Friday, September 30, 2011

Amazon Top 50

Here are the Top 50 Graphic Novels on Amazon this afternoon. All the previous caveats apply.

1 (-). Cabin Fever (Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Book 6) *
2 (N). Habibi
3 (+2). Hark! A Vagrant
4 (-1). Castle: Richard Castle's Deadly Storm
5 (+5). Twilight: The Graphic Novel, Vol. 2 *
6 (-2). Diary of a Wimpy Kid 5: The Ugly Truth
7 (-). The Wimpy Kid Do-It-Yourself Book (revised and expanded edition)
8 (+17). Holy Terror *
9 (-1). Dork Diaries 3: Tales from a Not-So-Talented Pop Star
10 (-1). Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days
11 (-9). Sailor Moon 1
12 (+6). Amulet #4: The Last Council
13 (-2). Dork Diaries 3 (Kindle edition)
14 (+12). The Walking Dead, Book 7 *
15 (-9). Codename: Sailor V 1
16 (+23). Dork Diaries 3 1/2: How to Dork Your Diary *
17 (+12). The Walking Dead Volume 14: No Way Out
18 (+19). New Teen Titans: Games
19 (-4). Batman: The Dark Knight Returns
20 (-4). Diary of a Wimpy Kid Box of Books
21 (+3). Feynman
22 (-8). Batman: Year One
23 (+8). Dork Diaries (Kindle edition)
24 (-12). Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood
25 (+10). V for Vendetta
26 (-5). Brightest Day Vol. 3
27 (-14). Maus I: A Survivor's Tale: My Father Bleeds History
28 (-11). The Walking Dead Compendium Volume 1
29 (+11). Big Nate Out Loud
30 (-10). 5 Very Good Reasons to Punch a Dolphin in the Mouth
31 (R). Big Nate Boredom Buster
32 (-). Batman: Arkham Asylum (15th Anniversary Edition)
33 (N). Berserk Volume 35 *
34 (N). Rosario+Vampire: Season II, Vol. 6 *
35 (-13). Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art
36 (-8). Watchmen
37 (N). Chew Volume 4: Flambe *
38 (-19). Batman: The Killing Joke
39 (+3). Big Nate Out Loud (Kindle edition)
40 (-6). Negima! 31: Magister Negi Magi
41 (R). Locke & Key Volume 4: Keys to the Kingdom
42 (-19). Serenity Volume 2: Better Days and Other Stories
43 (-7). Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Boxset
44 (+5). Naruto, Vol. 52: Cell Seven Reunion
45 (-15). Fullmetal Alchemist, Vol. 26
46 (R). The Complete Calvin and Hobbes
47 (-14). Sailor Moon 2 *
48 (-2). Dork Diaries: Tales from a Not-So-Popular Party Girl
49 (R). Blankets

Items with asterisks (*) are pre-order items.

N = New listing appearing on list for first time
R = Item returning to the list after having been off for 1 or more weeks


* A barrage of positive press leads Craig Thompson's new graphic Novel, Habibi, to debut in the #2 slot. (Still not enough to dethrone the upcoming Wimpy Kid volume, which is #5 on the overall list this week.) Meanwhile, a barrage of negative press sends Frank Miller's Holy Terror up to the #8 slot.

* Other debuts this week are new volumes of Berserk, Rosario+Vampire, and Chew.

* It's a particularly volatile week, with a good number of books showing double-digit leaps either up or down.

DCnU Reviews, Week 4: Batman: The Dark Knight; Green Lantern: New Guardians

(Back in June when the new DCU titles were announced, I ranked all 52 titles on my likelihood of buying them. Only fair then to look back and see if my initial assessments hold up. My plan is to review each of the new titles as they come out.)

Batman: The Dark Knight #1
by David Finch, Paul Jenkins, and Richard Friend

Original Rank/Assessment: 44 (Probably Not) - Haven't really cared much for Finch on this title the first time around. Then again, committing to this title would only mean buying two or three issues a year...

On the positive side, adding Paul Jenkins as the scripter definitely improves the dialog, and as a co-plotter with Finch on future issues that may help to keep this book on a timely schedule (though I see many fill-ins in its future...) Unfortunately, this comic just seems tired. Yet another Arkham breakout? Haven't see already seen that at least twice in Batman comics this month? And re-casting Two-Face into a musclebound bruiser is kind of missing the point of the character. The art is stiff, as Finch seems more interested in drawing characters making poses instead of inhabiting real space, and the colors seem both uneven and overdone. I know that Finch is a hot commodity, but this is the least of the Batman-starring comics in the New 52.

Rating: 2 (of 5).

Green Lantern: New Guardians #1
by Tony Bedard, Tyler Kirkham & Batt

Original Rank/Assessment: 31. (Maybe/Provisional) - Not a huge Kyle Raynor fan, but Bedard generally writes pretty good super-hero science fiction-y stuff.

We open with a seven-page flashback to Kyle Raynor's origin story, which at ⅓ of the comic seems like a bit much. Maybe it will pay off as the story progresses, but surely the point could have been made in three pages. When we finally get to the present day, we find random rainbow lanterns being 'decommissioned' as their rings fly away at in-opportune times, and discover that the rings are all traveling to Earth to become attached to Kyle, with angry lanterns then arriving intent on beating him up to get back the rings. I'm not much of a fan of Kirkham, but his art is okay here (although if you are going to draw a zipper on the front of Fatality's Star Saphire uniform, maybe she could use it and zip up?) I'm struggling to say anything more about this comic other than just recapping the plot points, which probably isn't a good sign...

Rating: 2.5 (of 5).

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

DCnU Reviews, Week 3: Captain Atom; DC Universe Presents; Wonder Woman

(Back in June when the new DCU titles were announced, I ranked all 52 titles on my likelihood of buying them. Only fair then to look back and see if my initial assessments hold up. My plan is to review each of the new titles as they come out.)

Captain Atom #1
by J.T. Krul & Freddie Williams III

Original Rank/Assessment: 42 (Probably Not) - I like the character and have very fond memories of the old Cary Bates series. But I don't care much for either creator.

This comic has a lot going against it from the outset: based on an ill-defined Charlton character steeped in the atomic age and the cold war era; competing against the well-regarded 80s comic by Bates & Broderick; a character much mis-used every since the early 90s Armageddon 2001 crossover; and standing in the long shadow of Watchmen's Dr. Manhattan. So the creators had their work cut out for them. Capt. Atom is apparently gaining powers, becoming more like DC's other atomic age super-hero, Firestorm; and at the same time losing control of those powers. The comic is mostly set-up for a new status quo, but then at the end appears to be throwing that status quo aside. Williams is using a different art style than I remember seeing from him in the past. I like it, but at the same time I'm not sure that it fits exactly with the story and character; I feel that a comic about a shiny atomic-powered super-hero should be more slick and polished. I think I'll need to see another issue before making up my mind on this one.

Rating: 2.5 (of 5).

DC Universe Presents #1
by Paul Jenkins & Bernard Chang

Original Rank/Assessment: 32 (Maybe/Provisional) - Paul Jenkins' super-hero stuff normally leaves me a bit cold, but Deadman may be a good character for him. We'll see...

Deadman is also a hard character to write a comic around, being defined more by his power and state-of-existence than any particular personality. So in a sense he is a clean slate, open to interpretation for whatever sort of story the creators want to tell. Jenkins and Chang's take is a man beset with ennui, and they appear to want to tackle questions relating to no lesser mystery than the nature of life and death. Thankfully they appear to be up to the task. The story and art are clean and clear, and by the end of the issue we have a good idea of how they are going to interpret Boston Brand and what sort of comic this is going to be. It is densely packed, but not to the detriment of clear storytelling. In fact, there are some pages here that seem to take just as long to read as the entire issue of this week's Supergirl. I want to see where Jenkins & Chang are taking this story next.

Rating: 3 (of 5).

Wonder Woman #1
by Brian Azzarello & Cliff Chiang

Original Rank/Assessment: 11 (Yes, with Reservations) - Normally Cliff Chiang drawing anything is an automatic yes, but I'm usually disappointed in Azzarello in general and his super-hero stuff in particular. But, when Azzarello & Chiang got together for Doctor 13, it was wonderful, so I'll hope for the same magic again here.

Yet another difficult character to write, Wonder Woman has had so many different permutations and characterizations over the years, and her status as the preeminent female super-hero is a minefield wrought with potential pitfalls. Azzarello & Chiang have elected to go their own way, giving us a dark tale that has a lot of action and is steeped in mythology. While not the approach that I would necessarily want, it is certainly a valid take on the character, and they do it very well. Wonder Woman's character isn't completely delineated at this point, but there's enough here that we can tell that she has a character and I have no doubt that it will be fleshed out as the series progresses. Cliff Chiang is one of my favorite artists working day so I'll follow him to just about anything, and it's a bonus when he is given something this good to draw.

Rating: 3.5 (of 5).

(And a final note for this week: given that these three comics all have a golden DC Comics logo, it appears I was wrong about that being a clue as to Mr. Terrific's Earth-2-ness. Not that I'm completely wrong about the conclusion, but that bit obviously isn't a clue in that direction...)

Monday, September 26, 2011

DCnU Reviews, Week 3: Blue Beetle; Legion of Super-Heroes

(Back in June when the new DCU titles were announced, I ranked all 52 titles on my likelihood of buying them. Only fair then to look back and see if my initial assessments hold up. My plan is to review each of the new titles as they come out.)

Blue Beetle #1
by Tony Bedard, Ig Guara & Ruy José

Original Rank/Assessment: 13 (Yes, with Reservations) - Glad to see Jaime Reyes given another go. If the new creative team can recapture the charm of the original, this this will be a winner.

I'm not sure we needed to go back to the beginning with Blue Beetle. Sure, his origin story was tied in with the likely-no-longer-cannon Infinite Crisis, but those bits are easily ignored. I'd rather that this series pick up where the previous series (and the Booster Gold back-ups) left off rather than retreading the old stuff. But that said, this is still mildly good. It could do with a little more of the aforementioned charm, like some of the witty repartee that Jaime had with his friends, but for an origin story it does the job. The art is pretty good though it struggles at times on the edge of being too busy, and at times the orange coloring overwhelms. Still, worth sticking around for a few issues to see where it goes (hopefuly quickly away from the origin!)

Rating: 3 (of 5).

Legion of Super-Heroes #1
by Paul Levitz & Francis Portela

Original Rank/Assessment: 16 (Yes, with Reservations) - Looks like business as usual, so I'll likely stick around for a while.

How many #1s does this make for the Legion? I've lost count. And since the Legion tends to do its reboots at times when it doesn't renumber, this is pretty much a continuation of the previous Legion's iteration, though it appears that some time has passed since last month's issue. The effect is that out of all of the New 52, this is probably the most hostile to new readers. But then that has always been the case with the Legion: when I started reading it back in the 80s there was a huge cast of characters and tons of back story. I managed to deal with it back then, and I suppose new readers will manage now (on the plus side they have the Internet & Wikipedia; on the minus side, they have to deal with multiple reboots!) This is the classic 'for those of you who like this sort of thing, this is the sort of thing you'll like' comic. Portela's art is nice and at times very busy, but luckily Javier Mena's coloring saves it in places where it otherwise would be hard to distinguish what is happening. And a few more body types would be nice—do Chameleon Boy & Brainiac 5 really need to be so buff? (And a shout-out to the cover by Karl Kerschl, which has an appropriately sci-fi paperback vibe.)

Rating: 3 (of 5).

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Monkey Covers

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

Alien gorillas are invading the Earth, and only one woman can save us on the cover of Weird War Tales #123 (1983) by Joe Kubert.

(Standard disclaimer about invading alien apes not really being monkeys applies.)

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

Saturday, September 24, 2011

DCnU Reviews, Week 3: Birds of Prey; Catwoman; Red Hood and the Outlaws

(Back in June when the new DCU titles were announced, I ranked all 52 titles on my likelihood of buying them. Only fair then to look back and see if my initial assessments hold up. My plan is to review each of the new titles as they come out.)

Birds of Prey #1
by Duane Swierczynski & Jesus Saiz

Original Rank/Assessment: 48 (Definitely No) - I've bought every single issue of BoP up to this point. And now? Ugh.

Through all its iterations, Birds of Prey has long been one of my favorite super-hero titles.  But Swierczynski seems intent on turning it into a generic action title whose only defining feature is that it stars a group of women, only two of whom actually show up in the debut issue. Saiz's art is okay but fairly generic; he only seems to draw one female body type, which is a problem in an all-female team book, and his action scenes are stiff and at times hard to follow. Of the three comics in the post it is the best, but that's really damning with the faintest of praise.

Rating: 2 (of 5).

Catwoman #1
by Judd Winick & Guillem March

Original Rank/Assessment: 41 (Probably Not) - The cover indicates that this is everything I don't want in a Catwoman comic.

Well, you can't fault DC for false advertising. The cover promises a comic that revels in exploitation, and it certainly delivers. Unfortunately, my preferences in a Catwoman comic run in the Ed Brubaker/Darwyn Cooke mode, and this is about as far from that as you can get. There are actually about three pages of pretty good comics here, but those are far outweighed by the seventeen other pages of exploitative nonsense. Which is a shame, as it shows that the creators are capable of producing a much better Catwoman comic; they just choose not to.

Rating: 2 (of 5).

Red Hood and the Outlaws #1
by Scott Lobdell & Kenneth Rocafort

Original Rank/Assessment: 49 (Probably Not) - Absolutely no appeal here.

After Lobdell's surprisingly interesting turn on Superboy last week, I held out the slimmest of hopes that maybe I was wrong about this comic. I needn't have worried, as this turns out to be just about as bad as I thought it would be. I've never cared about the Red Hood, rarely cared about Roy Harper, the Starfire here is far removed from the previous iteration and high on the 'ick' factor, and who the heck is Essence and why should I care? If there's any bright spot here, it's that Rocafort is trying to do some interesting things with the opening action sequence, which zings with kinetic energy. It's for Rocafort's efforts that the extra 0.5 point exists in the rating:

Rating: 1.5 (of 5).

Friday, September 23, 2011

DCnU Reviews, Week 3: Batman; Nightwing

(Back in June when the new DCU titles were announced, I ranked all 52 titles on my likelihood of buying them. Only fair then to look back and see if my initial assessments hold up. My plan is to review each of the new titles as they come out.)

Batman #1
by Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo & Jonathan Glapion

Original Rank/Assessment: 17 (Yes, with Reservations) - I've really liked Snyder's writing on Detective as of late; I just wish he was being teamed with his 'Tec cohorts Jock and/or Francesco Francavilla here as well (I can take or leave Capullo).

So far, this first issue of Batman is one of the best surprises of the DCnU. I was expecting to like the story, having been greatly impressed by Snyder's previous work on Detective Comics. But he manages to step it up another notch here, giving us a great introductory issue with plenty of action and a few nifty ideas, like the holographic portable Bat-Cave. His Batman is still a creature of the night, but he's not all brooding and moody. An even nicer surprise is the art from Capullo & Glapion: there are some great layouts and the story flows easily. Capullo's McFarlane influence from years of drawing Spawn is still there, but he's made the style into his own. This is a very good first issue, and I'm definitely looking forward to the next (and pleased that there's at least one Batman title in the new 52 that meets what I want from a Batman comic).

Rating: 3.5 (of 5).

Nightwing #1
by Kyle Higgins, Eddy Barrows & J.P. Mayer.

Original Rank/Assessment: 47 (Definitely No) - My level of not caring for any aspect of this is pretty darn high.

This comic almost pulled off the impossible and nearly won me over. Higgins re-establishes Nightwing without ignoring the long history of Dick Grayson, and possibly even ties things in to this week's cliffhanger in Batman. But then we get an out-of-nowhere villain with Wolverine-like claws, who promptly slashes and disembowels two police officers. This is supposed to be a Nightwing comic, not Sabretooth. So back to the bottom of the pack this goes.

Rating: 2 (of 5).

Amazon Top 50

Here are the Top 50 Graphic Novels on Amazon this morning. All the previous caveats apply.

1 (-). Cabin Fever (Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Book 6) *
2 (-). Sailor Moon 1
3 (+4). Castle: Richard Castle's Deadly Storm *
4 (-). Diary of a Wimpy Kid 5: The Ugly Truth
5 (+40). Hark! A Vagrant *
6 (-3). Codename: Sailor V 1
7 (-1). The Wimpy Kid Do-It-Yourself Book (revised and expanded edition)
8 (-3). Dork Diaries 3: Tales from a Not-So-Talented Pop Star
9 (-1). Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days
10 (+9). Twilight: The Graphic Novel, Vol. 2 *
11 (+1). Dork Diaries 3 (Kindle edition)
12 (-3). Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood
13 (+1). Maus I: A Survivor's Tale: My Father Bleeds History
14 (+3). Batman: Year One
15 (-). Batman: The Dark Knight Returns
16 (+14). Diary of a Wimpy Kid Box of Books
17 (+4). The Walking Dead Compendium Volume 1
18 (-8). Amulet #4: The Last Council
19 (+7). Batman: The Killing Joke
20 (+30). 5 Very Good Reasons to Punch a Dolphin in the Mouth
21 (-10). Brightest Day Vol. 3
22 (-9). Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art
23 (+18). Serenity Volume 2: Better Days and Other Stories
24 (-6). Feynman
25 (R). Holy Terror *
26 (+2). The Walking Dead, Book 7 *
27 (-2). Maus II: A Survivor's Tale: And Here My Troubles Began
28 (+3). Watchmen
29 (-6). The Walking Dead Volume 14: No Way Out
30 (N). Fullmetal Alchemist, Vol. 26
31 (+13). Dork Diaries (Kindle edition)
32 (R). Batman: Arkham Asylum (15th Anniversary Edition)
33 (-17). Sailor Moon 2 *
34 (N). Negima! 31: Magister Negi Magi
35 (+3). V for Vendetta
36 (+4). Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Boxset
37 (N). New Teen Titans: Games *
38 (R). Batman: Hush
39 (-10). Dork Diaries 3 1/2: How to Dork Your Diary *
40 (+3). Big Nate Out Loud
41 (N). Hellboy Volume 11: The Bride of Hell and Others
42 (+3). Big Nate Out Loud (Kindle)
43 (+3). Dork Diaries 2 (Kindle edition)
44 (+4). The Complete Peanuts Boxed Set 1979-1982 (Vol. 15-16)
45 (-25). Codename: Sailor V, Vol. 2 *
46 (-24). Dork Diaries: Tales from a Not-So-Popular Party Girl
47 (R). Diary of a Wimpy Kid Do-It-Yourself Book
48 (R). Bone: The Complete Cartoon Epic in One Volume
49 (N). Naruto, Vol. 52: Cell Seven Reunion
50 (R). Big Nate: From the Top

Items with asterisks (*) are pre-order items.

N = New listing appearing on list for first time
R = Item returning to the list after having been off for 1 or more weeks


* Diary book 6 is still at #3 on the overall chart; Sailor Moon is #210...

* Hark, A Vagrant continues its roller coaster pre-order ride, hopping all the way up to the top 5 this week. Next week finally sees its release, along with the Castle graphic novel (which will likely be heavily promoted during the episode of Castle that airs on Monday—hello Disney corporate synergy!)

* The latest volume of Fullmetal Alchemist is the top debut this week. Joining it are fellow manga titles Negima and Naruto; along with the latest Hellboy collection and the long-long-long awaited New Teen Titans: Games OGN.

DCnU Reviews, Week 3: Green Lantern Corps; Supergirl

(Back in June when the new DCU titles were announced, I ranked all 52 titles on my likelihood of buying them. Only fair then to look back and see if my initial assessments hold up. My plan is to review each of the new titles as they come out.)

Green Lantern Corps #1
by Peter J. Tomasi, Fernando Pasarin & Scott Hanna

Original Rank/Assessment: 15 (Yes, with Reservations) - Looks like business as usual, so I'll likely stick around for a while.

This comic opens with a four-page scene of graphic death and dismemberment, and ends with genocide and graphic disembowelment. Is this really what DC thinks we want from a Green Lantern comic book? The stuff in the middle is somewhat interesting, with both Guy Gardner and John Stewart learning that it is nigh impossible to have a normal life on Earth when their status as Green Lanterns is so well-known. The art by Pasarin & Hanna is richly detailed and nice (when it isn't showing Lanterns bloodily losing their heads and other body parts). But the first and last impressions that this comic gives are of needless graphic violence, the kind that I had hoped that the new DCU would be leaving behind, but by week three now I see that my hopes were misguided, and the chances of my sticking around with this and similar books are slim.

Rating: 2 (of 5).

Supergirl #1
by Michael Green & Mike Johnson, Mahmud Asrar & Dan Green

Original Rank/Assessment: 23 (Maybe/Provisional) - Not sure about the reboot here, but I've liked Green & Johnson's work on Superman/Batman, so this book gets the benefit of the doubt for now.

The newly-arrived Supergirl's rocket crashes on Earth (or rather, through Earth) and ends up in Russia, where she fights some guys in battle armor while carrying on a cryptic internal monologue, until Superman shows up on the last page. The biggest problem with this comic is that it reads way too fast. It poses—or rather hints at—a lot of questions about this new version of Supergirl, but at the end she's just as much a cipher as she was at the beginning. This is surprising coming from Green & Johnson, whose previous run on Superman/Batman often packed a lot of story into its pages. Supergirl so far gets an incomplete and it had better demonstrate quickly why I should continue to be interested.

Rating: 2.5 (of 5).

Thursday, September 22, 2011

New Library Comics: August 2011

Here's a list of the comics we added to our library collection in August:

Abnett, Dan. Star trek voyager : elite force / La Jolla, CA : Wildstorm Productions, c2000.

Aguirre-Sacasa, Roberto. Marvel divas / New York, NY : Marvel Pub., c2010.

Akamatsu, Ken. Negima vols. 1-3 / New York : Del Rey/Ballantine Books, 2004-

Ambrosio, Stefano. Walt Disney's Wizards of Mickey. [vol. 1], Mouse magic / Los Angeles : Boom! Studios, 2010.

The American way. nos. 1-8 / La Jolla, CA : WildStorm Productions, 2006.

Archie : bronze age series / [Brooklyn, N.Y.] : Graphic Imaging Technology, c2008.

Archie & friends double digest. nos. 1-5 / Mamaroneck, N.Y. : Archie Comic Pub., 2011-

Archie's girls Betty and Veronica : bronze age series / [Brooklyn, N.Y.] : Graphic Imaging Technology, c2008.

Ariga, Hitoshi. MegaMan. Megamix. Books 1-3 / Richmond Hill, Ont. : Udon, 2010

Asprin, Robert. Thieves' world graphics no. 5 / Norfolk : Starblaze Graphics, 1985-1987.

Austen, Chuck. Captain America, v. 3 : Ice / New York : Marvel Comics, 2003.

Baldwin, Gregory S. Path / [S.l.] : Com.x, 2008.

Bernardin, Marc. Pilot season : Genius / Berkeley, CA : Image Comics, 2008.

Billings, Bruce. Between the sheets : Castro comics / San Francisco, CA : Leyland Publications, 1989.

Black Olive. Outlook grim. [Vol. 1], The dead nasties / San Jose, CA : SLG Pub., c2004.

Blackburn, Jolly R. Knights of the dinner table : tales from the vault v. 1 / Menlo Park, CA : Kenzer & Co., c1998-

Breathed, Berke. Classics of western literature : Bloom County, 1986-1989 / Boston : Little, Brown, c1990.

Brereton, Daniel. Nocturnals : Troll bridge / Portland, Or. : Oni Press, 2000.

Brereton, Daniel. The gunwitch : outskirts of doom / Portland, OR : ONI Press, 2002.

Brubaker, Ed. The dead and the dying : a criminal edition / New York : Marvel, 2008.

Caliber core. / Plymouth, MI : Caliber Comics, c1998.

Card, Orson Scott. Ultimate Iron Man. [Vol. 1] / New York : Marvel, 2006.

Cherkas, Michael, 1954- Suburban nightmares. Childhood secrets : collected stories / New York : NBM Pub., c1996.

Cho, Frank. Zombie king / Berkeley, Calif. : Image Comics, 2005.

Chrono, Nanae. Peace maker Kurogane v. 1. A stranger comes to town / Houston : ADV Manga, 2004-

Claremont, Chris, 1950- X-Men : the end. vols. 1-3 / New York : Marvel Comics, c2005-

Classic looney tunes comics. Vol. 1 / [Brooklyn, N.Y.] : Graphic Imaging Technology, c2009.

Classic Star Wars, a long time ago. nos. 3, 6. / Milwaukie, Oregon : Dark Horse Comics, 1999-

Comic relief presents funny stuff. nos. 10, 12. / Eureka, CA : Page One Publishers & Bookworks, Inc., c1995

Comic relief. / Eureka, CA : Page One Publishers & Bookworks, c1989-

The comics that ate my brain / Newbury Park, Calif. : Mailbu Graphics, Inc., 1991.

Cornell, Paul. True story / New York : Marvel, 2009.

Crane, Jordan, 1973- Uptight no. 1 / Seattle, WA : Fantagraphics, 2006-

Crispin, A. C. Star trek : enter the wolves / La Jolla, CA : Wildstorm Productions, 2001

Daly, Joe, 1979- Scrublands / Seattle, Wash. : Fantagraphics, 2006.

Dark Horse twenty years. / Milwaukie, Ore. : Dark Horse Comics, c2006.

DeFilippis, Nunzio. Once in a blue moon. Vol. I / Portland, OR : ONI Press, 2004.

Denton, Shannon Eric. Tabula Rasa / Berkeley, CA : Image Comics, 2006.

Disney Adventures presents Comic Zone. / New York : Random House Children's Books, 2005.

Dysart, Josh. Unknown soldier. [2], Easy kill / New York : DC Comics, c2010.

Edge vols. 1-13 / Oldsmar, Fla. : CrossGeneration Comics, c2002-

Edginton, Ian. Kane & Lynch / New York : DC Comics, c2011.

Eldred, Tim. Broid no.1 / Newbury Park, CA : Eternity Comics, 1990.

Ellis, Warren. Dark blue / Urbana, IL : Avatar Press, 2006.

Emissary. nos. 1-6 / Berkeley, CA : Image Comics, 2006-

Espinosa, Rod. Battle Girlz. Pocket manga #1 / San Antonio, TX : Antarctic Press, 2004.

Espinosa, Rod. The prince of heroes v. 1 / San Antonio, Tex. : Antarctic Press, c2008-

The Eternals. nos. 6-7 / New York, N.Y. : Marvel Comics Group, c1976-

Faraci, Tito. Daredevil & Captain America : dead on arrival / New York : Marvel Pub., 2008.

Fernandez, Fernando, 1940- Bram Stoker's Dracula / New York : Del Ray Books, 2005.

The forbidden sands of Anauroch. Chapter one / [S.l.] : Twenty First Century Comics, [2000-]

Forge vols. 1-13 / Oldsmar, Fla. : CrossGeneration Comics, c2002-

Frank, Steve L. Zombies vs cheerleaders / Calumet City, IL : Moonstone, c2010.

Fringe : tales from the Fringe. / New York : DC Comics, c2011.

Gage, Christos. Dante's inferno / La Jolla, CA : WildStorm, 2010.

Gerber, Steve, 1947-2008. Stewart the rat / New York : Eclipse Enterprises, 1980.

Gibbons, Dave, 1949- Captain America : Cap lives / New York, NY : Marvel Comics, c2004.

Gibbons, Dave, 1949- Thunderbolt Jaxon nos. 1-5 / La Jolla, CA : WildStorm Productions, 2006.

Giffen, Keith. Hero squared / Los Angeles, CA : Boom! Studios, 2006.

Gischler, Victor, 1969- The death of Dracula / New York, NY : Marvel Worldwide, c2010

Golden, Christopher. Star Trek the Next Generation : Embrace the wolf / La Jolla, Calif. : WildStorm Productions, 2000.

Goodwin, Archie. The official comics adaptation of Star wars, return of the Jedi / New York, N.Y. : Marvel Comics Group, c1983.

Gray, Justin. The tattered man / Berkeley, Calif. : Image Comics, 2011.

Greenberger, Robert. The essential Batman encyclopedia / New York : Del Rey/DC/Ballantine Books, c2008.

Gross, Allan. Cryptozoo crew nos. 1-3 / New York : NBM Pub., 2005-

Guggenheim, Marc. Civil war : Wolverine / New York : Marvel Comics, c2007

Gumby free comic book day special. / Walnut Creek, Calif. : Wildcard Ink, 2007.

Hancock, Larry, 1954- Suburban nightmares. The science experiment / New York, N.Y. : NBM Pub., 1990.

Harper, Charise Mericle. Fashion Kitty / New York : Hyperion Paperbacks for Children, c2005.

Harris, Micah S. Lorna : relic wrangler / Berkeley, CA : Image Comics, 2011

Hartzell, Andy. Bread & circuses no. 1 / Las Vegas, NV : Moe Press, c1995.

Heinberg, Allan. Young avengers. vols. 1-2 / New York : Marvel Comics, c2005-

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Johns, Geoff, 1973- The Flash, blitz / New York, NY : DC Comics, c2004

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Young, Janine Ellen. Star Trek voyager. Avalon rising / La Jolla, CA. : WildStorm Productions, 2000.

As always, this listing is available as an RSS Feed.

Monday, September 19, 2011

DCnU Reviews, Week 2: Batman and Robin; Batwoman

(Back in June when the new DCU titles were announced, I ranked all 52 titles on my likelihood of buying them. Only fair then to look back and see if my initial assessments hold up. My plan is to review each of the new titles as they come out.)

Batman and Robin #1
by Peter J. Tomasi, Patrick Gleason & Mick Gray

Original Rank/Assessment: 24 (Maybe/Provisional) - If this can maintain the punch and action I expect, then I'll stick around.

The last time we had a first issue of Batman and Robin it was by Morrison & Quitely, and they quite simply knocked my socks off. Tomasi & Gleason can't match that, but then I wasn't really expecting them to. They do perfectly fine job here, establishing the plot and characters and the new status quo while inserting plenty of action. However, I found the coloring to be too dark (yes, even for a Batman title!) And a plot point bothered me: While Gleason was absolutely correct to depict the research reactor at Gotham U. as a swimming pool reactor (I visited the one in the building next door to where I work, back before they dismantled it a few years ago...), there's a reason why security is light at such reactors: there is nothing there worth stealing! That aside, I'm interested enough to stick around through the first arc; after that, we'll see.

Rating: 2.5 (of 5).

Batwoman #1
by J. H. Williams III & W. Haden Blackman

Original Rank/Assessment:  3 (Definitely Yes) - Finally! And with Williams switching off story arcs with Amy Reeder, this will likely be the best looking book on DC's slate.

One of the most anticipated of the New 52, the first issue of Batwoman finally sees the light of day after several delays. A handful of changes will obviously have to be made to align the story with the new reality; the most major here being the recasting of Maggie Sawyer from a captain to just a detective, which should change the dynamics of her relationship with Kate Kane somewhat. Oddly other key plot points are not adjusted, notably Bette's former career as a Teen Titan. It's probably best to just ignore such things and go with it. Last month the book our graphic narrative discussion group discussed by Batwoman: Elegy, and while I liked it a lot before we discussed it, after our discussion I really really liked it. That book had layers and there was plenty to sink our teeth into. So I was very interested to see how Willaims & Blackman would do taking over the writing duties from Rucka. They do a good job. It won't be the same book as it would have been with Rucka at the helm, but it still looks fantastic and is easily one of the strong entries in the DCnU. So far so good, and I have no reason to expect anything less from the forthcoming issues.

Rating: 4 (of 5).

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Monkey Covers

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

The Justice League battles a giant gorilla on the cover of JLA #92 (2004) by Doug Mahnke & Tom Nguyen.

(Standard disclaimer about wrathful apes not really being monkeys applies.)

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

DCnU Reviews, Week 2: Demon Knights; Frankenstein; Resurrection Man

(Back in June when the new DCU titles were announced, I ranked all 52 titles on my likelihood of buying them. Only fair then to look back and see if my initial assessments hold up. My plan is to review each of the new titles as they come out.)

Demon Knights #1
by Paul Cornell, Diogenes Neves & Oclair Albert

Original Rank/Assessment: 19 (Yes, with Reservations) - Again, not sure about the premise, but Paul Cornell hasn't let me down yet.

Set in medieval time, in the Dark Ages following the fall of Camelot, this is DC's medieval Justice League, featuring The Demon, Madame Xanadu, The Shining Knight, Vandal Savage, and others. This issue is the start of their origin, with the principles meeting in a bar brawl, which is such a cliché that it is humorous and an indication that thankfully this comic won't be taking itself too seriously. If I'm disappointed at all it is that Mme. Xanadu's character is not the same as in her recent Vertigo series, but this new version does have a level of snark that may grow on me. The art is clear and clean and it is surprisingly colorful. Not yet a must-read, but it is a good solid comic with the potential to be a lot of fun.

Rating: 3 (of 5).

Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #1
by Jeff Lemire & Alberto Ponticelli

Original Rank/Assessment: 4 (Definitely Yes) - This looks to possibly be twenty pages of four-color awesome every month.

Frankenstein's monster leads a team of Creature Commandos based on old Hollywood movie monsters (vampire, mummy, werewolf, etc.) to fight the strange and unusual. Fun concept (if a bit reminiscent of Hellboy) and good execution. I like my comics full of crazy super science concepts and monsters fighting and this comic delivers the goods. I was unsure about Ponticelli's art at first as it doesn't quite fit with the super science stuff at the beginning, but when we got to Frankenstein and his crew laying the smackdown on the giant monsters invading a small town, I was completely sold; Ponticelli draws great monsters!

Rating: 3.5 (of 5).

Resurrection Man #1
by Dan Abnet, Andy Lanning, & Fernando Dagnino

Original Rank/Assessment: 35 (Maybe/Provisional) - I never really read this the first go-around, but the premise always struck me as interesting.

I still find the premise intriguing: Every time Mitch Shelley dies, he comes back to life with a different super power. As such, Mitch is a very reluctant hero, visited by a new compulsion when he is reborn with new powers. This new first issue introduces the title character and his situation and manages to get in some action as well, but I found Dagnino's art to be inconsistent and at times detrimental to good flow; there's a rushed feeling to the whole affair (maybe a separate inker would help?)

Rating: 2.5 (of 5).

DCnU Reviews, Week 2: Deathstroke; Grifter; Suicide Squad

(Back in June when the new DCU titles were announced, I ranked all 52 titles on my likelihood of buying them. Only fair then to look back and see if my initial assessments hold up. My plan is to review each of the new titles as they come out.)

Deathstroke #1
by Kyle Higgins, Joe Bennett & Art Thibert

Original Rank/Assessment:  50 (Definitely No) - Absolutely no appeal here.

One of the charms of the old version of Deathstroke is that while Slade Wilson was an assassin-for-hire, he also fancied himself a gentleman and worked by a code of ethics. This DCnU version seems to jettisoned all of that, leaving Slade as simply a cold-blooded killer. Maybe they're eventually working their way to Slade changing what he is, but what we're left with now is a comic that just revels in violence with a protagonist who is as uninteresting and he is uncharming. There may be some who want to read this sort of comic, but I suspect even they will find this particular comic lacking.

Rating: 1.5 (of 5).

Grifter #1
by Nathan Edmondson, Cafu & Jason Gorder

Original Rank/Assessment:  40 (Probably Not) - Nothing much exciting here for this Wildstorm transplant.

Cole Cash is a former special forces soldier turned confidence man, now seemingly haunted by the voices of mysterious creatures (Daemonites?) who are hunting him for unknown reasons. There's plenty of action and some exposition, though I had some troubles following the transitions. This could evolve into an interesting title if they decide to focus on Cash's con man side, but it's not quite there yet. In the 'protagonists who carry guns and shoot people' it's miles ahead of Deathstroke (but that's fairly easy to do).

Rating: 2.5 (of 5).

Suicide Squad #1
by Adam Glass, Federico Dallocchio & Ransom Getty

Original Rank/Assessment:  37 (Maybe/Provisional) - One of my favorite high-concepts ever in comics returns, but everything about that cover screams at me to stay away.

Another comic that seems to revel in violence, in this case torture, shootings, people being burned alive, etc. Granted, we're talking about bad guys doing bad things and having bad things done to them, but that seems a thin excuse. The Suicide Squad's core concept, villains enlisted against their will to work for the state, is one that is ripe with conflict and potential. But so far this new iteration seems to be throwing all that potential away in favor of an excuse for violence. And I haven't even touched on the unnecessary visual changes to Harley Quinn & Amanda Waller; others have already taken care of those angles so I won't dwell on them here. If you're looking for a good version of the Suicide Squad, go dig out the old John Ostrander-written issues; or go buy Marvel's Thunderbolts, where Jeff Parker has taken the SS concept to the Marvel universe nearly whole-cloth, but at least understands it's potential and how to use it. So far, DC's new Suicide Squad is failing.

Rating: 2 (of 5).

Saturday, September 17, 2011

DCnU Reviews, Week 2: Legion Lost; Mister Terrific; Superboy

(Back in June when the new DCU titles were announced, I ranked all 52 titles on my likelihood of buying them. Only fair then to look back and see if my initial assessments hold up. My plan is to review each of the new titles as they come out.)

Legion Lost #1
by Fabian Nicieza & Pete Woods

Original Rank/Assessment: 26 (Maybe/Provisional) - Yet another Legion in their past/our present story? But I like Pete Woods, so I'll check it out.

The set-up has been done before: members of the Legion of Super-Heroes travel back in time to the present day and find themselves trapped here. So it all comes down to the execution. This time around, the Legionnaires are after a time-traveling terrorist with a bio-weapon, and they find that their futuristic technology is for unknown reasons failing. I'm not sure how new readers will react to the introductions of these mostly second-tier Legionnaires, but as I've been reading Legion stories for nearly thirty years I didn't have any difficulties. Fabian Nicieza has never been one of the most exciting comics writers, but he always turns in a solid super-hero story and does the same here. Pete Woods seems to have modified his style a bit here with his lines seeming somewhat thicker than I remember, but he's still a very good storyteller. So this is pretty much what I expected, though I'm not sure how long the premise will be able to hold up.

Rating: 3 (of 5).

Mister Terrific #1
by Eric Wallace, Gianluca Gugliotta & Wayne Faucher

Original Rank/Assessment: 22 (Maybe/Provisional) - Like the character and the idea of his headlining a series, not too enthused by what I've seen from writer Eric Wallace in the past.

I was interested to see how the modern Mister Terrific would work outside of his context as a JSA legacy character. Then Karen Starr (formerly the secret identity of Power Girl, anothehr JSA'er) showed up, and it started me thinking: We know that DC have a Justice Society comic in the works, set on a new version of the alternate Earth-2. What if this new Mister Terrific comic is also set on Earth-2, and they just haven't explicitly cued us in on that fact? There's nothing here to indicate that it is set on the same world as all of the other DCnU titles. And then there's the gold DC Comics logo on the cover, different from any of the other logos (Gold = Golden Age = JSA ???) It makes me wonder if DC are being sneaky here... As for the comic itself, I think it's an odd choice to have your main character become a mind-controlled pawn in his first issue, and I'm not enthused by Gugliotta's art, which I find to be quite inconsistent. But I still fundamentally like the character so I'll stick around for a couple more issues to see how things progress.

Rating: 2.5 (of 5).

Superboy #1
by Scott Lobdell, R. B. Silva & Rob Lean

Original Rank/Assessment: 43 (Probably Not) - Looks like they're throwing away all the Superboy continuity. I really liked with Jeff Lemire was doing with the character, so this looks like a huge step back. The new creative team doesn't much appeal either.

Another comic that turned out better than I thought it would. I still think it's sad that Lemire's Superboy comic was cut short by the coming of the new DCU. But getting over that and viewing this new Superboy comic on its own terms, it comes off surprisingly well. Fundamentally we still have Superboy as a vat-grown clone combining Superman & Lex Luthor's DNA, but his origin jettisons the original's "Death of Superman" tie-in and is now more closely aligning with that of the Superboy from the current Young Justice cartoon. And I was wrong is my assessment of the creative team as well. Lobdell's story does a good job of introducing the situation and characters and even pulls off an effective fake-out in the middle section. I also like the clean look of the art from Silva & Lean and the colors from the Horries blend well with the line art. So while I'm still not completely sold and it could go wring when Superboy is finally released into the outside world, I like what I see so far.

Rating: 3 (of 5).

DCnU Reviews, Week 2: Green Lantern; Red Lanterns

(Back in June when the new DCU titles were announced, I ranked all 52 titles on my likelihood of buying them. Only fair then to look back and see if my initial assessments hold up. My plan is to review each of the new titles as they come out.)

Green Lantern #1
by Geoff Johns, Doug Mahnke & Christian Alamy

Original Rank/Assessment: 14 (Yes, with Reservations) - Looks like business as usual, so I'll likely stick around for a while.

We were told that the Green Lantern titles would be some of the least changed in the new DCU, and they apparently meant it. This could just as easily been Green Lantern #68, picking up pretty much right where the "War of the Green Lanterns" story ended. That's not to say there aren't changes; at the end of "War" Sinestro had been granted a Green Lantern ring and Hal Jordan is ringless and dumped back on Earth.  The issue opens with the Guardians telling Sinestro that as long as he has a green ring, they expect him to act like a Green Lantern, and he learns that it can be hard to go home again. Back on Earth, Hal gets to show that it's not the ring that makes him a hero and he tries to patch things up with Carol Ferris, but in both cases he proves to be a bit tone deaf to the world and people around him. If you liked Johns' Green Lantern before (and a lot of people did) this is more of the same.

Rating: 3 (of 5).

Red Lanterns #1
by Peter Milligan, Ed Benes & Rob Hunter

Original Rank/Assessment: 45 (Probably Not) - I really don't think that I need twenty pages of characters vomiting blood each month.

For a minute there I thought they were going to pull off the impossible. This first issue opens with a scene featuring Dex-Starr, the Red Lantern kitteh, taking out his rage on a group of torturing scumbags, including an awesome two-page splash. But after the opening, things went down-hill. There was too much recap, too much of Atrocious standing around and posturing. The Earth-bound scenes seem to be pointing the way towards the origin of a human Red Lantern, but that needs to be clearer and/or happen faster for the first issue. (On the plus side, the Earth-based pages allow colorist Nathan Eyring to give his red crayon a well-needed rest.) Based on the opening, I would totally read a comic that starred Dex-Starr, but the rest of these Red Lanterns just kind of bore me.

Rating: 2.5 (of 5).

Friday, September 16, 2011

Amazon Top 50

Here are the Top 50 Graphic Novels on Amazon this morning. All the previous caveats apply.

1 (-). Cabin Fever (Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Book 6) *
2 (-). Sailor Moon 1
3 (+2). Codename: Sailor V 1
4 (+2). Diary of a Wimpy Kid 5: The Ugly Truth
5 (+5). Dork Diaries 3: Tales from a Not-So-Talented Pop Star
6 (+8). The Wimpy Kid Do-It-Yourself Book (revised and expanded edition)
7 (-3). Castle: Richard Castle's Deadly Storm *
8 (+5). Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days
9 (-6). Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood
10 (+2). Amulet #4: The Last Council
11 (+30). Brightest Day Vol. 3
12 (-1). Dork Diaries 3 (Kindle edition)
13 (-4). Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art
14 (-6). Maus I: A Survivor's Tale: My Father Bleeds History
15 (-). Batman: The Dark Knight Returns
16 (+18). Sailor Moon 2 *
17 (+3). Batman: Year One
18 (-1). Feynman
19 (+5). Twilight: The Graphic Novel, Vol. 2 *
20 (R). Codename: Sailor V, Vol. 2 *
21 (+5). The Walking Dead Compendium Volume 1
22 (+5). Dork Diaries: Tales from a Not-So-Popular Party Girl
23 (-5). The Walking Dead Volume 14: No Way Out
24 (-17). Ender's Game: Formic Wars: Burning Earth *
25 (-6). Maus II: A Survivor's Tale: And Here My Troubles Began
26 (-1). Batman: The Killing Joke
27 (+22). No Such Thing as Ghosts (Dragonbreath)
28 (-5). The Walking Dead, Book 7 *
29 (+3). Dork Diaries 3 1/2: How to Dork Your Diary *
30 (+13). Diary of a Wimpy Kid Box of Books
31 (-15). Watchmen
32 (+16). Detective Comics (2011) #1
33 (R). Big Nate Boredom Buster
34 (-3). Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight Volume 8: Last Gleaming
35 (R). Batwoman: Elegy
36 (-7). Locke & Key Volume 4: Keys to the Kingdom HC
37 (-16). V for Vendetta
38 (+12). Big Nate Out Loud (Kindle)
39 (-3). Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Boxset
40 (R). Serenity Volume 2: Better Days and Other Stories
41 (R). Serenity: The Shepherd's Tale
42 (-12). Big Nate Out Loud
43 (-3). Dork Diaries (Kindle edition)
44 (+1). Hark! A Vagrant *
45 (-8). Dork Diaries 2 (Kindle edition)
46 (R). Dragonbreath
47 (R). The Complete Peanuts Boxed Set 1979-1982 (Vol. 15-16)
48 (-4). Dork Diaries: Tales from a Not-So-Fabulous Life
49 (-16). 5 Very Good Reasons to Punch a Dolphin in the Mouth

Items with asterisks (*) are pre-order items.

N = New listing appearing on list for first time
R = Item returning to the list after having been off for 1 or more weeks


* The pre-order for the sixth Wimpy Kid book is currently #3 on the overall Amazon chart, so it quite safely holds on to its #1 position on the comics chart. The #2 book, the first Sailor Moon re-issue, is #87 on the overall chart.

* There are no new books on the chart this week; everything was either on the chart last week or appeared at least once in the previous week.

* Not only am I surprised to see Detective Comics #1, available only from 3rd-party sellers, still onthe list and climbing, it seems strange that none of the other New 52 titles are making a similar showing.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Q&A with Jennifer & David Skelly

I've known Jennifer Skelly for a very long time—since our days in elementary school. When I learned that she and her husband/writing partner David Skelly had a story in the recent Batman 80-Page Giant, I took the opportunity to contact them to see if they would be willing to answer a few questions about their experience. They graciously agreed to take time out of their busy schedules to respond to my questions over email:

Am I correct that this is your first published comic book work?

DS: Our first published comic was a book called Zevo-3. It was a tie-in to an animated teen superhero TV series that we worked on for Nicktoons. After we had written several episodes of the show, the producer came to us and said, "Do you guys know anything about comic books? We're thinking about promoting the show with one."

JS: Considering our closets are filled with comic boxes, not clothes, we said, "yes..."

DS: The show, Zevo-3, was produced by Skechers Entertainment. They created original characters and backstories to go along with their different lines of kids' shoes.

JS: So we wrote a comic book that went into bazillions of Skechers shoe boxes!

DS: That book was so well-received that they asked us to write comics for all the rest of their properties. (I drew the breakdowns for those as well.)

What interested you in writing for comics?

DS: They say you are what you eat, and I ate a lot of comics as a kid.

JS: *snort*

DS: I love comics. I've read them all my life. It was a huge part of my childhood. They were my escape, my refuge from the real world. I started with Golden Key and Disney comics. I loved them, and in particular, the Uncle Scrooge comics that were written and drawn by Carl Barks. Even as a four- and five-year old I could recognize the quality of his work and distinguish it from other artists'. And then some years later, I discovered people like Chris Claremont, Walt and Louise Simonson, Wendy and Richard Pini, and Bill Sienkiewicz. Their work had such a huge impact on me — and helped shape me as a storyteller.

JS: My mom collected comic books, and as a little kid I had Archie and Donald Duck... but it was in college, when I met David, that my real love affair with comics began.

DS: And our love affair...

JS: Be quiet. I'm talking now. Where was I? Oh, yeah. Growing up, I knew and loved the DC characters. I was obsessed with comic book heroes on TV and in the movies — Richard Donner's Superman, Superfriends, Wonder Woman, Kenneth Johnson's The Incredible Hulk. But I didn't read comic books! And when David introduced me to the X-Men... wow. The characters were so flawed, so real, so human (even though they are super-human). I was hooked.

DS: In high school and college I wrote and drew a comic strip that was published in various papers, including University of Michigan's campus newspaper, The Michigan Daily. It was called Backyard Infinity. That was a great training ground for me. I learned a lot about storytelling in a visual medium, and in particular I learned a lot about brevity — making a point or making a joke with some very simple drawings and a few words. In fact, for a while, I challenged myself to write my strips with five words or less.

JS: And yet we tend to go on when being interviewed...

DS: In any case, drawing those comic strips was a direct link to the work I would later do with the Jim Henson Company and Pixar Animation Studios.

JS: As for writing comic books — we love the immediacy. In TV animation, it can be months —

DS: — or in the case of films, years —

JS: — before you see your work on the screen. In comics, there's such a fast turn-around from idea to finished product.

DS: Working on a film is like telling a joke and waiting three years to see if anybody laughs.

JS: Hahaha! That's funny!

DS: That's why I love you. You laugh at my jokes right away.

How did you get the Batman gig? Did you approach DC, or did they approach you? (Or perhaps your agent sacrificed a mint-condition copy of Giant-Size X-Men #1...)

JS: No, we approached DC.

DS: We’ve always found our own writing assignments — we’re blessed with an amazing network of friends and colleagues.

JS: One of those friends, a veteran in the comic book industry, was kind enough to introduce us to some editors at DC.

DS: We corresponded with those editors for quite a long time — months — waiting for the right opportunity to come along...

JS: I think we wore them down!

DS: Editor Rachel Gluckstern read our work and contacted us. She asked us if we’d like to pitch her a few Batman short stories.

JS: And we said, “Absolutely!”

DS: We wrote a few treatments — about a half a page each — and sent them to Rachel. She picked her favorite and we were off to the races!

How does writing a comic script compare to writing a film script?

JS: In terms of storytelling — there's absolutely no difference for us. We break the story for a 10-page comic exactly the same way we do for a 90-page feature film.

DS: Every story is about transformation. How does a character change? That's what's most interesting for us as storytellers.

JS: Though there are a few differences in the way we actually write the script.

DS: A comic book script is like personal letter to the artists. Even with artists that we never meet, we feel there's a kind of intimate collaboration. There are so many people involved in the production of a television show or film, but in its purest form, a comic book is made by a very small group of people.

Tell me more about breaking your Batman/Catwoman story. Where did the idea come from? Why did you decide to do it as a 'silent' story?

DS: Larry Hama's wordless story, "Silent Interlude," for G.I. Joe #21 really made an impression on me as a kid. I've always remembered that, and thought it would be a fun challenge to write a script with no words — and no sound effects.

JS: Film and TV are a visual medium, and for us, the acid test to know whether or not a story works is by turning the sound off. Do the images alone convey the story?

DS: Alfred Hitchcock said dialogue should be one of the many background noises in a film. We adhere to that when we're writing a script for film or television, and we feel the same about writing a script for comics. How can we keep the exposition to a minimum, and still tell a compelling, emotional story? That's the challenge.

JS: Partners and lovers have a short-hand that they use to communicate: half-sentences, looks, gestures —

DS: — and Batman and Catwoman have such a long history — they don't necessarily need to speak with one another to convey a variety of feelings. This felt like the perfect opportunity to tell a story with no words.

Did you know ahead of time who your artists were going to be? Did you have any direct communication with the artists, or was it all through the script and the editor?

DS: For this story, we didn't know who the artists would be. And because of that, we knew the script had to convey as much as possible. But we're always careful to leave room for the artists' interpretations. This is a collaborative medium, and everyone involved in the process brings their own point of view and artistry. The result is inevitably even better than what we'd imagined!

JS: This is the editor's show. For the Batman 80-Page Giant, Rachel Gluckstern was responsible for hiring us, and finding just the right artists for our story.

DS: The editor is like the producer of a film. They're responsible for deciding which stories will be made, putting the team together, and making sure it gets done on schedule and on budget.

I've often said that everyone has at least one Batman story in them; was this your definitive Batman story, or would you want to work again with the character?

DS: We have countless Batman stories we'd like to tell! We hope this is the first of many.

The two of you together teach a workshop on improv for writers; how did your improv talents come into play in writing this story? (I have visions of the two of you acting out the plot in your living room, with your son looking on with bewilderment...!)

JS: Well... we didn’t act out THIS script in front of him...

DS: Yeah, it’s kind of all sex and violence. He's only two.

JS: Improv, for us, is a way of life. Which was made especially clear to us after we had a kid.

DS: Being willing to play, being flexible, being open to new ideas — that’s what improv is all about.

JS: And that informs everything we do — including our writing. We let the characters talk to us. We write from their point of view. And we let them lead us down unexpected paths.

DS: There’s an improv game called “New Choice.” It’s one of our favorites. Whether we’re on stage performing, or at our laptops writing — we make an “offer” (a character does or says something in the context of the scene) and someone else yells, “new choice!” at which point we have to immediately — without thinking — rewind to the last action or line and redo it.

JS: And then we have to justify that new information. It’s the ultimate test of flexibility.

DS: So we play a lot of New Choice when we’re writing. We push each other to come up with something else, something better, something unexpected (but still truthful).

JS: We’re constantly asking ourselves, can that line of dialogue be funnier? More dramatic? Can this scene be more emotional? And the answer is almost always “yes.”

Why Batman? What interests you in Batman as a character?

JS: Oh! Me first! I've loved the Batman family of characters since I was a kid. I was Batgirl for Halloween in Kindergarten, 1st grade, and 2nd grade.

DS: Did you wear the same costume every year?

JS: Yes. I grew slowly. Anyway... I watched the 60's TV show religiously (and screamed in joy when Batgirl's motorcycle drove into the opening credits). And then, years later, Tim Burton's Batman rocked my world.

DS: For me, Batman is cathartic. He's the antithesis to the work I've done with Sesame Street or the Toy Story characters. Bruce Wayne is so screwed up. So tormented. So dark. And I can relate with that on a deep level.

JS: (He says while wearing a Muppet T-shirt.)

DS: I'm not saying I don't love that stuff, too! But reading — and now writing — Batman stories is a great way for me to exorcise those dark demons inside.

JS: Is that "exorcise" or "exercise?"

DS: C'mon. I'm being serious.

JS: Me too. I'm serious. See? I have Batman and Catwoman Lego figures on my desk.

DS: That is a weird non-sequitur. You and your Lego.

What would you say is your all-time favorite Batman story, and why?

JS: I'd have to go back to the movies... Batman Forever, but not the Penguin stuff — he was gross (no offense, Danny DeVito, you were supposed to be gross) — but ANY of the Catwoman/Batman stuff. The scene where they've just kicked the bleep out of each other, then have a date and start getting all touchy-feely but each is trying to keep the other from discovering their new scars. And then the scene when they're dancing and realize who each other are, and Michelle Pfeiffer says, "Does this mean we have to start fighting?" and Michael Keaton just pulls her close... makes me cry every time.

DS: My go-to is still Frank Miller's The Dark Night Returns. It's just great storytelling. Makes me cry every time.

What are some comics that you particularly enjoy? Who are the comic creators that you admire?

DS: We've both really been enjoying Brian Michael Bendis' work. His scripts for The Avengers, Ultimate Spider-Man, and Scarlet, have been particularly compelling for us.

JS: Geoff Johns' Flash and Green Lantern. Joss Whedon.

DS: Mark Millar, Frank Miller, J. Michael Straczynski. And as far as artists go, Alex Maleev, John Romita, Jr., Jim Lee, Mike Mignola...

JS: ...Frank Cho, Gurihiru's work on the Power Pack cross-over series.

DS: There are so many! And of course, the people we mentioned before — The Simonsons, Bill Sienkiewicz — were and continue to be so influential on us and on our work. We were so thrilled that Bill wanted to do the finishes on our Batman story for the 80-Page Giant!

JS: We're huge Bill Sienkiewicz fans, both professionally and personally.

DS: We're often fans of the people we're collaborating with. It's out of respect for what they've done, and who they are as human beings. And even though we may also be fans of the source material that we're helping to shepherd, we're aware that as fans, we run the risk of being too precious with the work.

JS: And the last thing we want to do is be too careful or cautious to take risks —

DS: It's our responsibility as storytellers to stay true to the tone and spirit of the source material, but also to push the boundaries.

JS: To take risks!

DS: To explore new aspects or dimensions of these characters we love. To tell stories that are relevant to today's audience, not just to rehash old material or preserve something from the past. We're not archivists, we're architects —

JS: — building on a foundation that someone else has laid.

DS: Hey, that sounds pretty good!

JS: We're passionate about what we do. We're passionate about telling great stories.

DS: And we're honored to be contributing to DC's long legacy of great storytelling.

Are there other comics characters that you would be interested writing?

JS: How much time do you have?

DS: Should I list them in alphabetical order? Seriously, there are so many. Top of my list would be more Batman... and then Spider-Man, Daredevil, Dr. Strange, Superman...

JS: I see a pattern here. For me, Wonder Woman, Kitty Pryde, Dazzler, Barbara Gordon, Rachel Summers...

DS: I'd love to write a Barbara Gordon story! Let's do that! And we've always wanted to write a Cloak and Dagger story.

JS: And the New Mutants.

DS: Love Illyana Rasputin.

JS: And the Lone Ranger.

DS: Really? I didn't know that.

JS: There should always be mystery in a relationship.

Both comics and film are visual storytelling mediums. What do you see are some of the strengths and weaknesses of comics as compared to film for telling stories?

JS: They're so different. Do you like ice cream or pudding?

DS: Huh? Um. Ice cream?

JS: The experience of seeing a movie is so different than reading a comic book. As those experiences are different from playing a video game or seeing a play. But it's all storytelling. How we choose to enjoy those stories is a matter of preference that can change from person to person or day to day.

DS: That's true. Some days I prefer pudding.

What is up next for the Skellys? Any more comics gigs on the horizon? (Plug away!)

DS: We’ve got several feature films projects that we’re developing. We’ve just started pitching them to the major studios and producers in Hollywood.

JS: We’re collaborating with some of the most talented filmmakers and conceptual artists in the industry.

DS: And we’ve got a few television projects in the works as well. We've also been doing a lot script doctoring...

JS: We’re teaching an ongoing Improv for Writers workshop in Los Angeles. (

DS: And we’re continuing to write comic books! Wow! I guess we’re kind of busy... We should probably get back to work!

A big thanks to Jennifer and David for taking the time to talk with me. You can follow Jennifer on Twitter @jenniferskelly and on the Web at ; and follow David on Twitter @davidlskelly and on the Web at And hopefully find their next comic book on the shelves of your local comic shop soon!