Saturday, April 30, 2005

Archie in the Air

Brian Cronin over at the Snark Free Happy Joy Comic Blog looks at Archie Comics' experiments of the late 80s/early 90s, while over at Cognitive Dissonance Johanna reviews recent issues of Archie comics and digests.

FCBM Day 0

Tomorrow is May 1st, and I'll be announcing the first free comic to be given away in our YACB Free Comic Book Month promotion. Remember, I'm giving away free comics all during the month of May. Not a dream, not a hoax, not an imaginary story. Just free comics. So far I've only recevied eight entries, so your chance of getting a free comic is looking pretty good. I really want to give away some comics, so send in your entry today!

Friday, April 29, 2005

May is Free Comic Book Month at YACB!

May 7 is Free Comic Book Day, but here at YACB one day isn't good enough. We'll be giving away free comics every day of May!

That's right, free comics! Each day of May I'll pick someone to receive a free comic, taken from my personal collection. Duplicates, things I have in trades, and other stuff. My goal is to match up people with a comic that they haven't read but that they may like. My tastes are wide and varied, so chances are I've got a comic for you.

And by free I mean free. Really. No cost, no shipping & handling, all free.

Here's what you need to do to enter:

By email, send me the following:

* Your name
* Your postal address
* Titles of five comics that you like
* Please include 'FCBM' in the subject line

That's it! For every day of May I'll choose one entry and try to match up that person with a comic, then I'll mail the comic to him or her. It's easy, and it's free!

Of course, there are a few restrictions:

* You must be 18 or older
* You must live in the United States
* You may enter at any point during May, but only one entry per person.

And a little bit of fine print:

* Persons receiving comics are chosen by me, based on whether I feel I can provide a comic to you
* I'll try my best, but there's no guarantee you'll actually like the comic I send
* All winners will be announced here on Yet Another Comics Blog
* At least one winner will be selected each day, but it may take me a few days to get to the post office, so please be patient

But wait, there's more!

Each person who has a free comic chosen for him/her will also receive a copy of the 32-page Free Comic Book Day Preview Edition of Bone Sharps, Cowboys, and Thunder Lizards by Jim Ottaviani & Zander Cannon with Kevin Cannon and Shad Petosky:
Dinosaurs! Cowboys! Scientists! What more could you ask for? This special FCBD Edition offers a complete short story and tantalizing introduction to the fall’s upcoming graphic novel. In addition to the cowboys, dinosaurs, and villainous men of science Bone Sharps also features the world-renowned artist Charles R. Knight, Chief Red Cloud and hundreds of his Indian braves, the gun-totin’ & gamblin’ professor John Bell Hatcher, and special appearances by the Cardiff Giant, P.T. Barnum, Buffalo Bill Cody, and a supporting cast of rogues & gallants from the Eastern scientific establishment and the Old West.

That's right, two free comics! How could you ask for anything more?

So what are you waiting for? Send in your entry today!

Thursday, April 28, 2005

No Flying, No Tights Teen Reader Survey

No Flying, No Tights, the GN review site run by librarians, is currently undertaking a Teen Reader Survey. So if you're between the ages of 13 and 19 head on over and fill it out. (Or if you know a comic reader that age, send them the link.)

How I'm Feeling Today


Like Eno (on the right), that is.

(Cover of Cud Comics #4 by Terry Laban. Image courtesy of GCD. Click for larger version.)

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Nick Anderson on NPR

Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist Nick Anderson was on Fresh Air today; you can listen to the interview here.

(I haven't listened to it yet; just trying to pick up a little of the slack that Kevin Melrose left!)

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

New This Week: April 27, 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 one of my favorite comics, Gary Spencer Millidge's StrangeHaven #17 from Abiogenesis. Although since the trade collecting #13-18 will be out sometime this summer if you haven't yet read any StrangeHaven you may want to instead pick up the first two trade collections and go that route.


In other comics:

Abstract have issue #73 of Strangers in Paradise.

AiT/PlanetLAR have another OGN, Filler.

Antarctic have the third Neotopia pocket collection, plus Fred Perry stepping in for the first of three Ninja High Schools (#127).

Archie have a new issue of Sabrina (#66)

Dark Horse have the third volume of Club 9 and a new issue of The Escapist (#6).

DC have new issues of Hellblazer (#207), Legion of Super-Heroes (#5), Losers (#23), Otherworld (#2); Howard Chaykin in Solo (#4); and the final issues of Wild Girl (#6) & Human Target (#21).

IDW have the first issue of the new Jon Sable, Freelance series, Bloodline.

Image have the third and final Rising Stars collection and the promo-priced Invincible #0.

Marvel have new issues of Captain America (#5), Daredevil (#72), Kabuki (#4), The Punisher (#20), Spellbinders (#2), and Supreme Power (#16).

NBM have the Cryptozoo Crew Mothman Con Edition.

Pantheon have Marjane Satrapi's new GN, Embroideries.

And both TokyoPop & Viz have a ton of new manga volumes; dollar for dollar I think that they both have more product than Marvel or DC this week.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Meta Post

Posting may be a bit on the light side this week here at YACB (but as always you can catch updates on the Comics Weblog Updatatron 3000 XP). However, we are gearing up for a special event that will be announced on Friday...

Sunday, April 24, 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.

From 1987, Brian Bolland features Congorilla on the cover of Swamp Thing Annual #3. Rick Veitch's story "Distant Cousins" not only features the golden ape, but also Gorilla Grodd, Angel & The Ape, and other various primates from the DC universe.

(standard disclaimer about gorillas not really being monkeys applies)

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

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Linkblogging

Too busy/lazy for propper blogging, so here's a little linkblogging to tide you over:

Ian has an idea for a tribute series, 1975 (scroll down...), which I would buy if it had the same caliber of talent as 1963 did. He also has a review of Or Else #2 that is longer and better than mine.

David evaluates the first volumes of Tramps Like Us & The Wallflower.

Johanna is celebrating her 1st blogiversary, but of course she's been writing intelligently online about comics for a lot longer than that!

Edit/Addition: Christopher reminds us why comics are awesome!

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

New Library Comics

Here is the listing of new comics & GNs added to the catalog over the past four weeks.

We're finally starting to get in some of the books we've actually purchased (most of the comics added so far have either been donated or transfered from other locations).

For a more-or-less complete listing of all the titles we have, this link will take you into our online catalog.

Quick Comic Reviews

Action Philosophers #1
by Fred Van Lente & Ryan Dunlavey
I've never been much for studying philosophy. Oh sure, I've picked up some of the basics just by reading and paying attention, but it's never really held much interest to me. But with Action Philosophers, Van Lente & Dunlavey have found a way to make philosophy fun. These are all true stories of influential philosophers, their lives and thought, but told with a humorous touch that is somewhat reminiscent of Larry Gonick. Plato is presented as a failed professional wrestler (which he was before going into philosophy); Bodhidharma is presented as a Kung Fu master (which he was); and Nietzche is presented as a self-absorbed a$$hole (which he was). The facts would appear to be correct (they include references at the end of the comics), but the presentation is fun and humorous. It's a good way to get a cliff's notes version of philosophy in fun comic book form.
Rating: 3.5 (of 5)


Or Else #2
by Kevin Huizenga
I was a little lukewarm in my review of the first issue of Huizenga's Or Else--it was good, but it obviously didn'y strike me as much as it did others. But this second issue: very good stuff. It starts off with a couple of interesting slice-of-life style stories, but takes a left turn into wonderful experimental territory with "The Sunset," then continues in the related story "The Moon Rise," wherein Huizenga gives us a little lesson in art and science. Six bucks for what is essentially a thick minicomic may seem a bit pricey, but it's worth it when the quality is high. This is one to look for.
Rating: 4 (of 5)

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

New This Week: April 20, 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 another anthology from Image, Four Letter Worlds. For just 13 bucks you get a truckload of comics from folks like Amber Benson, Joe Casey, Chynna Clugston-Major, Kieron Dwyer, Jay Faerber, Matt Fraction, Steven Griffin, Mike Hawthorne, Mike Huddleston, Phil Hester, Antony Johnston, Robert Kirkman, Steve Lieber, Jim Mahfood, B. Clay Moore, Scott Morse, Mike Norton, Jeff Parker, Jamie S. Rich, Mark Ricketts, Matt Roberts, Steve Rolston, Eric Stephenson, J. Torres, Andi Watson, and many more.


In other comics:

Antarctic have a new issue of Gold Digger (#63) and the Gold Digger Pocket Manga, vol. 5.

DC have the trade collection of Bite Club for just $10, the debut of the final Seven Soliders mini (for the first round, that is--more coming later in the year), Klarion the Witch Boy, plus new issues of 100 Bullets (#60), Birds of Prey (#81), Ex Machina (#10), JLA (#113), JLA Classified (#6), Lucifer (#61); the final issue of Azzarello & Lee's Superman (#215), the final issue of the Question mini (#6), and the first issue of an obscure miniseries called The OMAC Project for which I don't think there's been much publicity at all.

Fantagraphics have the fifth Hate Annual.

IDW have the second Legend of Grimjack trade collection.

Image have new issues of Invincible (#22) & The Walking Dead (#18).

I'm still working my way through issue #100, yet here Kenzer & Co. are with the 102st issue of Knights of the Dinner Table...

Marvel have Runaways #3, and Karl Kesel writing Fantastic Four (#525).

NBM have a fourth collection of Boneyard.

Oni have the second edition of Bryan Lee O'Malley's Lost at Sea.

TokyoPop have the first volume of 'Amerimanga' Van Von Hunter, plus a butt-load of other manga volumes which don't interest me, but may be of interest to you...


And finally, I have no idea what the Incredibles Strong Relations Unframed Canvas Giclee Print is, but it can't possibly be worth $600...

Monday, April 18, 2005

Quick War GN Reviews

The Punisher: Born
by Garth Ennis, Darick Robertson & Tom Palmer
In the midst of the Vietnam War, Captain Frank Castle is the savior, protector and conscience of Firebase Valley Forge. This is Frank's third tour of duty; he knows that he should be home with his wife and kids, but he loves to fight, and the dark voice in his soul tells him as much. Ennis maintains that The Punisher was born long before his family was killed; that was just the inciting event--the real Punisher was forged in the fires of Vietnam. There are two POV characters here: Frank, and a young Marine named Stevie Goodwin, thirty-nine days short of ending his tour and returning to America's heartland. Ennis does a good job at portraying the unit and the action, though it suffers a bit like many war stories in trying to represent as many different war experinces and types of soldiers in just one unit. The art by Robertson & Palmer is very good and appropriate to the story; Palmer's inks lens Robertson's pencils a good rough edge, and Robertson renders the action quite well. It's another good solid war comic from Ennis.
Rating: 3 (of 5)


Sgt. Rock: Between Hell & A Hard Place
by Brian Azzarello & Joe Kubert
During the Battle of Hürtgen Forest in late 1944, Rock and the rest of Easy Company have a gaggle of new soldier added to their unit and a quartet of captured German officers in tow. But when three of the German prisoners are murdered and the fourth goes missing, Rock must determine what exactly happened, and whether or not one of the men in his unit is a murder--if murder under such circumstances as war is possible. Azzarello grafts a mystery onto a war story, and while it doesn't really gel into something more than the sum of its parts, it isn't really less either, and provides for an intriguing look back at WWII. The main attraction here is seeing Kubert illustrate a modern war comic, the pace and style of storytelling giving his artwork plenty of room to breathe. The story could have easily have been a good thirty pages shorter, but with the nice art to look it it's hard to complain too much.
Rating: 3 (of 5)

Sunday, April 17, 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.

Finishing off our salute to National Library Week, we have what is perhaps the greatest comic book cover ever. From 1956, Gil Kane & Bernard Sachs draw the cover for Otto Binder's story "Secret of the Man-Ape" in Strange Adventures #75. Who is this ape? Why does he need those three books? And doesn't he know that the reference librarian will help him fulfill his information needs without having to brandish a gun?

In fact, this cover is so great that it was recreated by Nick Cardy in 1973 for the cover of From Beyond the Unknown #23, wherein the story was reprinted.

(standard disclaimer about apes not really being monkeys applies)

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

Friday, April 15, 2005

Ranganathan & Comics

As part of our salute to National Library Week, I've written up a little essay about Ranganathan's Five Laws of Library Science and how they might apply to comics:

In 1931 S. R. Ranganathan, the Indian librarian who is considered to be one of the fathers of modern library science, developed his Five Laws of Library Science. Those laws are:

1. Books are for use.
2. Every reader his or her book.
3. Every book its reader.
4. Save the time of the reader.
5. The Library is a growing organism.

With some reworking, these laws can be applied to comics as well:

1. Comics are for use

The purpose of a comic is to be read. That seems self evident, but so many people who consume comics are locked into a collector mentality. There is nothing worse for the soul of comics than for a comic to be locked away inside hermetically sealed plastic and treated as an item. The collector mentallity is something that I myself am trying to shake: I'm loaning out more comics, donating graphic novels to the library, etc. If I have 25,000 comics, it does no good to anyone to leave them locked up in my closet--they need to be set free! (Like I said, I'm working on it...)

2. Every reader his or her comic
3. Every Comic its reader

These should be pretty self-explanatory. Remember, every comic is someone's favorite (even if it's just the creator's mother), and there is a comic to fit every taste. I know the medium is supposedly dominated by super-heroes, but flip through Previews and you'll see instances of comics on just about every subject, from westerns to romance to biography to fantasy to chick lit to horror etc. There are comics that can stand alongside 'literature' and comics that are the equivalent of dime novels. There are comics written for kids and comics written for adults (and comics written for adults who act like kids!) And just because you personally don't like a particular comic, that doesn't mean that no one should. There's variety, and variety is good.


4. Save the time of the comic reader

This one is the hardest to directly translate, but in practice it reflects the aim to provide service to the customer. This means service on all levels, from publisher to distributor to store. The easier it is for people to get comics, the more comics they'll have. Bookstores, 7-11s, online merchants, it's all good, provided the service is good. And everyone is responsible for the good of the comics medium; we are all stewards of comics, whether we be creators, redears or retailers. We may disagree as to what is 'good' for comics, or even what 'good' comics are, but we all want to see good comics succeed.


5. Comics are a growing organism

The field of comics is always growing and changing. There have been a lot of changes and challenges to comics in the past few years, from a shrinking number of stores to the manga 'invasion' to the gradual switchover from pamphlets to trade editions to the emergence of the Web. But change is part of everything, and comics will, in some form or another, always endure.

Quick GN Reviews

Dead End, vol. 1
by Shohei Manabe
A mysterious beautiful naked girl falls out of the sky and into Shirou's life. In most manga this would set the stage for wacky hijinks, but in Dead End it leads Shirou into a world of actual and existential horror. He soon find his neighbors in his apartment building brutally murdered, and learns that this life and memories have all been a lie. As he attempts to piece together his real life, Shirou finds himself on the run from mysterious pursuers and sinking into a dark world of violence and paranoia. Manabe has an interesting visual style that reminds me more of Paul Pope than typical manga. it's not always exactly clear what is going on in Dead End, but that may be by design and reflective of Shirou's own confusion. The violence can be graphic and brutal at times, although not in an over-the-top splatter movie way. An interesting read.
Rating: 3.5 (of 5)


The Dark Horse Book of Hauntings
edited by Scott Allie
P. Craig Russell, Mike Mignola, Paul Chadwick, and a host of other talented comics creators get together to present a collection of ghost stories. The quality of the offerings that Allie has assembled is quite high, with lush art on glossy paper ina sturdy hardcover volume. The best is saved for last, as Evan Dorkin & Jill Thompson tell a story of neighborhood pets attempting to exorcise a haunted doghouse. The only misstep in this collection is a text interview with a supposed 'séance medium,' ten pages of bullhockey that is easily skipped over. But the rest of the package makes for fine reading, and shows how good anthologies can be .
Rating: 4 (of 5)

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Luna-tics?

Newsarama have an interview with Nunzio DeFilippis and Christina Weir regarding their new manga-esque series from Seven Seas, Amazing Agent Luna.

I reviewed Amazing Agent Luna earlier this week, and found it to be quite enjoyable. I suspect that it may be a tough sell to people though, as manga fans will consider anything produced domestically to be 'not real manga', and super-hero fans won't go near it because it looks too much like manga (art comix fans, of course, would never even deign to go near it...) But I do wish that people would give this all-ages book a try; it's some of the best work I've read from DeFilippis & Weir (much better than their New X-Men - Academy X) and the art by Carmela "Shiei" Doneza is very good too. You can read a preview at the Seven Seas Website. I encourage you to give it a try and see if it's to your liking.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

New This Week: April 13, 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:

Pick of the Week? Well, it's probably Flight, vol. 2 from Image--the first volume was full of gorgeous artwork from a variety of artists. But that's pretty expensive at $25, so if you're looking for something a bit less costly, I'd go with Marvel's She-Hulk, vol. 2: Superhuman Law; the first volume was much fun, and I've heard good things about the stories collected in this second volume.


In other comics:

Dark Horse has the first issue of P. Craig Russell's Conan & The Jewels of Gwahlur.

DC has the penultimate issue of Adam Strange (#7), and new issues of Fables (#36), Gotham Central (#30), Green Arrow (#49), JSA (#72), Majestic (#4), and Tom Strong (#32).

El Capitan has a new issue of Stray Bullets (#37).

Image has the second issues of Beyond Avalon, Flaming Carrot Comics and Mora, plus a new issue of Noble Causes (#9).

Marvel has new issues of Black Panther (#3), Mary Jane: Homecoming (#2), New Thunderbolts (#7), Powers (#10), and Ultimates 2 (#5).


Small week, actually, so maybe you can afford that Flight, vol. 2 after all...

Crisis on Infinite Crises

I had been contemplating writing something about the whole DC Countdown and Infinite Crisis and whatnot, not because I have any desire to continue to beat a dead horse, but because there was something I thought was blindingly obvious about the whole thing that I hadn't seen anybody else comment on.

Then comes today's Basement Tapes from Matt Fraction & Joe Casey, and now I'm off the hook.

Sayeth Fraction:
...isn't all of this prelude, and isn't the titular Infinite Crisis itself a move towards DC hitting some kind of candy colored reset button to set the wayback machine a little bit? Isn't this whole exercise in bleak and brain matter a journey back to The Way We Were?


They say a lot of what I wanted to say, except that they say it with more (and undoubtedly better) words than I would have. And more profanity. And more blue text. But they make the most reasoned analysis that I've yet read, so go take a look.

Favorite Fictional Librarians

Continuing our series of posts relating to National Library Week, today we look at my favorite fictional librarians:

Batgirl/Oracle: Yes, young Barbara Gordon somehow found the time to squeeze in a masters degree in library science in between being a super-heroine and being a state congresswoman. A literal Super-Librarian! Whoever's decision it was to make her an information broker to the super-heroes had one of the best ideas in super-hero comics in the past 20 years.



Rupert Giles: Father-figure and confidant to the Scooby Gang on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, here was a seemingly mild-mannered high school librarian who got to sing, kick a little ass and even get the girl once or twice. Also the source of some great library-related humor on the show.



Bunny Watson: Katherine Hepburn's character in Desk Set, the best-ever romantic comedy about library automation. She and her colleagues in the network's research library proved that they could out-think any computer when it came to meeting their patrons' information needs.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Librarians in Comics

It's National Library Week, so all this week I'll be posting items relating to libraries and comics.

First up, a brief look at librarians who also do work in comics:

Jim Ottaviani writes comics about science, including Two-Fisted Science, Dignifying Science, Suspended in Language, and the forthcoming Bone Sharps, Cowboys, and Thunder Lizards. When he's not writing comics, Jim spends his time as the mastermind behind the Deep Blue institutional repository initiative at the University of Michigan Library.

Sara Ryan has written a couple of comic stories, including the Eisner-nominated "Me and Edith Head." She recently turned in the draft of the second young adult novel, and bides her professional time as a School Corps Librarian for the Multnomah County Library in Portland, Oregon.

The Pseudonymous Gene Ambaum, writer of the popular online comic strip Unshelved, is a real-life librarian in his real life.

And Maggie Thompson, editor of the long-running Comics Buyer's Guide, is a librarian by training, but at some point she got sidetracked into a career writing about comics.

Those are all the librarians I can think of; are there any I'm missing?

Quick GN Reviews

Runaways, vol. 3: The Good Die Young
by Brian K. Vaughan, Adrian Alphona & Craig Yeung
The first 'season' of Runaways comes to a close as the titular kids face off against their evil super-villain parents and try to uncover the traitor in their midst. Vaughan provides a good mixture of action and teen-angst, and the art works very well for the most part. The only real problem is with the coloring: in places it is too dark and muddy and the detail is lost; not really the fault of the colorist, as she was coloring for a book that was originally glossy paper and this digest is on a non-glossy stock that absorbs ink differently and doesn't show as much definition and contrast. Not much more to say, except that this series continues to be an enjoyable page-turner, and I'm really looking forward to the next collection.
Rating: 3.5 (of 5)


Amazing Agent Luna, vol. 1
by Nunzio DeFilippis, Christina Weir, & Carmela "Shiei" Doneza
Born in a laboratory and raised to be a super-spy, at just fifteen-years-old Luna is one of the top secret agents in the world. But she has never been socialized to the real world, so her handlers decide to send her to a regular high school as a student (while they pose as her parents!) No sooner does Luna start as the new girl at school (and all the problems that provides) than who should show up as another new student but Jonah, the son of Luna's evil arch-nemesis, Count Heinrich von Brucken! DeFilippis & Weir manage to pull of the nearly impossible, writing a manga-esque comic that feels right but is not a cheap rip-off, helped in no small part by the confident artwork of Shiei. I ended up liking this a lot more than I thought I would, and can't wait to read more.
Rating: 3.5 (of 5)


Owly: The Way Home & The Bittersweet Summer
by Andy Runton
At this point you've probably read many good things about Andy Runton's Owly, and I'm pleased to say that they're all true. This is a wonderful comic. Owly is a cartoon owl who likes to make friends and help his fellow woodland creatures. In the first story Owly helps a little worm find his way home after having been washed away in a storm. The second story find Owly befriending a couple of hummingbirds. The stories are more gentle really than exciting, but they're charmin and adorable, and I mean that in the best way possible. The stories are mostly wordless, and Runton shows an incredible economy of storytelling and a mastery of cartooning that lts him tell his stories effectively. Add Owly to your list of must-read books that celebrate the comics form.
Rating: 4.5 (of 5)

Sunday, April 10, 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.

From 1972, the great Joe Kubert draws the cover for "The Human Pet of Gorilla-Land" in From Beyond the Unknown #14.

(standard disclaimer about gorillas not really being monkeys applies)

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

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Previews-o-Rama part 2: The Middle

We continue now with the second half of our monthly stroll through the lastest Previews for items scheduled to come out in June (loosely defined...):


So, say your name is "Dave Sims" (note the 's' on the end). What better way to sow confusion in the marketplace to your advantage than to name your small press comic publishing enterprise "Aardwolf"?

Nat Gertler and friends have a second issue of Licensable Bear from About Comics.

Nice 'Comix Lover' cover from Terry Moore on Strangers in Paradise #74. (Abstract Studios)

Active Images has a collection of Glenn Dankin's Temptation strip and Solstice, an OGN from Steven T. Seagle & Justin Norman.

ADV has the second volume of Eiji Nonaka's rather funny Cromartie High School.

AiT/PlanetLAR debuts Larry Young & Jon Proctor's Black Diamond On Ramp, which looks to be near-future high-octane action. Looks interesting, but I'm actually more excited about the six-page preview of Smoke and Guns with art by Fabio Moon.

Alias Enterprises continues to risk over-extension as they debut two more new series, XIII & The Devil's Keeper (both at just 75¢), plus two more mini series: Tad Williams' The Burning Man and David: The Shepherd's Song (based on the First Book of Samuel). They also have another one-shot, OZF5, one of those Oz reinventions that are once again back in vogue. Don't miss T. Campbell & Gisele Legace's Penny & Aggie #2 though.

Kochalka fans will undoubtedly be all goo-goo over his new Cute Manifesto from Alternative Comics.

Amaze ink debut Steve Emond's new series Emo Boy, plus they have a collection of Jim Rugg & Brian Maruca's wonderful Street Angel. If for some reason you didn't buy the individual issues, by all means get the trade!

Hey look, it's another Oz reinvention! This time it's Antarctic Press, bringing us David Hutchison's Oz: The Manga. They also have a fourth color digest collection of Rob Espinosa's wonderful Neotopia.

Avatar has Stargate SG-1: Daniel's Song #1 - Art Nouveau Editions: a sixteen-page reprint comic with five different covers for $5.99 each. Who buys this stuff?

Becket Comics has a collection of The Ballad of Sleeping Beauty, featuring a cover gallery by That Pepsi Girl's dad.

D.E.'s Red Sonja #1 has five different covers. Five! Such naked marketing for a nearly-naked S&S title! They also release a collection of Doug Moench & Paul Gulacy's classic Six from Sirius, an old Epic title ffrom back in the days when Marvel was actually interested in publishing things other than super-hero comics.

Devil's Due reboots G.I. Joe with a 25¢ #0 issue. Hasn't anyone told these guys that 80s-toy-comic nostalgia is on its way out? They also start up a Dungeons & Dragons license, because all the other companies who have licensed D&D in the past have had such spectacular success with them.

Digital Manga Publishing start up a couple of new yaoi titles which I'm sure will be of interest to somebody (Antique Bakery at least looks to have an interesting premise), but I'm really interested in Atsushi Kaneko's Bambi and Her Pink Gun which looks to have a unique visual style that pulls just as much from American indy books as it does from traditional manga.

ComicsOne DR Masters has the thirteenth volume of Iron Wok Jan.

Dynamic Forces is offering a pre-slabbed version of House of M #1, so that you don't have to go to all the bother of actually reading your comic before putting it away forever in a plastic lock-box.

Evil Twin Comics brings us the Action Philosophers All-Sex Special, and it's an all-ages title! Thomas Jefferson, St. Augustine & Ayn Rand star.

Fantagraphics have an all-new volume of Richard Sala's Peculia, Peculia and the Groon Grove Vampires. Yay! They also debut Mome, a 136-page quarterly anthology of alt-comix.

Yes, Hell, Michigan really is a town here in the mitten state. It's also the title of a new comic by Dan Joley & Clint Hillinski from FC9 Publishing.

Gemstone collects Don Rosa's classic The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck.

Rick Spears and Rob G., of Teenagers from Mars fame, have a new OGN from Gigantic: Dead West.

Headless Shakespeare Press debuts Craig McKenney & Rick Geary's Xeric Award-winning The Brontës: Infernal Angira that involves the famous literary sisters in an otherworldly fantasy.

iBooks has the first volume of Jean-Claude Mezieres & Pierre Christin's Valerian, which apparently was th inspiraion for The Fifth Element.

IDW debuts Angel: The Curse by Jeff Mariotte & David Messina, with a story set after the series-ending cliffhanger--I really really really want the Igor Kordey puppet cover! They also have the final issue of Grimjack: Killer Instinct and a second volume of The Complete Jon Sable, Freelance.

Keenspot has John Allison's Heavy Metal Hearts & Flowers, an all-new Scary Go Round story.

Kyle Baker Publishing has not one but two new Kyle Baker comics: The Bakers, a domestic comedy; and Nat Turner, abiographical comic about the man who led the famous slave revolt. I expect that both will be worthy of our money.

A new issue of Carla Speed McNeil's Finder from Lightspeed Press. Buy it!

Oni debut's Northwest Passage, a western frontier comic from Scott Chantler that looks lie it could be quite good.

Pantheon looks to to continue their success publishing artsy graphic novels with Dan Clowes' Ice Haven OGN.

Look at the size of that TokyoPop section! Of the new titles, BECK: Mongolian Chop Squad looks the most promising with its rock-and-roll story. There are also new volumes of Princess Ai, Fruits Basket, The Kindaichi Case Files, and Remote.

Shanda Fantasy Arts has a new Shanda-related one-shot, Quinn the Racoon Special.

Top Shelf has AEIOU, the concluding volume of Jeffrey Brown's "Girlfriend Trilogy."

Vertical has an affordable paperback edition of the second Buddha volume from Osamu Tezuka.

Viz debuts their massive Shojo Beat monthly anthology as well as their Shojo Beat GN line. Lots and lots of comics for teen girls (but don't worry boys, they haven't forgotten you either!)

And lastly, W. W. Norton kicks off their Will Eisner line with Eisner's final OGN The Plot: The Secret Story of "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion", an examination of the famous anti-Semetic hoax.


There we have it. Something for just about every comic taste, I should think!

Friday, April 08, 2005

Quick Super-Hero Reviews

Power Pack #1
by Marc Sumerak, Gurihiru, & Chris Eliopoulos
I have previously declared my love for Power Pack, so I may not be the most objective reviewer here, but this was a very fine first issue of an all-ages comic, one that met my high expectations. Katie, the youngest, has written and drawn an essay on "My Best Summer Ever," which tells the secret origin of Power Pack, and the rest of the kids have to convince her to not turn it in as her assignment at at school. Oh yes, and they have to fight a young snark too. Sumerak's story hits every note just right, and the manga-tinged art by Gurihiru is wonderful and filled with vibrant colors. The bonus back-up story (and it is a bonus, being five extra pages on top of the main story's twenty-two) features honorary Packer and Fantastic Son Franklin Richards, with Eliopoulos doing a riff on Calvin & Hobbes. This whole package is just a fun, charming comic book; buy one for the kids, and another for yourself.
Rating: 3.5 (of 5)


Seven Soldiers: Zatana #1
by Grant Morrison, Ryan Sook & Mick Gray
Zatanna by Morrison & Sook? I was sold on this as soon as it was announced, and it's just as good as I'd hoped it would be. Everyone's favorite fishnet-wearing magician has been having a tough time of it lately and has turned to a super-hero support group to deal with her self-esteem issues. I like how Morrison characterizes Z as a woman who is not quite at home as a magician or a super-hero (though maybe her self-esteem would be better if she wasn't always dressing up in fetish clothing...) Once again Morrison manages to quickly introduce us to several new characters, and he and Sook give us a wonderfully creepy Baron Winters as well. There are references to a lot of Alan Moore here, including the finale of "American Gothic" and a riff on Promethea (apt, with inker Gray along), but they never overwhelm the story. Sook turns in some great art, though at times Gray's inking is so strong that it threatens to overwhelm. This is my favorite so far of the Seven Soldiers series; the only bad thing is that we have to wait two months for the next issue.
Rating: 4 (of 5)


Superman/Batman #18
by Jeph Loeb, Carlos Pacheco & Jesús Merino
Okay, so this whole "Absolute Power" story has been just one continuity riff after the other, but darn if I didn't turn into a gibbering fanboy when a certain super-group showed up near the end. If you look at it too closely, the whole story doens't really make one lick of sense, but I was having too much fun to care, and Pacheco & Merino sure to draw some pretty art (although, given the delays on this book, I worry about the schedule for the upcoming Green Lantern series...) A big fanboy geek-fest is Superman/Batman, but sometimes we old fanboys need to geek out.
Rating: 3 (of 5)

Thursday, April 07, 2005

The Biggest Badass Alternate Cover Ever

We give you now the alternate cover to the January 1993 issue of Malibu's The Protectors (#5):



You may have a hard time seeing it in the small picture, so click on the image to see a larger version in its full glory.

That's right: there's a 3/8 inch hole drilled right through the entire comic, reprenting a bullet hole through the bloody chest of the hero on the cover (drawn by Thomas Derenick & Mike S. Miller). The cover was also cardstock and embossed.

The hero in question in the young Night Mask, son of the original Night Mask and member of The Protectors. The cover commemorates the story inside (written by R. A. Jones and drawn by Thomas Derenick & Mike Deodato) that featured the brutal killing of Night Mask by the group's main villain, the diabolical Mr. Monday. (Of course, in the story Night Mask was never actually shot in the chest, but never let the contents of a story get in the way of a gimick cover!)

You may think that your alternate comics covers today are badass, with their red backgrounds or incomplete sketches or whatever, but you have a long ways to go until you reach the ultimate stage of cover baddassness of The Protectors #5.

Wednesday, April 06, 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

Hellboy returns in an all-new 2-issue mini-series, The Island, from creator Mike Mignola.

Ian Edginton & D'Israeli have a new mini-serires, Scarlet Traces: The Great Game. The solicit copy proclaims that it "picks up where the critically acclaimed hardcover left off," but I don't remember anything about a hardcover.

Grendel: Red, White & Black is finally collected into a trade.

Concrete, vol. 1: Depths starts a series of comprehensive reprints of early Concrete material.


DC Comics

I haven't read Legends of the Dark Knight in ages, but issue #192 starts a five-part Mr. Freeze origin written by J. H. Williams & D. Cartis Johnson and drawn by Seth Fisher.

You can relive the story that featured the beating and torture--including with a drill--of a sixteen-year-old girl in Batman: War Games Act Two. Hey, it was all code-approved, so it must be good, wholesome comics reading, right? Pass on this. Please.

Kano takes over as regular artist (with Stefano Gaudiano switching over to inks) with Gotham Central #32.

Jeph Loeb & Tim Sale's Catwoman: When in Rome comes to a belated conclusion.

Will Pfeifer & Pete Woods come on board as the creative team on Catwoman with issue #44.

The Godawful Superman: Godfall story gets a trade collection.

Batzarro. Heh.

Matt Wagner's Batman/Superman/Wonder Woman: Trinity gets a trade collection.

DC Special: The Return of Donna Troy is written by Phil Jimenez, penciled by Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez and inked by Geroge Perez. I am so there.

There's also a trade paperback, New Teen Titans: Who Is Donna Troy?, that includes two of Wolfan & Perez's best New Teen Titans stories ever, "Who is Donna Troy?" from issue #38 (actually, this is one of the best Robin/Nightwing stories ever), and the wedding issue (#50).

JLA Classified has two issues this month, concluding the "I Can't Believe It's Not the Justice League" story. All of you people complaining about the events of DC Countdown to Infinite Crisis are picking up this alternate take on the heroes, right?

The much ignored Justice League Elite maxi-series comes to an end, and shrugs are heard for miles around.

Darwyn Cooke tales over Solo for issue #5.

Son of Vulcan #1. Because revamps of old third-string characters by mid-list creators have been doing so well for DC lately...

DC finally gets around to exploiting its large backlog of WB animation properties with digest-sized collections of Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck.

After a false start, Kurt Busiek's Astro City: The Dark Age looks to be finally coming out.

Remember when J. Scott Campbell as a hot young artist whose name could sell oodles of comcis? Then he disappeared to, oh, I dunno, play videogames or something. Now he's back with the misspelled Wildsiderz, but will anyone even rememebr who he is anymore?

Alan Moore & Ian Gibson's wonderful The Ballad of Halo Jones gets a collection.

Speaking of Alan Moore, the old British comics revamp Albion comes out, though Alan is only plotting.

Mike Carey & Glenn Fabry are adapting Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere to comics. Read the book instead. Trust me. (It'll be cheaper too...)

We3 gets collected into a trade. Buy this. It's the most visually interesting comic of the millennium.

Hmmm, let's see. Krypto the Superdog is a new cartoon series aimed at the 5-7-year-old set. There's no inexpensive Krypto comic to be found for the kiddies to buy, but there is a $150 Krypto & Friends Animated Series Maquette Set from DC Direct. See anything wrong with this picture?


Image

I miss Jimmie Robinson's Cyberzone and Amanda & Gunn, but I'll content myself with his doing art on Avigon: Gods and Demons.

Joe Casey & Tom Scioli go all Kirby on us with Gødland #1.

Strange Girl, set in a demon-infested post-Rapture world, looks like it coul dbe interesting.

Age of Bronze returns with issue #20, but I'm going to trades-only with this one.


Marvel

House of M: it only sounds like the title for a bad 'erotica' novel.

But the real big debut from Marvel this month is Sean McKeever & Mike Norton's Gravity, which I'm sure will be a wonderful antidote.

Last Hero Standing is one of those weekly minis from Marvel that the retailers love so much.

The unruly titled X-Men: Kitty Pryde - Shadow & Flame is yet another X-mMen mini, but it has art by Paul Smith. Must. Resist. Buying. Floppies. Wait. For. Trade...

Y'know, I'm not even going to bother counting how much Fantastic Four stuff is coming out in June; I don't have that many fingers and toes! Boy, Marvel better hope that this is more Spider-Man than Elektra.

Okay, who was it that asked for a new New Warriors mini? What? You, over there? Get out!

Jae Lee draws Incredible Hulk #82. Yay!

Hey, did you realize that Marvel Nemesis: The Imperfects is based on a sure-to-be crappy video game? I wonder why Marvel aren't toting that in their copy?

Joss Whedon & John Cassaday's first year of Astonishign X-Men comes to an end. Don't stay away too long guys!

Hey look: a new issue of Kabuki!

JMS & Mike Deodato take an Amazing Spider-Break and trip on over to the Icon imprint with Dream Police. Its Sandman meets Dragnet high concept is good for a one-shot apparently.

This month sees an extra-length Powers #50; or rather it would be #50 if they hadn't started renumbering when they switched over to Marvel/Icon. So instead you get a big celebration for issue #12.

Other Marvel titles possibly worth your while include Ultimate Spider-Man #78, Mary Jane: Homecoming #4, G.L.A. #3, Machine Teen #2, New Thunderbolts #9, Spellbinders #4, Power Pack #4, Runaways #5, Supreme Power #17, and The Punisher #22.

Trades of interest include Ultimate Fantastic Four, vol. 3, Fantastic Four Visionaries: George Perez, vol. 1, a digest of Dan Slott & Ty Templeton's Spider-man/Human Torch, and Loeb & Sale's Hulk: Gray. There's also finally a trade collection of Neil Gaiman's 1602.

X-Men/Fantastic Four & X-Men: Phoenix - Endsong are inexplicably worthy of hardcover collections.


That's it for Part 1. Part 2 will appear later this week.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

New This Week: April 6, 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 Seven Soldiers: Zatanna #1, with words by Grant Morrison & art by Ryan Sook (with Mick Gray). This is the Seven Soliders title that I've been looking forward to the most since the project was announced, and looking at the preview pages has only fueled my anticipation.

In other comics:

Abstract & Terry Moore have a new issue issue of Strangers in Paradise (#72).

Dark Horse has the sixth & seventh volumes of Sin City, just in time for the opening of the movie...

DC have Vertigo First Taste an inexpensive trade sampler featuring opening chapters from several of their GN series. They also have the second DC: The New Frontier trade; a trade collection of Garth Ennis's Authority: Kev; new issues of Detective Comics (#805), The Intimates (#6), The Losers (#22) and Y, the Last Man (#32); the final issue of The Witching (#10); and long-delayed new issues of Green Lantern: Rebirth (#5) and Superman/Batman (#18). Strange that DC's most-delayed titles are also their best-selling titles...

El Capitán have the 10th Anniversary Edition of the first Stray Bullets collection.

Evil Twin Comics have the first issue of Action Philosophers, which looks like it could be a lot of fun.

Image have the fourth Invincible collection and a new issue of The Walking Dead (#17).

New publisher Kandora have the first issue of their first comic, Barbarosa and the Lost Corsairs

Marvel have the first issues of the new Power Pack and GLA mini-series, as well as new issues of Incredible Hulk (#80), The Punisher (#19), and Ultimate Spider-Man (#75).

Shanda Fantasy Arts have the second issue of the latest volume of the long-running anthropomorphic sci-fi series Albedo.

TokyoPop have the eleventh volume of Kindaichi Case Files.

Viz have the debut volume of Doubt, as well as new second edition (i.e. backwards and smaller) volumes of Banana Fish (vol. 7) and Maison Ikkoku (vol. 10).


An finally, haven't you always wanted a Justice League Mini Paperweight? Well, for just $9.99 (or $10.99), one can finally be yours! Choose from: Batman, Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkgirl, Lex Luthor (Luthor? Isn't he a bad guy?), Martian Manhunter, Superman, or Wonder Woman.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Monday Linkage

Johanna has the skinny on the 2004 Squiddy Awards.

The folks at Comic Monsters are having drawings for horror comic stuff each Saturday in April to those who register (free) at their Website.

And the much-smarter-than-I Neil Cohn has a new comic-related theory paper up on his Website: "Initial Refiner Projection: Movement and Binding in Visual Language". From the abstract:
"Refiners" are a type of modifier in visual language that hones the information found in another panel. While these "zooms" are fairly straightforward when found next to their modifying panels, interesting phenomena arise when separated from them. This paper looks at the constraints placed on these conditions to show that similar processes occur in visual language as in the sequential structure of other forms of language.

Review: Shonen Jump GNs

The Prince of Tennis, vol. 2
by Takeshi Konomi
Viz $7.95

Hikaru-no Go, vol. 2
by yumi Hotta & Takeshi Obata
Viz $7.95


There's a certain dynamic to a martial arts comic: mad skils, ritualized combat, secret moves, rivalries, etc. Of course, reading only about martial arts in comics would be boring in the long run (something akin, say, to only reading super-hero comics).

In boys' manga, it seems that everything is a martial art, even tennis and Go!

Having already introduced the main characters and situations in their respoective first volumes, these second volumes of two popular Shonen Jump titles continue on their paths.

Both of these titles make use of what is a very standard plot: a youngster, talented beyind his years in a certain competitive endeavor, must constantly prove his worth to those who are older and dismissive of his perceived abilities.

The bulk of the second volume of The Prince of Tennis involves Ryoma's attempt to earn a place on his school's tennis team, even though he os only a first year student. He dispatches one opponent after the other, making use of advanced moves and skills that are supposedly beyond the ability of one so young. Konomi choreographs the tennis matches like martial arts battles.

Hikaru-no-Go is a bit more subtle and nuanced than Tennis. The main character from the first volume, the titular Hikaru, is still 'haunted' by the spirit of Sai, the ancient Go master. In one sense this is a bit of a cheat, as the mad skills that Hikaru seems to possess aren't really his, but Sai's. But to both Hikaru and the story's credit, Hikaru now wants to be able to play Go on his own, and succeed on his own merits. The story thus appears to be moving towards the more intellectually honest pursuit of Hikaru learning from a Go master.

Hikaru-no Go provides another narrative twist: halfway through this volume the focus splits into two, with one thread of the story following Akira, Hikaru's competitive nemesis. Like Ryoma in The Prince of Tennis, Akira is the son of a champion in his chosen pursuit. His story seems to be mirroring almost exactly that of Ryoma's, but in Hikaru-no Go it serves as a counter to Hikaru's story, wherein Hikaru is trying to help start a Go club at his school from the ground up.

The art in both titles is strong; there are few if any of the annoying manga shortcuts in evidence, and it is apprent that care has been taken to represent both the charcaters and their environments. Obata has the more difficult task, in that he has to make the playing of a board game visually exciting, and he pulls it off well.

The Prince of Tennis is not a bad manga by any stretch, but it suffers slightly from telling an overly familiar story (albiet in a new mileau). While the story in Hikaru-no Go is familiar as well, it mixes up those conventions and brings a potential for greater character growth.

Ratings: The Prince of Tennis, vol. 2: 2.5 (of 5); Hikaru-no-Go, vol. 2: 3.5 (of 5)