christ's sake! APE is in the promised land of California, the finest state in the union, in the sharpest, slickest, smartest city of California, historical and unstoppable San Francisco! And is APE in some stupid-ass chain hotel? Fuck no! San Francisco knows where to properly hold a convention. It's in the mighty Concourse Exhibition Center, a full block long with great high ceilings and trucks dragging shit in and out of it! You want to put up a poster at the Concourse, you better bring a fucking bolt gun! No goddamn sissy thumbtacks. No complimentary mints on the fucking pillows. Just giant badass showroom space for comics muscle. Hoo-ah!

I'm still curious what you've got up your sleeve, Chris Gumprich, and looking forward to meeting your unfortunately Canadian ass at the APE Aftermath Party on April 8th, 'cause I did really enjoy your "Lessons Learned" columns, but hey - what did Canada ever do that was worth an award? You can't even be cold better than Russia.

Still, I'd rather you have it than some jerk from England, for Chrissakes.

(Growing up a little on the Irish-American side, see, I was taught always to brush my teeth, say "please" and "thank you," and hate the English. Goodbrey's a good guy, and it's not his fault I'm such a racist assblaster. It is his fault that hundreds of thousands of Irish families starved to death in the famine, though.)

Tell your friends, by the way, to stay at the Green Tortoise Hostel if they're looking for something cheap and decent. If they've got serious hotel money to spend, they're welcome to, but the Green Tortoise is just twenty bucks a night last time I checked. Plus, they've got all kinds of cool "see the city" programs going on for tourists. Not bullshit "ooh, look at the seals!" crap, but, like, pub crawls and things like that. And hell, it's in North Beach, reknowned for it's bars, strip clubs, expensive restaurants, singing homeless people, porno stores, and Beat Generation history.

(Oh, and when you're on your way to APE, make sure you don't go to the Navy Yard. It's full of toxic waste the government buried there when they figured the neighborhood was just full of poor black people who wouldn't notice anyway. The only way to get there is to stay on the bus too long - the #19 goes right by the Concourse, but if you're passed out or something and miss the stop you'll end up surrounded by angry disenfranchised mutants.)

Whew! Got myself all worked up today. What was I after? Oh, yeah. I was trying to get my good-ol-boys to enter the Mini-Comics thing. Come on - this thing belongs to California, my brothers and sisters. Entry deadline is March 15th, guys - let's fucking bring it, all right?


You assholes down in Los Angeles, you just keep to yourself. I hate you fuckers worse'n I hate the English.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

New Comics Day!

And yet, I won't make it into the store until tomorrow, having slept like a lazy ass until 1:00 in the afternoon today.

But, at least there are only five books I'm picking up this week.

But, they're five books I'm extremely excited about.

Legion Of Super-Heroes #15 (DC) will likely set the stage for the next mega-arc of the series. I always enjoy this book and look forward to a new momentum building.

Lucifer #71 (DC), oh lord, what can I say? I've been following the book faithfull since around issue #14, and it's my favorite Vertigo book since Preacher. One of the best books on the stands, winding up to the conclusion in issue #75... mixed feelings, there, with my excitement to see how everything's gonna wrap up tempered by a sadness that the book will soon be leaving my monthly reading list. The old saying comes to mind, "I hate to see you leave, but I love to watch you go."

Solo #9 (DC) features the artwork of Scott Hampton, who did the Batman: Gotham County Line mini with Steve Niles. I didn't catch that one, but I'm always curious where an issue of Solo's gonna go and this one's no exception. I like how this series balances artists I know and love with those that I'm introduced to by the series itself; makes it an engaging book that pays off in several ways, doesn't it?

Portent #1 (Image) just looks really fucking pretty. No idea what it's got going on beyond that, but it's enough for me to try.

Thing #4 (Marvel) continues what, I'm beginning to think, is the best Fantastic Four book on the market. Dan Slott writes the character just as I think he ought to be written, and I'm surprised by how much I'm enjoying Andrea DiVito's artwork - I wasn't sure the fit would be right, after DiVito's more serious style on the Ragnarok storyline he did on Thor (with Oeming writing), but it's been perfect, I think - his take on the idol o' millions is pretty damned appealing.

Then there's Mouse Guard #1 (Archaia Studio Press), which I singled out a few times last week. Everything about this one, from the artwork to the high concept to the cover layouts, has me totally juiced. Can't wait to see what's cooking here.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


I got nothin' today. Here's a lesson - when you have a really long post that's got two distinct parts to it ready for Monday? Break 'em up. Nobody wants to read a post that long anyway, right?

Ah, hell. Well, as my old man always said, "You're entitled to be smarter today than you were yesterday."

Yeah, he's kind of a jerk, ain't he?


EDIT: Well, I guess I could always just join the chorus of folks who love Steve McNiven's artwork, couldn't I?

One thing that really strikes me about this guy is the seeming lack of influence. A lot of the Big Artists today look just like some of the old Image books, and I think it's cool that I can't tell where this guy's style comes from.

Monday, February 20, 2006

The Man Without Fear, The Man Drowned In Beer, and The Future Made Clear

Molly wants me to be sure and write today about how I'm a total loser 'cause I got drunk at work yesterday.

"I'm not saying I want you to write about that. I was just asking. Loser."

Well, I have to be a bit sheepish about this one, as the truth is: I got pretty fucking drunk at work yesterday. On the other hand, I learned how much I like Irish coffee, especially with a little Bailey's in there.

So, there it is, my indefatigable optimism. For every door shut a window opened, and such.



Daredevil #82 came out last week, and launched Ed Brubaker's run with artist Michael Lark.

It's fucking fantastic.

Brubaker's at his best, it seems, when dealing with characters in moral quandries. When there is no clear cut solution that'll make them a hero. His work with Foggy Nelson in particular is humanizing and compelling; the scene between him and Ben Urich is, in terms of character development, the strongest in the issue. Foggy's mistrust for Ben is understandable, and his cruelty to him at the end of the scene is uncharacteristic - this is a man under stress he's not sure how to handle. Ben, on the other hand, is given only a few lines but we see him hard at work trying to help in the way that makes most sense to him - figuring out the angles, following the new developments to the situation.

The structure here is denser than Brubaker's work on Captain America, bringing some of that episodic feel I loved so much in Sleeper. Lots of pieces are put in motion, setting up a dozen character relationships in short order and drawing the map for the forseeable future of the story. He did something similar in the opening issues of Sleeper (both times), and then threw that map away, bringing the stoy to places more intense and stark than we'd even come to expect. He's big on the ol' misdirection technique, and he uses it better than anybody plotting comics today. So, as intense as the cliffhanger here is (the repeated lines in the closing captions were hugely effective, I thought), I'm almost more excited to see what... well, what I don't see coming, if that makes sense.

Michael Lark, of course, is perfect for the title, matching Brubaker's scripts with a grimey feel, a sharp sense of character design, body language and facial expressions, and some amazing kinetics; the fight scene that opens the issue, and especially the prison fight (check out Matt's backflip over the guy who's moving to stab him) are visceral reads, pulling the reader into the scene without said reader's awareness. Brilliant, brilliant work, and easily Brubaker's best conspirator since Sean Phillips. All this, and amazingly consistent with the look that previous artist Alex Maleev had built for the title over the last few years.

I've heard some folks giving colorist Frank D'Armata some grief over his work here, but I don't get it. I think his work here is near-perfect, drawing attention to itself only in the closing pages and even then only to cue the reader that we're seeing the scene through Matt's "eyes," as set-up during the prison fight. It gives the closing scene a more claustrophobic, helpless feel, especially coupled with Lark's tight panel layout, and I think the man deserves some heavy credit for it.

In short order, this may be the best title in the current Marvel catalogue. It's certainly the one I'm most psyched about today.


So, while I was on about the printed indie solicits for April last week, we got online solicits from Marvel, DC and Image. A brief rundown, then, of highlights, since I'll be going over these at length when I get the magazine.

From DC:

CRISIS AFTERMATH: THE SPECTRE #1 features, I can only assume, the following to the Spectre's merging with Detective Crispus Allen, which would kinda interest me anyway, but with must-buy artist Cliff Chiang on the book and "don't mind him" writer Will Pfiefer on the title, this one's getting pull-listed.

JLA CLASSIFIED: NEW MAPS OF HELL TP collects the arc Warren Ellis wrote, so I'll likely pick that up at some point. The price is pretty solid - thirteen bucks for six issues is a pretty good value.

CAN'T GET NO SOFTCOVER is that Rick Veitch OGN we heard about at WonderCon, something about a guy getting drunk and stoned and that having something to do with 9/11. I'll be keeping my ears open to hear what folks think about it.

DMZ VOL. 1: ON THE GROUND TP collects the first five issues of the book for a mere ten bucks, the idea being (I'm sure) to let folks jump on the singles. I've been enjoying this one, for my part, especially the recent issue #4. (Zilla - yeah, I totally agree with you. Best one yet.)

DC's Cover of the Month has gotta be Batman: Secrets #3. I mean, holy Christ, I couldn't get this on my desktop fast enough:

From Marvel:

Aw, Christ. I hope Civil War doesn't tie up She-Hulk for too long.

LAST PLANET STANDING #1 & #2 (of 5) are about Galactus, and written by Tom "Remember how cool his FF run was? Seriously, it was really fun!" DeFalco, so I'm almost certainly buying them.

FANTASTIC FOUR - A DEATH IN THE FAMILY ONE-SHOT is written by Karl Kesel, who's a bit touch and go with me, but drawn by Lee Weeks, who is always a selling point. Includes FF issue #245. which doesn't mean much to me without more information. Come on, Marvel. We're not all insane fanboys.

Well, maybe. After all, when I read that Oeming is writing "the legendary Grasscutter sword" into ARES #5 I did do a little jump and exclaimn to myself, "That was the best Usagi Yojimbo ever!" So maybe we are all insane fanboys.

PUNISHER: THE TYGER is the third in that series of one-shots Ennis has been doing that have all been completely fucking awesome. Remember "The Cell" and "The End"? How fucking rad were those? This one has John Severin artwork and looks into some of Frank Castle's tortured past. It was originally solicited last year but I'm just happy to see it again.

HAUNT OF HORROR: EDGAR ALLAN POE #1 (OF 3) is Richard Corben doing adaptations of Edgar Allan Poe poems in black-and-white on the MAX imprint. Is there any question of whether or not to buy this? Anybody who thinks there is is a communist.

PUNISHER MAX VOL. 5: THE SLAVERS TPB collects easily one of the two or three best Punisher stories I've ever read. Ennis wrote all the other ones, too.

SKRULL KILL KREW TPB sounds fun, one of those Grant Morrison / Mark Millar projects. I heard some noise that this was an ongoing that got cancelled and ends weirdly, which is cause for pause, but I've still got a good feeling about it.

Just as with DC, Marvel's Cover of the Month is a no-contest. Hulk vs. Silver Surfer Gladiator style by Ladronn? Uh, yeah, I'll take some.

From Image:

EMISSARY #1 is the return of Small Gods' creative team - writer Jason Rand and artist Juan Ferreyra - in the Jim Valentino project they'd been teasing. The Valentino part made me nervous, but the Authority-esque examination of power that looks to be part of the premise here is fertile ground for this team, who pulled off a similar sort of world-building in Small Gods. These two guys have the potential to be the next Ennis & Dillon, and I'm sticking around for the ride so I can laugh at everybody else when it turns out I'm right.

FIVE FISTS OF SCIENCE GN is sort of a no-brainer. Matt Fraction is a funny writer who's also done some strong action books, and the art is awful pretty. I've been waiting for this one for a little while and I'm psyched to see it at such a solid price point. Sold.

NEGATIVE BURN #1, I'll buy just for Phil Hester's work. What's that? Eric Powell is in here too? Well, shit. I guess I'm just screwed.

STAGGER LEE GN looks like a fun take on an old legend I've always enjoyed. Western outlaw tales are tricky to do right - they can get real generic, real fast - but I'll be keeping my eyes open for preview pages and interviews 'cause this could be a good one.

THE WALKING DEAD, VOL 5: THE BEST DEFENSE TP collects issues that haven't even come out yet; they're really aggressive with their trades, which has worked out fine for my house 'cause that's the only way Molly'll read 'em and she's as anxious as me to find out What Happens Next.

Image's Cover of the Month is harder. Tony Moore's Fear Agent #6 cover is almost my favorite; that guy's been really bringing an A-game to this book. But come on; that's Geof Darrow doing the cover for The Last Christmas #1. And just look at it:

That's it for today, brothers and sisters.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Indie Solicitations for April, Part Four

Techie Question: Is anybody else getting my navbar, usually on the right, all the way down the page? Used to only happen when I had big images on the page, but there's nothing on top right now larger than 400 pixels wide. What gives, anyone know?


Hey, I've got an EDITORIAL CORRECTION for y'all!

After yesterday's post, in which I called out Eric Shanower's upcoming Adventures in Oz trade, I got an e-mail from Exuberant Ed Brubaker, whose run with artist Michael Lark on Daredevil launched this week, letting me know that the stories included in the trade are from a series of ORIGINAL graphic novels Shanower did in the late 80's and early 90's. Sort of a "Lost Tales of Oz" kind of thing going on here? Well, Ed informs me that most of the Oz books are like that, which is news to me.

Ya learn something every day. It's not every day you learn it from the writer of the best mini-series in the last four or five years, though. Cheers, Ed. Hitting up the ol' LCS later today and can't fuckin' wait to see what you guys are doing with the trials of Matt Murdock.


So, on with the love, yeah?

What grabbed my eye about the solicit for Free Fall (Narwain Publishing, p. 298) was the name of former Rex Mundi artist EricJ, whose Revisionary I looked at a few months ago and whose amazing work I like to follow when I can. But then I read the solicit text, and frankly, I'd've been excited about this without knowing anybody on the creative team - I mean, Jesus, just read this:

It's almost Christmas, and Tim Bradley and his gang plan the robbery of the century: enter one of the biggest banks in the State, in broad daylight, without masks, and get away with ten million dollars. All without firing a single shot. The only problem: it's impossible to do. Unless they find a distraction to pull attention away from them at the moment of the heist... Sean, a hopeless boy with suicidal tendencies, is the perfect "distraction," and Bradley brings him in to kill himself at the same moment of the robbery, all in exchange for Sean's family to be cared for after his passing. But will everything go according to Bradley's plan?

That is one hell of a crime noir pitch. Awesome. The trade collects the three issue mini for ten bucks, which sounds reasonable, but I do have to make a quick criticism; Narwain's website is a bitch to navigate and wouldn't let me copy out the cover image. I mean, don't you guys want people to have access to your cover art, so we can pimp your shit out for free? I ended up finding a really cool site with cover art for all sorts of indies and some crazy alphabet at the top, right here: - anyway, that cover art:

Narwain is also publishing Albert #1 (p. 302), launching a four issue mini about a scientist who just happens to be named Albert "continuously working on a formula that will give him the ability to live longer... Albert will find a way to control time and avoid death, but at what price?" I don't think I've read any Narwain books, so I don't have a track record, but this is two home-run high concepts in a row, just this month. I think this'll be a lot of fun, though I'm a tad concerned about the vampire-lookin' thing on the bottom-left corner of the cover. Good lord, I'm tired of vampires, but nonetheless, this looks like it's got too much potential not to try.

Finally (from Narwain, anyway), we've got Steel City Hawk #2 (p. 302) from the Expatriate team of B. Clay Moore and Jason Latour. I'm curious why they didn't just take this to Image, but no matter - I'm always interested in seeing what Jason Latour is up to. Looks like kind of a superhero book, with the mandatory Dark Twist that's become so popular. This is another one pushing at my "no four dollar comics" rule; I'll have to look at it in the store before I'll buy it, but that's a start, ain't it? Beautiful cover by Latour, of whose work I'd love to see plenty more.

The Last Island GN (New Radio Comics, p. 306) is written and drawn by Alex Cahill, who did a one-shot called Something So Familiar that I enjoyed a while back... anyway, this is a 64-page "silent" comic about two kids stuck on an island who hate each other until "strange objects from the sea and sky arrive to complicate their rivalry." Sounds clever, and there's a big honkin' preview up at the New Radio website, right here, as well as an interview here on Comicon. I'll more than likely pick this one up - the six dollar price point is right, and the concept sounds kinda fun.

I thought Ojo was Sam Kieth's strongest work since The Maxx, so it's kinda cool to hear that it might've been just the first book in a loose trilogy that continues in My Inner Bimbo #1 (Oni Press, p. 307). I flashed some preview art a couple weeks ago, and I'm still interested, but I'll likely end up tradewaiting so it'll sit nicely next to my Ojo trade. Worth pointing out, though, that the issues will likely have some nicer paper and a larger sheet size, so it may be worth checking out the singles anyway.

It's no secret what a fan I've always been of Elk's Run, so I'm psyched to see issue #7 in the Speakeasy section on page 312. The story's built into something really epic and huge; I can't wait to see how things turn out!

I mentioned Sawed Off Mojo when I discussed the March solicits, and I'm still waiting to see what writer Dan Jolley can bring to this one and curious about issue #2 (Speakeasy, p. 320). Jolley did great work on Bloodhound, combining elements from investigative cop drama, super-heroics and the supernatural/horror school, and this looks like a similar project, so I've got my eyes peeled. Should be at least worth a first-issue purchase.

I kinda go back and forth with Jeffrey Brown, but at any rate I find him interesting, so I'll be taking a look at Every Girl Is The End of the World For Me (Top Shelf Productions, p. 346), which is billed as an epilogue to his "Girlfriend Triology", crossing my fingers that Brown brings some of his sly humor and some wider perspective to this one. At eight bucks for a hundred pages, I'll probably pick it up either way.

Finally, though I've never been as big a Will Eisner fan as the everyone else in the world seems to be, I'm pretty curious about The Plot: The Secret Story of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion (W.W. Norton, p. 361), about a blueprint for Jewish domination of the world that was later proven to be a fake designed to, well, make people think the Jews wanted to take over the world. I sure know Molly's dad would love to read this one - he's always on and on about the anti-Jewish media - but I think I might enjoy reading it, too. The softcover treatment it's getting here for fifteen bucks might be just the ticket.


Well, that's my indie love for the back section of Previews in April. Hell of a list, ain't it? I'm really groovin' on reading this thing, I have to admit. Anyway, can't wait to see how these books turn out, and now it's time to go pick up this week's comics and get to some reading. See y'all soon.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Indie Solicitations for April, Part Three

I'm having a cover-art-extravaganza sort of morning. I mean, the kind where I want to call my LCS like, right this second, and tell them to get me these books as soon as possible. I'm fidgeting in my chair. Hoo, what a great way to wake up.


Found the cover for the Mouse Guard issue I mentioned yesterday, in a forum on the publishers website:


AND caught a gander at AiT's upcoming Continuity, written by Jason McNamara with art by Tony Talbert (the Less Than Hero team), and colored by the ol' Swiss Army Knife of Comics himself, In The Trenches' Josh Richardson:

If McNamara's half as razor-witted on the page as he is in real life, this is gonna be a wild book. Seriously, you've never had a real challenge until you've tried keeping up with this guy in a conversation.

This also marks Richardson's first professional coloring gig, which is righteous. I'm digging it; anybody getting kind of a Mahfood vibe?


Okay, on with the Indie Solicitation Love!

I'm still curious to see what Devil's Due publisher Josh Blaylock will bring to the table with his How to Self-Publish Comics ...Not Just Create Them series, issue number three of which is coming in April (p. 258). The series is broken down into "phases" of self-publication, with this issue focusing on printing and marketing. Seems like a really promising idea for a series, and I'll certainly be taking a look. Really, the only other material like this on the market are the guides from Dave Sim and Larry Young, and as excellent as those both are, it'll be cool if Blaylock can cover some new ground.

Devil's Due also brings us LO-FI Comics & Entertainment Magazine 25 Cent Special (p.268), featuring an Amazing Joy Buzzards cover. I'll be curious to see what this magazine's all about - I haven't ever read it before, and it promises "indie comic book and pop culture coverage," which could go a number of ways.

Need to take a second here to complain about something. On page 274 of this issue of Previews, Jim Kuhoric does a Staff Picks feature to spotlight Image Comics' Sight Unseen graphic novel. Now, that in itself is cool, 'cause I'd probably have skipped that over without the special shout-out - Kuhoric definitely did that book a solid there. But he also writes, "A story this good was meant to be told on the big screen." Which, frankly, I think is kind of lousy. I really wish comics could get past the whole "second class movies" identity. Perhaps there's context I'm missing - Sight Unseen is a horror book, and elements of that genre certainly benefit from being on film - but in general, I think we need to stop thinking of how our great comics "should be" something else, because that kind of thinking only reinforces the idea that it's a cultish medium with limited appeal and potential - an idea that, of course, is complete bullshit. Again, though, I thank Kuhoric for drawing my eye to a cool new book.

Smug as I was about my review of Kevin Huizenga's Ganges #1, I did enjoy it. So I'll be sure to check out Or Else #4, coming from Drawn & Quarterly (p.275); I enjoyed some of the minutia in Ganges, and this promises "a day in the life of Glen Ganges as he interacts with a squirrel, discovers a beetle in the basement, and see a pigeon get hit by a car." [sic] The price point looks a little more attractive here, as well, with 80 pages for six bucks.

I remember noticing Action Philosophers a while back, but never actually caught one of the issues. So it looks like my second chance is a fine one, with Action Philosophers Hate The French! #1 sounding right up my alley. After all, I hate the French myself (except you, Franck!). The publishers have a big preview up on their website of the entire Rene Descarte section of the book, which is also cool. Looks like a sort of Philosophy Digest sort of thing, which could be clever and funny and educational (?!?) - I suppose I'll find out.

Took me a second to re-read the solicit, and I only did it because Graeme told me to, but the A.L.I.E.E.E.N. softcover (p. 279) looks promising. Coming from is coming from :01 First Second (which features a freaky photo of the creator if you do a little digging) and includes aliens pooping, which pretty much sold me right there. I mean, who doesn't want a comic with aliens pooping? Nobody I want to know. Note that this also continues the 96-page-OGN-at-$13-price-point trend that Larry's been blazing for several years now.

Graeme's always on about Eddie Campbell, isn't he? I hated, hated, hated his Elseworlds Batman one-shot a year or so ago, but that probably wasn't the kind of material he's naturally suited to, anyway. This looks more promising: in The Fate of the Artist GN (p. 280), also from First Second, "Campbell conducts an investigation into his own sudden disappearance." A combination of humor, surreal metacommentary, and tender examination of the author's relationships would be peachy, if you please.

Hey! How come nobody told me that Eric Shanower (Age of Bronze) was working on an adaptation of Adventures in Oz (p.292)? Fuck you guys for leaving me out! But props to IDW for bringing me this gorgeous looking trade paperback with five of Baum's classic Oz stories taken up by somebody who sees books and movies and thinks to himself, "Hey, this would make a great comic!" Because that is the kind of attitude comics needs. Forty bucks is a little steep for my casual weekly purchasing, but this one goes right to the top of the wish list.


Boy, the deeper I get into this fucking magazine, the better it gets. A while back, I posted a request for new indies - I'm not reading enough, I said. Well, as the feller says, God helps those who helps themselves. So I gotta thank James Sime for hooking me up with this copy of Previews and myself for taking the time to go through it. It's well worth the effort, folks, trust me.

Part four, wrapping up my read this month, comes tomorrow. What have you guys been getting excited about? Drop a line and let me know if I'm missing anything!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Indie Solicitations for April, Part Two

All right, today I got to do it my way. I'm pretty excited about this stuff, so take a look!


Vampira: Revelations volume 1 TP
Anarchy Studios/Harris Comics, p.215
I normally follow Lucifer writer Mike Carey pretty much everywhere, but I avoided this one because - hey - it's Vampirella. I picked up the first issue and enjoyed it a bit, but it still totally dropped off my radar on the racks: I just kinda gloss over the "titties and horror" section, y'know? Josh Fialkov admonished me otherwise, and told me to check the series out, and here like a godsend is the trade. Perfect. I'm actually pretty curious to try this one out. The solicited cover look like this without the 25¢ thing:

Mouse Guard #2
Archaia Studios Press, p.220
I grew up a huge fan of the Secret of NIMH movie, so tiny rodents in high adventure stories really appeals to me from the get go. Add in a gorgeous cover (think Sam fighting Shelob) and some basically smoking artwork and I'm sold! Not just sold, really - I think this is the "find" this month that I'm most excited about, 'cause the publisher has an amazing eleven-page preview of issue #1 available on their website that looks really jaw-dropping. That comes out this month and I'll be keeping an eye out for it. This is the cover for that one:

Warren Ellis' Wolfskin #1
Avatar Press Inc., p.229
I've got a pretty rigid "no-four-dollar-comics" rule, and I've been underwhelmed by a lot of Ellis' work for this publisher, but attaching artist Juan Jose Ryp to a gorey swords-and-sorcery book goes a long way towards making me buy this anyway. I'll be picking it up and flipping through it for sure. Lots of preview art up at the Avatar site. For example:

Warren Ellis' Chronicles of Wormwood - Preview
Avatar Press Inc., p.233
Well, I imagine some folks might be pissed to learn that, despite the title, this is a Garth Ennis book. One mighty solicit text fuck-up aside (come on, guys), I do have to admit I'm curious here; Ennis teams again with Jacen Burrows and it looks like religiously-themed grossout humor and high drama, which of course is what he's best at. Satan's son becomes buddies with Jesus, "a black, mentally-challenged man that just isn't performing many miracles these days"? Man, that's gonna draw some angry shouts from the crowd, but hopefully it'll be clever enough to stand on its own anyway. I'm interested. They say this is an ongoing series, so I'm curious how that's gonna work, too. No artwork on the Avatar website yet, but I'll keep my eyes peeled.

Talent #1
Boom! Studios, p.240
Again, this is a challenge to my four-dollar-comics rule, but I'm curious. I'm getting hints at a connection to Flight #93, the One that Fought Back. Could just be my post-9/11 shakes and shivers, though. What we know for sure is that "[w]hen Flight 654 goes down, it takes 148 souls with it. But not Nicholas Dane. How did the 34-year-old college professor survive - was it a miracle? Now Nicholas now finds that he has the memories and skills of one of the passengers from the flight - a boxer - and he's got to use them to survive!" Interesting premise; I'll take a look at this one.

Boom! is also putting out issue #3 of War of the Worlds: Second Wave, which I first spotted back in December. The solicit for issue #3 is on page 241 and the cover looks pretty smokin'. I'm waiting for this month's first issue with baited breath.

Shaolin Cowboy #5
Burlyman Entertainment, p.242
I've long since accepted that I'll just have to take what I can get from Geof Darrow; this series ain't in any hurry to come out, but when it does it's always a fucking blast to read. I can't imagine I have any readers who aren't following this series, but in case you've been out of your fucking mind, go to the Burlyman website and buy the first four issues. There are some preview pages in there somewhere but the navigation is a little weird, so you can also try at Newsarama, which has previews of issues #1 and #3.


That's all for today; I'm gonna space these out a bit so's to let each title get more of a spot in the sun. See you tomorrow!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Indie Solicitations for April, Part One

Here's an unbelievable excuse: my girlfriend wants me to get dressed and go out with her instead of sitting in my boxers writing on the computer about comic books!

So, I've only hit Image and Dark Horse, which I already talked about.

I'll try to come back later, but I don't see it happening. Happy Valentine's Day, darlings.


Okay, so now Johnston's suggesting to us Brian K. Vaughan might be writing a Tao series for the WildStorm relaunch?

Seriously, I think they're gonna be hitting a home run with this one. I'm excited about pretty much every single creative team that's been mentioned.


Ooh, Miriam's got jobnik! #4 on its way! And there's a pretty sweet preview on her website, too. Hey, Miriam: nice work on the coloring for the cover:

Best one yet, I think.


All right, let's bang out these "Premium Publishers" or whatever they're supposed to be called:

Dark Horse hits me with two more Conan books, both written by Kurt Busiek and so both on my pull list. Conan #27 features Tim Truman artwork and a Tony Harris cover, and Conan: Book of Thoth #2 hits us with Kelley Jones artwork (and story collaboration with Len Wein) so it's quality all around.

Oh, sweetness and joy! The Goon #17 comes in April. This is one of my five favorite books on the market right now, easy. Can't get enough. Got to meet Eric Powell this weekend, too, which was righteous; he's a super chill guy, and he hooked up my Goon trade with a bitchin' sketch on the inside cover.

Image kicks things off with Frank Cho's Women: Selected Drawings and Illustrations, which is gonna be a hell of a volume - nobody draws the ladies with more verve and affection than Cho, so much so that it goes all the way through sexy (picking up plenty of that on the way) and back to respectable. $25 is a little much for me, but it's a reasonable price for the product and I'll be picking it up when I have a little extra scratch.

The preview pages for Astro only make me more interested in this 40-page OGN; the painting style here is really pleasant to look at, with color tones that remind me of some of Eric Powell's recent painted-looking pages and some of Frank Quitely's stuff.

Nobles Causes #19 comes down the pike, a series I'm always excited to see in my pull box. Looks like Faerber is putting the Johnny Storm-esque character, Race, through a ringer here and really distinguishing him from his most obvious inspiration, which should be cool. Also features art from "new series artist" Jon Bosco, so I'm gonna have to do some looking around for that guy's stuff to see what I can expect.

The Tourist, the lost OGN from Brian Wood and Toby Cypress, is on its way at last, and I'll be checking it out for that cover alone.

Freak Show, the OGN from Bruce Jones and Bernie Wrightson, is getting a softcover treatment, and at $5.99 (what, half the price of the hardcover?) it's finally in my price range. Jones does good horror, so I'll be happy to check this one out.

Fell is on the pull list, and I'm looking forward to issue #7.

Still looking forward to what Queen & Country artist Mike Hawthorne will bring in Hysteria: One Man Gang, issue #2 of which is on its way.

Invincible #33 is a must (man, #30 was aweomse last week!) and I'm also happy to see that Walking Dead #30 is on its way (was missing from the online solicits, I think). We're also finally getting Kirkman's long-running Superpatriot: War on Terror #4, finally finishing the series (what, two years later? Lazy, lazy Kirkman!).

Still curious to see what writer/artist Peter Bergting has in store for us with The Portent; the artwork I've seen so far has all been gorgeous, and I'm looking forward to it. Issue #2 is solicited here.

Monday, February 13, 2006

DC's section in Previews for April 2006

Today's post, different from the last time I talked about DC's April solicits, is based on my reading of the Previews magazine, where I was talking about the online solicits before. Thought it might be a fun experiment to see how the experiences differ.

I did this with Marvel last Thursday, as well. And edited the post once Neil Kleid reminded me that he's got a story with Oeming in X-Men Unlimited #14.


As I said, I'm interested in Man-Bat #1 for Mike Huddleston's invovlement, though it certainly helped to check out the preview pages. Anybody catch Bruce Jones' swipe of the second muder in Identity?

(Which, by the way, was an awesome movie.)

Still curious about Batman: Secrets #2, mostly to see Sam Kieth draw the Joker. The whole "the media are the true enemy" thing isn't psyching me up, but fuck it - Sam Kieth drawing the Joker.

Superman/Batman #26 probably has the highest different creators-to-page-count ratio I've ever seen. I'm into it just to see the Superman backup by Loeb and Tim Sale, who's one of my favorite artists in the biz right now.

I'm tentatively sold on Infinite Crisis, so I'll be picking up issue #7 to see how it all comes out. I just hope things get a bit more cohesive - right now I don't see how half the plot threads have anything to do with the main story being told, and it's frustrating me as a reader. The references are also going over my head a lot of the time (Flash got his powers from some weird "Speed Zone" or something? I thought he just got hit by lightning?), but enough cool shit is going on to keep me on board.

Jared's so psyched about Checkmate #1 that I'll likely pick up the first issue just to avoid getting my clock cleaned.

Hard Time Season Two is on the pull list, so I'll be excited to see where they're going with this fascinatingly creepy/confident, charming/evil new Cutter character in issue #5.

I don't know from Damion Scott, but I'll be getting Solo #10 just because I think the series is awesome.

I'm still a bit nervy about making it Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes, but the book hasn't let me down yet and #17 will be in my pull file.

Also, kinda neat to see that the two trades have matching layouts on the covers...

I'm following Seven Soldiers of Victory in the trades, so it's nice that they're bringing out volume 2 so quick.

I can't believe I'm not getting any of the WildStorm books. That used to be my favorite imprint around, what with Sleeper and all. Well, the revamp's coming up and I'll try to get back into it then.

Still enjoying DMZ, so I'll likely get #6 when it comes.

Bigby's back in Fables #48, they say, so I'm looking forward to that (as I do, honestly, every issue of the series).

Still happy to see a nice cheap Loveless trade coming so quick. Of course, the idea is to get me buying the singles, and I'm pretty commited to tradewaiting Brian Azzarello's work, but we'll see.

Oh, man. We're at Lucifer #73 already? Jesus, this is a great series. "I hate to see you go, but I love to watch you leave," right?

I don't know that I have a place to put it at my apartment, but the image they're using for the Fables wall poster - James Jean's cover to issue #8 - is stunning.


Hmm. That wasn't quite as "different" as my responses to Marvel's online and print solicitations were. Well, tomorrow I start looking at Everyone Else, and believe you me, there's some awesome stuff coming. Check it out.


So. WonderCon, eh? Did anybody else have an awesome fucking time at the post-con Eric Powell party at Isotope on Saturday?

'Cause boy, I sure did.


"Deconstructionism is over," Morrison was quoted as saying by Hilary Goldstein, who went on to explain that "[t]he heroes have been broken down and now it's time for writers to put them back together."

It's nice to hear that, even if Kurt Busiek's been doing it for at least ten years; in the introduction to the first Astro City collection, for example, he wrote, "it strikes me that the only real reason to take apart a pocket watch, or a car engine, aside from the simple delight of disassembly, is to find out how it works. To understand it, so that you can put it back together again better than before, or build a new one that goes beyond what the old model could do."

Of course, the whole deconstruction of super-heroes thing was kicked off by Frank Miller and Alan Moore, who both have often seemed to harbor something like resentment towards the super-hero concept in the first place - you gotta wonder if they really cared about rebuilding - but where does that leave us?


Yeah, I think we figured this one out for ourselves: "Garth Ennis and Steve Dillion’s proposed City of Lights is on hold according to Berger, due to their busy schedules."

City of Lights? Name change from just City Lights, or is that a typo?


Wasn't really interested in Gilbert Hernandez' new Vertigo project at first, as his last Vertigo book (Grip, wasn't it?) left me pretty cold, but the description of Sloth really tickled my imagination when Newsarama fleshed it out a little:

"Sloth is a July original hardcover graphic novel... about a teenager who escapes his miserable life by willing himself into a yearlong coma. When he awakens, he can move only at a snail's pace and becomes a walking urban legend."

Seems pretty ripe with possibilities, doesn't it?


Well, well, well!

"The Goon's Eric Powell... will be contributing to Bongo Comics' next Treehouse of Horror book," will he?

That's fucking great! I can't wait.


Boom! Studios announced one book in particular that has me curious, because it seems like Kody Chamberlain - an artist I didn't know at all until last week - is popping up everywhere! Should be fun to see what he does with this arrival, working with Keith Giffen on a mini called Tag.


From the Image panel, I'm most interested in the formal announcement of Jason Rand and Juan Ferreyra's next project:

"The Small Gods team... are teaming on Emissary, a Shadowline title created by Jim Valentino. 'It's a re-examination of the super-hero,' said Image's Jim Demonakos, 'and how the real world would react to a super-human.'"

...which isn't too far a cry from the world-building element that worked so well in Small Gods, so I'm excited to see where they'll go with it.


Also fun to hear that "A big change is coming in Noble Causes, leading to the series' 25th issue." One of the really fun things about the book - as Randy Lander used to point out was true of Fables - is that the writer has no reservations about upsetting the book's status quo.

Friday, February 10, 2006

God laughs when we make plans

Ain't gonna make it to DC today, between work and the Grant Morrison party at the Isotope tonight, so...

Hey, check out some of the Punks preview art Kody Chamberlain put up!:

I'll catch up on Monday, pinky swear.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Marvel, a little more

Damn, Jason doesn't break for long. The Hive is in full swing.

What's The Hive?

"The Hive" is a collaborative brainstorming project, open to everyone, with the ultimate goal of creating a new market for comics instead of simply poaching fans from the existing one. Each column will present a specific idea, which we will then work on to make better as a group.

So, basically, FUCK YEAH, right?


So, when the internet solicitations for April went up, I did a really brief look at Marvel and DC (in the same post) and a longer look at the Image books.

But lately, I've found myself rooting through the actual Previews magazine a lot, and the experience is a lot different. I've got a bit more to say about... well, everything. The "second half" of the book alone is PACKED with pages I've folded over and marked up with my red pen.

So, today I'm gonna take a closer look at the pull-out Marvel Previews magazine, then a closer look at DC tomorrow, and I'll spend most if not all of next week looking at the individual projects that caught my eye throughout the rest of the book. After all, these books need some extra love!



Ultimate Extinction #4, Ultimate Spider-Man #93 and Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk #3 look neat, but I'm waiting for the trades.

Ultimate Fantastic Four #29 is on my pull list. I'm considering dropping it here, as the price is going up to $2.99. But so far Millar and Land have been putting together a nicely entertaining run. Millar's take on Thor as a put-upon underdog liberal hero doesn't really jive with me, so I'm a bit concerned that President Thor will be more lefty sermonizing. Nonetheless, it's hard to turn down "Ben Grimm's last stand, as he tries to save mankind from an alien menace!"

Ultimates 2 #11 is another tradewait. If I was following the serials, though, I'd be pretty goddamn psyched about this awesome Bryan Hitch cover.

Ares #4 is another tradewait, but this solicit text is really strong, I have to say. I mean, the typo of "enemies'" aside, this is just really potent, jam-packed storytelling:

The God of War and The Prince of Power have clashed before, and the bitter enemie's hatred for each other knows no bounds. But now, as a perilous new foe wreaks havoc upon Mount Olympus, Ares and Hercules are forced to forgive past hatreds and fight side-by-side! But the gods' last hope may lie outside of their hands, in an enigmatic deity from the ancient Japanese Pantheon who might hold the key to victory. Will they accept this stranger's help? Or has godly arrogance already doomed the Greek Pantheon? Meanwhile, the threat of patricide, which has plagued the Greek gods for centuries, rears its ugly head again, but this time it is reflected in the face of Ares' very own son -- Alexander - who has taken steps to destroy his father and claim the mantle of the GOD OF WAR for himself!

Fury: Peacemaker #3 is a tradewait, because (A) Ennis is only writing six-issue arcs anymore, and I'm getting kinda sick of it, and (B) it costs $3.50, which isn't a price I'll pay for a Marvel book.

Daredevil #84, I'm getting really psyched about. Seems odd - almost like a bluff - that they're talking so much about Foggy being dead, but really I'm just juiced to see what Brubaker and Lark have to bring to the book. This'll be replacing Captain America on my monthly reading list (though I'm still planning on reading that book in trades).

Marvel Knights Fantastic Four #29 looks like a good time to try the book out, and as long as I'm paying the same price for this as for UFF, I'm gonna give it a shot. Really, I just need a monthly Fantastic Four fix, and I don't care what the title is as long as it's fun. What really caught my eye, though, is this drop-dead gorgeous Clayton Crain cover. I mean, wow (look at the detail on his arm!):

Squadron Supreme #2 is another tradewait, 'cause honestly, I just think the book reads better that way.

Moon Knight #1 has a nice four-page preview here, complete with a Character Defining Moment in the caption narration. I dunno, I might pick this up, but I'm just not all that interested in the character or the creative team.

Wolverine #41 looks like a fun stand-alone issue, actually, with one of those Tribal Wolverine themes I like so much, and a pretty bitchin' cover by interior artist C.P. Smith. I don't have a lotta love left for Shorty, but I may pick this one up just to check back in.

Annihilation: Nova #1
Annihilation: Ronan #1
Annihilation: Silver Surfer #1
Annihilation: Super-Skrull #1

Those are some nice Gabriele Dell'otto covers, that's for sure. My interest in these is gonna rest pretty heavily on what Giffen sets up in the Prologue that comes out in March, honestly, so I'm not gonna be pre-ordering until at least then. The preview art they provide here is kinda meager, but I do like the Silver Surfer page. Anyway, the whole thing remains a crap shoot for me. I'm crossing my fingers, 'cause these are some fun characters and I'd love to see them in some great stories again. Looks like the pieces all come back together in a six-issue Annihilation mini-series that starts in August, so... hmm.

Books of Doom #6 is on my pull-list, and I'm looking forward to where Brubaker ends up taking the Greatest Comic Book Villain Ever.

Fantastic Four: First Family #2 looks promising, though I don't know about Chris Weston's take on The Thing; he seems to be going with the old school "lumpy" look, and I'm a much bigger fan of the cleaner, rockier outline he has today. That's a minor thing, though, and I'm still curious where Joe Casey's gonna go with this "early days of"-type story.

Incredible Hulk #94 continues the Planet Hulk "event", which seems to mean just that it's a big, long arc, running through issue #105. Which, honestly, is just what I wanted - I didn't want to pick up a bunch of extra titles just to follow this story. Anyway, Ladronn's covers are still gorgeous and Greg Pak's still writing, so I'm excited. Oh, plus, it looked like Giant Size Incredible Hulk #1 (in June) will be a "tie in" and reprint Peter David's awesome Hulk: The End one-shot from about four years back.

Y'know, on reflection, I see here that Kyle Baker is credited as a writer on Marvel Romance Redux: Restraining Orders Are For Other Girls, and as I said before, that's a funny goddamn Kyle Baker cover. I may well pick this up, if it looks like Baker's got a healthy chunk of the book to himself.

Still curious to see where Robert Kirkman and Sean Phillips will've gone with Marvel Zombies #5, hoping the trade won't be long in coming. The zombie tribute covers have been fun work from Arthur Suydam.

I haven't been following the title, but it's worth pointing out that Invincible artist Cory Walker is teaming up with Kirkman again in Marvel Team-Up #19.

Still tradewaiting Nextwave #4 and Runaways #15, as they both strike me as better reads in that format, though I don't want either one to fall off my radar.

She-Hulk #7 and The Thing #6 are both on my pull list, as Dan Slott - I know, I've said this a hundred times - writes just the kind of monthly comics I want to read. Plus, I've got to hand it to Andrea Di Vito for this funny goddamn cover. Really inspired, I think:

Astonishing X-Men remains a tradewait for me; I just don't need an X-Men fix that badly, though the first six issues (all I've read) were pretty damn cool.

Y'know, I don't really know anything else about this series, but the cover for Sentinel Squad O*N*E #4 is pretty enticing. Giant Robot vs. Huge Dinosaur is always a good hook. I may have to flip through this if I see it at the store.

Honestly? Steve Dillon's take on Wolverine in the preview art for Wolverine: Origins #1 kinda made me chuckle. He just looks so serious waving his sword around all by himself there, in his goofy outfit... Dillon's got a very naturalistic style, and I think the artists most fit to the character have been a little more stylized and "weird," but that could just be me.

X-Factor #6 is another on my Marvel pull-list (we're up to, what, seven?), and while issue #2 had me waffling, issue #3 pulled it together and I'm actually interested in Layla Miller now, so bring it on.

X-Men Unlimited #14 will feature a story by writer Neil Kleid (Ninety Candles, the upcoming Brownsville), whose work I've been eagerly following, and it's drawn by the venerable Mike Oeming, so I'll be picking that up as well to see what they've got up their sleeve.

Punisher #32 is also going on my pull list (eight!) after the strength of the last arc. Hey, anyone notice how Barracuda's teeth on that cover have gold lettering that reads "FUCK YOU"? That's... um... kinda funny.

Still planning on taking a look at that Young Avengers trade coming, just to see what the buzz has been about.

And that's my Marvel in April. See y'all tomorrow!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006


So I'm at the bar and a black dude is talking to his white chick friend and she slams him pretty bad. He lifts his hand as if to slap her, pauses, and says:

"Damn, I can't do it. You're lucky O.J. fucked it up."

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Rumors, Suicides and Punishments

So I'm hearing a rumor...

...that Renee Montoya will be Batwoman in an upcoming series.

Which, I have to admit, I would buy if Greg Rucka was on board as the writer. Kinda makes sense, given where he's recently left the character.


A few weeks ago I reviewed a new indie comic called 7 Days To Fame. In my review of issue #1, I wondered:

Will the series become a moral finger-waver, letting us know that television is exploitative and shallow? Or will it revel in the premise a bit - try to answer the question, "What kind of suicides would you watch?"

I recently received issue #2 and am honing in on an answer, but it's still not completely clear, and the series has actually surprised me a bit.

The story's shaping into something a bit more personal than I'd expected - not so much about exploiting the premise (though there's a fun two-page spread featuring "man on the street"-style answers to the question, "How would you kill yourself?") and neither so much about moral hystrionics as it is about the lives of the characters involved; how do they justify or judge themselves?

The kicker, though, is the cliffhanger here. The Angry (Hugely Successful) Racecar Driver comes into play in a way I half-expected, but the development of his character thus far has been rather sleight-of-hand; I feel like I'm looking at one thing while the trick's being played somewhere else.

It's a curious feeling; I'm certainly intrigued to see where this is all going when the series concludes next issue.


Yesterday I mentioned that I'm thinking of picking up Ennis' Punisher MAX regularly after the strength of the latest arc. Art in the coming arc will be by Goran Parlov, a Croatian artist who's worked recently on Y: The Last Man and one of the Black Widow minis. Taking a look for other work by Parlov, I came across this sample page that I thought was pretty cool. And so, here I am, sharing.

I've got no idea where this is from; anybody who cares to let me know will win a No-Prize!


Monday, February 06, 2006

Guess who's back? Back again?

Ooh, lots of stuff going on.


Some neat comics are coming out this Wednesday, for starters:

DMZ #4 should be interesting, since - as several folks have pointed out - issue #3 felt kinda like a "last" issue. New beginnings, at this point in the series? Shit, why not? I've been enjoying Ricardo Burchielli's artwork enough, anyway, just to stick around and see where he's going. Plus, that's a hell of a gorgeous cover.

Bomb Queen #1 is the launch of a new Image series that has me curious. The super-villainess has destroyed all the super-heroes and is now the only law in town. Is she a total evil bitch? Does he have her own idea of justice she'll defend to the death? I don't know where they're going with this, but I'm gonna give it a shot.

I Heart Marvel: Web Of Romance isn't the kind of thing I'd pick up except that it's written by Tom Beland of True Story, Swear To God fame. As such, there's no way I can let it pass me by, and I recommend y'all take a look, yourselves. Plus, it looks like Cory Walker's doing the artwork, so fans of his stuff on Invincible (like me) should be pretty damn happy.

Incredible Hulk #92 launches Grek Pak's run on the title and the Planet Hulk "event" proper. Ladronn starts doing covers and Hulk starts smashing puny aliens. Sounds fun to me, anyway.


Then, over at Lying In The Gutters this morning, it looks to me like Rich Johnston's telling us that Cliff Chiang will be doing artwork for the new Spectre series:

--which may mean that I'm signing up for the new book, regardless of who's writing it. I'm pretty much a Chiang devoteé.


Some brief thoughts on a few of last week's books:

I've been waffling on Ennis' Punisher MAX series, but he may have sold me on the run with issue #30, the conclusion to the latest arc, "The Slavers". The sheer vileness of the villains, the extremity of Frank's response ("Don't come back here."), and the subtle starkness of the resolution all fired perfectly, and while I'm sad to see artist Leandro Fernandez taking a break in the coming arc, I'm curious so see what Goran Parlov will bring to the table. Will colorist Dan Brown stay on board? Because his work here is really breathtaking.

X-Factor #3 is the strongest of the series yet, I think, because it doesn't rely so heavily on the last page twist (a la #1) and Layla Miller is starting to actually become an interesting character; the "I know things" catch phrase was beginning to grate in issue #2, but things are a bit more intriguing and noirish here. Also really enjoyed the presentation of the Mutant Town riot; Ryan Sook and Dennis Calero both turn in layouts that bring a chilling "real life" vibe to the violence, and Peter David's decision to narrate it through a non-present third person voice enhances the disturbing feel of the scene. Basically, the series is becoming one of those grimey, under-your-skin sort of affairs, which is the best thing it could do. The humor remains to keep a sense of levity - after all, this is a super-hero comic - and everything is starting to click. Very promising.

Ganges #1 is clever and pleasant, yes. But it's still a bit on the dull and precious side, don't you think? Strong work, I agree, but don't pick it up when you're looking for excitement.


That's me for today. Catch up with y'all tomorrow!
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