Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Single-Panel Reviews 07/27/05

I’m obviously incredibly behind in my comic reviewing, so expect to read several of these quick single-panel reviews as I catch up over the next few weeks.

Odd Numbers
Gagne International Press $9
By Michel Gagné
Though this book appears to be a simple counting hardback, the fantastic creations Gagné puts on the page provide a level of detail that both adults and kids will want to look at over and over. From “1 Horn” to “30 Warts,” the creatures used to illustrate the counting are simultaneously beautiful and grotesque. “Odd Numbers” is another fascinating offering from Gagné that I highly recommend no matter your mathematical ability.
Bottom line: A

Dark Mists #1
AP Comics $3.50
Writer: Annika Eade; Artist and Colorist: Lee Garbett
Set in 1936, the Imperial Japanese Secret Government recruits a group of geishas to report on their clients’ conversations, thus becoming undercover agents. This goes against the geisha way, but they agree to participate to help their country. The plot is intriguing but didn’t progress nearly as much as I would have liked. The art was absolutely the best part of this comic. The style consists of simple, elegant, lanky lines and paired with a soft coloring, achieves a water color feel. The worst part of the comic was by far the lettering. The majority of the bolded words were incorrectly emphasized making reading the dialogue extremely distracting and practically ruined the pace. I’d still recommend this comic, but I hope AP Comics fixes this problem before the next issue.
Bottom line: B

Ocean – series review
Wildstorm $2.99 and $3.99
Writer: Warren Ellis; Penciller: Chris Sprouse; Inker: Karl Story
As a whole, I enjoyed this sci-fi action story. Ellis set up a nice tale about deadly secrets uncovered below the ice surface of the moon Europa, the power struggle with a corporation set on controlling these secrets, and the weapons agent who is determined to settle the situation and save the galaxy in the process. The last issue, however, sees this concept reach a very unsatisfying end. Without ruining the ending, I’ll just say this issue doesn’t balance out with the pace of the rest of series, it just wraps up much too quickly with too much left unexplained. It was almost like Ellis quit writing about halfway through the issue and handed it off to someone else to finish. I typically enjoy Ellis’s comics, and I did enjoy this series right up to this, final issue, so I expected a little something more complete from him. I would have preferred to see this as at least an eight-issue series or a GN.
Bottom line: B

Damn Nation – issues #1-3
Dark Horse $2.99
Writer: Andrew Cosby; Artist: J. Alexander
I reviewed the first issue of this series and though I had a few problems with it, I thought it showed a lot of promise and intrigued me to read more. Now, after issue three, which was supposed to be the finale of the series and now is apparently not, I’m am utterly disappointed. This is one of the worst series I’ve ever read. The plot is worthless, the writing is horrible, and though I enjoy the overall look of the art, it is in places confusing. I’m not usually so blunt or scathing in my reviews, but I’m willing to make an exception for this comic.
Bottom line: D

Monday, June 20, 2005

Single Panels 6/20/05

Super F*ckers
By James Kochalka
Top Shelf Productions; $7.00

Straight from the warped mind of James Kochalka comes Super Fuckers, a messed up super hero team. Heroes include Jack Krak a jerk with lightning powers, Vortex who keeps a younger version of himself in a terrarium, and my personal favorite Grotessa, a girl who is ugly, but super smart. The story gets off to a slow start, with character introductions being made, but not much action. What is notable though is Kochalka’s patented style. The pages are bright and fun, even if the characters are being nasty to each other on the page. I’m interested in seeing these characters in action and I hope Kochalka explores that in the next volume.

Bottom Line: B-

Felt: True Tales of Underground Hip Hop
By Jim Mahfood
Image Comics, $2.95

Felt, a companion piece to hip-hop artists Slug and Murs album of the same name is expertly put together by the always stylish Jim Mahfood. The book has many short pieces inspired by the tracks on the album or by Slug and Murs themselves. Although the album is not yet released, readers were assured that the book was a standalone piece. While I think the book and many of the stories are good, it is definitely lacking without the benefit of the album. I’m guessing that the album will add a lot to each panel and give the book some validity. It suffers without the cd and I’ll definitely give it another look when the cd is released.

Bottom Line: B-

Bete Noire #1
Various artists
Fanatgraphics Books; $9.95

Billed as the first International comics art quarterly, Bete Noire includes many short stories by artists from the United States, France, Japan, Sweden, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, and Germany. Getting a look at alternative comics from around the world is startling. It’s interesting to see all the artists’ styles in one compact volume. Although I found only half the stories to be successful, I was happy to give the book a chance. The translation in some of the stories seems rough and some feel dashed, but it’s nice to get a fresh perspective and be exposed to comics I would have otherwise missed.

Bottom Line: B-

Fables 36-38
Written by Bill Willingham; Penciled by Mark Buckingham; Inked by Steve Leialoha
Vertigo Comics; $2.50 each

In this storyline called Return to the Homelands, we finally get to see what strikes fear in all the Fables. Boy Blue starts his journey toward confronting and hopefully killing the Emperor that has driven the Fables from their Kingdoms and taken over their world. Along the way, we meet the Snow Queen and learn that Boy Blue is a shape shifter. We also meet the Emperor’s goblin army.

Fables is as good as always. This storyline flows nicely and it is still good to be away from Fabletown. I enjoy it when Willingham focuses on one character such as his look at Boy Blue in these issues. Buckingham’s art is gorgeous as well. I’m impressed by his rendering of the Emperor and of the many goblin soldiers. Fables remains one of the best books available today. It’s consistently of the highest quality and the most value for your money.

Bottom Line: A

Friday, June 17, 2005

Ebay Comic Watch: Birthday Edition

Here’s the latest installment of Ebay Comic Watch. Since today’s my 29th birthday, I’m feeling a little nostalgic, and thought I’d seek out some auctions containing the very first comics I remember reading.

“This is Wild Dog” four-issue miniseries
Bidding starts at $0.99, shipping’s $6
Item number: 6539533793
Ends Jun-20-05 11:34:40 PDT
Violent for its time, Wild Dog, donned in a goalie mask and armed with a semi-automatic weapon, kicks some ass. Funny, I didn’t even remember this series is set a stone’s throw away from my hometown. Makes sense, though, since Max Collins wrote the books and Terry Beatty illustrated them. A couple of Iowans after my own heart.

Batman #414 (lot includes 415 and 416 as well)
Bidding starts at $2, shipping is $5
Item number: 6539635610
Ends Jun-20-05 19:32:03 PDT
Another violent tale, and if I’m remembering correctly this was my first Batman comic. Oh, how I loved Batman. This one-shot was written by Jim Starlin with art by Jim Aparo and Mike DeCarlo. In it, Batman is after a serial killer who chops up women and throws them in dumpsters. This one really shook up Batman. Even now, it’s pretty gruesome. Oh, how I love dark Batman.

G.I. Joe #61
Bidding starts at $0.99, shipping varies depending on how many comics you buy from the seller
Item number: 6539376476
Ends Jun-19-05 18:12:07 PDT
Forget Barbies, I was a G.I. Joe fanatic. And this is how much of a nerd I was, too. When I’d play too much with the G.I. Joe action figures I had, the elastic band that held the figures’ legs would break. Instead of throwing them out, since all that still worked was the waist up, I made wheelchairs out of Legos for the soldiers. I’d like to think I was an equal-opportunity toy enthusiast, but really I was just strapped for cash. Probably because I was buying comics, like the G.I. Joe three-pack of comics from the local Walgreens containing issues 59, 60, and 61. This auction is for #61, which contains the cover I loved so much. Ah, who am I kidding, I still love it.

I remember as a kid sitting up in one of the many trees in my yard with my friends and reading these comics over and over and over. Now, they’re dog eared and worn but still among my most prized possessions.

Whew, what a trip through my twisted psyche. Now, if you ever meet me, you’ll understand why I’ve got that crazed look in my eyes – no, wait, on second thought, that’s probably just from the coffee.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

June Previews: Erin's Picks

I liked quite a bit of what I saw this month, though nothing really screamed “BUY ME NOW!!!” Good thing, since these comics won’t start coming out for a couple months.

Featured Comics:

New Recruits
Dark Horse – pg. 31; $12.95; 128 pgs. FC
Various Creators
This interesting experiment showcases five stories from previously unknown creators Dark Horse culled from an open call for submissions. It would have been nice for Dark Horse to cut the price a bit considering the unknown creator factor, but who am I kidding; I’m a curious person, and this looks worth a peek.

DC’s Greatest Imaginary Stories TP
DC – pg. 72; $19.99
By Various
Now this looks like a lot of fun. DC collects the cream of the imaginary story crop featuring Superman, Supergirl, Batman, and the Flash from 1946 through 1967.

Justice #1 (of 12)
DC – pg. 76; $2.99; 40 pgs.
Writers: Jim Krueger and Alex Ross; Artists: Alex Ross and Doug Braithwaite
I know Alex Ross doesn’t trip everyone’s trigger, but he sure trips mine. Wow, that sounded a little dirty. Anyway, Ross’s signature painting presents a “classic-yet-fresh new look at the Justice League of America.”

Rex Libris #1
SLG – pg. 223; $2.95; 24 pgs.
By James Turner
A librarian searches the galaxy for overdue books, and faces alien warlords who refuse to pay their late fees. Maybe it’s just the fact that at one time I worked in a library that makes this book look like sweet, sweet revenge … ah, ahem, I mean very interesting, yes, that’s it, very interesting.

Lola GN
Oni Press – pg. 309; $5.95; 72 pgs.
By J. Torres and R’John Bernales
This is the latest offering by J. Torres. Among other things, he authored “Scandalous” which I enjoyed very much, and this new graphic novel looks just as good. It follows a younger man, Jesse, as he confronts his ability to see “dead people, monsters, and demons that nobody else sees except his ailing grandmother.”

Quick Picks:
Mike Mignola’s newest book (along with John Arcudi, Guy Davis, and Dave Stewart) “B.P.R.D. The Black Flame” #1 (of 6) looks like the typical creepy yet cool readers have come to expect from him (Dark Horse; pg. 20; $2.99; 32 pgs.).

The new four-part miniseries “Aeon Flux” from Dark Horse, Mike Kennedy, and Timothy Green looks interesting (pg. 24; $2.99; 32 pgs.). Set in the distant future, it involves a seeming utopia fueled by government-sanctioned mood-altering propaganda, which is challenged by freedom fighters led by “their top secret agent, the sexy, deadly Aeon Flux.” Personally, I try to stay away from the combination of sexy AND deadly.

Seen the new Batman flick and need another fix? Then check out DC’s new “maxiseries” (reminds me of feminine products), the 12-part “Batman: Journey Into Knight” #1. If you can forgive the play on words in the title, you’ll be treated by words from Andrew Helfer and art by Tan Eng Huat (pg. 57; $2.50; 32 pgs.).

Speaking of fixes, for a Warren Ellis fix, see the new ongoing “Jack Cross” with art by Gary Erskine (pg. 75; $2.50; 32 pgs.).

“The Winter Men” #1 (of 8) could be a good tale about former USSR super-soldiers. Plus Wildstorm promises it’s “thrilling.” Can’t go wrong with thrilling, now, can we? (pg. 109; $2.99; 32 pgs.).

The sample art from “Ferro City” #1 looks nice (Image; pg. 134; $2.95; 32 pgs.), but really the cover says it all: “Science-Fiction Robot Pulp Noir.” Excellent.

Marvel’s “Wha … Huh?” is being resolicited. With art and cover by Jim Mahfood, I’m game (pg. 42; $3.99; 48 pgs.). For more Mahfood, check out “Stupid Comics” #3 solicted by Image this month (pg. 160; $2.95; 32 pgs.).

“Salamander Dream” GN by Hope Larson tells the coming-of-age story of a young girl’s journey within a magical forest. The art looks very promising in Larson’s debut “full-length solo creation” (Adhouse Books; pg. 204; $15; 104 pgs.).

Larry Young keeps the AiT/Planet Lar machine pumping with the publisher’s latest GN: “Full Moon Fever” about lunar waste disposal technicians and werewolves. O.k., that’s a little too simple of a description, but I’m ready for anything set on the Moon (pg. 210; $12.95; 88 pgs.).

“The Black Heart Irregulars” #1 is billed as “a noirish and paranoid war/spy comic set in modern Baghdad (Blue King Studios; pg. 248; 34 pgs.).

And on a more light-hearted note, the Simpsons have their very own “Simpsons Super Spectacular” by Chuck Dixon, Batton Lash, and Ty Templeton (Bongo; pg. 248; $4.99; 48 pgs.).

Both “Hero @ Large” #1 and “Rocketo” #1 from Speakeasy Comics look good both in plots and artwork (pg. 324; $2.99 each; 32 pgs. each).

“Tricked” by Alex Robinson seems like a graphic novel worth a look – and at 320 pages, that’s a hefty look. It follows six people “whose lives are unconnected until an act of violence brings them spiraling in on each other” (Top Shelf; $19.95).

For the “retro decadence” of Josh Agle, about 200 works are collected in the hardcover “Shag: The Art of Josh Agle” (pg. 376; $35; 186 pgs.).

Trade Treatment

Runaways Volume 1 HC
This looks like a beautiful format presentation of the first series of “Runaways” and not a bad price either.
Marvel – page 76; $34.99; 448 pgs.

Lady Snowblood Vol. 1 TPB
By Kazuo Koike and Kazuo Kamimura
Given the success of these creators, this new offering ought to generate a good buzz of support.
Dark Horse – page 34; $14.95; 288 pgs.

Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures Vol. 4 TPB
Dark Horse – page 37; $6.95; 96 pgs.

Adam Strange: Planet Heist TP
DC – page 70; $19.99; 192 pgs.

Johnny Dynamite TP
Might have to pick this one up given it’s from AiT/Planet Lar and is written by Max Alan Collins whose hometown is very close to mine in Iowa. I know, what a stellar way to pick comics!
AiT/Planet Lar – page 210; $12.95; 144 pgs.

Hank Ketcham’s Complete Dennis the Menace
Fantagraphics – page 284; $24.95; 624 pgs.

Jane’s World Volume 1 TP – New Printing
Girl Twirl Comics – page 289; $12.95; 152 pgs.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Smoke Review

My Review of Smoke: Good Boys Grow Up to be Soldiers is posted at Bookshelf Comics.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Bookshelf Comics Reviews

Please check out my reviews of Everyman: Be the People and Four Letter Worlds at Bookshelf Comics.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Ebay Comic Watch: 6/8/2005

Here's another edition of the Ebay Comic Watch coming at you. The theme this week is graphic novels and trades. Remember, you can find these particular auctions by pasting the item number in ebay’s search box. Note that the ending times are in PST, so calculate accordingly. Enjoy!

6,750 Graphic Novels & Comic Collection Dealer Lot
Bidding currently at $305
Item Number: 6537803254
Auction ends Jun-12-05 18:58:33 PDT
Holy Goodness! It's the almighty collection. The motherload. This lot has more than 6000 books. 6000! I don't have a big enough apartment for that many books.

Lone Wolf and Cub 1-8
Bidding currently at 99 cents
Item Number: 6538205630
Auction ends Jun-10-05 14:27:10 PDT
Shipping is $12 for this auction, but I think it will be worth it if you can get these eight books for a good price. The same seller also has auctions for volumes 10-12 and 16-20.

Sin City Trade Collection
Bidding starts at $150
Item Number: 6538059688
Auction ends Jun-13-05 22:18:18 PDT
All 11 books are included here. Although the starting price is steep, if you're looking to grab the whole shebang at once, this might be the auction for you.

6 Volumes of Astro Boy
Buy it Now for $24.99
Item Number: 6536849534
Auction ends Jun-11-05 16:43:44 PDT
Astro Boy 6, 7, 8, 13, 14, and 16 are included in this auction. I've never read Astro Boy, but I love the covers. They are always so bright and cute. If you're already partially immersed in Astro Boy's world, it might be good to pick up some volumes a little later in the series.

The Complete Frank Miller Batman HC
Bidding starts at $40
Item Number: 6538265822
Auction ends Jun-14-05 19:47:07 PDT
Get this book now before the movie.

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