Monday, February 28, 2005

Quick GN Reviews

Pinky & Stinky
by James Kochalka
I realize that there are a lot of people out there who really like James Kochalka, but it's really hard for me to see what all of the fuss is about. Case in point: Pinky & Stinky. The title characters are piglets who are to be the first creatures from Earth to journey to Pluto, but an accident finds their spaceship crashlanding on the Moon, where they mix it up with the human astronauts on Moon Base Five in a giant mecha and end up catpives in the underground ice kingdom of the moon people. Where most writers would take that plot and make something interesting, Kochalka instead goes for the trite and banal. Things happen in Pinky & Stinky, but it's all just sort of random and with little point. I've never really warmed to Kochalka's crude drawing style either, and there's not much here to change my mind. This comic isn't so much bad as it is just there; it's inoffensive, but also lacking in any sort of narrative drive. Then again, I've stated that I'm not a fan of Kochalka's; if you are, perhaps you'll find this more to your liking.
Rating: 2 (of 5)


Goodbye, Chunky Rice
by Craig Thompson
I liked, though didn't love, Thompson's most recent work, the multi-award-winning Blankets, so I was interested to see what his first graphic novel, Goodbye, Chunky Rice, would work. The title character, Chunky Rice, is a little turtle living in the world of men. "My home is on my back," Chunky says, so he decides to move on, leaving his roommate and his girlfriend (a little white mouse named Dandel) behind, purchasing passage on a ship (filled with oddball characters, natch). Goodbye, Chunky Rice is a denser and more compact work than Blankets, both in storytelling and in art style; where Blankets was open and free, Goodbye, Chunky Rice is more clsoed-in on itself--for example, negative space is filled in with black instead of white. The mood throughout is one of melancholy: Dandel pines after Chunky, sending off note after note in bottles saysing that she misses him; his roommate tries to fill the empty void with a pet bird and recalls his complex relationship with his domineering father; and Chunky himself can't decide if leaving was a good idea or not. It feels unfinished in the end, but perhaps that is the feeling that Thompson wanted to convey, that life is a journey and we have to move on with each new stage. Dandel doens't want to leave her life and go with Chunky, so she stays behind but is unable to move on and becomes depressed. Near the end of the book Chunky is standing at the bow of the boat, looking ahead at what is sure to be a new life, but the last panel (which I won't reveal here) calls this all into question. Was Chunky right to leave, or should he have stayed behind with something he knew to be good? Goodbye, Chunky Rice is deceptively simple on first read, but upon reflection there are layers and questions, but not necessarily simple answers.
Rating: 3.5 (of 5)


My Own Little Empire
by Scott Mills
My Own Little Empire is yet another naval gazing story about directionless kids in high school. It's set in Maryland in 1990, but really it's pretty much like every other comic of its ilk. Mills presents us with a series of vignettes about dull, boring kids doing dull, boring things, with nothing much of a plot or point to speak of. I really liked Mills' previous effort, Big Clay Pot, but My Own Little Empire was a huge disappointment for me.
Rating: 2 (of 5)

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Monkey Covers

Sunday is Monkey Covers day here at YACB. Because there's nothing better than a comic with a monkey on the cover.

Tonight is Oscar Night, and what better way to celebrate than with 1965's Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #84. Curt Swan & George Klein illustrate Jerry Siegel's Titano story "Jimmy Olsen's Monster Movie!" I guess that ol' Jimmy is too busy thinking about his little gold statue to help out his pal Superman.

(standard disclaimer about giant apes not really being monkeys applies)

Image is courtesy of the GCD. Click on the image for a larger version.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

The Ten Things Meme

Ten Things I've Done That You May Not Have

1. Played bass guitar in my high school marching band
2. Created a simluation of the Game of Life in the Action! programming language on an Atari home computer
3. Served as director of the Internet Public Library for 3.5 years
4. Chopped off three fingertips on my left hand with a lawnmower
5. Collected 25,000 comic books
6. Ran a GURPS campaign set 20 years in the future of the world of Buffy the Vampire Slayer
7. Wrote a literature paper on the use of doppelgangers in Charlotte's Web
8. Had my physician say, "I'm probably going to get a journal article out of your condition"
9. Presented at "The Future of Media in Public Libraries Experts Meeting" in Gütersloh, Germany
10. Quoted Alan Moore in my high school graduation salutatory speech

(meme via finabair and many others)

Friday, February 25, 2005

Freedom to Read

Our friends to the north in Canada are at the tail end of celebrating Freedom to Read Week. 'Cause that's what it's all about man.

Google Fights

Astronauts vs. Cavemen
Dave Sim vs. Jeff Smith
Watchmen vs. Squadron Supreme
pre-coordinate vs. post-coordinate
Mark Waid vs. Rich Johnston
Vampires vs. Werewolves
Inferior Five vs. Great Lakes Avengers

(Blame Lyle. And Ian.)

Quick Comic Reviews

Uncanny X-Men #456
by Chris Claremont, Alan Davis & Mark Farmer
The cover shows Wolverine fighting dinosaurs; which should be cool, right? Who wouldn't want to read a comic about Wolverine fighting dinosaurs? But Wolverine is nowhere to be found within the actual comic--just that Wolverine knock-off, X-23. But there are dinosaurs, kinda. There are these alien dinosaur people, see? (At least I think they're aliens--maybe they're just from the Savage Land...) And a group of X-Men are fighting them, and then these super-powered alien (or whatever) dinosaur people show up, and one of them is a telepath and makes Marvel Girl think that she is an alien dinosaur person, and they all fight, and... Um... Oh heck, this is just a gawdawful mess. Granted, with Davis & Farmer on art, it's a pretty-looking mess; but it's a mess all the same.
Rating: 2 (of 5)


The Amazing Spider-Man #517
by J. Michael Straczynski, Mike Deodato & Joe Pimentel, Mark Brooks & Jaime Mendoza
Many people seem to have been offended by the previous story, "Sins Past," for tarnishing their memories of a beloved character. But the current story, "Skin Deep," commits an even larger sin: it's boring. The tale of a former uber-nerd classmate of Peter's who undergoes a transformation into a villain is terribly trite and seems like it must have been done a dozen times before. If this story needed to be told at all, it could have been accomplished in one issue, not spread out over four. The art by Deodato is solid though unspectacular, and the coloring, mostly shades of brown and greys, makes for a dull-looking affair. Spider-Man should pop and zing off the page, not meander about with dull precision.
Rating: 2 (of 5)


Seven Soldiers #0
by Grant Morrison & J. H. Williams III
With a secret organization pulling the behind-the-scenes strings, The WWII-era Vigilante pulls together a group of five other wanna-be heroes to form a new Seven Soldiers of Victory in order to destroy an evil giant spider out in the desert west. Of course that only makes for six heroes, not seven, and thus things go horribly wrong. Give Morrison credit here for imbuing these new throw-away characters with enough detail and background that they feel as though they just might have been hanging around the margins of the DC Universe, and to Williams for generating a visually interesting comic that is exciting and never confusing (except in the bits where it is supposed to be). How will this all tie in to the year-long uber-story that Morrison has planned? Who knows--I'm just excited by the possibilties of the ride.
Rating: 3.5 (of 5)

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Who Did Better?

Taking a look at the past weekend's box office numbers, via Box Office Mojo:

For the four day weekend there were three major releases that debuted: two, Constantine and Son of the Mask, are based on comic book properties, while the third, Because of Winn-Dixie, is a kids movie about a girl and her dog.

Over the four days, Constantine was ranked second with $33,624,407; Because of Winn-Dixie was third at $13,218,723; and Son of the Mask was fourth with $9,100,115. (The number one movie was Hitch, in its second weekend of release, with $36,731,246.)

So, it's plainly obvious that of the three movies that debuted, Constantine was the clear winner, right?

But wait, Box Office Mojo also gives us the estimated production costs for these movies: Constantine cost $100 million to make; Because of Winn-Dixie cost just $14 million; and Son of the Mask cost $84 million.

So, while Constantine took in just one third of its production costs in its opening weekend, Because of Winn-Dixie took in nearly its entire production costs.

In all likelihood, Because of Winn-Dixie will soon be in the black and making money for its studio, while Constantine will struggle to make up its production costs in its domestic theatrical release, and will have to rely on foreign receipts and the inevitable DVD sales to make a profit (if any).

(About the only thing we can say with much certainty is that Son of the Mask is a dog!)

Just some things to think about when you're looking at all the analyses on the January 2005 sales figures from Diamond...

Which Super Friends?

As part of their news item about the announcement of the upcoming release of SuperFriends - The 2nd Season on DVD, TV Shows on DVD.com try to sort out the various permutations of the Super Friends cartoon from the 70s and 80s, and the oddball way in which Warner Bros. is releasing and labeling the DVD season sets:

In 1978, the show continued, retitled as simply Superfriends. That season is the one which aired the episodes announced today for DVD release. At the same time, Challenge of the Superfriends was running adjacent to this, featuring the episodes of the Justice League of America vs. The Legion of Doom. All 16 of *those* episodes are already on DVD in Challenge of the Superfriends - The 1st Season. Since they call that "the first season" and the new title "the second season", we honestly can't tell if Warner means to ignore the 1973 Wendy/Marvin/Wonderdog installments totally.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Review: DreamWalker & Abby's Menagerie

DreamWalker: The Winter Tree #1
Abby's Menagerie #1
by Jenni Gregory with Barry Gregory
$1.50 ea. Zero One Comics

I'm not a big fan of online comics; I spend the majority of my day at work in front of a computer, so when I'm relaxing with a good book I'd rather be looking at print. But when I learned from Johanna that there was a new DreamWalker comic available only online, I overcame my resistance and decided to go for it.

DreamWalker is one of those good indy series with a spotty publishing history. It started nearly ten years ago as a self-published effort for five issues, then it moved to Caliber's ill-fated Tapestry imprint for six issues. In the wake of the Caliber implosion, DreamWalker moved over to, of all places, Avatar, where it didn't really fit in with the rest of the publisher's offerings, but Barry Gregory was affiliated with the company. (Nearly all of the back issues of DreamWalker can be ordered online at the DreamWalker Press Website, at a sale price of just 99 cents!)

The premise behind DreamWalker is simple: Karen Brinson, a bookstore clerk, discovers that she has the ability to enter other people's dreams. Her abilities are largely uncontrollable though, and as the series progresses Karen tries to learn how to better control them, while at the same time dealing with what she learns about close friends and total strangers through their dreams.

DreamWalker: The Winter Tree picks up the story where it left off, but it's a relatively slow start. The first several pages find Karen wandering in a wintery dreamscape, unsure as to whose dream she is in. Later at the bookstore, she relates her aborted attempt to meet her previously unknown father. The comic ends with Karen's mentor, Mrs. Tobias, in a dream of her own that turns into a nightmare. It's a good re-introduction to the series, but I found myself wishing that there was more. This is the first time that DreamWalker has appeared in full color, and it is employed to mixed results: the opening dream sequence looks stunning, but the scene at the bookstore looks a bit unreal. The closing scene employs the color quite well though as it subtly shifts as the true nature of Mrs. Tobias's dream reveals itself.

Since BitPass (which is required for purchase at Zero One Comics) has a minimum credit amount of $3, I also purchased and downloaded the first issue of Abby's Menagerie, another online comic from Gregory that, if I recall correctly, originally appeared a couple of years ago in a different venue. In the story, the titular Abby, a successful business woman, finds herself at a mysterious zoo that only has extinct animals. While exploring, Abby finds herself tossed through time where she observes the gradual downfall of one of the animals, the tasmanian tiger. The story gets to be a bit preachy, but there's also a good deal of substance and it serves to set up the basic premise of the series. (I don't know if the story ever continued or not...)

As for the online readng experience, it's better than most online comics offerings. Each issue is a self-contained Flash file, and you page through the comic either by using previous/next links and/or clicking on a page number. Since these comics were originally created to be read on a computer screen, each page is in landscape format, and you can easily read the text without having to zoom in.

I'm happy to get new DreamWalker material, even if it is online only, and I'll definitely purchase new issues as they become available (soon I hope!) Hopefully when "The Winter Tree" is finished it will be collected into a print edition so it can be enjoyed in a more tangible format. (And hey, I would love to see collected editions of the previous DreamWalker volumes as well--I have a feeling that digest-sized collections would do well in the current market.)

Ratings: DreamWalker: 3.5 (of 5); Abby's Menagerie: 3 (of 5)

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

New This Week: February 23, 2005

Based on the NCRL list for this week's comics shipping from Diamond, here are a few things to look for at the local comic shop tomorrow:

It should come as no surprise to regular readers of this blog that my Pick of the Week is Greant Morrison and J. H. Williams III's Seven Soldiers #0. Forget all that Crisis 2 hype--Seven Soldiers will be the big multi-title event from 2005 that people will be talking about ten or twenty years from now.

In other comics:

A-V & Winn-Mill have the third issue of Following Cerebus. I don't know how much longer they'll be able to keep this interesting, but heck, they've done over 70 issues of Wrapped in Plastic, their Twin Peaks magazine of fandom & criticism, so Following Cerebus ought to be good for at least a few more issues.

Abstract has a new issue of Strangers in Paradise (#71)

Antarctic has an affordable Pocket Manga edition of Ben Dunn's Heaven Sent.

Beckett has the eigth (and final?) issue of the second Ruule series, Kiss & Tell.

Dark Horse has the fourth issue of BPRD: The Dead and, just in time for Christmas, Jingle Belle #3.

DC has the third issue of the new Legion of Super-Heroes, Paul Pope in Solo #3, a new JSA collection (vol. 7: Prince of Darkness), a new Y: The Last Man (#31), Sleeper Season Two #9, and the debut of their next CMX manga title, Gals.

I Books has a collection of Don Simpson's Megaton Man.

IDW has the second issue of Grimjack: Killer Instinct.

Lost in the Dark has the final issue of Video (#5).

Marvel has the final issue of the Black Widow mini (#6), a new issue of Powers (#9), and the rather late final issue of Ultimate Nightmare (#5).

And lastly, Oni is re-releasing the second Courtney Crumrin volume, Courtney Crumrin and the Coven of Mystics; if you haven't read this yet, don't let the opportunity pass you by again!

Review: Geraniums and Bacon

Geraniums and Bacon #1-2
by Catherine Leamy
$2.00 ea. Bella Razor Press

Geraniums and Bacon is a mini comic from Cathy Leamy; issue #1 was published in 2002, and #2 was published in 2004. Each issue contains several unrelated short stories, ranging from one-page gags to pieces that last for several pages.

Issue #1 opens strong, with "Little Kid Dreams," a series of captioned single panels; and "Self-esteem," a talking-head bit. She closes the issue with "Faith Crisis," a several-page long retelling of her struggles with religion. It's the weakest part of the issue; while Leamy's religion issues are something that nearly everyone goes through (typically in one's early twenties), it's a process that is of interest to the person going through it but not really to anyone else, and she is unable to provide any new insights. To her credit, she closes the piece by relating a phone conversation with her mother that takes the piss out of the whole self-indulgent struggling.

Issue #2 is stronger than #1, providing some excellent laughs. Especially strong are the opening "Writer's Embelishment" episode, and the two-page pseudo ad for "Lysol Gay-Away". "The Dream," wherein Cathy transforms into the 'Goddess of Sex and Math,' had me laughing out loud. It's a generally stronger offering than issue #1, showing Leamy's growth as a cartoonist and storyteller.

Art-wise Leamy has an open, cartoony style that shifts around slightly depending on the mood and requirements of the story. There are very few sharp edges, except where required, giving her art a free-form look.

Leamy reminds me of a young Pam Bliss, which is high praise indeed. I expect to see continued growth from her as she refines her style and outlook and look forward to reading more.

In addition to these collections, Leamy also has a continuing mini comic series, Between the Lines, which I hope to read at some point.

Mini comics can be hard to find, but copies of Geraniums and Bacon can be purchsed online via Small Press Swapmeet.

(review copies of these materials were furnished by the creator)

Rating: 3.5 (of 5)

Monday, February 21, 2005

Quick Alt-Comix GN Reviews

Teratoid Heights
by Mat Brinkman
Mostly wordless, these short tales consist of odd creatures moving and existing in surreal landscapes. They are oddly both comforting and disturbng, and in their own inhuman way speak to the human condition through the lens of the cutely grotesque. The cartoons remind me somewhat of the Jim Woodring's Frank, though Brinkman's beings are less identifyable than Woodring's cartoon characters, and thus more of a blank slate upon which we the readers can project our own fears and yearnings. Published by the now-sadly-defunct Highwater Books, Teratoid Heights is a prime example of why that publisher will be missed.
Rating: 4 (of 5)


Hickee
edited by Graham Annable
This anthology contains short humor pieces by the likes of Joe White, Nathan Stapley, Paul Brown, Ramzig Mavlian, Graham Annable, and several others. Unfortunately it misses far more often than it hits. For every fun bit like White's "The Bear" or Annable's "Dirty Trick" there are far too many pieces that rely on sophomoric gags about sex or bodily functions. Actually 'sophomoric' is giving some of the strips a bit too much credit, as deriving humor from someone called 'Ze Fartmaster' aims squarely at ten-year-old boys. It's maybe 25% good stuff, but that's not quite enough to recommend an anthology. But it's probably worth borrowing from a friend or the library.
Rating: 2 (of 5)


Quit Your Job
by James Kochalka
This charming little book finds 'Daddy,' a funny looking guy with elf ears who lives alone with his cat, waking to find a deep snowfall, and skipping work so that he and his cat can frolic in the snow. They find a magic ring and decide to journey to the North Pole, but get distracted at a coffee shop where their robot friend Jason X-12 works. I've never been much of a fan of Kochalka's, but this story mostly works, as there's a sense of joy, innocence and a tinge of saddness in Daddy's character. On the downside, the story meanders at the end rather than coming to a conclusion, and the occasional burst of profanity from the characters is at odds with the rest of the tone of the book. But still, this is one of the better things that I've read from Kochalka, and it's probably worth your attention.
Rating: 3 (of 5)

Sunday, February 20, 2005

A Great Cover, but...

That's an excelent Frank Quitely cover to All-Star Superman #1, but shouldn't the cover to a brand-new super-hero title be, oh, I dunno, a little more exciting and action-oriented? It'd make a great cover for a second issue, but a first issue cover needs to grab the reader a bit more, I think.

Monkey Covers

Sunday is Monkey Covers day here at YACB. Because there's nothing better than a comic with a monkey on the cover.

On the cover to 1967's Strange Adventures #201 we have Animal Man vs. The Mod Gorilla Boss, illustrated by Carmine Infantino & George Roussos.

(standard disclaimer about gorillas not really being monkeys applies)

Image is courtesy of the GCD. Click on the image for a larger version.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

How on Earth (or Krypton) Did I Miss This?

Starting in March, Cartoon Network is airing a Krypto: The Superdog animated series.

The Superman Homepage has the story, and a gallery of pretty pictures.

In this fantastical universe filled with a kinetic sense of wonder and playfulness, a dog can bury a bone on the moon, and a game of fetch can span the galaxy. It's a colorful cosmic world in which weird techno gadgets fall into the hands of toddlers, where growth formulas accidentally create monster caterpillars, and where selfless hounds patrol the solar system for signs of trouble from villains intent on taking over the planet!

I don't care if it's targeted at kids--those drawings are sweet!

I hope that Beppo make a guest appearance at some point. A dog with the powers of Superman in cool, but a monkey? That Rawks!

(Big thanks to Mike Sterling for the heads-up!)

Friday, February 18, 2005

A Match Made in Gotham

After seeing this, I've decided that the perfect gig for Cliff Chiang once Human Target ends would be as the regular artist on Gotham Central. Am I right?

(thanks to BeaucoupKevin for the link)

You Too Can Be a Girl Genius

Later this year (or perhaps a bit later...) Steve Jackson Games will be releasing the Girl Genius Sourcebook and Roleplaying Game, based on the fourth edition of their flagship RPG, GURPS. It will be fully illustrated in color by Girl Genius creators Phil & Kaja Foglio, and is co-written by Kaja Foglio (herself a longtime GURPS player). Since GURPS is my RPG of choice, this is quite exciting.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Quick DC Super-Hero GN Reviews

Superman/Aliens 2: God War
by Chuck Dixon, Jon Bogdanove & Kevin Nowlan
The story is a fairly simple premise: After a spacehip infested with Aliens crashes on Apokolips, Darkseid allows an army of parademons wo be infected and then sends the army to New Genesis. Superman just happens to be visiting New Genesis at the time, and he joins with the New Gods to fight off both the hordes of Apokolips and the Alien menace. In fact, despite Superman's name in the title, this is much more of a New Gods story with Superman along for the ride. I've never been a huge fan of Bogdanove's, but this is some of the best art I've ever seen from him, as he and Nowlan manage to evoke a Kirby-esque look without being a blatant pastiche.
Rating: 3 (of 5)


Batgirl: Year One
by Scott Beatty & Chuck Dixon, Marcos Martin & Alvaro Lopez
Beatty & Dixon turn in a decent story that attempts to bring together the disparate parts of Barbara Gordon's origin as Batgirl to bring it in harmony with the current Batman mythos while also including some winking forebits towards her later Oracle & Birds of Prey days. Barbara is presented as young and a bit naive, and over the course of the nine issues collected here grows in her role as a fledgling crimefighter and comes to understand the seriousness of her undertaking. The real attraction with this book though is the art by Martin & Lopez, a cross between Tim Sale & Steve Rude that is stunning in the plentiful action pieces and smooth in the downtime moments. Without the contribution from the artists this would be simply another competent retelling of a super-hero origin, but with the art it becomes a compelling visual treat from some of comics brightest new talent.
Rating: 3.5 (of 5)

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Review Policy for Submitted Materials

Generally I review things that I buy, or get from the library, or borrow from a friend. There seems to be plenty of material around, though I only write reviews when I feel that I have something to say.

Recently I've been contacted by publishers and an individual creator or two who are interested in sending me comics to review. Which is kind of cool. But I figure I should have some sort of policy for accepting review materials. So here it is (subject to change of course if things turn out to be unworkable):

  • I will generally accept just about anything for review. I have a pretty wide range of tastes in comics, but please look at the sorts of things that I've reviewed in the past to get a feel of what those tastes are.

  • Please contact me first before sending review materials.

  • I will try to write at least a quick review for everything sent to me. I will write a longer review if I feel I have more to say.

  • I will apply the same standards to submitted comics as I do to my normal reviews; note the ratings system that appears over in the sidebar of every page.

  • I will note in the review that I was provided with a review copy.

  • I have a huge backlog of stuff to read, so I may not get to your material right away.

  • I prefer reading comics in print (I spend enough hours at work staring at a computer screen!) I will still consider reviewing electronic copies, but won't guarantee.

  • I will donate review copies of materials I receive either to the academic collection at my library or to the local public library (depending on where it is most appropriate). If neither library wants it, I'll pass it on in some other way.


I hope that the above seems sensible, and that it will be workable. We shall see...

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

New This Week: February 16, 2005

Based on the NCRL list for this week's comics shipping from Diamond, here are a few things to look for at the local comic shop tomorrow:

The pick of the week is either JLA Classified #4, which features the start of Giffen/DeMatteis/Maguire/Rubinstein's "I Can't Believe It's Not the Justice League," or Promethea #32, the final issue of Alan Moore's opus. Depends on whether you're in the mood for silly or serious. Me? I'll get both!


In other comics:

Antarctic has Ben Dunn's Heaven Sent #7.

Three of Dark Horse's new Sin City Editions hit the shelves, all at the same time. Volumes 1, 3 & 4--what happened to vol. 2? (It's a reprint volume, so how come it's late?)

Green Lantern: Rebirth #4 arrives a month late. DC also has new issues of Birds of Prey (#79), Ex Machina (#8), Human Target (#19), Lucifer (#59), Manhunter (#7), Ocean (#4), and Tom Strong (#31 -- written by Michael Moorcock!)

Dork Storm has a new Dork Tower (#30).

Image has a new issue of Noble Causes (#7).

Speaking of late comics, Marvel finally releases Astonishing X-Men #8.There's also the debuts of the second Runaways series and Adam Warren's Livewires, plus new issues of Daredevil (#70) & She-Hulk (#12).

Oni has two debuts: Andi Watson's Little Star and a second series for Queen & Country: Declassified.

Seven Seas has its inaugural offering, Blade for Barter.

And there's tons of new manga volumes from AD Vision and TokyoPop, but sadly nothing much of interest to me.

Quick Comic Reviews

Cryptozoo Crew #1
by Allan Gross & Jerry Carr
Do you remember fondly the days when the first issue of a new comic would set up the premise while telling a complete story, and still have enough room for a complete eight-page back-up story? If so, then you'll appreciate this first issue, which introduces us to Tork Darwyn, Cryptozoologist, and Tara Darwyn, his long-suffering and slightly-more-capable wife, as they head off to the Congo in search of a living dinosaur. It's a fun, lighthearted tale by Gross, and Carr brings a thick-lined yet open syle that fits the story's sense of fun and adventure. Oh, and that back-up story I mentiond?: Monkeys!
Rating: 3 (of 5)


Majestic #2
by Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning, Neil Googe & Trevor Scott
Now this is what I want to read Majestic for. Now that Superman and co. are gone, Abnett & Lanning finally get to the core of what a comic named Majestic should be: big. Majestic has spent four months in space tracking the giant alien spaceship that has kidnapped all life on Earth, and he's not giving up until he's stopped it. The art by Googe & Scott is big as well, perfectly illustrating the size and scope of the events. The only drawback is that the story is moving a bit slow (but that's not surprising in these decompressed days). If they turn out more efforts like this, Majestic will be worth sticking around for.
Rating: 3 (of 5)


Vimanarama #1
by Grant Morrison & Philip Bond.
First off, Vimanarama gets props for being the only comic I've read, well, ever, that opens with a big production dance number. And it gets better from there. Young Ali is all nervous about meeting his arranged bride, but they get sucked into a mysterious underworld of Indian legend and a 60-centuries-old battle of good vs. evil. It's full of danger, awe, and humor, all pulled off wonderfully by Bond and colorist Brian Miller. If the next two issues are as good as this first, Morrison will have another in a string of great 21st century comics to his credit.
Rating: 4 (of 5)

Monday, February 14, 2005

JimO Takes Over NPR

GT Labs head honcho Jim Ottaviani made two appearances on NPR in recent days.

In this weekend's On the Media, Jim's letter about OTM's Stan Lee story was read. You can hear it at about 34 minutes into the program. (I wrote a letter too, but Jim's was better!)

Then on Morning Edition this morning, Jim was featured along with Jay Hosler in a feature story about comics and science.

100 Things I Love About Comics

Fred Hembeck started it, Alan David Doane continued it, then Mike Sterling called us all out to put together our own lists of 100 Things I Love About Comics for Valentine's Day. So here it is, my Valentine to the comics industry:


1 Acme Novelty Library
2 The Adventures of Luther Arkwright
3 Akiko
4 All-Star Squadron
5 Amy Unbounded
6 Ariel Schrag
7 Barry Ween
8 Beppo the Supermonkey
9 The Brotherhood of Dada
10 Bruno
11 Buck Godot
12 Calvin & Hobbes
13 Captain Carrot and his Amazing Zoo Crew
14 Cary Bates' Captain Atom
15 The Comics Blog-o-Sphere
16 Comics in Libraries
17 The Complete Peanuts
18 Concrete
19 Courtney Crumrin
20 "The Coyote Gospel"
21 Curt Swan
22 Dean Motter
23 Dial 'H' for H-E-R-O
24 Doctor Fate
25 Earth 2
26 Elliott S! Maggin's Superman novels
27 The Far Side
28 Finder
29 Frank Miller
30 Fred Perry
31 George Perez
32 Global Frequency
33 Gon
34 Gotham Central
35 The Grand Comics Database
36 "The Great Cow Race"
37 The Green Lantern Corps
38 Hisao Tamaki's Star Wars adaptation
39 Hoppy the Marvel Bunny
40 Imaginary Stories
41 Jack Kirby's Fourth World
42 "Jaka's Story"
43 Jason Lutes
44 Jessica Abel
45 Jill Thompson
46 Jim Woodring's Frank
47 Joe Kubert
48 John Constantine
49 Josie and The Pussycats
50 Kabuki
51 Kitty Pride
52 Kyle Baker
53 Larry Gonick
54 The last page of Thunderbolts #1
55 The Legion of Substitute-Heroes
56 Little White Mouse
57 Lone Wolf & Cub
58 Maison Ikkoku
59 Matt Feazell
60 Matt Howarth
61 Miracleman
62 Monkey Covers
63 Mutts
64 Neil Gaiman
65 Oracle
66 Osamu Tezuka
67 P. Craig Russell
68 Pam Bliss
69 Paradox Press's Big Books
70 Paul Levitz & Keith Giffen's Legion of Super-Heroes
71 Power Pack
72 Peter David on The Incredible Hulk
73 Quantum & Woody
74 Quarter Boxes
75 Queen and Country
76 Ryoichi Ikegami
77 Sergio Aragon├ęs
78 Snapper Carr
79 Star Wars #49 ("The Last Jedi")
80 Starro the Star Conqueror
81 Steve Rude
82 StrangeHaven
83 Strangers in Paradise
84 Stray Bullets
85 The Superfriends vs. The Legion of Doom
86 Superman
87 Superman: The Movie
88 Tales of the Beanworld
89 Tesla Strong
90 That Alan Moore "realised that Dave Gibbons was prepared to draw whatever absurd amount of detail you should ask for, however ludicrous and impractical."
91 Thieves & Kings
92 Tiempos Finales
93 Transmetropolitan
94 200 Pages of manga for $10
95 Ultimate Spider-Man
96 Uzumaki
97 We3
98 Will Eisner
99 Annataz
100 Zot!


Of course, this is limited to only 100 things, and I'm sure I would put together a different list on any other given day. So just because you're not on here, it doesn't mean that I don't love you.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Monkey Covers

Sunday is Monkey Covers day here at YACB. Because there's nothing better than a comic with a monkey on the cover.

1955's Tarzan #65 features Tarzan and his little monkey friend N'kima as they wait out a rainstorm in a cave, in a painted cover by Moe Gollub & George Wilson.

Image is courtesy of the GCD. Click on the image for a larger version.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

"Once More with Starships"

It has nothing to do with comics per se, but this is one of the funniest things I've read online in a while:

"Once More with Starships" aka "Star Trek II: The Musical"

(Your milage may vary, depending on your levels of Buffy & Star Trek geekitude...)

(Edit: link fixed! sorry about that!)

Friday, February 11, 2005

Previews-o-Rama part 2: The Middle

It's time to go through the latest Previews to discover the good, the bad, and the strange:


I remember many years ago reading from Dave Sim that there were two groups of Cerebus readers: the Aardvark Comments Rocks people and the Aardvark Comments Sucks people. If you're one of the former, you're likely to find Aardvark-Vanaheim's 580 page Dave Sim Collected Letters 2004 to be of interest. If you're like me, you'll stay far, far away...

About Comics has 24 Hour Comics All-Stars, which is not a comic featureing Jack Bauer, but rather a collection of stories from 24 Hour Comics Day with stories by people like Paul Smith, Sean McKeever, Scott McCloud, and Dave Sim.

ADV Films has Ray 2, a medical manga from Akihito Yoshifumi.

AiT/PlanetLAR brings us The Tourist, a graphic novel from Brian Wood & Toby Cypress that has oil rigs and AWOL special forces soldiers.

Aeon has Matt Howarth's Bugtown #5; Airship has Phil & Kaja Foglio's Girl Genius #14. Both are worthy of your comic dollars.

Arcana has a collection of 100 Girls.

New publisher Alias Enterprises debuts several titles at just 75 cents this month: Deal with the Devil; Killer Stunts, Inc.; Elsinore; and Lethal Enforcer. Worth a try for that price, I'd think. They're also the new home of The 10th Muse and Pakkins' Land, and have a couple of original graphic novellas as well: David's Mighty Men and Soulcatcher. I wish them well and all, but maybe it would have been smarter to not roll out so much new product in their firth month...

Fred Perry takes over for a three issue stint with Ninja High School #127 (with Ben Dunn returning for issue #130).

Bloody Mary Comics has Tales of Bloody Mary #1, which looks like a Lady Death Rip-Off. This of course begs the question of why would anyone want to rip off Lady Death?

Dynamite Entertainment debuts a new Red Sonja series with a 25 cent Zero issue. Mike Carey & Michael Avon Oeming are involved, so it might actually be halfway decent.

Del Rey debuts two new manga titles: Genshiken, with high school otaku in love; and Nodame Cantabile, with teenage muscicians in love. Both look like they could be worthwhile.

Drawn & Quarterly has a hardcover collection from Joe Sacco: War's End: Profiles from Boasnia 1995-96.

I expect at some point there will be an article in a medical journal about an emergency room doctor who has to remove the Dynamic Forces Wanted: Wesley Stature from someone's anal cavity...

Nietzsche! Plato! Bodhidharma! They're the Action Philosophers, and Evil Twin Comics has them, in a Xeric Grant winning comics from Fred Van Lente & Ryan Dunlavey.

Fantagraphics debuts Bete Noir, their new anthology series. They also have Seeing Things, a new Jim Woodring collection; and the third Complete Peanuts volume.

iBooks has a new Blacksaad volume, which is sure to have stunning art from Juanjo Guarnido. Really, this is one of the best looking comics being published.

iBooks also has a collection of Neil Gaiman's Lady Justice, which should bring back fond memories of those halcyon Tekno-Comix days.

Another old First Comics property finds its way to IDW, as Mike Grell has a new Jon Sable series and there's a first volume of a Jon Sable, Freelance collection. Plus there's a second Grimjack collection too.

Kandora debuts their second title, Jade Fire, by the same creative team (Brian Augustyn & H. S. Park) as Barbarossa. I'm sure that Augustyn can write a couple of books a month, but I worry about the schedule if the same artist is to be drowing two extra-length titles monthly...

Oni collects both Sam Kieth's Ojo and Chynna Clugston's (she's dropped the -Major?) Blue Monday: Painted Moon.

Origin has a second issue of Damon Hurd & Rick Smith's Temporary; I was kind of split on the first issue, but I liked it enough to give it another try.

Top Shelf has a new bughouse volume, Scalawag from Steve Lafler.

Vertical is releasing an inexpensive ($8) paperback of the first volume of Osamu Tezuka's Buddha, so now there's really no excuse to not buy it.

TokyoPop debuts another 'American Manga' title, Mike Schwark & Ron Kaulfersh's Van Von Hunter.

Viz debuts the potentially interesting 20th Century Boys, which has a thirty-something slacker who gets caught up in strange cults and conspiracies.


Well, that wraps up another trip through Previews. I hope that you find something that appeals to you.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Previews-o-Rama part 1: The Front

It's time to go through the latest Previews to discover the good, the bad, and the strange:


Dark Horse

If you want to have the final Star Wars movie spoiled before you see it, you can get the weekly four-part Revenge of the Sith adaptation in April.

There's a Vampire Hunter D novel. Considering what utter crap the movie was, I can't imagine sloughing through a 300 page prose version.

A new volume of Trina Robbins & Anne Timmons' Go Girl! Yay!

P. Craig Russell is doing a Conan and the Jewels of Gwahlur mini. I'll wait for the trade, like I do with most Dark Horse offerings these days.

Speaking of which, Steve Rude's The Moth has a trade collection this month. The stories were hit-or-miss, butwith always nice art from The Dude.

I don't ever remember hearing anything about a first volume of Dare Detectives, but apparently there's a volume two. Looks interesting.

The late Will Eisner has a story in The Amazing Adventures of the Escapist, with The Spirit teaming up with the title character. Other creators in the anthology include Howard Chaykin, Eddie Campbell, & Paul Hornschemeier.

The Dark Horse Book of the Dead features an all-new Hellboy story from Mike Mignola, plus work by Jill Thompson, Kelley Jones, Eric Powell & Gary Gianni.

Woo-Hoo, a $30 Sin City Zippo Lighter. (That's sarcasm, folks.)

If you missed any of Dark Horse's recent miniseries, they have convenient Comic Book Packs, with all of the issues at a cost of $2 per issue.


DC Comics

Nightwing on crutches. Bruce Wayne in a wheelchair in the Batman: Blind Justice collection. Is this the lead-up to an exciting cross-over event that will change physical therapists in the Batman Titles forever?

The Batman: Jekyll & Hyde has Jae Lee art, so I'll wait for the trade so that I won't have to have the story interupted by adds for dumb-ass video games every two pages.

It's Captain Marvel vs. Superman, with a mysterious 'great evil' awakened in Metropolis. Gee, given that big blue tattoo on Supes's face on the covers, do you think it might be Eclipso?

Ed McGuinness returns to the art chores on Superman/Batman.

Adam Strange comes to an end with issue #8, which is about 3 issues too late. This could have/should have been done in about 5.

Wildcat shows up in Birds of Prey, which should make some people happy.

Two new minis spin out of DC Countdown: Day of Vengeance and The OMAC Project. I'm a sucker for continuity-spanning series like this. IS there a twelve-step program somewhere?

Solo #4 is all about Howard Chaykin, who seems to be popping up a lot these days.

Two new Seven Soldiers minis: Klarion the Witch Boy & Zatanna (Ryan Sook rules!). I take it then that these are all going to be bi-monthly? Should help keep them on schedule, I suppose, but could kill any momentum.

The Question is cover-featured in Justice League Unlimited.

The OGN ElfQuest: The Searcher and the Sword gets a soft-cover treatment.

So far I've been mostly uninterested in the CMX offerings, and the new Tenryu: The Dragon Cycle is no exception.

The Fourth Power, space opera from Humanoids, looks promising.

Howard Chaykin's (him again!) new mini City of Tomorrow is another wait-for-the-trade, something I'm trying to do more of these days.

2000 AD's Thirteen is written by Mike Carey.

Ocean and Wild Girl both reach a conclusion.

Kent Williams adapts Darren Aronofsky's upcoming movie The Fountain; it's $30, which is probably more than the DVD will end up costing.

Vertigo: First Taste, a sampler of Vertigo's GN offerings, is just $5; thorugh DCBS, it's only $2.50. At that price, you could afford to buy several and give them to friends.

Have you ever said to yourself: "Gee, I have $90 in my pocket, and I'd love to have an 8.25" tall statue of the Joker from the new Batman cartoon"? Then August 3 is your lucky day, chum! (But if you only have $60, you'll have to settle for the Alex Ross Green Lantern & Green Arrow Colelctor's Plate.)


Image

Frank Cho does Zombies with Zombie King. I wonder if he'll have to cover up zombie nipples?

Death Jr. looks like it could be fun (unless you think that goth comics suck, that is).

Invincible #0 is only 50 cents--buy two, they're small!

Both The Gray Area and Ultra get collected, and there's a third Walking Dead collection too.

What the heck is Terry Moore doing writing a Darkness/Vampirella one-shot?

The Rising Stars Hardcover collects the entire series--all 624 pages worth. I ordinarilly wouldn't consider such an expensive item, especialyl considering that I read it in floppies, but DCBS is offering it at half-off (i.e. $35), which is looking awfulyl tempting...


Marvel

What's up with the Marvel solicit-copy guy this month? He's relatively laid-back this month, but he's now all about the questions:

Who's that hitting on Mary Jane?
Will Alex be able to sneak out for a romantic evening?
Will either survive this epic encounter?
Will they make it through meeting Ultimate Annihilus and his fellow survivors?
Can even the greatest super team on Earth take down a Norse thunder god?
Is Johnny her new red-hot lover, or a cat's-paw for her latest heist?
Exactly how much was Matt Murdock willing to sacrifice in his obsession to clean up Hell's Kitchen?
Can Ismael overcome his fears and do what's right?
What's scarier than a high-profile super hero turned deathcult assassin?
How will Reed, Sue, and Ben escape from Ancient Egypt to stop the mad tyrant Ramades in the present?
What could be worse than a dozen hungry raptors? *
What better way to pump up his Q-rating than to relive his defining moment?
Who killed the Red Skull?
Do these young heroes intend to help the Runaways, or destroy them?
Can they save the day?
Will the combined might of the Earth's two greatest super hero families be enough to save Manhattan--and the world--from total annihilation?
Will the growing threat froma classic Avengers foe unite the two teams or destroy them both?
What separates the super-villains from just plain villains? **
Will the helping hand be in time?
Are the X-Men prepared to face what's inside them... or will they be defeated by their own inner demons?
Are they now foes?
Who are the Timebreakers?
What will be the final fate of the AoA universe?
Is she the only one behind their problems?
Is it too late to stop the demon-lord Ryuki and his hoard of zombie-samurai and save Japan?

Wow, that's a lot of questions to be answered in just one month's comics!

In the meanwhile, you can get and read the first two issues of the new manga-tinged Power Pack mini, or the second She-Hulk collection.


Wizard

Ooo, Phil Noto is drawing The New West--I must have the pretty pictures!


That's it for part 1. Part 2 tomorrow (probably...)

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* Maybe a high-profile super hero deathcult assassin?

** I'm guessing maybe the 'super-' part?